We had the good fortune of connecting with Karuna Leach and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karuna, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
I love to paint, and would continue doing so regardless of whether I maintain an art business, therefore giving up art is not something that I would ever consider. Creativity is an energy I am compelled to release, so I will always continue to create art in some form or fashion. The creation and the enjoyment of art, however, is a shared experience: it’s a visual language that must be read and felt, and so the business of art is essential. It was definitely challenging to “expose” myself by starting my business, but, without a doubt, it has helped grow my confidence as an artist. My husband is completely supportive of my artistic pursuits (as my biggest fan) and even though he isn’t a visual artist himself, he sees that who I am is being expressed through what I paint. My studio is currently located at Silver Street Studios in the Sawyer Yards Arts District. And even though where I decide to create my art could change, I can’t see myself not producing art that is made available to the public. Being an artist is part of my identity and how I choose to make my voice heard, and, frankly, how many people spend their entire lives trying to find their voice? It’s so rewarding for me to connect with someone who sees something special in my work, and quite often I get inspiration from what they see: it becomes a shared experience at that point, and adds new meaning to the artwork.
So tell us a little bit about your story.
I do not have the “traditional” art story of some who, for example, have started painting when they were four and then pursued it academically. I discovered my artistic expression in my late twenties, following business school and a few years in the corporate world, during a time in which I was laid off. Since my journey as an artist started much later in life and did not include a formal education or training, it has been a road of exploration, self discovery, and spiritual awakening with a handful teachers along the way. I think all three of these dimensions are reflected in my work, and they make me the artist that I am. I’ve had to push past the temptation to compare myself to others and get to a place of realization that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If I connect with a piece as I am creating it, then I truly believe that someone else will connect with it also as we are all connected—it’s my personal path that I’m offering to others in order to find that link in them too. My spirituality is closely aligned with my artistic expression, and it goes beyond just a representation of my thoughts: it also displays my emotions and—more profoundly–the essence of my spirit in communion with God. It is a co-creative process that I love to present to others to see what they see, and the times when our “sight” aligns is pure bliss.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve lived in Houston most of my life, having grown up in Clear Lake, but my favorite part of the city is where I currently live just outside the Heights. So most of my recommendations for food, drink and wonderful hang out spots are in the Heights and surrounding areas in no particular order with a couple of must see items thrown in: -Silver Street Studios & Sawyer Yards Arts District for Second Saturday Open Studios – a chance to walk through hundreds of open art studios and see a huge variety of local art! -Hughies on 18th Street is an amazing Vietnamese fusion sports bar with great drink deals -Fusion Taco on Main St -Rainbow Lodge and Brenner’s on the Bayou for upscale happy hours with great views -Nobu in the Galleria for an amazing sushi happy hour -Buff Brewery on Henderson for good beer along with the best unobstructed view of the downtown skyline -White Oak Bayou and Buffalo Bayou Park for wonderful outdoor hiking and biking trails -The Downtown Theater District for a concert; my husband and I love Da Camera and Society for the Performing Arts events. -Space Center Houston since a first time trip to Rocket City would not be complete without a visit to Clear Lake to see (among other things) the colossal Saturn V rocket. I did not appreciate this community of world class engineers, space explorers and pioneers near as much growing up as I do now!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My biggest shoutout goes to my husband (Peter) who keeps encouraging me every step of the way in my artistic journey. He understands that being an artist is a significant part of who I am and encourages me to always make space for it. I am so grateful that he gets me and champions me in this pursuit. Additionally I would like to send a shoutout to Natalie Cochran, owner of Disegno Studio. I have added to my collector base in meaningful ways through Disegno, but Natalie has also been a business mentor and personal friend. Sales and marketing are not my strong suit, but, with Natalie’s advice, I’ve really challenged myself and have learned to focus more on the marketing and business development aspects of my business.
Darrell Williams Xenia Garrett Rick Wells