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Cara Brown

  • 250 Bel Marin Keys Blvd, Novato, CA 94949, USA

Studio Information

COVID Precautions

About The Artist

Artist Statement

John O’Dononhue defined beauty as: “anything in the presence of which we feel more alive.ƒ? This aliveness is translated through me in these watercolor paintings. Flowers have one basic purpose – to be alluring, which they do to many of us, including me. Striking light seals the deal. Whether obvious or not, my art also tells a deeper story of how beauty speaks to soul – the grander story of how being human and having the inclination to gawk translates in watercolor, through one soul living in this precarious moment. I am here to be brave for beauty.

Along with making these paintings, I love to teach and observe the creative process. I believe that acquiring paint handling skills, color and how to really see is the means to a much more important end. There is no one else who is ever going to make the art that is in each of us. Every time we put our brush into a pool of paint and touch it to our paper, it’s us. It carries our mark, like the tone of our voice and the way we sign our name. And the more we do it, the more refined our expression becomes, the more vivid is the illumination of our essence to the watercolor paper. Our consciousness lives in the work we make. With the body of work I’ve created, I see and hold myself altogether differently. I experience a level of freedom that I didn’t imagine was possible. I am more myself than ever by allowing myself to grow through my paintings. And I see this happening with the artists who regularly paint in my groups.

I am quite aware of the evolution that is yet to come in the work that emerges through me. I am infinitely grateful for the opportunity to make art and for the support that is carrying it forth.


In the summer of 1992 my mom and I took a watercolor painting class at my alma mater Drake High. I played around a little with painting small vases of flowers from life for a few months, but then hardly painted for nearly a decade. Life changes (divorce, living abroad, meeting and marrying my husband, Joe) brought me to a more collected and creative place and in 2000 I began to paint again. I took a few workshops and adult ed classes, one community college credit class on color – but no other art training. I decided that I would finish every painting I started – finding my way through all the parts that I struggled with.  This has turned out to be the best way to learn. I started small – a quarter sheet of watercolor paper – and quickly progressed to painting on full sheets. But, my painting time was quite sporadic –  work would lie untouched for months. In 2004 I was faced with an enormous disappointment – that I’d not have my own children in this lifetime.  It was unthinkable that my life would not include having kids – I am a born mother.  My response to the grief was to pray for the energy and inspiration to adopt, or to be given something else to that would fill the meaning void in my life.  At first it seemed that something else was life coaching and I enrolled in a coach training program in 2005. In the winter of 2006, just as I was completing my training and planning to build a coaching practice, my friend Eleanor Harvey asked me if I wanted to do Marin Open Studios together the following May. I replied with “that means I have to sell my art, right?” She told me, yes, that was the idea!  At that time, my pieces were very precious – they took me forever to do and they were my babies! But a voice told me that if I wanted more art to come through me, I needed to let them go. That spring I jumped in to preparing for open studios with a vengeance. I had my art reproduced by Steve Kimball with Light Rain in San Rafael (soon after I went to work there for nearly 5 years!).  And I had sets of greeting cards made. Open Studios brought an overwhelming response to my work, inspiring me to paint more and search out other ways to show and sell my artwork – completly eclipsing my plans to be a life coach. Since late summer 2011, I’ve been sharing what I’ve learned with weekly watercolor groups and this has become as central to my life as making my own work.  Because I am largely self-taught, I initially had no idea what I knew – painting is such an intuitive process for me. I’ve discovered that if you put a painter and her or his work and questions in front of me, just what is needed comes spilling out of me. My experience now is that I was born to do this.  The part of me that was drawn to life coaching informs how I teach, bringing me full circle.  I’m so clear now that I have indeed been given the “something else.”  What I do is filled with purpose and meaning and I feel so privileged to be spending my life this way.

Art Medium(s)


Contact Information

Artist Full Name
Contact Email Address

(415) 699-2556

Exhibitions & Press

Group Exhibitions

Marin County Civic Center – “A Decade of Watercolor Inspiration” September 2021 – January 2022 – Group show 537 Magnolia Artists

Bartolini Gallery at the Marin Center – “Walk in Beauty” Aug 6-Oct 10, 2019 – Group show 537 Magnolia Artists (the artists in my weekly watercolor groups.)

