A Brush with Greatness: Peg Carino, A High Country Superlative Acrylic Painter

Published Monday, August 20, 2018 at 9:00 am

Peg Carino pictured in front of “Knock Knock Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” The 36” x 36” painting was created for and donated to the Avery Humane Society to honor Marti Huizenga, who passed away in 2017.

By Tim Gardner

Peg Carino is an interesting person and a personable one. She’s also an accomplished acrylic painter, splashing colors with the help of brushes in a certain way to create distinctive, bold and vibrant paintings that have been seen by many across the North Carolina Mountains, including on the cover of several December High Country magazines.

A Richmond, VA native, Peg also lived in Florida before making her home in the Banner Elk Township of Avery County. Her initial work background came in the yachting industry as a cook/chef. She recalled that craft being rewarding, but that she fulfilled a keen desire to move to this region.

“Art will always be my top passion, but being on water also is a natural for me,” Peg declared. “I especially liked summer boating on the Rappahannock River in Virginia as a child. I later got to travel across oceans and a good portion around the globe on yachts with my cook/chef’s job. It was a wonderful life full of amazing places and people. I have a kinship with the ocean that will always be with me. But again, art is my first love.

One of my favorite things. 5×4 canvas mural. An array of happy pets. Now hangs in a play room in Newport, NC.

“A few years before I decided to leave boating behind, I was invited by some friends from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to join them at their home here in the North Carolina Mountains during Christmas. I did so and spent several more Christmas holidays here. I realized that I wanted to live in the Blue Ridge of Western North Carolina and I moved here twelve years ago. Wanting to find employment for when I moved to Avery County, I learned about an available position at the Flora Ottimer Children’s Boutique at Shoppes of Tynecastle in Invershield. It was owned by a Fort Lauderdale resident. I was fortunate to be hired and was the store’s manager until it closed a little more than a year ago. It was a lot of fun and a blessing to work there. I got to meet many of the locals and a huge number of summer residents who live in this region. The job also gave me a great platform to introduce my artwork. I paint as much as I possibly can. I also hold a part- time job, as this artist does not live by paint alone.”

Peg said a talent for painting runs in her family and that she obtained hers without any formal or specialized training.

“Rae” Wire-haired Pointer Griffon

“Fortunately, I fell into the right gene pool when it came to artistic ability and creativity,” she noted. “My father played the piano by ear and my two older sisters are extremely gifted. My mother, who didn’t really exercise her talent, was a very good painter. But I have been painting a long time and never tire of it. As I am completely self taught, I also never tire in learning about the creative process.”

Peg has no idea how many paintings she has completed. “I’m really not sure the number I’ve done,” she said. “After so many years of painting, it’s hard to keep count of all pieces you have done. Sometimes you forget one or two until you are fortunate enough to become reacquainted with them.”

When asked if she has a favorite subject to paint, Peg offered a varied reply: “Actually, it depends on my client,” she shared. “Every painting I do is personal and always whimsical. Included will be something about the person’s life, cherished family events or even comical occurrences. I also do family history. After I have asked many questions of my clients, I can insert certain nuances within my work. Sometimes those nuances are recognized and sometimes they’re not until I point them out.

“Some of the pieces I paint can be actually very funny. But, still very pretty. Subject matter can be ‘in memory of’ or a memory of extreme significance. I love doing gifts for giving that are decorative items. Usable boxes holding scenes of golfing, fly fishing or equestrian themes, pets and much more go over well. A favorite of my creations is painted on a decorative box for the father of a client. The subject was fishing with all the needed gear. To add a bit of fun, I recreated a page of sheet music, which was “Cry Me A River.” Therefore, I named the piece “Cry Me A River And I’ll Go Fishing!” I always tell folks upon unveiling a piece, if I don’t get laughter or tears, I haven’t done my job. Thus far, I’ve been lucky in that regard.”

Since she relocated to Avery County, Peg has been an advocate of its humane society by donating several of her paintings and decorative items to shelter events that hold benefit auctions.

“Knock Knock Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”

One particular painting Peg went to work on to donate is what she named “Knock Knock Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” The 36” x 36” painting was created for and donated to the Avery Humane Society to honor Marti Huizenga, who passed away in 2017. A dedication of the painting took place at the humane society building in Newland on July 17 in memory of Huizenga and her support of the shelter.

