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Color Me Happy
Sure, it’s work, but this artist has fun
By Jessica Laskey
It’s easy to smile at Cara Gregor’s artwork. The Curtis Park resident uses bright happy colors to create grin-inducing images of reimagined rainbows, energetic abstracts and bold florals, plus unique jewelry in equally vibrant tones.
As the artist herself says, “Art is fun. That’s why we do it.”
Gregor brings that sense of whimsy—and her amazing color palette—to the adorable 1914 bungalow she and her husband Benjamin are remodeling. The home had belonged to her grandparents since 1950. When Gregor’s grandmother died in 2019, the couple decided to buy it and keep it in the family, with updates that maintain the historic Craftsman charm. They’re documenting the process on Instagram @colorfulbungalow.
“We’re mainly freshening it up,” says Gregor, who grew up in Sonora but spent time in Sacramento as a kid with her grandparents. “My grandmother used to tell me, ‘When I’m gone, pull up these carpets, there’s gorgeous hardwood under here.’ She was right! We’ve restored the natural hardwood floors and we’ve put in new cabinets and painted everything white to really make the art on our walls pop. It’s kind of a blank slate, which makes me very happy.”
Having plenty of wall space for her work has proven handy since Gregor embarked on a 365-day painting challenge last August. Gregor says the project was intended to provide that extra push to put something on canvas—even one brush stroke—every day.
“That commitment has allowed me to open myself up to see where that can lead,” Gregor says. “It’s an experience of exploration, versus only making art that’s going to sell. Posting my progress on social media allows me to share the process, explain my steps and show a painting being created from beginning to end.”
Gregor grew up drawing, but it wasn’t until 2009, while teaching English in Shanghai after college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, when she made art a serious part of her routine.
When she moved back to Sacramento in 2010 and started working at Heringer Estates winery in Clarksburg, she wanted to continue her newfound art practice. In the last decade, she worked her way up from wine sales to creative director at the winery and built a nice career as an artist.
When she’s not planning ad campaigns, painting, working on the house or designing colorful jewelry to sell on Etsy, Gregor shares her passion and skills as a teacher at Sierra 2. Though her entry-level art classes are now online due to the pandemic, Gregor says the move to virtual teaching has been positive. “Class can now fit into your day so easily,” she says. “You don’t have to get up and drive anywhere. It’s easy to pop on after work or before dinner, and once you get over the hump of buying your own supplies, now you have them whenever you need them.”
Never short on projects, Gregor moved into illustration. She and friend Cary Zierenberg-Senge published the children’s book “Kate and CiCi Build a Sandcastle” in 2018—with plans to make it a series—and Gregor published an adult coloring book about succulents to encourage others to tap their inner artist.
“So often, especially as adults, we don’t make time to be creative,” Gregor says. “I want to inspire people to be more creative and to make art more accessible. Everyone’s an artist.”
For more information, visit caraemilia.com.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.