Born and raised in the Chicago area, Carolyn Anderson is a painter in abstract-realist styles whose brushstroke placement appears to be random but obviously is not when one stands back from her work. She says that "if you have a sense of where you want to go, but you aren't really sure, the painting itself becomes an adventure and a lot of viewers will respond to that excitement." Her focus, characteristic of impressionists, is to capture a moment in time.
Anderson lives near Havre in the Big Sky Country of Montana. Most of her portrait, still life and figure canvases are small in size, which is a marked contrast to her physical surroundings of vast open plains with clear skies. Of her work, it is written that "Just as the Montana landscape opens up, so do the possibilities."
She is an active workshop teacher, doing about eight workshops a year. To her students she emphasizes drawing "where you see an edge" and starting with "what catches your eye" and not the obvious outline. She says the reality of what she sees may not be the most obvious visual component.