write your own rules
Kaleen Cameron believes you can (and should!) write your own rules. or, in her case, make your own medium: the San Francisco artist uses plaster, paint and driftwood to create wall hangings like you’ve never seen before — minimal, monochromatic masterpieces that are as much about texture as they are aesthetics. “it’s important to stay open,” she says. here’s how she does it — and why.
where do you live?
“i live in San Francisco in the Outer Sunset area. i have two roommates — my twin sister and a friend i’ve known since high school — so it is a very close-knit home. we also have two big dogs! my sisters’ dog Luma is a Great Pyrenees / Border Collie and my dog Wyatt is a Husky/German Shepherd/Grey Wolf. my love of neutral decor has definitely been challenging with them running around but they are more than worth it!”
why do you live where you do?
“my goal when looking for a home after years of living in apartments was to find a place with a garage and enough space to have an art studio — which is hard to come by in San Francisco! about four years ago, i found the perfect home in the Outer Sunset that checked off all the boxes. it was one of those moments where everything fell into place and i got a call back from the realtor the same afternoon i submitted my application. it was like it was meant to be! i am so grateful for this space, as it has allowed me to grow immensely as an artist.”
what do you do — professionally, personally, passionately?
“i am a full-time artist. painting is my passion, so you will most often find me in my art studio at home — however, i love being out in nature with my dog, Wyatt. i find inspiration from my surroundings, especially when i am out at the beach or on a hiking trail. the nature in the Bay Area is incredible.” check out her work HERE. follow her on instagrm HERE.
what path led you here? what inspires and drives you? how do you land on your medium?
“i love fashion and interior design, but didn’t experiment with art until my mid 20s. i first created these sculpture-like wall hangings with driftwood that i had collected on hikes. it was a spontaneous project to fill the walls in my apartment, but after receiving encouragement from friends / family i decided to start selling my work online. my artwork has evolved so much since then. i fell in love with working with plaster a few years ago, and haven’t turned back. i love the texture i can build, and the resulting look / feel is very earthy and muted.”
how do you approach your work? how does it go from idea to reality?
“i am definitely an intuitive painter. i rarely have a design or specific direction in mind when i start a painting. texture is the driving force of my work — however, since discovering clay plaster (which doesn’t dry fast like plaster of Paris) i have been playing around with new techniques. when i do have a specific idea in mind that i want to try, a lot of the time it doesn’t come out as expected and it’s in those moments of “fixing” that i create some of my best, most original works. it’s important to stay open to experimentation and to have fun with it.”
something you’ve learned on the job?
“…plaster of Paris dries very, very fast!”
one work that is especially meaningful to you?
“while commissions can be stressful for me, they are also very rewarding because i get to work more closely with clients to create something meaningful for them. i once created a piece for a client who was commemorating a loved one who had passed. she wanted an abstract landscape piece inspired by Mount Tamalpais, where they would visit often. it’s a special feeling to create artwork that will bring up beautiful memories for someone.”
any advice for aspiring artists?
“don’t be afraid to try new mediums or ideas. it can be an investment at first, but experimentation will eventually lead you to a medium / technique / style that feels right for you.”
we are living in crazy — but important, for so many reasons — times. what is life like right now for you?
“my heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one or has fallen into hard times due to the pandemic. i am incredibly fortunate that COVID-19 hasn’t affected the health of anyone in my family. my day-to-day hasn’t changed much since i work from home and mostly sell my work online. i am so grateful that i have been able to continue my craft and take things a bit slower. i do deeply miss art fairs, which always made me feel so connected to the community and was a wonderful opportunity for me to talk to my customers in-person.”
what feels different about this year?
“it feels slower, which at the moment i am very grateful for. i often feel guilty if i am not constantly working, and this year i would like to make more room to rest and recharge. i am incredibly lucky to be in a position where slowing things down is even an option. i don’t take that for granted.”
what are you looking forward to most right now?
“creating for me. i decided to take on less commissions this year, which really allows me to focus on creating what feels right in the moment without any expectations. as an intuitive painter, this is when i truly thrive.”
what's the single best thing you bought, read, did, listened to, saw, cooked and /or dreamed up so far this year?
“some of my favorite audiobooks i’ve listened to this year: Think Like a Monk, The War of Art, You Are a Badass at Making Money, Becoming Supernatural.”
piece of époque on current rotation?
“the one crop top! it is so versatile! and the all day cardigan, it’s the softest cotton you’ve ever felt!”
three random items you can’t live without?
“Palette knives, Soothe slippers (recent obsession), and sunscreen.”
all-around life hack you swear by?
“sauerkraut on everything.”
not-so guilty pleasure?
“all the gummy candy i can get my hands on. …although i am starting to feel slightly guilty about it after i turned 30.”