I’m a South Australian born artist, 38 years old who paints full time.
I had a wonderful childhood and was encouraged to paint and draw from a very early age. I was lucky that my parents recognised early on that I had a love of art & craft so encouraged me as a child. Mum kept me stocked up with sticky tape, paper, pens, pencils & empty boxes.
Recently I discovered the drawings my Grandfather did - my mum had held on to them over the years. It was amazing to see his talent - very inspiring.
Please tell us all about your art
I paint large format impressionist pieces that are heavily textured, impasto works based on my own experiences, memories, photographs and recollections.
My practice involves pushing the acrylic paint medium to its limits – dripping, layering paint and impasto; texturizing the canvas until a story is written. The final image evolves from the layers sometimes subconsciously.
I explore form and line using texture, allowing shapes to evolve from the thick and generous application of impasto and paint. The light is reflected and emphasised from the sculptural effects created by the textured finish. The final stage of varnishing evens out the surface and increases the colour saturation of the work.
Do you listen to music while creating?
Music is such an important part of my painting process. I have an iPhone speaker dock which is always playing in the studio. I have a playlist of favourite tracks from Sarah Bareilles, Brooke Fraser, Ed Sheeran & Coldplay. Painting is a solitary pursuit so it’s nice to have the background music.
How do you find inspiration when uninspired?
I think most artists need to fill up their creative tank regularly. I go to the Art Gallery of South Australia just to see the Ben Quilty works.
I also paint my two daughters each year – something I really enjoy doing. These portraits are not intended to sell, more a break from the commercial realities of being an artist.
If I’m struggling for ideas I get out the sketchbook & let the process start, or trawl through the thousands of photographs I have taken over the years.
What do you do in your free time besides creating art?
I clock up a few hours each week doing freelance graphic design. I specialise in garment/apparel production and design which is a product of my 3 years’ studying Fashion Design after high school.
I have two daughters aged 6 and 7 so I’m also busy with the school run & housework chores. I also volunteer at the girls’ school in the art-room from time to time, doing classes and mentoring students. I keep fit & run most mornings – helps to clear the head & get the creative juices flowing.
What are you working on most recently?
I’m currently finishing off a commission for the gallery that represents me at Goolwa, Artworx Gallery. It’s a client request – 900x1800mm featuring local birds, beach & a big sky.
What would you consider your best artwork?
I was recently involved in a group exhibition inspired by the late Australian artist Margaret Olley. I so admire her disciplined, technical style and used images of her paintings as inspiration for my work. The resulting pieces were more controlled than my signature style as I wanted to feature the subject matter, rather than the medium itself. The process was challenging as I exercised restraint in order not to lose the composition or objects.
During my painting process I read Meg Stewart’s biography “Far From a Still Life” in order to gain an insight into Olley’s life and art making. I admired Olley’s tenacity and courage to continue to paint what she wanted to paint, during a time when still life works were being overshadowed by Modernism.
I produced 6 pieces for the show, including a portrait of Margaret – “Miss Olley”. I was proud of the work as it was a challenge to produce and it sold well.
What role do artists have in the world?
To create beauty - a piece of the artist’s soul
Do you sell much of your art?
I sell a lot of paintings regularly through 2 South Australian galleries:
I spend many hours every week on my art practice. If you are serious about selling artwork I believe you need to see it like running a business, selling a high-quality product.
I do a lot of research – keeping up with current trends eg. interiors/colours & understanding where people are hanging paintings. I subscribe to Artist Profile and Australian Art Collector magazines. You have to be true to yourself and your style, but if you want a painting to sell, you also need to have an understanding of your market.
I do my own invoicing/bookwork & keeping track of tax etc, making frames & stretching canvasses, arranging supplies, varnishing, fitting & wiring the finished work, photographing & managing my website & Facebook page, freight & delivery of work to gallery.
I love the work of Ben Quilty, also Old Masters Cezanne & Van Gogh as well as Australian artists Elisabeth Cummings, Euan MacLeod, Graham Fransella & Ken Whisson.
Can you tell us about a contemporary artist you admire?
I truly admire the art of Mike Barr, another artist in Adelaide, South Australia. He works extremely hard – making paintings, doing demos at all the local art shows. His rainy day paintings are exquisite – I’m lucky enough to own a small painting study of his.
Interesting event from your life
In the early days I was so frustrated with a painting that just wasn’t working, so I took it out to the back lawn & hosed it off! My husband was very upset with the wet coloured border of paint it left on his lawn (His lawn is his pride & joy – ask anyone!)
Where would you like to be as an artist in 10 years?
Still painting. I think you are always evolving as an artist & you have to always be teachable & take criticism so you can grow.
Advice for aspiring and emerging artists.
Only use the best quality materials – from the word go. If you are using cheap, nasty warped canvasses you are not going to enjoy the process and potential galleries will avoid you like the plague!
Using cheap paint also limits your potential – colours are not vibrant and they won’t give you a good result. I stretch my own canvas and use Atelier acrylics as well as Chroma & Global for backgrounds. I love the Matisse Derivan Impasto medium – the texture is spot on.
I’m lucky enough to have a large dedicated studio to work in where I can store a lot of materials & canvas.
Katie Wyatt – The Business of Painting