Kathy is an American artist living and teaching in North Carolina with a focus on edibles, NC natives, and decaying plant material using watercolor, ink wash, or graphite to create highly detailed images on paper.
She has always had a fascination for plants. Raised in the concrete sprawl of the Los Angeles suburbs, the daughter of a Dutch gardener, Kathy's father taught her the joy and wonder of growing herbs and flowers in their small yard at a young age.
Graduating from California State University, Fullerton with a Master of Art in Illustration and Design, she taught college level drawing and design courses for several years while freelancing as an editorial magazine illustrator. Kathy's work at this point was figurative, focusing on the human condition.
After moving to North Carolina over tw0 decades ago, the surrounding beauty of the verdant Piedmont landscape rekindled her interest in plants. While working as an elementary art teacher and nature educator, Kathy took up classes in Botanical Illustration at the North Carolina Botanical Garden at UNC Chapel Hill, where she changed her focus to portraying plants. She has been a core part of the faculty of the Botanical Art and Illustration Certification Program there. since 2012.
Her watercolors have been exhibited in the American Society of Botanical Artists Annual International Exhibitions, the NYBG 4th Triennial Exhibition, the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Annual, and the Birds in Art International Exhibition (Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wisconsin).
Kathy's smaller works, prints, and cards may usually be found locally at the Artworks Gallery, 564 Trade St., Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Botanical art does not always include flowers, at least in my vision instead I look beyond the bloom. I find little interest in portraying lush, beautiful specimen flowers. If flowers are viewed as celebrities, then the rest of the plant resides in the everyday world. This reality is what I draw and paint, the focus shifting to those details of average plants such as roots, desiccated leaves, insect damage, aging fruits, broken twigs, as well as homes created with plants by insects and birds. As a realist, I elevate the humble status of a plant’s daily life to one of interest and intrigue. Observation distills everything except the essentials of what one experiences; tiny details that would normally be passed over, I choose to draw and paint, inviting the viewer to come in close and let the outside world disappear.
The subject is not so important as the process in how the image is created. The choice to expressively stain the paper is one I frequently use. This device is used to age or to find a patina in which the subject levitates above. In other instances, the purity of the medium needs no assistance and the focus is on the subject itself. I manipulate the plant forms to play with the senses: calming colors to sooth the eyes, elegant movement to feel the flow of wind through grass, split fruit to invite one to taste, and intricate textures begging to be touched. I create these all by building meditative layers using a finely tipped pencil or brush.
My work is an illusion of reality, like the Velveteen Rabbit who becomes real, I paint in layers until the subject feels real to me and may just fall off the paper if I wish it so. The glow of a platinum print, the aged look of an old botanical, this is what I try to capture in my ink wash and watercolor studies.