Raette Meredith: Interview with Tamara Kain for Artazine

ARTAZINE, The North State’s Resource for ARTs Education hosts a monthly visual arts competition online for regional artists. The artwork is juried anonymously by local arts instructors, and professionals. 
The first competition held exclusively online was the November 2010 “Fall Season” 2-D competition, open to painters in all mediums. The competition was juried by Hawkman Studios of Redding, CA.

The winner, Tamara Kain, of Anderson CA won with her exquisite silk painting, “Pumpkins”. She was awarded cash and free ad space for one month on ARTAZINE.org.


Tamara took some time to answer some questions about her work for this interview. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Tamara also offers classes and workshops for silk painting in her studio, also located in Anderson. Keep an eye out for her class schedule to be posted at ARTAZINE.org.


Have you always lived in Shasta County?

Originally I am from Ohio, a true mid-Western country girl.  More recently I am from the Bay Area and I am much enjoying getting “back to my country roots.” My husband and I live on 5 acres in the Anderson area where we mow, mow and mow.

How long have you been painting?

I have been painting all of my adult life, beginning with Tole Painting in the 1970s. I then moved onto oil painting on canvas taking private lessons.  When my children were young, I became interested in children’s art and began taking classes in early childhood education at a local college.  Finding life drawing classes offered I began my own formal art training. After experimenting with watercolor I started painting on silk in the early ,90’s.  It has become my favorite medium and painting on silk led me to explore textiles, my second favorite medium.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Much of my inspiration is from nature. I enjoy gardening, and bird watching is one of my favorite pastimes. I am a fan of Frida Kahlo and admire her strength of conviction in her art expression.

Do listen to music while you paint?

Most always. I have an eclectic taste from “Talking Heads” to classical guitar. Also, depending on what I’m working on, I may listen to books on tape, especially if I am doing something repetitive with surface design.

Where do you paint?

I have a terrific studio in my home.  A large double car garage that is totally mine!  We had to build a shop for my husband’s hot rod and work equipment.

Your winning painting is a silk titled “Pumpkins”. Where did you learn to paint on silk? What do you find to be the biggest challenge with silk painting?

A friend invited me to attend her silk painting class and I was hooked.  I soon began assisting her with the classes while growing my own expertise.

The biggest challenge for me with silk painting has been letting go of expectations. After stretching, applying the design and painting dye on the silk, it is steamed for three hours to set the dye.  In the steaming process, the dyes can and do, breach the resist resulting sometimes in “happy accidents.” (But more often than not it’s an “unhappy accident.”) The dyes may move in unexpected ways, not always ending with my original expectation. I call them production gremlins. With experience though, many of these accidents are minimal.

Also, depending on atmospheric conditions, air temperature, humidity etc. will also affect a piece.  The silk can and does absorb moisture from the air affecting how the dye flows and dries.

What is your favorite medium to work with and why?

Definitely silk painting!  I truly enjoy how the silk reflects color; the richness of dye painted silk and the bonus being the effects and techniques that are seemingly endless.  As well the many uses for the finished piece; fine art, wearable art and home furnishings.

My small art quilt tapestries, some like fabric collages, are very satisfying too.  I incorporate small bits of painted silk, beads, threads and other ephemera to complete a piece. I free motion stitch some and hand stitch others.

I also love pastels, as they are so immediate and forgiving.  When I paint with them, I feel free of expectation and let the creativity take over.

What is your favorite subject to paint?

I paint a lot of flowers. The way the silk takes the dye lends itself to flowers. The influence of my gardening I suppose but I couldn’t say it’s my favorite. I enjoy painting birds and still life too.  Next on my imagined list are paintings of cityscapes.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your work?

The creative process is my most enjoyed part of doing any art form.  It is the best place to be.  There aren’t any rules!

I’d love to see more of your work. Do you show locally?

Currently I have pieces hanging at the Carter House Art Gallery with the North Valley Art League.

You mentioned that you offer painting classes? How long have you been teaching?

Teaching children art through the Art Docent Program at our local elementary school, drawing classes to middle-school children and private classes to adults, I would say that I have been teaching in one form or another for over 20 years.

Tamara’s website is http://www.windancerdesign.com.

Congratulations, Tamara!  We look forward to seeing more of your fabulous work!

Interview by Raette Meredith, founder of ARTAZINE

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

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