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Strokes of genius
by Paul Gonzales
Aug 17, 2012 | 1400 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Paul Gonzales photo
Kristen Garcia is a CBC and University of Houston graduate. She currently has two paintings on display at the Beeville Art Museum as part of the 2012 Texas Artists Exhibition. The exhibit runs through Aug. 25.
Paul Gonzales photo Kristen Garcia is a CBC and University of Houston graduate. She currently has two paintings on display at the Beeville Art Museum as part of the 2012 Texas Artists Exhibition. The exhibit runs through Aug. 25.
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An untitled painting by Kristen Garcia. Garcia’s artwork has been displayed at Times Square in New York City as part of a competition she won, beating out thousands of artists.
An untitled painting by Kristen Garcia. Garcia’s artwork has been displayed at Times Square in New York City as part of a competition she won, beating out thousands of artists.
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Paul Gonzales photo.Kristen Garcia's painting of her grandmother is one of three in a series. The first one in the series, featuring her mother, is on display at the Beeville Art Museum from August 4-25.
Paul Gonzales photo.Kristen Garcia's painting of her grandmother is one of three in a series. The first one in the series, featuring her mother, is on display at the Beeville Art Museum from August 4-25.
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Kristen Garcia is a quiet young lady. She talks low, gets nervous a little too easily, and her eyes continuously flutter around the room behind her black-framed glasses as she speaks.

Yet, from a glance, you can tell she’s up to something. That her brain’s soaking up everything around her and storing it away for future use.

She looks like she should be lounging around a coffee shop, sipping a latte with beret-wearing hipsters, because, well, she looks like an artist. That’s probably due to the fact that she is one.

And a notable one at that.

“When I was a kid, I would always doodle,” Garcia remembered. “It wasn’t anything fancy, but when I started to get really serious was when I went to Coastal Bend College in Beeville.”

Garcia remembered, “I was taking my basics first at CBC, and that was the point when I was asking all these questions, like ‘what am I going to do?’ ‘what field am I going to get into?’

“It was really important for me to try and figure it all out. That’s when the art professor there, Jayne Duryea, saw my sketches, and she sort of drove me in that direction.

“I was originally thinking forensic science and going that route. And she said, ‘No, I think you’d be great in this field.’

“So, I said, ‘OK, I’ll just go for it and try it out.’ I just took her advice, and it’s working out pretty good so far.”

And, as it turns out, she is quite the painter also.

Having run across some of her work online and some even hanging up at friends’ houses, it was evident from even the first glimpse of some of her early work that she was on to something.

Starting off by drawing comic book and cartoon characters, she eventually began embracing all aspects of the art realm and used that knowledge to form her own unique style.

Garcia said, “I really like the differences between realistic art and mixing that with illustration or abstract art. So, a lot of my stuff is kind of a mix, because I like it all.”

So, after graduating from CBC, she set her sights on a bigger, more culturally-diverse school, The University of Houston.

“When I went to the University of Houston, all my professors were all about abstract art,” she said.

“So, I guess in that sense, I learned how to make art that wasn’t so literal or with a literal narrative.”

“It was a different experience. The art program there is amazing. I had a good time there.”

When asked if there was any sort of culture shock leaving Beeville and entering Houston, she gave a word answer.

“Yes.”

But she embraced the changes in stride – even without a car with which to get around, she made her way through the bustling city streets and did her best to seek out new and exciting art.

“It’s easier in a big city to find shows – gallery shows – and promote yourself.

“The first thing I wanted to do was just get my work out there and get exposure at the different galleries.”

During the grueling school semesters, the professors would sometimes make students crank out about eight paintings in a single month.

“That was intense,” Garcia said with a laugh.

“It was good practice but very labor intensive. My class was about nine hours every day plus additional hours after class, because they want you to continue working. It was constant work.

“But, when you finish, you feel accomplished, because you have so much art.”

And the university has a history of embracing the students and really giving them a chance to have their work seen.

“We had a senior show, and all the senior painters had their own little gallery show.

“It wasn’t at the school; it was at an actual gallery, and it was really a great turnout.

“A lot of people went. And I got a lot of feedback from my work as well.”

But Garcia’s art interests didn’t only pertain to the front of the canvas.

Working and maintaining a gallery is intensive and can be daunting without proper training.

“I had an internship at Diverse Works art space, and they taught me how work in a gallery and what it takes to have one.

“So, I learned the business part of that, and you meet all your contacts, and they would have a show, and you’d meet all the artists and see the background part of it.”

And where do tattoos come in to the picture?

Sure, she has a few and is a fan of old school traditional tattoo art, but when a friend asked if she was interested in making a little money on the side, she saw another chance to broaden her artistic horizon.

“A friend of mine knows that I draw pretty good, so he decided he wanted to help me out financially,” Garcia mentioned. “He said I could get the apprenticeship and makes some extra cash, and I said ‘OK,’ and I went for it.

“So far, it’s at a standstill, because I had to come back home, but he’s still willing to continue with that. I’m slowly learning.”

But she was still hungry, so she decided to take a bite out of the Big Apple.

But why do a show in a little gallery with small canvases when you can have huge electronic billboards in Times Square?

“I entered an online art competition, and there were thousands of artists who entered it and a couple of hundred got picked,” she recalled.

“They would pick two out of about nine pieces of your work and displayed them on two big screens in Times Square.

“It was a big deal, because they broadcast it online, and there’s a lot of people in Times Square.”

So, while she just moved back to Beeville after her two-year stint in Houston, she has her sights on moving on and getting her career in line.

“I guess, as a career, I really wanted to do gallery work, but I also want to teach,” Garcia laughed. “I’ll be working for my teaching certificate. Soon hopefully.”

But in the meantime, she continues to hone her craft and get better at what she loves to do.

“I’m always striving to get better. I’m a really big critic of myself. I see my paintings, and I’m like, ‘This could be totally better,’” she said.

“I always feel the need to have it perfect, and nothing’s ever perfect, so it doesn’t ever really work out for me.

“It can take months to try and finish a painting, depending on the size.”

But trying to adjust to the quiet life back in her hometown doesn’t really seem to faze her much.

She’s going about her day-to-day duties while entering as many art competitions as possible.

“Right now I’m just trying to find a job, because I have crazy student loans that I have to pay,” Garcia laughed.

“I’m more worried about that as of now. I’ve just been checking out competitions. I’m looking into an art competition in Dallas right now.

“Hopefully, something good will come of that.

“You have to drive yourself and motivate yourself every day to produce work, and I say, the more you do it, the better you get.

“I’m telling you, practice is everything. My first paintings were atrocious. They were bad. But I’m getting better and learning as well.”

Whether she’s taking life lessons or art lessons, Garcia is growing as an artist and as a young lady.

Even though she seems quite capable of teaching both of those lessons herself.

Two of Garcia’s painting are currently on display at the Beeville Art Museum as part of the 2012 Texas Artists Exhibition. The exhibit runs from Aug. 4-25.

Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.
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