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12 Questions Kara Shaw

Updated: May 21, 2019

1.What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life?

My grandmother’s journal from 1943. She documents in her experience in WACS (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps). The pages are incredibly delicate, and I can’t help but feel so much pride as I carefully thumb through the pages. I’m sharing her last entry. Written in cursive next to a carefully placed photo of her in her officer’s uniform, dated 1944: “Several times persons have asked me why I joined the Women’s Army and the stupidity of the question never fails to cause me to become mute. It was my opportunity to participate in the realization of a dream of service; that participation, small as it was and scorned by so many, is a source of happiness and pride to me. The WAC’s was truly a manifestation of the independent spirit of some American women. We had a vision of high adventure, of worthiness of our endeavor. We felt exaltation of dreamers in the surge of achievement. We felt the spur of opinions in opposition; we sheltered each other from the stings of bitter disillusionment and rejoiced together over our successes. The vine shriveled, the leaves withered, but the fruit is strong and sweet.” signed, DRC. Messages from Water and the Universe by Maseru Emoto, and the Bible.

2. What are you currently working on?

A series of large 6 foot oil paintings titled, "The Spirit of Water". Next to each painting will hang activated charcoal illustrations of hands in prayer from a variety of cultures and belief systems.

3. How has failure set you up for later success? What is your favorite failure?.

I think that with every rejection, it ignites the desire to work harder, to keep pressing forward, and never quit. I don't like to give up.

My favorite failure makes me laugh. It was 1993. I was 20, a young and very naive art student. I was visiting a friend of mine in NYC, and had put together a portfolio of my work, walked right into the Whitney Museum of American Art, and attempted to show my work to anyone who would be in interested. To my surprise, not a single person was even entertained at the idea of looking at anything I had. They just scoffed at me. That was my first rejection. Go big or go home, right? I did both.

4. What is your most unusual habit?

I sing when I am overwhelmed. My husband brought it to my attention years ago, and now he likes to announce whether a spontaneous jingle should be on the A side or B side. A side songs are the more positive, upbeat melodies, B side? Yep, you guessed it. They usually contain lyrics about loathing chores, or that we have too much stuff.

5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?

Ok, so if I wanted to humor myself. I would love the idea of Bob Ross painting my portrait—only to be anxiously waiting for the, “Let’s put happy little hairs right there.”—and I would be satisfied. Seriously though, I am blown away by Connor Harrington’s, or Chuck Close’s large scale portraits, they both have this watery imagery in their own style, and think it would be incredible to see them paint it, or Mary Cassatt.

6. What is your most indispensable item in your studio? What is your studio like? Could you share an image?

My corner wall of inspiration. I have pictures of my family, words of encouragement, artwork created by my children, and artwork I have collected over the years. Notes from my husband, and the star registry named in memory of my dad. Some of Articles on this wall even traveled with me to Europe. I hung them in my studio during my artist residency at the Chateaux Orquevaux, in Champagne Ardenne, France.

My studio is located in the Texas Hill Country artsy town of Wimberley, just west of Austin. The building is a duplex, and we converted one side into my studio space.

7. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?

Besides singing a B side ditty, I go straight down to the water and just watch time pass more slowly, or just walk in nature. I put myself in the most present moment, and I talk to God. When I am really struggling, I always ask myself, what am I supposed to learn from this?

8. Who/What influences your work?

The people in my life, the water, nature, wildlife, music, and travel.

9. Do you collect anything?

Rocks, especially the heart shaped rocks we find on the banks of the creek. I give them to my kids, and they give them to me.

10. What words of advice would you give to your younger self?

Sleep more, yes I know you feel that life is too short and you want to enjoy every single waking hour, but here is the deal. You need it, and you're more alert, less stressed, and more fun to be around when you get it; So get a full night’s rest, and take a nap every now and then. Oh, and stop apologizing so much. Don’t be afraid to be you Kara, your genuine, you. May I also give my present and future self that same advice?

11. In the last 5 years what new belief, or habit has most improved your life or studio practice?

Getting into the habit of blocking off 3 days a week for dedicated studio time, has had tremendous success for me. It is usually Monday-Wed., but I can be flexible and slide those days if I need to, making sure I have 3 full working days. This has helped incredibly with time management; which for years, I was not very good at.

12. Share an inspiring image.


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