Kate McCullough, Traffic Jam in Times Square, 2013; watercolor on paper, 27 x 35 inches

Kate McCullough, Traffic Jam in Times Square, 2013; watercolor on paper, 27 x 35 inches

My Art Journeys and How They Came Back to Buffalo

Monday, April 1, 2013


The trip back started one very innocuous day while checking emails. I am the web master (and I use that term very loosely) of the Knoxville Watercolor Society and a contact came into me from the Burchfield Penney Art Center introducing watercolor societies around the country to BPAC. Having been born and raised in Buffalo, NY it piqued my interest. I have always considered Buffalo home even though I’ve been away for nearly 30 years.

My art journey started in Buffalo, ah, well, should I say..some time ago. So many times when we think we are content to follow a particular path in life a detour pops up and we are forced to make decisions. At the end of a12-year marriage and with three small children I was faced with an opportunity to better define myself. Going back to college was what I chose to do. After high school I had earned an Associate’s degree from Mohawk Valley Community College in Secretarial Science. Of all the choices I could have made – to be someone’s secretary - was probably one of the worst for me. I don’t mean to denigrate secretaries or what is now better known as administrative assistants, they are worth their weight in gold; I just don’t happen to be one of them. Therefore, I chose to enter the art field. I first spent two years at Villa Maria College and then transferred to Buffalo State where I studied Photography, drawing, painting and some graphic design. Unfortunately, yet another path came into view called finances and I was forced to drop out and take a job.

Somewhere in there I met my husband, to whom I am still happily married, and the 5 of us moved to Florida. Well, if you think one place can be too cold, another, certainly, can be too hot, crowded and muggy. We did stay there for 13 years. Again, I went back to college to study Interior Design and worked in the field for over 20 years. Alas, I did not do any artwork during that time. After leaving Buff State and taking a job I let it slide.

In 1996 after the children were grown we decided to move halfway back home. We settled in Knoxville, TN where we find ourselves nestled in the very comfortable surroundings of this community. One day while working at the University of Tennessee representing the company I was working for at a design show, I walked into the Art Store and smelled the paint – literally. It was an epiphany!! It was really a “wham” moment. I had to do art again. While reviewing courses I decided on ceramics and watercolor. I did both for many years but my first love is watercolor. No doubt about. I have all my clay things sitting in the studio but when I look at my painting area and my clay area I always head to the paint.

I’ve been painting for about 10-12 years now and it’s been a marvelous journey. I did study some at UT but learned more by taking workshops from some fabulous watercolor artists. I also learn simply by doing. I paint with other artists and I now teach. I learn as much from teaching others as any course I could take. I have won an occasional prize for my work, have sold some and it is always exciting to be accepted into juried shows. I continue to take workshops because the journey never ends. There is always something new to learn and to teach.

I go back to Buffalo as often as possible because my two older sons and their families live there. I love being home and seeing all of the familiar places; these are my roots which define me and how I express my view of the world in my paintings. I can’t wait to see it again.

I am curious what inspires other artists out there. Is it your roots or some event in your life that was life changing? I find our art is a culmination of all our experiences; I’d love to hear what inspires others.

Kate McCullough


Kate McCullough has taken workshops from Marcia Goldenstein, John Salminen, Paul Jackson, Lauren McKracken, Linda Kemp, Sue Archer and Don Lake.  She belongs to a number of art organizations including the Knoxville Watercolor Society, The Tennessee Watercolor Society and the Art and Cultural Alliance of Knoxville.  Kate McCullough won a number of awards including 8 Best of Shows at some of our local shows. katemcculloughwaterart.com