Connect
To Top

Meet Kendra Curtis of Anaheim Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kendra Curtis.

Hi Kendra, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My name is Kendra Curtis and I’m a watercolor landscape artist based in Southern California. My artistic niche is in painting U.S. National Parks. My Dad would take my siblings and I on camping trips starting when I was just one year old all throughout my childhood so our Parks hold a nostalgic place in my heart. U.S. National Parks tell a story, are full of history, and have individual qualities that make them unique from their wildlife, native plants, and landmarks. I love visiting National Parks to get inspired artistically but also to share an experience with friends and family. I’m passionate about encouraging others to explore the outdoors through seeing my work and through teaching watercolor landscape workshops. In my spare time, you’ll find me hiking, camping, taking photos for more inspiration, watching a good movie, or cooking for friends and family.

I began working with watercolor at 17 years old after it was a required art class assignment to do a landscape painting in high school. After completing the assignment, I was hooked. I worked on my craft for two years before starting to do art pop-ups at local businesses to show my work. Soon after, I created a body of work covering several National Parks and opened up a month-long art gallery in the heart of Old Town Orange. Since then, I’ve been doing custom artwork for clients and was able to quit my day job to do art full-time. One of the most rewarding parts of my job has been teaching watercolor workshops throughout Southern California and partnering up with other small business venues. I love to teach and see people dabble with watercolor for the first time, or even better yet – have repeat students that continue to take my workshops to learn even more about watercolor. My San Diego based venue this year has been Newtopia Cyder in Scripps Ranch.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I would say the road to being a creative, woman-owned small business has not been smooth 100% of the time but has it been worth it? Absolutely!

One of the assumptions that people often had made is that artists can’t make money. That saying “starving artist” doesn’t have a good ring to it. I think people don’t realize that there are many other ways to making money other than selling original paintings or prints which can sometimes be expensive. A couple of creative ways that I’ve been able to make passive income by are licensing my art and doing wholesale products with my art..

I’ve started selling my National Park ornaments and puzzles at wholesale through thefleurwreath.faire.com. At the moment you can find my art at 3 Brick & Mortar stores: @coyotecorner near Joshua Tree, @shopcravemoab near Arches National Park, and @theget_outpost close to the Zion National Park entry. I’ve also got to license my artwork onto puzzles with two brands: Micro Puzzles and Parks Project (https://www.parksproject.us/collections/new-arrivals ) Licensing my art onto products and making National Park patterns for larger brands is something I’m looking forward to diving into more this year.

When 2020 hit I had to cancel a whole year’s worth of in-person workshops. Honestly, it stung. The creative extrovert in me lost some motivation and felt very isolated. The rewarding feeling of seeing my students create something wasn’t there anymore until I adapted to teaching watercolor workshops through Zoom. This actually opened many doors for me to teach people from out of state that I wasn’t able to reach before. A couple major highlights was teaching 40 foster teens how to paint a watercolor galaxy and teaching 100+ students through Yelp OC all with Zoom. If anything, 2020 made me adapt and got me even more creative with teaching.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I have been painting watercolor landscapes for 4 years now, and the thing that sets me apart is that my niche is in National Parks. I absolutely am obsessed with painting National Parks and love visiting them to get inspired creatively. Several millions of people visit U.S. National Parks every year so being able to capture these significant places people enjoy has brought a sentimental value to my work. I’ve had really meaningful commissions where clients will ask me to paint their family in a National Park they love it visit continuously or couples that have gotten married in iconic areas of a Park such as Angels Landing in Zion or Glacier Point in Yosemite.

For me, National Parks engage all the senses in some way. The gorgeous scenery can be breathtaking, especially during a sunrise or golden hour. The sound of the wind, birds chirping, or river can be relaxing. The smell of the pine trees or redwoods makes you look at the phrase “get some fresh air” in a whole new light. The texture and feel of the granite walls of Yosemite or the red rocks of the desert have their own uniqueness. The taste of a meal shared with family or friends after a day of hiking can be so rewarding and being in nature in the midst of it all makes the overall experience so worth it.

I think of these things when I go to create a new painting. It’s not just another landscape I’m creating, but it’s the visual of an experience that deserves to be captured. My medium to do that just happens to be with watercolor.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
I would say I am a very visionary person, and with that can often times come with a little risk. I really didn’t think I’d be an artist full-time because it felt too risky. In my early college days, I worked in retail while developing my business after my day job. My boss announced she would be retiring and the shop in a result would close. My commissions had grown at a steadier rate by this time, but I knew that if I wanted to take my business to the next level that I needed to give it my all and take the time to grow it. So instead of applying for another day job, I stuck with my art business as my main source of income. It felt risky and a bit crazy, especially considering I was a year into it once 2020 came. The hard work, late nights painting, and time developing my craft have all been worth it to pursue something I love doing.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Taylor Joy

Suggest a Story: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Local Stories