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Student Success Story: Kate Karaula finds her Artistic Voice through Creating with Courage

Kate Karaula, artist and student, shares her experience with Fibre Arts Take Two's online course Creating with Courage. Kate has made use of her lifetime access and transformed her art practice from being at a crossroads to finding her artistic voice, and herself, again.

Filmed on location in Washington State, USA, the Creating with Courage, Adventures in Fibre Art online course is centred around transforming recycled textiles into fibre art sculptures through techniques including eco and rust dyeing. 

Hosted by tutor and artist Clarissa Callesen, this course welcomes students from all over the world. Participants include beginners and established mixed media artists, who are able to take advantage of the self-paced course as well as direct access to Clarissa through a private online group. 

Melbourne student, artist Kate Karaula has participated in this course multiple times in the last few years, making use of the course’s lifetime access. Take a look at what she has to say about her experience... 


Why take a course about creating with courage?

“Before enrolling in Creating with Courage, I was at a real crossroads with my artwork,” Kate explains. 

“I was feeling numb, like I was making rather than creating. And creating is like breathing for me. It's something I have to do. So I was feeling like I'd been holding my breath.”

The textile artist describes how she was “Almost at a point where I was going to chuck the whole thing in. I'd lost my voice. It was not a happy place.”

Kate had found herself going down a path she wasn’t happy with; making her artwork more commercial and relatable to the average punter. At the time, textiles weren’t as accepted as an art medium and Kate was finding it difficult to find advice or community as a textile and fibre artist.

“I'd gone down a road and I didn't know where to look to get myself out of it. I didn't know where another path was.”


Self-paced learning for artists

As Fibre Arts Take Two courses don’t require you to take time off work and dedicate yourself to full-time study, instead you can dip in and out of the course modules in your own time. Kate enrolled during the COVID lockdown and appreciated the fact that the course enabled her to go at her own pace. 

“One of the main reasons I chose an online course is because I don't have to take a week off work to go and do an intensive. The courses are so in depth and for me, a single module might take me a month. So there's so much to work through and I don't have to lose income to do it.”

Kate was also looking for a course that taught more than practical skills. “I didn’t want to do a course that was another skill in my toolbox. I was looking for something that consolidated those skills and allowed me to use all of those skills that I already had. And I found that in Creating with Courage.”

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Right textile art course, right time

“Creating with Courage helped me figure out where I was and who I was as an artist without having to focus on the commercial aspect of things. I could see instantly that it was going to help me find my voice again and then also help me further figure out exactly who I was and have the confidence to then put that out in the world, which is the next level,” Kate explains. 

The course and outcome ended up leaving Kate, “Eternally grateful.” 

“One of the main things was I found that I didn't have the sense of being alone anymore, which was something that I had experienced quite a lot in my world because I was ‘chucked in’ with painters. I guess I found a community of like-minded people, led by a fearless leader. It was really quite eye-opening and amazing. For me, the plain experimentation was the best part. It opened up so much for me.”

“The one thing I loved the most about Creating with Courage was definitely the sense of experimentation, the encouragement to play, to make mistakes, to get it wrong, to make something ugly.”

Helpful course structure

Kate enjoyed working at her own pace as she completed the Creating with Courage course.

“I've come to appreciate that I do work slowly and I need to work on 10 pieces at once. The structure of the course allowed me to pick it up and put it down where I needed or whenever I needed to. Depending on where I was with an artwork, I could go back, revisit that module, but not feel like I was lost at all.”

Many artists appreciate the way course participants don’t have to work through the modules at a linear pace. They are also able to learn their own way. 

According to Kate, “I'm what they call a kinetic learner. I need different inputs in order to totally understand something. So having the video content and then having the invitations to explore as well was really, really helpful. It really helped things really sink in.”

