Review Me: Kathryn Neale: Intuitive Authenticity
Your Art Business Home
Sign in
Review Me - Logo
Your Art Business Home
Sign in


Saturday, August 21, 2021

Kathryn Neale: Intuitive Authenticity

Kathryn, many thanks for accepting our invitation to talk to you about your art and paintings. Tell us about your artistic background story and if there was a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as a visual artist?

I have always had a very creative background starting in childhood and I took private art lessons growing up and wanted to study art and graphic design in college. But with painting, I had 2 specific instances that “pushed” me to make the decision to pursue contemporary painting.
One was Senior year in College, I was in France and abroad and I had gotten angry at my professor because I couldn’t figure out what “he wanted.” I began to paint a memory of a church in watercolor and it ended up being more abstract and expressive. When I showed it to the group, my professor instantly whispered in my ear that he wanted to “see more of this.” I realized that he wanted to explore more abstraction in his later years but he was figuring it out for himself and couldn’t teach it yet. However, his remark change the trajectory of how I thought about my art.
The second was when I was out of college, in my first job, that I visited a local gallery and ran into an artist who is a professor at a university that offered one-year Master’s program in painting. After debating for over a year, I left my corporate job to pursue my love of abstract painting.

Great! Sometimes some strange events can change our path, but it is important that it has a good result and that we can understand and find our path and continue with confidence. Was there ever a moment of doubt to question your art career entirely?

As I look back, my “doubts” about if I was good enough, etc. with my artwork, or “if this would work” all surfaced throughout college for me. I was constantly comparing myself because I wasn’t “that kind of artist” (which in college was the traditional/realistic kind). I knew in my heart if I ever would pursue art it would have to be an abstraction that I loved. But I did not know how to get there. After I made the decision to go to the Master’s program, I mentally committed knowing that’s what I truly wanted to do.

So your doubts are not about art. Your dilemma is whether this is what you have in your dreams and your heart truly wants to come true or not. What is your daily routine when working in your studio?

With a full-time job and mom of two young boys, I have to be grateful for any time spent in the studio. And that includes 30 minutes here, 20 minutes there at night or on the weekends. We all have busy lifestyles and ideally, I would love to work in the studio during the day - my afternoon hours are usually most productive. However, it has become more of a cycle that when the winter months come around, I end up producing new series of work being inside. And then, when the family gets busy during the summer months, I tend to work on more of the business side of marketing, updating the website, submitting to shows, etc.

You are a unique busy artist mother. Now, take us through your process of making your artworks. How do you move from an idea to an artwork? Where does an artwork begin for you?

My process is very intuitive and my perspective about my process is that all I’m doing is capturing “decisions” I’m making on the painting surface. The process is akin to someone practicing the piano for example. I view my artwork as a practice where I’m looking for what is “working” and what is “not working.” The passion of continuing to paint comes through when the spontaneous moments appear, those decisions not planned but “happened, create tension, interest, and uniqueness. I work in many, many layers. I crave the space of ambiguity of not knowing what comes next. The analytical part of me will pause to think and critique, and then I will jump right back in for another layer.

So you cherish the passion of continuing painting when spontaneous moments appear and happen without being planned. This is amazing. Is there a central concept connecting all your works together or each series or artwork is unique?

Throughout my entire career, I have always been drawn to patterns (specifically floral because they are abstracted patterns), and I believe it’s because of my graphic design background and aesthetic. The patterns provide just enough structure to my organic, fluid, and intuitive painting process. And I can “react” to this structure in different ways, either by pulling in graphic elements through stencils and playing with them like they are brushes or painting on a pattern itself, thus subtracting or deduct the parts of the pattern by “breaking it up.” Again, I tend to paint in series because I constantly circle back to ideas that I have already explored, and it’s easy to explore them further.

Good job! On the artworks of your collections, you gave a brief description about how you worked, the tools and colors that you used for a specific purpose that was important to you, but since you love the space of ambiguity, you work layer by layer to make space for thinking and analysis in each layer. Would you like to give a particular interpretation of your work to your viewers or you prefer to leave the whole interpretation to your audience?

