A Work of Art
by Jacie Elizabeth Millen
Photography by John Hillin
“In the first grade I won artist of the year at my elementary school in Indiana. From then on, I knew I saw things differently,” explained Chloe Strickland. Chloe is a 22-year-old, Bluffton raised, BoHo chic, gentle souled, incredibly skilled artist, and she is taking her talents to another level.
When senior year came around at Hilton Head Christian Academy in 2015, Chloe had already been taking art throughout middle and high school. Through the kneading hands of Louanne Barrett, HHCA’s art teacher, Chloe found her niche. When the calendar turned the page to September, Chloe was off, making her journey to Atlanta to the awe-inspiring Savannah College of Art and Design: Atlanta Campus. This was just the beginning of her prodigious adventure she calls life. With the rush of classes and the power to create, Chloe was in “Art Heaven.”
Freshman year was coming to an end, and her boyfriend, John Hillin, a fashion photographer, suggested something that would change Chloe’s life forever. The thought “Why don’t you paint weddings?” sparked in John’s head, and there began an era. Chloe has now been painting weddings the past four years, making each and every wedding incredibly special. “I’ve been told I was the couple’s favorite part of their wedding, and I am just doing something I love,” Chloe told me. Her first wedding happened by fate. “I grew up in Oldfield Plantation, and so I contacted the wedding planner for Oldfield and her wedding happened to be that weekend. I got to paint her wedding, and obviously, it went well, since I am still painting weddings,” Chloe laughed.
Since then, Chloe has perfected her technique. She matches her outfit with the wedding colors, making sure she fits in with the vibe, while standing out as entertainment. “My favorite part about it is showing them the final painting. It’s an honor that I get to make the bride and groom something that will last forever and something they can show their kids,” expressed Chloe.
When painting, Chloe looks for the lighting, the deep, rich colors that bring the mood to the venue and the energy that is dancing around the room. She wants to make sure that each couple’s wedding painting captures the essence of the celebration going on.
In the wedding industry, wedding painters are a new trend, and Chloe has to explain and educate others about her talent, how it adds entertainment to the event, and how to make it a priority when planning their wedding. “People love to stand around me and watch the progress of the painting throughout the night. I truly am their entertainment, and I love it,” exclaimed Chloe, with a smile on her face.
Maine, Virginia, Florida, Nashville, Hilton Head, Palmetto Bluff, all over Charleston and many more locations have experienced the magic of Chloe’s painting. You can imagine the miles on her car. The love she has for these experiences truly shows through her art, but it isn’t always the easy-going lifestyle wedding painting may portray. Chloe usually only works on the weekends, but she just graduated from SCAD Atlanta last May. With being able to pull off a summer semester in Lacoste, France, being a fashion design major, and learning all these new skills, including sewing and stitching from scratch, Chloe was hustling. Painting weddings were for the weekends, time she could have been studying for school, but she didn’t let the lack of time stop her. She graduated top of her class, where her senior collection was not only sponsored by Swarovski Crystals, but also chosen by SCAD to be featured in W Magazine—both huge accomplishments that fashion majors dream about.
Chloe is still very active with her passion for fashion. She is about to start a major project that is still in the works of coming to fruition. Chloe is in the beginning stages of making customized wedding dresses and men’s formal wear, taking her chance, seeing her potential and rising to become a designer and tailor of her own. For anyone this is a huge project and would be a major accomplishment to achieve. To be so young and have such extravagant dreams is remarkable, but I know she won’t let her dreams be stolen. I have every ounce of faith that Chloe will pull these masterpieces off. She brings so much to the table. She is so incredibly talented, creative and blessed with a gentle, sweet personality of gold. I think Chloe would agree that becoming Artist of the Year in the first grade was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to her.
Pink Moment: Chloe was the featured artist for the cover of Pink Magazine and Paisley Magazine on January 2015’s issue.
Inspired: “I didn’t really have much inspiration for my art. It was more of me just doing what I love and what I am good at, but I do remember when I was growing up, my parents would always buy and hang western art on the walls of the house. I remember just looking at them and loving them so much.”
Social Butterfly: Chloe has almost 10,000 followers “hearting” her art on Instagram.
Go follow her: @label_bychloe and see more of her amazing talents.
Learn more about Chloe: on her Website www.paintbychloe.com