Bee’ing Beautiful: Meet Encaustic Artist Kara Brook Brown
Sometimes going back to your roots can spark imagination, leading you to new adventures. For example, Kara Brook Brown left a corporate career and returned to her childhood passions of painting and philanthropy — and found a way to blend them into a business.
Waxing Poetic With Paint
To supply beeswax for her encaustic paintings, Kara started beekeeping on a portion of her Chesapeake Bay farm. The Maryland artist uses various encaustic techniques, from monotypes to classical paintings on wood panels, enjoying the similarities between the way that both she and her winged friends build up layers of wax. In fact, when Kara finds herself in a creative block, she calls to mind the honeybees: “When I can feel that I am a part of their way of being, life and art make sense.”
Kara’s featured work above is titled “Copper Study.” The piece below, “Poppy,” is framed it in the Charcoal Woodgrain finish of our Wood Profile 549.
Along the way, Kara learned how vital bees are to the planet’s sustainability, as well as how valuable honey is for healing and nurturing. Soon a new business was born: Bee Inspired. Merging art and altruism, Bee Inspired offers artisan-crafted, ecologically respectful gifts, like candles, bath and body products, flavored organic honey — and her fine art. For a benevolent twist, the giver receives a free gift and a nonprofit partner receives a grant.
See More of Kara’s Work
Kara’s art can be found in the Home+Art section of her Bee Inspired website. Three percent of all sales from her fine art is donated to her alma mater, the Maryland Institute College of Art. To read which opportunities have challenged Kara (in a good way), and how her work connects viewers to their emotions, scroll to the Q&A below.
Now for Artie’s Eight Q&A with Kara Brook Brown…
- What is your background; how did you get started?
I declared myself a painter at age four. My parents didn’t have much money to spare, but they allowed me to take art lessons from a neighbor who championed annual art projects to benefit the local youth. The experience shaped my life. Fast forward to graduating with a dual degree in Visual Communications and Art History from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and starting on a winding road back to painting after a graphic design and communications technology career.
- What role do you think the artist plays in society?
I believe that my work is a catalyst that connects the viewer to their emotions, aspirations, hopes, and memories. Art calls a person to pause – and in that moment, to step outside his or her routine and see something with fresh eyes.
- What has been a formative experience or the best advice you’ve received within your career?
Over the last two decades, I’ve been able to meet emerging artists and discuss their work with them at art shows in New York and Europe. These opportunities have encouraged and challenged me to try new methods, subjects, and art forms.
- In what ways does your work reflect your personality?
I experience the mystery and joy of life through my art. In 2010, I became captivated by encaustic art and its sustainable properties. Building up layers of wax is fascinating; so tactile and satisfying. It is slow and difficult – just like bees building the honeycomb within hives. This practice takes me into the heart of nature, where I thrive. I want my art to inspire with its translucence, radiance, and harmony of the multiple layers, so that you want to preserve it for generations.
- Creative blocks, do you get them? If so, how do you overcome them?
Sure. I get creative blocks when my hands are not delivering my imagination. I overcome the block by re-engaging the medium as a creative partner, to get back into the flow. These last 10 years, I also frequently call the honeybees to mind. When I can feel that I am a part of their way of being, life and art make sense.
- What is your most indispensable tool? (Not counting the obvious, like paints, brushes, canvas, camera, etc.)
Observation and appreciation are my guiding lights. Being relaxed and still, listening to my heart.
- Do you have a new project you are working on, or a new passionate idea?
At the encaustic table, I am currently focusing on the powers of color and texture — separately and together. I am working in abstract to release possibilities for each individual viewer to respond at a deep level and see the message they need to receive.
- What is your favorite color to incorporate into your art?
I love how even the tiniest pop of red energizes my work.
All artwork and/or photographs used in this post are subject to copyright held by the featured artist.
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Las Updated June 22, 2023