Madrigal Family Winery Tasting Room, Sausalito – Solo Exhibition – May 30 – July 5, 2018

Marin Masters – Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club – April 2018

Marin Cancer Center, Gail Van Dyke Atrium Gallery – Solo Exhibition – January-April, 2018

Redwood Foyer, Veteran’s Auditorium – “Incredible Edibles” – 537 Magnolia Artists – 2015

Marin Center, Showcase Theater atrium – “Life in Full Bloom” – Inaugural Group Exhibition, 537 Magnolia Artists (the artists in my groups) – 2015

Redwood Foyer, Veteran’s Auditorium – Group Exhibition, 2014

Mine, Gallery and Creative Space, Fairfax, CA – Group Exhibition, April 2013

Superfresh Gallery, Novato, CA – December 2012 – 2016

Allison McCrady Gallery, Berkeley and Orinda, CA – on going exhibitions, 2011 – 2012

Anthony Miceli Gallery – Two Bird Café – solo show – January 3 – March 7, 2011

Picture Perfect Gallery – 2 person show – March 2 – April 28, 2010

American Women Artists, October 2009 – National Juried Competition

North Bay Gallery, Yountville and Sonoma, CA – August 2009 – December 2010

“Bloom” – The Village Gallery, Mississauga, ON, Canada – Spring 2009, Spring 2010

Aurora Colors Gallery, Petaluma, CA – July 2008 – December 2009

Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, 4th Annual National Juried Exhibition, August 2007

Marin Society of Artists, Open Juried Fine Art Show, July 2007


Splash, 19, 21, 23 – Best of Watercolor, Artist Network

International Artist – December/January 2019 – Article:  “Limiting the Watercolor Palette” with Cara Brown

Watercolor Artist  – Fall 2022 – Article:  “Her True Colors”

“Encyclopedia of Watercolor Techniques” by Harriet Harrison, Search Press – Selected paintings, including on back cover.

“Painting in Watercolor:  The Indispensable Guide” by David Webb, Firefly Books – Selected paintings, including on front cover.

Podcast:  Watercolor Conversations with Cara Brown – on all major podcast platforms



2022 – Awarded Signature Membership, California Watercolor Association

2019:Marin County Fair, Second Place, Giclee Prints

2018:Marin County Fair, Second Place, Watermedia, Honorable Mention

2017: Marin County Fair, Collaborative work won Second Place in Special Theme Category

2016: Marin County Fair, 2 ribbons (Honorable Mention)

2015: Marin County Fair, First Place, Watermedia

2014: Marin County Fair, First Place, Watermedia

2013: Marin County Fair, 3 ribbons (Honorable Mention and Special Awards)

2012: Marin County Fair, Marin Artist of the Year

2007: Marin County Fair, First Place, Watermedia,

2011: Marin County Fair, 3 ribbons (Honorable Mention and Merit Awards)

2010: Marin County Fair, Barbara McQuaid Award of Excellence, Second Place, Watermedia, Merit Award, 2-D Work

2009: Marin County Fair, Award of Merit, Honorable Mention 2-D work

2008: Marin County Fair, Second Place, Giclee Prints; Honorable Mention, 2-D work, Merit Award, 2-D work


2012: California State Fair, Award of Excellence, Award of Merit, 2 Publisher’s Awards

2011: California State Fair, Award of Merit, Publisher’s Award

2010: California State Fair, Award of Excellence

2009: California State Fair, Award of Merit, Publisher’s Award

2008: California State Fair, Award of Merit, The Art of Wine category


2012: Sausalito Art Festival, First Place, Watercolor

2011: Sausalito Art Festival, First Place, Watercolor



I am almost entirely self taught! My education has come from painting a whole lot!

I was once asked how it is that I can do what I do – it came to me to say:

“I am patient *and* determined!”


Studio & Activity Photos


Open late April to Mid May, 2024
May 4-5 & 11-12, 2024

See You In Our Studios!