CABOT It wasn’t so long ago that Kara Lunzer was crumpling up and tossing out her paintings as she finished them.
“I’ve always been super self-conscious about my art,” Lunzer, 27, said. “I’d never show anyone.”
It got so bad that a friend would often rummage through the trash and salvage the paintings Lunzer was so quick to throw away.
“I think sometimes artists can be perfectionists,” Lunzer said. “I’m that to a fault. I never thought they looked right. I had to learn to let go a little.”
Though never formally trained past school art classes, Lunzer has painted off and on throughout her life. While growing up, she took any opportunity to draw or paint. One of her art teachers would keep everything she made to use as an example in class.
“It drove my mom nuts, but it was flattering,” Lunzer said.
After high school, Lunzer started college with her mind set on ending up in the medical field. But Lunzer soon married her husband, Jacob, and when the couple’s daughter was born, Lunzer put school on hold. A few years later she had her son. The family had moved from Michigan to Cabot for Jacob’s new job at the Little Rock Air Force Base, and Lunzer began to pick up her paint brush a little more often, thanks to her husband’s encouragement. For her birthday, Jacob bought her a nice art set.
Lunzer began to refine her techniques and started to think her pieces looked good enough to hang in her home. Though she’d at first use any medium she could get her hands on, Lunzer eventually found herself drawn to watercolors.
“I like to do simple, quality, modern images,” Lunzer said.
The majority of her watercolors are devoid of color, just black on white paper with shades of gray from the thinness of the paint. On heavy watercolor paper, typically 12-by-18 inches, Lunzer paints walking foxes or bears, falling feathers or leaves. She paints carefully measured gemstones and antique keys. The paintings are simple, but clean, and most have one thing in common — a simple white triangle somewhere in the middle of the action.
“I’ve had other people ask how I started doing that, and honestly, I don’t remember,” Lunzer said. “I’ve always liked geometric patterns, and so one day, I thought about throwing a triangle in. I think it looks nice.”
Lunzer only paints what she likes personally, and since much of the art pieces she has purchased over the years have had heavy, modern, geometric patterns, she decided to bring that element into her own work.
“I put a modern twist on natural things,” Lunzer said.
About a year ago, Lunzer finally got up the nerve to frame a few of her paintings. She was pleased with the way the simple images blended with her home decor and thought others might be interested in the work, too. She decided to set up a Web page to sell her art under the name “GeometricInk.”
She posted a painting of a sparrow, and it sold in just a few days.
“I think I posted 10 paintings that day, and the others went right after it,” Lunzer said.
It was just the kind of encouragement a nervous artist needed. From those first sales, her store (geometricink.etsy.com) took off steadily. Now, Lunzer gets five orders a week on average and tries to find time to paint every day to keep up with the demand.
The formal dining room in Lunzer’s home has been transformed into a studio, and she typically uses the time after her kids go to sleep to get her painting in.
“Oh, yeah, there have been late nights,” Lunzer said. “When you’re a stay-at-home mom, you have to work it in where you can.”
Lunzer’s kids even get in on the art action from time to time. Her daughter, Ava, 5, has her own art kit and likes to sit down and paint each time her mom does. Then there are the times Lunzer’s son, Braumley, now 1 1/2 years old, will wander over as she’s working.
“I’ll be almost done with a painting, and he’ll grab a marker and just draw right across it,” Lunzer said. “But they love my painting. They think it’s really fun.”
Lunzer likes to see her daughter involved with art, knowing how good it can be for a child’s self-esteem.
“She feels the greatest when she finishes a drawing and shows it off, and Mommy loves it, and Daddy loves it,” Lunzer said.
As she finishes her paintings, Lunzer places them in a rigid, hand-stamped mailer with a
personal note for the customer. The majority of her paintings don’t get mailed to a local address, Lunzer said. In fact, she’s not sure anyone in Arkansas has bought one yet. Instead, the majority of orders are from overseas, many as far away as Spain.
“My customers are amazing,” Lunzer said. “They pick a painting because it says something to them. One lady said her mother who just passed away had collected feathers, and she purchased one of the feather paintings.”
In the past year, Lunzer has come a long way from the amateur artist throwing her work into the trash. Though she’s still working to keep her new job and her mom duties balanced, Lunzer hopes to keep her online sales going strong in 2013. The extra money goes straight into the family fund, and Lunzer said each sale is a win for the whole family.
“My husband loves what I’m doing, although there are some lonely nights when I’m down here painting,” Lunzer said. “He’s super supportive. Each time I sell a painting, it’s, ‘We got a sale, honey!’ It’s always a ‘we.’”
Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or email@example.com.