Kara Kraemer nervously waited to hear her name called during the Grand Entry Gala at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. She knew she was a finalist, but had no idea her romantic-realism longhorn art piece was about to win her a third-place ribbon and a $2,500 scholarship.

Kraemer, 17, a Midlothian home-schooled junior, was one of six winners announced on Jan. 6 at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo’s annual Star-Telegram Stock Show Art Contest.

“When I won third place, I felt a mix of emotions,” she said. “I was overjoyed to win such a high honor, excited to be there, and yet more determined than ever to return and win Grand Champion.”

The realistic longhorn drawing took Kraemer more than 260 hours to complete. In preparing to do a piece like the one that placed, Kraemer said she goes to local ranches to observe her subjects. While there, she takes thousands of photographs of grass, cattle, horses, or anything else that may catch her eye for a piece. Afterward, she layers the photos in Photoshop to bring out the minute details, such as the way the longhorn’s hair whisks in the wind.

In total, it is a compiling process that can take upwards of 60 hours. She then uses those layered photographs as a reference while drawing.

In making her winning piece, Kraemer then spent 200 hours painstakingly drawing every line, ensuring each small detail was captured — making the hand-drawn artwork appear as if it too was merely a photograph.

With more than 1,100 entries, the competition was stiff. But Kraemer said she doesn’t create art just to win. She creates art because it’s her passion.

“One of my favorite things is to do realistic pieces that you probably wouldn’t see in real life, like a longhorn looking right at you during sunset,” she said. “I really love bringing the images in my imagination into reality.”

In addition to drawing, painting, photography, and sculpting, Kraemer dabbles in web design and music. She is also no stranger to awards.

In 2016, Kraemer won Best of Show for 2D Art at the Ellis County Youth Expo. The same year she won Best in Show for Drawing at the Texas State Fair. In 2017, she nabbed the title for Best in Show for her photography at the State Fair and grand champion of the Western Horseman Youth Art Contest.

Kraemer said she plans to use the scholarship money to help her obtain a marketing degree from Thomas Edison University. The degree, she explained, will offer her the flexibility to tie in her many passions: business, entrepreneurship and art.

The contestants over the weekend in Fort Worth ranged from five to 19 years old and all submitted artwork that “captured the spirit and semblance of the Stock Show and its legendary western heritage,” according to a press release from the Stock Show and Rodeo.

“I’ve always loved western life and the country, so that's what I draw,” Kraemer said.

Kraemer’s piece and other winning works will be on display in the Amon G. Carter Exhibit Hall during the 23-day run of the Forth Worth Stock Show, with the remaining artworks shown in an exhibition at the Fort Worth Museum of Natural Science and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.

The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo opens Jan. 12. Events close Feb. 3. More information can be found at