When Kate Johnson was 3, her parents and grandparents were shocked to see she already had the ability to stay within the lines while coloring with crayons in coloring books.
With their encouragement, she progressed from crayons to chalk to marker to graphite. In college, she made money by selling her art to tattoo shops to use as designs.
Now 24, Johnson was the featured artist Sunday at Capital Arts newest exhibit, "Shadows and Reflections." The exhibit showcases art with interpretations of reflective materials or projected dark shapes of shadows. It will be held through Feb. 13.
Johnson works full time as a graphic artist, and previously worked at the News Tribune.
"All of my pieces are what I feel at that moment," she told a group of people attending the reception. "So each piece always has its own story."
"Skull," which Johnson considers her centerpiece artwork, is a depiction of a winged angel skeleton with a handkerchief tied across its mouth. It's a depiction of a friend of hers who died of a methadone overdose. Methadone is an opioid drug often used to help addicts get off stronger opioids, such as heroin.
Johnson isn't excited about parting with the painting, so she set the listing price at $4,000 — far higher than her other works.
She, too, has faced her own demons, and art has helped her in the battle.
"I have depression and OCD as well as anxiety, and art is a way of expressing myself and making the world more beautiful inside a dark period of my time," she said.
She said being a mother to her 3-year-old son has also influenced her, brightening her and her artwork.
"I just want to grow," she said. "I've always done a lot of graphite, and now I'm working more toward mixed media. I work with charcoal, as well as oil pastels, watercolor. I'm just kind of a jack of all trades. I want to dabble in it all."
Curtis Hendricks, an attendee at the event with a background in sociology, said he's eager to see how her art will continue to progress
"It's intriguing to me how she's used her art to exorcise those inner demons," he said. "And how, now, as she's getting a little older, you can see in her art that she's growing both as an artist and as a person."