Kate explains what many students report as the real benefit of enrolling in a Fibre Arts Take Two course, which is revisiting lessons and learning more each time. As she explains, “You can come back and do self-learning and it's always there. This year marks my fourth time around, the beautiful ‘sun’ that is this course. Each time, I find the content or what's best in the content is different, depending on where I am.” 

“One constant for me has been the journaling prompts. I always start with those every time I come back around because they let me know where I'm at, where I need to look, where I need to go, what I can leave behind and then keep going and create from that.”

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Learnings and new achievements

Creating with Courage mixes practical with thoughtful teaching. “I came in with a fairly full toolbox of skills but I still learn new things. So firstly I learnt how to compose and create a 3D textile sculpture. For me that was huge because that's the direction I had wanted to head in.”

“I learnt how to incorporate a lot of the skills that I already had into a cohesive piece. I learnt how to translate what I saw out in the world, out in nature or the urban environment into a piece. It was great going in thinking my toolbox was full and still learning.” 

Kate has gone from 2D pieces to highly dynamic 3D sculptures and now has a grander vision for a multi-piece installation. 

“I ended up getting it ready for entry into an art prize for the Melbourne and Victorian Artists Association. I won the President's Award. I can't say I would have had the courage to even create it, let alone put it into an art prize, without having done this course.”

“I hadn't worked in full 3D before doing Creating with Courage so a lot of the modules and lessons helped me get my head around designing a 3D piece, how to work a 3D piece, how to lead people around a 3D piece. Creating with Courage helped me not to overthink the piece because everything's made up of smaller modules. I was also able to work to my own attention span and over a period of time. So the techniques taught really also impacted how I created the piece.” 

“Creating with Courage boosted and completely transformed my sense of self and courage and bravery and self-acceptance.” 

Kate explains, "Professionally, I quit ‘artist’ with a capital A and I went back to being an artist as a human being."


Is the Creating with Courage course right for you? 

Kate is very happy to recommend the course to other artists. 

“You will have this amazing sense of community and not being alone, particularly if you're in a bit of a place where you're stuck a little bit where you know everything's feeling a little bit hollow that you're not quite sure which direction you're going in or what you want to do,” she says.

“This course is for people who have lost or want to find or just want to use their sense of experimentation and play. You will have a fearless leader in Clarissa who is so encouraging, and she will help you along without telling you what to do. So you will grow, not just your toolkit and not just the physical aspect of things but also your sense of self.”

About Creating with Courage

Creating with Courage, Adventures in Fibre Art, is an online art course based on creativity and exploration. Centered around transforming recycled textiles through many techniques, including eco and rust dyeing, you’ll create fabric forms that are pieced together to make your own fibre art sculptures.

Whether they be abstract, organic or representational, the choice is yours and the variety of fibre artwork that will emerge as a result of this online experience will be extraordinary!

Delving deep into Clarissa’s philosophies around creativity, which have sustained her professional creative practice for over 30 years, it will feel like Clarissa is right there with you supporting you as a creative coach.

Register to be notified when this course will be made available to new students.

About Kate Karaula

Kate Karaula is a mixed media artist based in Melbourne. Having grown up at the base of The Dandenong Ranges and then spending the last 15 years by Port Phillip Bay, her work is grounded in nature and the interplay of humanity with it. Kate finds herself constantly fascinated by the ever-evolving dynamic between the urban and natural environments – harmonious, violent, symbiotic, at odds, beautiful, ugly, breathy and cramped – sometimes all at once.

With an insatiable appetite for learning and fascination with human nature, Kate has explored multiple mediums, subjects and techniques over the years most of which play a cameo role at some point in her textile and fibre pieces. Her formal study of Photography forms the foundation for the techniques and unique expressions that she has developed through experimentation and courses since she moved into her studio in 2016.

Kate works predominantly in hand-crafted, thrifted and natural materials, from deconstructed clothing and found objects through to hand-spun yarns and botanically dyed fabric (both of which she does herself). This hands-on approach to the creation of the individual parts results in them lending their own story and energy to the work as a whole.


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