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Click on a profile title below to read some inspirational stories about Las Olas alumnae. If you are an alumnae, please click here to send us your story. We'd be happy to edit and post an account of your Las Olas experience.

Carol Dalton   |   Elizabeth Southworth   |   Melissa Palmer


Las Olas Guest Profile ~ Carol Dalton
Growing up in Southern California, Carol Dalton surfed up to the time she started art school in Santa Barbara. Wanting to focus on her education, she found that she couldn't maintain both the lifestyle of an artist and a surfer. So surfing was put on hold.

Carol met her husband Lowell, also an artist, while in school. When the couple graduated, they found Santa Barbara to be a little too complacent, so they settled on the edge of the Bay Area where they opened a frame shop. Immersing herself in her business and the local art scene, it seemed her surfing days were long gone.

As Carol began establishing her place as an accomplished fine artist, her future appeared fairly predictable. However, a swell of challenges were now forming on her horizon.

In 2000, Carol had just finished renovating her new studio, when she was crushed by dire news from her doctor. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her choices were few. She elected to try a battery of treatments including surgery, but her focus was to get back in her studio as soon as she was able to walk. Carol painted throughout chemotherapy, knowing that just being in her studio would make her stronger. She did a whole body of work during that period. “It was helpful for my recovery to come here, to just commune with my studio,” she said. “The work I did then looked heavy-duty, raw. Now it’s getting more lighter, healthier looking.”

The battle raged on, but she fought to beat it with mind and soul. She wasn't about to surrender. She fine tuned her diet and exercised as much as she could bear. Finally, her sheer will was showing signs of success.

Two years later, Carol had a benchmark check up. If she were cancer free now, she'd be statistically past the point of remission. Clinically, she'd have her life back. The results came in negative for cancer. Willpower and the unwavering aid of family, friends and some good doctors landed her on the survivors' list.

Returning to the Sea
For sometime, Bev Sanders had been suggesting Carol go surfing with her at Las Olas. Interest sparked, Carol decided to first test the waters in Santa Barbara. She hadn't surfed in 30 years, but it came right back. Feeling strong, healthy, and fortunate, she signed up for Las Olas in January. In Mexico, still nervous that she didn't have the skills she once had, Carol sat attentively through the classroom lessons, then paddled out for her moment of truth. Sitting on the shoulder, she checked the scene, picked her wave, and paddled in like it was yesterday. The photo of her first bottom turn proves she never lost it.

The story of Carol’s surfing ability quickly made it’s way through the Las Olas news network. “Carol ripped in Mexico!” was the standard headline. She was humbled, “I surfed like it had only been two weeks, not 30 years since surfing last. I had the coordination; I was just a little stiffer, but I felt like I was 16 years old.” Bev agreed, “We've been hosting women surfers for over five years and I've never seen any guests surf like Carol. And to think, she hadn't surfed in three decades! She's amazing!”

Art Imitates Nature
Back home Carol's work showed signs of renewal. Her paintings are often earthy and dry in color and texture, conjuring essence of desert, sand, rock, and dry branches. Her newest work draws from ocean and sky, employing a cool palette and adding playful botanicals, inspired by her recent trip to Las Olas. Alumni will immediately recognize the influence of the Mexican surf village.
Carol uses her perspective to help viewers make the connection with the natural world, calling her paintings environmental pieces. “My work will always be about my environment.”

Completing the Circle
Carol has proven that she can beat cancer, work as an artist, and still surf along the way. “I've learned that it’s important to do things you love now. I was naive to think I had to make a choice, so don’t wait to enjoy things.” Carol feels fortunate to have learned this lesson in time.
Some 30 years ago, Carol traded her love to surf for her love to paint. She admits, she would not be where she is today without sacrifice and self-discipline. So after a successful show recently, one may have guessed she'd buy more paints and canvas.
She bought a wetsuit and a new surfboard.


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