Music is the force that drives my creative process. I cannot work without music in the background. It blurs the line between inspiration and a more primal craving necessary for my well-being. I want people to experience the rhythm in my artwork. My paintings are never planned. They are fluid and take their own shape as I go along; as in a stream of consciousness.

A glass artist for much of my life, over the last decade I have returned to painting. After retiring from a 30-year career as an anesthesiologist, I have transitioned from being an artist with a day job to focusing on my art full-time. When I don’t go to my studio for a while, my edges get ruffled. I have to be there to get into a meditative state where I can go away and be creative at the same time.

Growing up, I was always surrounded by art. My parents collected German Expressionist portraits, Asian art, and the work of many other artists. That influence is evident in my bold, expressionistic style. Vibrant colors and a rhythmic quality are characteristic of my artwork. Nuanced, layered lines and color are punctuated by radiant elements as they interact with the ambient light.

All my new pieces were painted in acrylic. I start by laying down a surface of medium (vinyl, spackle, matte medium) and a color. I rarely like the first rendition, so I let it dry and then paint over the original layer. Each painting is three or more different pieces overlaying one another. At times I might be working on two or three pieces; one might be on wood, another on canvas. This allows me to move from a wet surface to an entirely new piece.

Sometimes I mix colors in a separate container, but it’s not uncommon for me to end up mixing them right on the canvas. What I look for is a resonance with the background. Using palette and putty knives, I add different textures with gold foil, paper, different molding mediums, or egg shells. The result is multidimensional and thicker than typical paintings.

The works featured in my solo show, Stream of Consciousness, are inspired by music; mostly jazz. I make the analogy to Mozart in that he couldn’t write the notes down fast enough. It’s a rapid, layered progression that just jumps out of me. I never know what is going to happen, but it is a meditative process. Each brushstroke, element, and resulting layer is an expression of what I am experiencing in that specific moment. Manifested from this stream of consciousness is a cathartic repetition that occurs until I feel I can move on to the next piece.


The daughter of an Asian art historian and a physician, Kate E. Black grew up in San Francisco immersed in the worlds of both art and medicine. Influenced by German Expressionism, modern art, Asian art, and local artists including Maury Lapp, Black developed her skills with ceramics, glass blowing, and painting at Bennington College in Vermont. She continued blowing glass in New York City. When her coursework in medical school and residency took over, she had to step away from her artwork for a decade. While working as an anesthesiologist, she began to fuse glass and paint at night and during her free time. Carving out these opportunities to create sustained the connection with her artistic passion. After 30 years, Black retired from medicine and now focuses on her art full-time.

Black has exhibited outside of Sonoma County in galleries from San Francisco to New York City, with shows in galleries, wineries, local auctions, and charitable events. Her work is also on display in the homes of private collectors. 

Kate E. Black

Kate E. Black