What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Laughing, Kathleen shares “I have coffee.” She describes how habit and the desire to be in the position to create drives her movement towards her studio (conveniently located across the street) each day. She says that usually, a sense of excitement about the subject motivates her.
“Being a painter is the way that I make sense of being in the world. It is like I have a mission that is inspired to translate the beauty of what I am seeing. Being a visual and perceptual person is a way of life. For me it is concrete visual experience…Botanical subjects captivate me…I think of it as a translation. Me trying to translate into painted language what I am seeing. What I am seeing is also usually what I am feeling.”
Do you have any reflection on the last few months as a painter?
“Quarantine is not different than my normal life (haha). Painters self-isolate (haha). So, in that respect, it is no different than a normal day. For me personally, I haven’t seen too many downsides, my son is home.”
Kathleen shares her perspective, that everything getting quieter and less frenetic has been a good thing. She says, “Of course, there are a lot of really bad scary things. In a way, artists are more useful during this time because we can (create). I think people are becoming more creative because they have to. I have felt like they are joining us (creative people) like a party. I have felt that nature is psyched that we are not running around so much…there are cayotes in the street at night. This pause in human activity, it is allowing nature to take up the reins somehow. We have learned this amazing thing that we don’t need to be running around like lunatics all the time. In a way, nature can heal a little bit while we are on pause.”
For Kathleen, there have always been flowers on the back burner. She says, “I think I am a portrait painter, quite frankly. I love still life painting… I have always been kind of aware of the sentience of the subject. I used to save pieces of paper when I was little because I felt bad for the paper throwing them away. Einstein said there are two kinds of people—those that think nothing is a miracle and those that think everything is a miracle.” Kathleen describes herself as being like the latter.
Kathleen goes on, “Flowers, if I have too many of them together, I feel that I have extraneous stuff. But if I get it down to two or three or one, I feel like they have emotional impact. They are more portrait like when you have fewer.” She describes how her flower paintings “allow me to slow down so much that I see the world in this form.” Kathleen loves to garden, having done so for the last 35 years. She says, “Roses are just one of the many things that I love. For me to sustain the relationship long enough to make a real painting, there has to be an emotional connection. The fact that they feel like individuals, makes the painting feel like a conversation. I don’t think of them as pictures, its more, I am going to have an experience with my subject. The deeper that experience is, the better the painting.”
What made you want to participate in this exhibition?
“I just think it is a beautiful idea.” Kathleen describes how she met her friend Stephanie Birdsall while teaching a class last year, totally hitting it off. When she heard that Stephanie was going to participate in “While We Were Still…Flowers Bloomed,” she was in. Kathy says, “Doing exhibitions is always tricky because as soon as I put pressure on myself it is the kiss of death. But this was great because I already had paintings going that are what you were looking for.”
To see Kathleen’s work in While We Were Still…Flowers Bloomed, click here.