Thursday, January 27, 2022

DPW Spotlight Interview: Kate Battle

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Kate's painting "Midsummer Garden" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Kate's DPW Gallery Page: 

Kate Battle is a painter working in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her vibrant acrylic paintings depict people, animals and scenes that blend realism with subtle abstraction. 

An artist since childhood, Kate completed her Bachelor of Fine Art Degree with a concentration in Graphic Design and a minor in Art History from Youngstown State University in 2005. She worked as a Graphic Designer for 11 years before stepping back to focus on raising her daughter. During a crayon 'scribble session' with her then 18-month-old daughter, Kate realized that she had always wanted to be a painter and picked up her paint brush again.

From her studio, Kate works everyday to capture the beauty she sees in the natural world and its inhabitants on canvas. In her portraits and figurative work, she uses color to heighten the underlying feeling and personality of the subject. Kate uses her paintings to explore ideas related to identity, childhood and family both past and present.

Midsummer Garden
(click to view)

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

What did you want to be growing up?  

As a child, I was torn between being an Artist or a Scientist (specifically studying sharks). When I reached High School and realized I didn’t like to dissect animals in biology, I decided to pursue a degree in art.
When did your artistic journey begin?  

I have always loved to draw, paint and make things out of whatever I could find (cardboard/mud/pipe cleaners, etc.). I come from a family of creative individuals so my artistic pursuits were encouraged. I started selling my designs on greeting cards (that I hand colored) at the age of 6, along side my Mom’s work at local craft shows. As soon as I was old enough, I joined the artists’ guild in my hometown so I was constantly around creative people. After I graduated High School, I went to Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio where I earned a Bachelors of Fine Art with a concentration in Graphic Design and a minor in Art History.

Testing the Water
(click to view)

Did you have any long periods without creative expression? How did you get back on the horse?

I wouldn’t say that I had any long periods without any kind of creative expression, just that the ‘mediums’ I chose to use varied widely. From art supplies to building materials, I realized I was happiest when I was making things. While I was working as a Graphic Designer after college, I purchased my first home – a tiny 1890s fixer upper – and learned how to renovate it. I got the same creative fulfillment from remodeling a kitchen or building my own bathroom vanity as I did from painting on canvas. I also spent several years blogging about my home improvement projects in my second home (a 1962 ranch) and then worked as a blogger for (a blog about restoring homes from the 1950s-1970s) for several years. When my daughter was born, I went through what would be my only real creative dry spell during her first year and a half of life, but it was also my daughter who led me back to my creative pursuits. At 18 months old she became obsessed with using crayons, watercolor paint and sidewalk chalk for hours everyday. Drawing with crayons during the day helped me go through the motions enough to pick up a paintbrush myself after she had gone to bed for the evening. I realized how important being creative was for my overall wellbeing and that out of everything I had done in my life, I had always really wanted to be a painter.

Which mediums and genres do you gravitate toward? Which ones don’t appeal?

I have tried many different mediums during my creative journey and always find myself coming back to paint. Oil paint was my medium of choice in college, but when I started painting again after my daughter was born, a low odor/quick drying medium (so little hands wouldn’t find the wet paint) was a concern so I switched to acrylics. At first I was frustrated because they dried too quickly, but then I discovered ‘open’ acrylics that stay wet longer for workability and have actually come to love using acrylic paint because of its drying speed and vivid color. I am mostly drawn to portraits, figurative work and animals – because I love trying to capture the spirit and emotion of living beings on canvas.

Portrait of the Artist after using a Snowblower
click to view)

What was the process like of pinpointing your personal style or finding your voice? 

I think finding a voice/style is a lifelong pursuit. As we age and gain new skills and life experiences our artwork reflects that. I find that continuing to challenge myself helps me to grow as an artist and continue my journey.

Name an artist (or artists), well-known or not, who you admire. Why? 

The portraits of Paul Cezanne and Vincent Van Gogh are hugely inspiring to me. A few years ago, I saw one of Cezanne’s self-portraits in person at the Milwaukee Art Museum and became obsessed with it. The way he used brush strokes and subtle variations of color was intoxicating. Physically standing in front of any one of Van Gogh’s portraits gives me a similar feeling that you just can’t get from a book. When it comes to contemporary artists, I’m a huge fan of Alpay Efe. His ability to combine realism and subtle abstraction to create fresh, modern work is impressive. I’m also hooked on his YouTube channel, which provides artistic inspiration and a peek behind the scenes when he creates art. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Carol Marine (we all know who that is!) Her loose, painterly style is what initially drew me to her work, but when I discovered her book “Daily Painting,” I felt that she had given me permission to paint small and often. In that respect, she has inspired me twofold – with her art and through generously sharing her knowledge to benefit other artists.

(click to view)

If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger, creative self — what would that be? 

Believe in yourself and work hard and you can do anything you put your mind to.
Do you utilize any habits or tricks for winning the distraction and procrastination battle?  

I just try to show up. Deep down, I know I want to paint every day, but there are some days when the couch seems way more appealing. Sometimes, I let myself hit the couch and take a break, but if it happens for a few days in a row, I drag myself into my studio, put on some music, get out my paints and stand in front of my easel until I just start painting. Usually, after about 5 minutes of painting, I’m over the procrastination. If the problem is artist’s block, then I try to get out in nature, or go to a museum and that usually helps me become inspired again.

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you push forward?

I try to remember that no one has everything all figured out and anything worth doing requires hard work and determination. Take a deep breath, try again.

Filling the Pool
(click to view)

What are some of your long and short term goals for yourself or your art? 

My short term goals are to continue to develop my personal style and grow as an artist by painting as frequently as possible. At the beginning of January, I started the 100 heads challenge, where I will be painting 100 portraits. Long term goals include developing a body of work that I could exhibit in a local art gallery or show, and to connect with other local artists in southeastern Wisconsin.

What does success mean to you personally?  

To me, being a successful artist means two things: If I am creating art regularly, I am taking care of my creative self, since the act of creation is an essential part of my wellbeing. Secondly, when other people find happiness in my art, I feel successful.
What is one of your proudest moments in your creative life? 

I don’t know if I’ve had one ‘proudest moment’ in my creative life, there have been many ups and downs. A few that stick out are the day of my graduating senior art show in college, the day I decided to pick up my paintbrush after many years of not painting, and when I finished the painting of my nephew, Noah, (Noah, Age 14) and gave it to his Mom. I think that portrait of Noah was the moment when I really believed in myself as a painter.

Noah, Age 14
(click to view)
Thanks, Kate!

© 2022 Maddie Marine


  1. Beautiful work. Beautiful woman with so much talent in so many areas.

  2. Beautiful story! Wonderful work and wonderful that you picked up that paint brush again.

  3. Beautiful paintings. I see your Mom's creative genes passed on to you!

  4. Thank you soooo much for featuring me! I really appreciate it!


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