Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Feature: Kara Bigda

Hi Everyone,

This week I'm featuring Kara Bigda.  As soon as I saw her work I loved it immediately.  Each piece has such a great aesthetic.  She has a wonderful eye for composition.  They also have a lovely, inviting, homey feel.

To see more of Kara's work check out her blog and website.  

"A Vintage Bulb" 8.25" x 10"  original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

For as long as I can remember I always loved to draw and create: spending hours drawing scenes described in the books I was reading, and making books and “fashion catalogs” using Betty and Veronica from the Archie comics as my models.  (I would trace their bodies and design new outfits for them and describe the clothing in the margins.  How goofy is that?)   Also I had a great uncle who was a cartoonist and when we’d visit him he’d give me “art lessons.”  He was fabulous at drawing the figure.  As I mainly focus on still life today, let’s just say I wasn’t his most successful student . . . but he was a dear man.

As far as my journey is concerned, I took Art all through high school, attended a small liberal arts college here in the Northeast (Amherst College) and majored in Fine Arts.  I was sidetracked for a few years after graduation working in the insurance industry and came back to art through teaching.  I earned my Master’s degree in education and for ten years taught art, beginning in the elementary schools, moving up to middle school for a few years and finally ending up at the high school level.  I loved teaching each grade but found high school the most inspiring.  More and more I found myself wanting to do the lessons I was teaching and so in 2008, with the support of my husband, decided to resign from teaching and focus on my own art.

Where were you born? 

Holden, Massachusetts.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

I’m kind of simple . . . I really LOVE where I live now.  I’m sure there are more beautiful places where I would be very happy as well.  I have to say I love New England so anyplace where it’s VERY rural (but with a grocery store and shopping not too far away), there are beautiful old homes, lots of land (would love a pond on the property), and nearby family of course, I could be happy.  Think “Orchard House” from Little Women and the farm from “The Bridges of Madison County” with the sound of the screen door closing, from the “Waltons” all rolled into one somehow.

"Pomegranate Tea" 6"x6" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

I love the still life.  I like the challenge of creating dynamic compositions and playing with the space.  I’ve also always had a thing for design and I LOVE patterns and textures.  I love trying to capture the various surfaces in my subjects.

"Pumpkin Shadows" 9.75"x9.75" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
Which of your paintings was the most enjoyable to paint?  Which was the most difficult? 

This is a funny question to me.  All of my paintings are enjoyable to paint – especially at the beginning, but I still always feel as if it’s a crapshoot whether a painting will come together for me in the end. (I must admit there are a lot that I scrap or put off until a later date).  However, I’m going to answer “Pumpkin Shadows” because I tried this painting numerous times (beginning last Fall) and kept failing.  The experience of a year provided me with the skills to finally make it work.  So I guess I could say this was the most enjoyable one to paint while the most difficult.
"American Pride" 10"x11" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Oh geez . . . so many.  It’s like eating a potato chip – you can’t have just ONE!  Norman Rockwell has always been a favorite – Andrew Wyeth of course and Edward Hopper.  I was just turned on to T. Allen Lawson’s work as well.  I’ve also always been inspired by Vermeer, Jan van Eyck – and some of those other Dutch and Flemish painters – just amazing.  In addition I am constantly inspired and humbled by so many contemporary artists (those of whom I’d have never even known about, yet thanks to the internet I do now.)  However my biggest inspiration may be my former students, fellow art teachers and department head.  I can’t even explain how inspiring they were and continue to be to me – opening my eyes to the extraordinary – pushing me out of my comfort zone – inspiring me to do what I love.

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?

Painting as close to every day as I can is very important to me.  I can’t stress how essential that is to improving one’s skills.  (Personally, it also keeps me sane – well, as close to sane as I’ll ever be!)  J  Also, the computer/internet has been imperative to my “success.”  Blogging and Daily Paintworks has completely changed my life – I’m laughing at that – it sounds so dramatic, but it’s true.  And because I arrange my still lifes, photograph them, then compose them with the help of Photoshop, also goofing with filters to better see temperature and value, I have to include my digital camera and Photoshop.

"Ma's Chair" 6"x6" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigdga
Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

I have just discovered New Gamboge through a class I’m taking.  LOVE IT!  It’s a great yellow.  I have found limiting my palette works best for me; otherwise I start getting muddy and all messed up!  Cobalt Blue and Alizarin Crimson are definite go-to’s.  Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna are pretty important to me as well.

