We had the good fortune of connecting with Kathryn Gastelum and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kathryn, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The most important factor behind my success is that I never give up being an Artist. It is truly challenging to constantly put yourself out there and show your artwork, which is a reflection of you.  Meanwhile, it is important to pursue and apply to new artist calls and be bold enough to take new opportunities. But, when things DO work out and you are selected for a show, or a painting sells or several customers must have one of your hand painted silk scarves, my gratitude is taken to another level!!  THIS is success to me!  It keeps me motivated, validated and happy!  It also means you’ve got to be tough enough to keep moving forward when things don’t work out.  An artist really has to deal with many let downs, more than most people in other careers, and it’s an emotional drain, but life ebbs and flows and you just have to honor each experience and see it as another lesson towards something even better. It takes commitment and determination to keep a weekly studio schedule and create new paintings, but it is the only way to keep improving and evolving. I thrive on color, composition and design, working towards the style of painting that most resonates with me. Being original in my abstract style of painting and knowing what I do matters is my success.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Painting is thought provoking, exciting, challenging and exhausting…and I love it! I know many figurative artists that are incredible but there’s just something about abstraction that makes everything better.  It is not easy for some traditional artists to cross over to abstraction. It really takes a lot of practice or a lifetime to develop your own style, but it is always interesting and intriguing. There’s usually something deeper to discover within every painting. I believe my art work is set apart from others just by the use of color, line and shapes.  Our Southwest desert sunsets prove to be the best abstracts around; they are always inspiring.  When painting, I prefer large canvases and my new favorite medium is cold wax with oil paint. It can be layered on thickly or transparently, then scraped away to reveal underlying colors. It is a totally new look compared to straight oil paint and it dries quickly.  I have learned that you have to keep an open mind and take workshops to get out of your comfort zone. It’s so easy to be really hard on yourself, so I have to remember to take it easy – a life lesson towards anything, for sure.  Also, it’s been very exciting to hand paint abstractly on stone washed silk scarves with professional Jacquard dyes. They are enjoyable to design and it’s a nice break from canvas painting. Once painted, they are steam set, hand washed, ironed and ready to wear.  Due to the pandemic and lockdowns, I’ve had some great studio time painting (social isolation is nothing new for artists!!) and I decided to design abstract silk masks…wow! this has really kept me busy with new orders.  I’m committed to donating a portion from each mask sale to the Navajo Nation Covid-relief fund.
I’m also grateful to be a member artist of Untitled Gallery in Tucson which keeps me prepping for monthly receptions.  Another exciting development is that I was selected to be apart of a new online boutique gallery to be launched in early June!  It has not been easy to get to where I am now as an artist. I’m ever grateful to my supportive husband so that I can focus on painting, meanwhile, the drive to get in the studio has to come from within and it is imperative to keep motivated, determined and positive.  I just keep submitting to calls and taking opportunities. Happily, every year has been a gradual incline in new exhibits, experiences and recognition. I describe my work as an “improvisation in color” because I am inspired by jazz music when I paint which is another form of abstraction. Your mind can just wander so creatively, but within the framework of composing for music or art. There’s just something about the beauty of art that makes the world better. I’m here to create amazing abstracts and beautiful scarves for you!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a close friend was visiting I would share Vivace Italian restaurant for delicious food an amazing sunset and city light views from the foothills. I would take them to Sabino Canyon for trail walks or drive out to The Desert Museum to really be immersed into the desert wildlife and beauty. I would also show them around historic Arizona Inn and head downtown to the many unique areas like 4th Avenue, Congress street and the Mercado district for specialty shops. A visit to Tucson Museum of Art, downtown restaurants and unique Tucson bars like Ermanos and the Owls Club. A weekend trip would include a drive to Scottsdale, AZ to see a Diamondback game, some shopping at Kierland and exceptional dining at Cafe Monarch.  However, if a week trip was possible in order to really absorb the Southwest, a drive north to Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo Reservation would definitely be memorable.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
A big Shoutout to my husband and (adult) kids, family and close friends who always keep things very real and honest. They always keep me moving forward with support and encouragement…with NO sugar coating here!  A big Shoutout to Untitled Gallery (again) the new collective gallery in the historic Steinfeld building located downtown Tucson, we just celebrated our one year anniversary in May! It has been both rewarding and challenging with the many facets of running a gallery!  Please view our website: untitledgallerytucson.com.  My final shoutout to Anthropologie, the best global boutique!       I’ve enjoyed being a holiday sales associate the past five seasons and their creative style truly continues to inspire my own artistic journey.

Website: www.studiokgastelum.com
Instagram: @studiokgastelum
Linkedin: Kathryn Gastelum
Facebook: @StudioKathrynGastelum

Image Credits
Kathryn Gastelum