Monday, October 25, 2010

TAG Gallery Interview: Katherine Kean

Trace in the Sky
oil on linen 30 x 40"
Katherine Kean

Katherine Kean's paintings reveal a serene center that can arise in the midst of nature’s turbulence.

What does a painted landscape offer that the natural landscape cannot?

A work of landscape art can create a view that doesn’t exist in a natural landscape. The painted landscape can be edited and rearranged, or come wholly or in part from the imagination. All of the elements of the landscape, including the element of time, can be put in an order that supports the artist’s vision. In my work, I might put a thunderstorm from one time and place together with a field of grass from another. I might emphasize the light to allow for more drama. I routinely remove buildings, people, and cars, or anything that does not contribute to the meaning – adding or taking away whatever I feel is called for to reach the mood and tell the story.

The path-like waterways in your paintings seem to invite the viewer into a docile and curious natural realm. Are you in-fact sending the viewer an invitation?

The meandering, serpentine pathways invite the viewer to wander, to free the mind, to contemplate or explore, to dream and imagine, and ultimately they are an invitation to one’s inner world, to one’s Self.

oil on linen 18 x 24"
Katherine Kean

Can you describe the feeling when your idea of the painting that will-be comes to a finish?

It can take some time to realize that a painting is complete. I’ll often let a painting rest while I work on others – the drying process in oils creates subtle shifts in color that I need to see. Once dry I’ll have a fresh look and may decide to add something; another glaze, a highlight, whatever is needed. However, there’s a moment when I realize that there’s nothing else to add, which often takes me by surprise. This feeling is followed quickly by the excitement of wanting to show the new painting to someone, to share it.

If you had to part with every piece of work but one, which would it be?

The one that I can clearly visualize in my mind’s eye, but I haven’t painted yet – the next one.

Does where you live now hold any influence in your painting?

I have a great respect and appreciation for the places that continue to hold space for that which is still undomesticated, for what is wild. I’m lucky to live quite close to the edge of a National Forest and have easy access to vast and unimpeded views. I hope that the proximity helps some of that sense of wildness and freedom to reflect in my work.

Katherine Kean in the studio.

Katherine Kean's exhibition at TAG opens November 2.


  1. I love Katherine's work and really enjoyed this peek into her process. Her descriptions match the beauty and peacefulness of her paintings.

  2. Hi Dianne, thank you and thanks for coming by!

  3. Hi Katherine, Thanks for sharing your interview. It's always interesting to read about another artist"s(that you admire) thought process. Love your paintings!- Loriann

  4. Hi Loriann, thanks for coming by - I'm so glad you've found the interview interesting!

    I know what you mean - hearing the thought process is almost like an extension of looking at the paintings.

    Thank you!

  5. Fascinating. I do have another, related question. What are the places you'd still like to go to/ paint?

  6. Katherine, do you always work in your studio or do you ever paint outdoors? they are such different experiences, i always love being outside but not painting outside...too many distracting elements to deal with.

  7. Hi Jean,
    Wow, great question - there are so many! I'm just begining on some paintings inspired by a trip to Maine and I'm planning a trip to Scotland next year, as well as to the midwest. I'm also curious about Canada and Alaska, and it would be great to revisit Africa. I'd also go to Hawaii in a heartbeat and when everything is out of reach there's always my backyard.

    It seems like my list just keeps expanding - aren't you glad you asked?

    Thanks for coming by!

  8. Kathryn,

    I used to work only outdoors and I've gradually come to use the studio more and more. I still do drawings and small color studies outdoors; there's something about the spontaneity of watercolors that I find really refreshing. But when I start rearranging everything it seems easier to spread it all out in the studio.

    I agree that being outside can be a challenge - everything from bugs to weather. It can be fun too, and gives great stories to tell!

    I'm so glad you came by!

  9. Katherine, I enjoyed reading your interview... I can relate to much of what you say! So looking forward to Scotland, I was so excited after my most recent trip. You will love it!

  10. Hi Lynne, thank you and thanks for stopping by. Scotland looks great - and your photos so inspiring!