Tell us a bit about how you first started painting. My background is in Graphic Design. About twelve years ago, I began to take some classes at the local Art Center. I explored acrylics, basic drawing, Chinese brush painting, figure drawing – whatever was being offered that interested me and would work with my schedule. I was raising five children, so there was not a lot of time to spare. As the years passed and the kids grew, I recognized that oil painting was the passion I wanted to pursue, but I was reluctant to voice my ambition for fear of failing. I asked artist friends to tell me about their journeys and watched as they persevered in practicing their craft. I knew I had to ignore the fear and jump in - I am happy that I did.
Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career? In the summer of 2009, I decided I wanted to paint full-time, so I quit my job (thank you, supportive husband!) I spent a productive year working in my home studio and in various workshops and classes. I still look back at the body of work from that time and think, “Wow!” After a year, I was called back to work and my studio time was cut. In the fall of 2013, work became full-time and time for painting dwindled to nil. Happily, I retired this past spring and am painting once more (thank you, husband, once again!)
Cherry Tomatoes (click to view) Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Kathy's interview.
What have been some of the highlights of your career as an artist? When I was working part-time, a ceramist friend and I began selling our work at the newly opened community Farmer’s Market. We enjoyed getting to know the farmers and the regulars, and marketing our artwork to a diverse audience – and we sold a lot, too! We quit when my job became full-time. I still miss the fun of it (but not the early morning set-up). Another highlight was spending a perfect week in Provence painting under the tutelage of Atlanta artist Nancy Franke. What a wonderful experience it was to paint with an amazing artist in such a beautiful place. Local workshops with Lisa Daria Kennedy, Scott Conary and Lorraine Christie have been invaluable as well. I think the workshop experience is so beneficial. I feel concentrated time with the instructor and fellow artists ensures real growth for me.
What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away? I’ve worked in oil, acrylic and watercolor - and oil is what snagged me. I think it is the history of the medium in addition to the luscious feel and workability that keep me enthralled. The paintings I admire most are oils, so I want that connection with them. I have explored many genres and find there is so much to learn from all practice. Painting a still life or floral each day, working at training the eye to really “see” is always helpful, so I come back to those. I do love landscapes, architecture, animals and don’t exclude any genre. I anticipate moving into more abstract work going forward.
Which ones are you looking forward to exploring? “Place” is what I am excited about right now. A sense of place; a safe place; a place of my own; right place; wrong place; a place in time; out of place; in place – not really a genre, but an idea. I am moving into a studio space for the first time in late summer. It’s a new “place” for me, and I am looking forward to exploring that idea, literally and figuratively. I am really excited about the work ahead.
Who or what inspires you most? I am motivated by the challenge. The challenge to express an idea, an image, a shadow on the board or canvas with the paint. The challenge to master a new subject, technique or perspective. Painting can be terribly frustrating, and yet so fulfilling. A painting can have a fantastic beginning that is so, so exciting, and next thing you know it’s a disaster. But I keep at it, and “trust the process” and work my way to the finish. The result may not always be a successful painting, but the reward is what I have learned during the process.
What does procrastination look like for you? Working in my home, it looks like going out into my vegetable garden in my back yard - pulling a few weeds, picking a few green beans, looking for the friendly water snake. I don’t see it as a negative, but as a time to refuel, to appreciate the beauty of creation. I imagine I will work longer stretches in the studio space, in the company of other artists, but I will still take the opportunity to step outside now and then.
How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings? Sometimes I must fish for them, look around me and see what is there - or I will look through photos for inspiration. Other times, often while day or night dreaming, I will imagine a finished work. I’ll spend time figuring out how I will create it in my head. I can get so excited about executing it with that vision in place. I believe that some of my best work has been a result of this process.
What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist? I am (re)learning the art of being a painter - I am learning what that looks like in this day, at this point in my life.
What makes you happiest about your art? When I know that my work has brought joy to another, that makes me happiest. Whether someone purchases a painting or comments on it favorably, I know that it has touched them. I can remember as a child when someone would admire something I had created, I would feel a tingling up my spine and a perfect peace inside that I did not want to end. I want to recapture that blissful feeling of connecting with another person through my work. This, and the thrill of meeting the challenges each work presents, are what make painting so compelling and joyful for me.