Kathrine Lemke Waste loves to paint what she grows and, luckily for the rest of us, her Land Park garden is in perennial bloom. She calls her backyard, which teems with sunflowers, Mexican zinnias and echinacea, an extension of her studio.
She paints layer atop layer on her canvases, yielding a lustrous glaze. And though she works occasionally in oils, she is an unapologetic watercolorist. “It is a looked-down-upon medium. It gets second billing,” she acknowledges. “But there’s a luminosity you get in watercolors that you don’t get in other mediums.”
It’s been more than a decade since Lemke Waste, 52, stopped teaching communication studies at California State University, Chico, moved to Sacramento with her husband—public policy professor Robert Waste—and turned to her art full time. She worked hard to get a foothold, even walking Santa Fe’s famed Canyon Road with her paintings tucked under her arm, trying to pitch her artwork to every gallery owner on the street. (She did score wall space in New Mexico but now exhibits solely at East Sacramento’s Elliott Fouts Gallery and the Bonner David Galleries in Scottsdale, Ariz.)
While her garden is an inspiration, Lemke Waste’s eclectic collections also make their way into her still-life work, from vintage soda pop bottles to her Bakelite-handled flatware. She calls herself a “contemporary realist” and has zoomed in on her subjects in recent years. “To focus in on these objects to the point of abstraction, to me, is exciting,” she says. “It’s not cutting edge, but it floats my boat.”
The Elliott Fouts Gallery will feature Lemke Waste’s work in a special Second Saturday exhibit in October. The gallery is at 4749 J St. She also teaches watercolor painting and leads creativity workshops for local businesses and nonprofits. For more information, visit
“Bakelite” by Kathrine Lemke Waste