Have You Met Sassy Sumi-e Artist Carol Pessin? You Need To. We’re Seriously Obsessed…

If you’ve ever walked into a Whole Foods Market in need of a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind greeting card, then chances are that you’ve walked out with one of Carol Pessin’s unique, hand-crafted designs.

Inspired by the art of Japanese brushstroke painting – Sumi-e – Carol’s cards are made to, as she says, “reach all people to let them know how special they are.”

But if you’re asking yourself how special a single card can be, then you haven’t experienced one of Carol Pessin’s individually handcrafted cards that have us reaching for our pens and wanting to send notes to…well…everyone, darling.

Painted on recycled linen paper using watercolors, acrylics and Sumi ink, Carol’s cards are quite literally one-of-a-kind works of art.

Carol's artwork bags
| Customized purses…Carol, we love you. |


Influenced by her uncle, the late New York-based artist, Sidney Klein, Carol began pursuing her interest in art when her children were little. Only problem: “I couldn’t draw,” she says, “but I took classes,” which leads us to another thing that we love about her – Carol Pessin is not the kind of woman to let anything stop her.

What motivates me? My heart

Having attended the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising College with plans of becoming a buyer, Carol wasn’t afraid to switch lanes when her interest in that path declined. “Everyone has to make a 100 plans. You don’t need to make a 100 plans,” she says, “because they won’t work out. ” Instead, Carol learned to trust the universe, and it’s a decision that helped set her on a path that has been good to her.


But perhaps the hardest part right at the beginning was simply finding the perfect medium to work in. Though she had tried a variety of different art forms, it wasn’t until a chance encounter in a SoHo-based art gallery that Carol discovered Sumi-e – the Japanese art form that launched  her into what is now an almost 30-year long (and still counting!) career.

Carol with her artwork clothing
|That hair! That floor! Those belts!|


Described as a “contemplative” art, Sumi-e attempts to capture the essence, rather than the actual outward appearance of a subject. With its emphasis on the beauty of the individual brush strokes, Sumi-e dates back thousands of years and has its spiritual basis in the practice of Zen Buddhism.

Seemingly simple in its expression, Sumi-e requires a constant balancing of opposites so that subtlety and boldness, freedom and discipline, simplicity and nuance are brought together in harmony. It is within this interplay of ying and yang that Carol Pressin has found her soul’s expression, and also its stasis.


“I’m not afraid to open up,” she says as we sit in the soft light of her lounge. From outside come the gentle murmurings of chimes. Carol gets up to make tea. Even though it’s still early, before 9:30 am, we have already touched on many subjects. The hardest of these includes the loss of Carol’s amazing husband, Jere David Pessin. “I kissed him at that door,” she says, remembering the last time that she saw him. Even though more than two years have passed, her grief is still palpable.

Carol cropped from above
“People tell me to be strong. Well, I am strong.” But Carol is not just strong, she is also kind. Of all the things that grief has taught her, perhaps the greatest of these is that in order to heal, Carol has had to learn how to be kind to herself also. “I talk to my body now, I’m gentle and kind to it.”

All you have to do is be kind. If you’re having the hardest time, admit it. Be real.

Carol facing me

What advice would she give her younger self?  “Keep being me,” she says.

And who can blame her? At 72 and a 1/2 years old, Carol is a knockout with a resilient, go-getter attitude that makes us think she’ll easily outlive, out paint and out love the rest of us. It feels seriously good to be around her.

Once you get into the right lane, then you fly,” she says. ” Everyone thinks that you’re meant to struggle, but you’re not meant to struggle. If you’re struggling something might be telling you to stop, do something else, there are a million things that you could do with your life.

But as she slips on her custom, hand-painted shoes, all anyone can think is, “Carol, we’re so glad that you chose to do this!”

Carol soft focus with shoes
|Can we just say: Look at those shoes!|

And Carol is glad, too. “My energy,” she says, “is that I’m grateful.”


Carol isn’t making any plans other than this: “I want to be in the present moment,” she says. “If I look back, I want to die. If I look forward, I’m scared as shit. I just want to be in the present.”

Well, we’re counting on it and not just for our cards, but for our purses, our jeans, our hardwood floors, and just about anything else that could benefit from the light, bright touch of Carol’s art.

Just as I’m leaving I let Carol know how crazy I am about her jeans.

“I’ll paint your jeans for you,” she says. “I’ll paint them when you’re wearing them so that we can know exactly which parts to accent.” And then because she thinks I might be weirded out by this she says, “Or I’ll wear them, and I’ll paint them on me.”

Isn’t she the best? I mean, really.

If you live in the North East of America, you can find Carol’s cards in a Whole Foods Market near you. If not there, or if you want her to work on a custom project for you, you can email her directly at: karolv23@aol.com.


Carol’s cards are absolute inspirations that, blank on the inside, leave the inner message entirely up to your heart.

Card and box

|Even her packaging gets special attention with everything, including the box, the gift bag, and the envelope benefiting from Carol’s artistic touch and inspiration |

— Tasmine Mocke

***First published on Dandelion Styling and Events – March 10, 2017

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