The painting depicts a number of animals that are starting their journey to heaven. Included are two of Huizenga’s favorite pups. The remainder, bear excluded, all belonged to local individuals met during the creation of the painting.

Huizenga, and her husband, H. Wayne Huizenga, who died in March 2018, had a home at Diamond Creek in Banner Elk. They were a strong philanthropic team and financial contributors to several North Carolina worthy causes. They were a team. But, the need for an Avery County Humane Shelter became very important to Marti and her crusade began.

Peg told in detail of the panting from its origination to completion with the following comments. “I had used the 36”x 36” canvas as a surface to paint and repeatedly re-paint different scenes and different techniques as a learning experience. I hung it on the wall in my bedroom across from the foot of my bed. I stared at it every day and night. I textured the canvas and glazed it with some soft Tuscan Sienna paint.

“I had traveled Italy several times during my cooking days and stayed in a small villa there that offered an arched red door and a red shuttered window at the front. I loved that house. No matter what I painted and painted over, the little villa always remained on my bedroom wall and in my heart. I knew I wanted to use it in “Knock Knock Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”.

“It wasn’t until the passing of Marti (Huizenga) that I finally realized what I wanted to do to finish the painting. I wanted it to show pets waiting to make their own journey to Heaven. I just didn’t envision pearly gates. It was the pretty, red arched door at the Italian villa that gave me that inspiration. I wanted the door to always be open and welcoming, with an offering of treats for along the way. Through the open window shutters and in the clouds is Marti as she watches over all of her furry kids. And yes, she actually called them her kids.”

The lobby of the Avery Humane Society Animal Shelter in Newland

Peg added how she determined the name of the Huizenga painting, “For those who may wonder about the painting’s name, it has absolutely nothing to do with the 1973 Bob Dylan song. I just liked the sound of the title and knew it could convey my vision and Marti’s beliefs. Foremost, she was a devoted Christian who believed in the afterlife and all that Heaven has to give.

“Marti was truly a driving force in the creation of the Avery Humane Society. It was her ‘pet’ in every sense of the word. Coming to Banner Elk during the summer along with so many of her friends and acquaintances, she tirelessly and without pause, raised record funds from within the gated communities for the shelter. She spearheaded benefits that included all who wanted to see the shelter come to fruition. There were not many people who said no to Marti Huizenga.”

Humbled by her painting remaining on display at the Humane Society, Peg gave the following note of appreciation in conclusion: “As its artist, I am proud that “Knock Knock Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” was accepted and placed by the Avery Humane Board of Directors in the front lobby of the shelter for all to enjoy,” she said. “When folks see the painting, I wanted them to feel that their furry friends have gone on to a happy and welcoming place where they will be forever cared for. I purposely left a bit of room to add pets that may have been lost. Any of the Humane Society’s employees can put those individuals in contact with me who want to discuss honoring their pet by adding it to the painting.

“The Avery Humane Society was built on a foundation of love, tenacity and total commitment. It currently is in the hands of a devoted staff, volunteers and a very capable board of directors. I am honored to be a small part of it.”

The Avery County Humane Society is located at 279 Vale Road in Newland. It is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. (adoptions only during these times).  For more information or to donate to the Avery Humane Society, call (828) 733-2333 or log online to averyhumane.org. You can also reach Peg Carino directly by calling her at 828-260-9399.


Avery Humane Society Animal Shelter in Newland


Examples of art work by Peg Carino

Small portion of “Caroline’s Carolina Cabin”. Private home Playroom, Elk River Club.

Curious raccoon eyes a tasty cupcake. Playroom private home Elk River Club

2018….Clients 8 year old grandson and his favorite presidents. Playroom, private home, Elk River Club.

Clients granddaughter off to Summer Camp, 2018. Painted on wall of Playroom, private home, Elk River Club.

Shore Leave “The Godwin Kids”


“Maura’s Day” Decorative Table-top box

Small portion of 4×8 portable canvas mural. MacQueen Family History

Child’s ROOTIN’ TOOTIN’ Adirondack Bench

Tea Party Rocker

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