Kate Zambrano is a self-taught artist residing in California.
She left Texas, her home state, at age seventeen to travel. She entered college the next year to study psychology. After discovering that she loved the subject more than the idea of a career in the field, she began teaching herself how to draw. The next two years Kate pushed herself through trial and error, challenge and discovery. But every now and then, a small epiphany would occur to assure her that she was on the right path.
Each step was a building block for the next. And so it has gone ever since, gradually becoming a fine art portrait artist with a dark aesthetic. She is constantly learning and trying to better both herself and her work, pushing herself to the far limits of her mind.
What’s your preferred medium to paint, and have you tried different mediums before?
I really love painting in oils. I love the different ways you can manipulate it. I love watercolor as well, but I like to use it in conjunction to a dry media like charcoal. I feel the way the addition of charcoal really boosts the depth in a watercolor piece.
What do you do to get out of an artist block?
I used to feel very guilty for having bouts of creative block, but I realized that those times are essential for growth. As much as I'd like to create pieces all day every day like I did when I was starting out, I know that I am in a different place now. I am constantly thinking about and absorbing art, and I might not have realized it before, but I really need those times to make sure I am able to process all the work I have been doing. If the block lasts too long, and I get too anxious, I will start out small or on something I've never done before - like doing an oil painting on a magnifying glass. Mixing things up is very important so I don't burn out.
At what age/what turning point led you to be an artist?
About ten years ago, I met some professional artists - I had no idea that was a real-life profession. Especially for anyone near to my young age. I thought to myself, "I could probably do that." Which was the craziest, most delusional thought I've ever had, but led me to start teaching myself how to draw. I spent the next year and a half working from ten to twelve hours a day trying to learn how to make things look like things. Some days would be amazing and I'd feel really accomplished, and other days I'd feel like a pile of poo. I felt indescribably determined and stubborn. I think being an artist takes that level of neurosis and obsession. I still find myself trying to live up to the thought that I could probably be an artist, too. I hope it never goes away, so that I may continue to push myself.
What do you listen to when you are painting/creating artwork? Why?
I go through phases where I need to only listen to music or audiobooks or podcasts. I find that audiobooks or podcasts are higher in my rotation because they fill the space in my head I'd normally use to hyper-focus or berate myself while working. I love to learn and often don't have the time to further any sort of education, so it's really nice that I can listen and learn while making art.
Do you feel it’s necessary to finish your painting prior to beginning another? Why?
I don't feel the need to finish something before beginning something else. I used to, but I think now it helps me to get away from overworking one piece by visiting another. I can remain more objective on my decisions by having more distance.
When you receive unsolicited critiques or comments, how do you feel/how do you react?
Unless I ask, I don't need or want to know what someone thinks I should be doing. It's presumptuous to give a critique to an artist who is making their own work and posting/displaying it publicly. Take the critique and utilize it yourself if you think you know best.
What are your favorite Trekell products?
For charcoals/pastel I love the round Bristle Brushes. I typically use two #6s and two #4s - one set for dark values and one set for lights. Best part is that you don't have to wash them a lot since it's a dry media! For oils, I am a huge fan of the Golden Taklon line. It's amazing how much I can do with just a few #4 rounds. I'm also very into the birch panels! I can do both charcoal work or oils on them.