Celebrating Women in Art! — Part 1: Kara Bullock

The following posts “Celebrating Women in Art!” were written by Hanna Zorrilla. The inspiration came from a project she worked on at UC Santa Barbara, where she is currently in her sophomore year. We love having her here during the summers and “pandemications”. 

We will post one artist each week for six weeks… Enjoy the look into their artistic lives!

Celebrating Women in Art! — Part 1 Kara Bullock
by Hanna Zorilla

Becoming a successful artist is a difficult feat; one that takes lots of patience, hard work, and dedication. However success doesn’t always mean monetary gain, as I learned from the wonderful women artists I had the pleasure of interviewing. 

Here you can read my interviews with six women artists all with incredible artwork at Chemers Gallery. Learn about their life as an artist, how they define success, and what advice they would give to young female artists!

Kara Bullock

Kara Bullock is an immensely talented artist, focused on portraiture. Along with creating her own works of art, she runs a business offering classes and more to help others create inspired artwork. Even talking over the phone, you can hear her passion about people through her friendliness and sincerity.

When did you decide you wanted to be an artist and was there an experience that really sealed the deal and determined this profession was for you?

“I always loved art growing up. All throughout school, middle and high school, I took art as an elective and my teachers were always very encouraging. Drawing portraits was always my favorite. My last year of high school I was burnt out from art and I decided to go to college to become an elementary school teacher. In my senior year I took an art elective and my love for art was reignited. I came home and told my parents that I wanted to be an artist, but they said ‘no’ because I was graduating soon and getting an elementary school degree. I taught elementary school for ten years. During that time, I started teaching early childhood and education courses, online, for several different colleges and universities. Basically, I was teaching others how to teach.

Around 2014, my sister, who is also an artist, sent me a picture of a mixed media giraffe she made. I asked her how she did it and we started talking about online art classes. I discovered online art classes and I started creating art from home. I wondered if I could possibly create an art class since I had experience teaching and teaching online. I decided to try and do it. So I bought a camera and filmed a class. I created a website and put the class for sale. To my surprise, several people purchased the class! Now I collaborate with artists all over the world and help them to create online art classes so that they, too, can live the dream of being an artist full time. My journey to owning and running an online art school was very organic. It just sort of happened bit by bit over time.”

What do your paintings represent? Do you think they represent parts of yourself and how do you use loose brushstrokes and other stylistic elements to get this representation across?

“I’m a huge lover of people! Building an art community for people, where they can have a safe space to learn and develop their art, has always been really important to me. I like people so much, I think that is why I am drawn to painting them… I try to paint their story. I think 100% I’m in my paintings because I’m trying to understand the story of the person I’m painting and because of that I’m conveying that in my work. I often paint my daughters now that they are teens and want to portray the feelings and experiences that children go through as they are growing up…feelings of insecurity, uncertainty, excitement, etc. The teen years are tough and I want to capture those feelings.

I’m drawn to more expressive impressionistic type artwork. I like to put my own spin on it and I think texture and brushstrokes are more interesting to look at. There seems to be more feeling in the looseness of brushstrokes. I suppose the strokes are representative of the stories that I am trying to portray to others, a bit rough and raw, but together it unites, sort of like how life works.”

How do you determine success?

“I think success is when you are living a life that you love. Success is not a dollar sign, it’s not a big house, or a fancy car, it’s doing what you love, every single day… creating art, being with my husband and kids, driving my kids around town, creating a safe community for artists. These are all of the things that I love and am grateful to get to do them every day. This is what success is to me.” 

Do you ever get caught up in the creative process and how do you balance other aspects of your life with art?

“I get caught up in the creative process all the time! There are many periods where I don’t feel like creating… periods of prolific creativity and periods of rest, where I’m still creating in my mind, but not on a canvas. I create as time allows me too, and cherish those times. When I’m painting and just not feeling it, I try to find inspiration from other artists and artworks. Sometimes I’ll look at past work that I really like to try and see if it fuels inspiration. Even if I’m not making art and painting, I find that I’m still always creating… Whether it’s for my business or the building of a second story of my house where I’m designing an art studio, my wheels are always spinning.”

How do you know when your artwork is done, do you ever have to force yourself to stop? 

“I create in small increments of time, never for more than a couple hours. During those few hours, I spend twenty to thirty minutes painting and then I’ll work on other things, like checking my emails for my business. I’ll put the painting around ten feet away or on a wall and while I’m working I’ll spend time looking at it. Then, when time permits, I will go back to work on it. I’ll sometimes bring my paintings home, and I’ll set them on the piano so I can see it while I’m cooking dinner or just “living”. I ask myself “Can I live with it like this? Have I done enough?” If the answer is no, I’ll keep painting. Then once I’m over it or I can live with it, the painting is done.”

What advice would you give to young female artists?

“First and foremost, I absolutely believe anyone can be anything they want to be. Whatever your dream is, you can make it happen! A lot of people think you can’t be successful as an artist, but I think that’s not true. Especially in today’s world, I believe it is much easier. I do think that you have to be a hustler to be an artist, you have to work very hard. However, anyone can become an artist, no matter who you are! Find others that are doing what you want to do and ask them to mentor you, or be a go to person, ask lots of questions. Find people who will support your dream so that you know it’s possible. It’s a lot of hard work filled with lots of sweat and tears, but also with so much joy. I would not trade it in!”

Chemers Gallery has been proud to represent Kara Bullock for four years. Her artwork evokes emotion and energy through every brushstroke. To see more of Kara’s work click this link to our website.

To read our interview with Maria Counts click here!