A Brief History of an Artist’s Life

A Brief History of an Artist’s Life

By Kathleen Cammarata

I was born in 1949, the year Crayola Crayons released their 48-count crayon box. Three of my favorite colors in that box were Carmine Red, Burnt Sienna, and Prussian Blue. I had no idea the names of these colors were the same as the names of oil paints.

From fourth to eighth grade, I practiced piano lessons daily, sitting facing a reproduction of an 18th century painting of a chess game. I had no idea who the painter was or when it was painted. To me it was a story of a man leaning into the game, maybe winning, and across the board a woman leaning away from the game covering herself with an enormous fan. I now know the painter is Francesco Beda, an Italian, who finished the work in 1879. The curious question is why my parents chose an image of an ornate interior while we lived in simple rooms of a blue-collar family. I often wondered who was winning the chess game.

I am the oldest of four children, three of whom are artists. I am asked if either parent was an artist. Though the answer is no, I do believe the creativity aligns with my mother’s side since I have several cousins who are artists, musicians, and chefs. I used to joke that some relative of mine was swimming in the same gene pool with Michelangelo.

I became an oil painter at age 35. Until then, I attempted to be a children’s book illustrator in between teaching Montessori kindergarten and raising two kids. I illustrated three Native American stories, only one of which was published as part of an SRA whole language reading series numbering 100 paperback books. Several other books are in various stages of completion, stored in a big box.

In 1984, I met Clifford West, former department chair of painting at Cranbrook Academy of Art. I studied oil painting under his tutelage for three years while still teaching Montessori kindergarten. Years later, I left the Montessori classroom and moved on to teach at two museums and a university—but not painting. I had taught myself printmaking, and I became the printmaking professor. I then bought a press on a grant and began running bimonthly workshops in my studio.

Nine years ago, I moved to San Miguel de Allende. I sold my press. I now pursue drawing, painting, and mixed mediums. I am opening my studio for visits by appointment only every Fri. and Sat. afternoon from 1-4 p.m. Masks are required and space is limited to four people. Please email me for an appointment, katcammarata@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.

The studio is located at Alameda 6 (5 if using your phone), Col. San Antonio.

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