Since my artwork is inspired by abstraction, I’m fine with viewers having their own interpretation. However, I am well aware that just my choosing floral patterns, that in and of itself brings its own construct and context, but I appreciate it and choose it for that purpose. At some point, I envision that I would take steps even further to choose certain floral patterns because of their historical context or cultural symbology. I’ve explored that in my past and would love to circle back and re-explore that idea again. Floral patterns are their own powerful symbolic language in their own right, and they are universal in every culture, thus they have the potential to communicate to so many different types of people. And that is hopefully of their beauty, their connection to Mother Nature, their history/culture, and timelessness.

Kathryn, you have chosen floral patterns due to displaying symbols and cultures. Your artworks are inspired by abstract, watercolors, bubbles, and structured patterned shapes. How do you seek and use inspiration for your works?

Just like many artists, the world around us constantly is providing ample inspiration on a daily basis for our art. It could be the sunset colors, a tile pattern in a restaurant, tree bark, etc. For me, it is all of the above, but also I tend to be drawn to premix color palettes that have been created by interior design shops and paint shops. I will literally go to the local hardware store to buy premixed color paint which typically will be the main color of a larger painting or a series of paintings. I then react to that color. I am also constantly being inspired by wallpaper/textile patterns from interior design-makers. Humans have always had a history of bringing nature into our interior spaces and even more so today since the modern lifestyle is more cut off from nature. I also visit garden parks to draw and take photos of real-life flowers.

And, how do you select your artworks subjects? Where they come from?

Since I paint in abstraction, I do not have any specific artwork subjects except for the textile patterns.

In addition to acrylic paints, you have also used multi-media paints, collages, and chalk in your various collections. Is there an artwork or series that you would like to be remembered for? And if yes, what is it?

I think some of my favorites over the years have been the ones that I have painted on the fabric itself. It presents such different challenge verses starting with a “blank canvas.” I do love the blank canvas because there’s so much freedom in starting a new painting. However, reacting directly to fabric slows me down and allows me to think more on decisions on what is blocked out and what “peaks” through, etc.
I also think some of my most recent larger pieces are moving in the right direction with their complexity of layering and different textures and color choices etc.

Our readers are fascinated by inspiring and ideal images of the perceived beauty of nature through your paintings. So, they are enthusiastically waiting for your future endeavor. Any upcoming works or future projects that you would like to share with our readers?

Yes, galleries are now accepting physical work since they have opened up which is great news. I have a group exhibition called “Pattern” at the Manifest Gallery, Cincinnati, OH this month (July) and another “Abstracted Abstraction” in St. Louis Artists’ Gallery from July-August. I am thrilled to be showing again.

And, so are we. What are your art influences? Who are your favorite contemporary or historical artists and why?

One of my absolute favorites is Cy Twombly. I love all of his art and process and am constantly inspired by his series of works. I have always loved Matisse (especially his later works with textile cutouts) and studied all of the artists that worked in the Pattern and Decoration Movement from 1975-1985 here in the US, especially Robert Kushner. The UK textile artist, Caroline Quartermain is another artist that I am drawn to as well as many other contemporary artists I find on Instagram.

If you could meet one of your ideal artists from the past, who would it be and what will you ask about?

It would be Matisse for sure. Especially towards the end of his life, as he was pioneering a new era of abstract art, it was almost a spiritual connection that he was able to infuse with his cutouts. He often spoke of his intent to “cut into color” (akin to a sculptor “releasing” form from stone), and at first glance, his cutouts evoke a sense of naiveté and deceptively simple. I would love to glean his insights into pulling inspiration from nature herself. He loved movement, organic shapes, and “motifs” using those nature-inspired motifs (like algae) as a language for a beauty that has stood the test of time. Was it deliberate? The end of his life was plagued with such physical illness, did he see symbolic references to the color choices he created? He seemed to create works of art that simply were beautiful (and still are). In a contemporary art world, the discussion around creating art simply to evoke beauty is still a hot topic, often looked as provincial and trivial. Matisse worked on these cutouts for almost 20 years at the end of his life, and how would he react to how the art world has evolved today?

No comments:

Post a Comment