Thursday, April 18, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Katharine Cartwright

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Katharine's painting, "Monhegan Cottage" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing her interview.

From Katharine's DPW Gallery page:

Living along the coast of Maine allows me to explore the beautiful rocky beaches for shells, rocks, and scenes that reflect this glorious environment, which is the muse for many of my paintings. I've been an artist all my life, specializing in painting, and studied fine art at three universities. These days, I not only paint and exhibit, but I also instruct artists in creativity and technique.

My work appears in hundreds of private and corporate collections, and also in notable books and magazines in this country and abroad. In national and international juried competitions, I've won top awards, and am a signature member of the National Watercolor Society, Missouri Watercolor Society, and the Northeast Watercolor Society. Although my academic training is in oils, I've learned to love watercolor just as much and work in both mediums. Painting daily, for me, is as important as breathing.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Before I entered kindergarten, my parents identified me as an artist and provided me with lessons in color theory and design. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing and painting.

Monhegan Cottage
(click here to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Katharine's interview.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

There was only one time when I stopped. Previous to that, I had studied fine art at various academic institutions, including three universities, and enjoyed making art. By the time I was forty years old, I wanted to learn more about the landscapes I was painting. So, I returned to college to study geology, climatology, and oceanography. I completed both the undergraduate and graduate degrees in six years and just didn’t have time to paint.

However, as soon as I finished those degrees and landed a faculty job at a college, I returned to painting and managed to teach and paint for a number of years. I retired from college teaching four years ago when I found that my career in art demanded more time. At this point, I can’t imagine ever stopping again, short of the grave.

(click here to see original image)

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

My initial academic training was in oils, acrylics and various drawing mediums. Eventually, I picked up watercolors and gouache on my own. Interestingly, when I attended college decades ago, the art professors didn’t consider watercolor to be a serious medium and I received no academic training in it. Although I did study sculpture, I’ve always preferred painting. The genres I’ve experimented with include both objective and non-objective across the spectrum of possibilities.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Just about everything has stuck since I use it all in one way or another depending upon which series I’m painting. Each concept that I want to express requires a particular technique and medium to best express it. I like to be flexible.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

This is a tough question to answer since I’m so focused on what I’m doing now. However, creating art is an exploration all by itself and I’m certain that new pathways will be found as I continue this daily practice.

(click here to see original image)

Creatively, have you always been drawn to the ocean?

In fact, yes I have! I fell in love with the ocean as a child and even spent a few years as an adult living on a sailboat. Presently, I live by the ocean and can’t imagine living anywhere else. However, most of my paintings over the past five decades have had little to do with the marine or coastal environment. It’s only been recently, the past five years, that I’ve revisited the theme. Because I walk to the ocean every day, it speaks to me and I must express that.

What does procrastination look like for you?

I don’t procrastinate when it comes to painting. I love it and work in my studio every day if I’m not traveling. When I go away, I take along a sketch pad or even some paint supplies. When I’m not painting I’m thinking about painting. I guess you could say that I’m obsessed with it!

It's What's on the Inside That Counts
(click here to see original image)

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

The real problem is making time for everything else aside from art. Painting is a lifestyle that emerged from the lifelong habit of showing up every day in my studio. For me, being an artist means doggedly pursuing artmaking. It’s a discipline.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I paint in a series and spend a great deal of time formulating the concept for a series before I begin it. Often, I’ll stick with a series for five years or more. I’ll also paint more than one series simultaneously. Presently, I’m painting one series in oils and another in watercolor. Additionally, I teach artists from all over the country about how to formulate concepts for their work and how to develop their own “voice.”

Although my ideas for paintings of the Maine coast are derived from my environment, I seldom paint what I actually see. Rather, I paint what I remember and reinterpret. This transforms reality into “art.” My other ongoing series, “The Laws of Nature” (which may be viewed on my website: is done entirely from my imagination with no external references or models.

Beach Assembly
(click here to see original image)

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

Because I work in a series, I find that when I have nothing more to say or contribute to that series I stop and move on to another series. This always keeps it fresh. The shortest series I’ve ever painted was only twelve paintings. The longest was sixty paintings before they became redundant and I had to stop. Additionally, it’s easy to avoid burnout because I’m always using my imagination rather than imitating someone else. Our minds have an endless number of ideas and they’re exciting!

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

To trust my imagination and intuition. This is the only way for me to produce unique and meaningful art and avoid imitation.

What makes you happiest about your art?

The privilege and joy of making it, and the privilege and joy of teaching others how to make it.

Thanks, Katharine!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

1 comment:

  1. awesome! It's true haven't seen you put much painting up here in a while, but really sweet!
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