Do you ever get artist’s block?  And what do you do to overcome it?

Yes, definitely. (when don’t I get it!?  --Ha!)  I just keep painting.  I used to tell my students – there are only so many yucky paintings/drawings you have in you so you might as well keep working to get them out of your system so you can get to the good stuff.  (I don’t know if that’s true, but it seems to work!)  :)

"Glass Apple" 9"x11" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years?  Dream big here.

Hmm . . . I’m really very content (or totally limited) so I’m not sure.  Let’s see:

1)      Get gallery representation (I think)
2)      Re-do the kitchen and upstairs bathroom (not art related and totally do-able, but would LOVE this!)
3)      Become financially independent with my art (thank heavens for my husband!)
4)      Would love to see Italy, Ireland and Spain
5)      Have my own private jet with an amazing pilot of course.  :)   This is related to #4 – I HATE public transportation, particularly air travel, so this would be my biggest dream ever.

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

- Paint every day if you can. 
- Don’t ignore composition – I think this is probably the most important step because even if you have mad skills a horrible arrangement of the space won’t draw viewers to your work and your skills will be overlooked. 
- Get online – research other artists (so inspiring!).  Start a blog (it’s free and I’m tellin’ ya’ this has been such a wonderful experience for me, so encouraging thanks to all the wonderful people out there J -- and thank you Carrie!) 
- Take some classes if you can – learn to mat your own work (and even frame – such a great skill).  Learn Photoshop (you can design your own promotional materials and save oodles of $). 
- Invest carefully – KNOW what you are spending and what you are bringing in. – break it down and keep track.  You may not be making money for a while, that’s ok (if you can afford it of course) we all love our supplies and have to initially invest, but know that. 
- Join an art group if you can; connect with other artists, and enter some shows, get your name and your work out there.  (Daily Paintworks has really been amazing for me.)
- Finally, be patient – have goals but don’t expect too much.  It’s work, but I think it’s really fun and it can be soooo rewarding.

"Blueberries IV" 10"x10"original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

This really struck me recently:  I think artist Carol Marine once blogged something like “it doesn’t matter the color, but you have to get the VALUE right” – LIFE CHANGING moment for me – la, la-laaaaa! J

"Morning Tea" 6"x6" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda

Chocolate or vanilla? 
Chocolate (with jimmies on a sugar cone – both literally and figuratively) 

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat

Book or movie?

Favorite author?
Jane Austen

Favorite Movie?
“The Way We Were” (kills me every time!  Hubble Gardner – ooh la la!);  “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (close second – is Audrey Hepburn the most elegant woman or what?); “You’ve Got Mail” (can’t ever change the channel when this is on); and “That Touch of Mink” (oh Cary Grant, need I say more?  And Doris Day – want to be her and wear those clothes!)  (sorry for babbling, I know the question was in the singular)

Romance or comedy?
Despite some of my previous answers -- Romantic comedy

Favorite ice cream flavor?
“Cookies and Cream” or “Moosetracks”

Night owl or morning person?
Night owl by nature – but working on becoming a morning person

Cake or Cupcakes?

Thank you so much, Kara:))

Also I have a HOLIDAY SALE right now, click here.

Have a fabulous weekend:))



  1. Fabulos paintings and interview. Thanks Carrie..

  2. Une série de peintures incroyablement excellentes et délicates... Un reportage toujours aussi fascinant. J'ai vraiment beaucoup de plaisir à vous lire et à découvrir à chaque fois vos publications.
    Gros bisous

  3. Great interview with Kara, I'll have to check out more of her wonderful art.
    Carol B.

  4. Really loved this interview Carrie and Kara! I adore her work, her attention to detail is pretty astounding. :)

  5. Wonderful post today... Really enjoyed Karas' work and your interview with her..

  6. THANK YOU! how wonderful to meet this amazing artist and see her incredible work! outstanding!

  7. Again, Carrie, beautiful interview. She does incredible work...I'll have to check her blog out!

  8. Great pick for your interview .Her work is definatly worth studying as well as enjoying. I swear she was reading my mind though during her speed round. My answers exactly. Doris always had the BEST clothes :-)

  9. Wow! Kara's work really reminds me of your own! It is remarkable. I am SO impressed! :0)