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Style El Dorado County Foothills

Placerville Artist Draws Inspiration from Natural Surroundings

06/29/2015 01:10PM ● By Style

Photo by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group

Although she’s always been apt at drawing, Katie Caulk never considered herself an artist until she tasted success at a small art fair in 2009 where she sold much of her work. After building a lucrative career in Silicon Valley designing computer chip layouts and book covers and interiors for a self-publisher, it wasn’t until her children were older that Caulk began to fully explore her artistic talents. Over the years, the artist developed her linocut capabilities in her spare time, blossoming into the masterful printmaker she is today. 

HLB: Tell us about your life as a young artist. 

KC: While everyone dashed off to play during “free time” in kindergarten, I collected crayons and paper. My wise mother received each day’s tulip drawings with gushing enthusiasm. 

HLB: Do you recall any significant influences? 

KC: An oil painting of zinnias by my paternal grandfather always found a place of honor in our home. I secretly aspired to equal his artistic talent. At the age of 12, I received my first art book: Michelangelo. I cannot tell you how often I practiced drawing the head and hands of David. 

HLB: Do you have any words of wisdom for achieving a work-life balance? 

KC: Have a forgiving partner when you get lost in your art! My husband offered to take me to Hawaii for my 50th birthday. I said I’d rather have a studio of my own. Lucky me, building one became a family project! My advice? Dedicate a space—even a closet—just for you. Then, more importantly, give yourself permission to do art! 

HLB: What attracted you to printmaking?

KC: A quote by George Bodner pretty much sums it up: “Printmaking is fun because it takes a perfectly simple process like drawing and makes it as complicated and error prone as possible.” 

HLB: Why linocuts? 

KC: The first time I put a carving tool to linoleum was in 1970 while in college. In 2009, I started carving multi-color linocuts, employing the reductive process, which uses one block for all colors. More challenging than using multiple blocks, the upside is that material costs are less, and aligning one layer over another is easier. 

HLB: Where do you find inspiration? 

KC: An emotional response to nature, the season, a chair, a mood, or a poem might inspire a piece. I capture photos of my surroundings for what might work in a linocut.

HLB: Do you have any favorite galleries or museums? 

KC: I’m drawn to galleries featuring local artists. The Gold Country Artists’ Gallery and Art Studio 360 (where I currently exhibit) both feature incredible talent, and the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento is a favorite; the recent Nature of William S.  Rice block-print exhibit was personally inspiring. 

HLB: What do you enjoy most about living in Placerville? 

KC: The locals and the sense of pride that we live somewhere special. I love the healthy vibe, being minutes from the charm of downtown, and the beauty these foothills inspire.

HLB: Any future goals?

KC: Linocut continues to intrigue me—taking a subject and reducing it into simple lines and flat planes of color—and creating abstract and edgier work using linocut is something I’ve been exploring, so stay tuned.

by Heather L. Becker

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