Kate lives in the picturesque coastal town of Simonstown overlooking False Bay.
Her pastel artworks capture a sense of movement and fascination with the ocean depths. She uses bold lines and colour to capture the tides and motions of the sea and beaches and its this that drew our attention to the artworks she submitted for Member Challenge #1.
While she’d love to be a fulltime artist, she currently works from home part time in their compressor parts and services business doing all things financial.
“I hot foot it to my studio as soon as I can though, and get very grumpy if I don’t manage this!”, Kate admits.
“I have done art and drawn since I was very little, doing art as a subject right through school and then going to the then Durban Technikon to study graphic design. After the first year, where we did a little of everything, I decided Graphic design was not for me and went on to get a diploma in textile design.”
Kate worked as a textile designer for four years and then moved to Cape Town to become a fashion buyer for Woolworths and then Truworths. Her career as a buyer took her to many countries – Ibiza, St Tropez and New York to name a few. When she started a family she left fashion buying. Inspired by the Mediterranean places she had visited, Kate started a ceramic business called Med Blue specializing in hand painted tiles and ceramics.
Medblue Ceramics exhibited at the inaugural Decorex at Spier and again the following year, exporting to Lady Daphne on Sloane Square London and doing commissions for many high-profile clients and interior designers. Such commissions included a large tile panel for the Table Bay Hotel, a recreation of the historical tile surrounds for the fireplace at Genadendaal (Nelson Mandela’s residence at the time), and tiles for Telana Hill Winery.
I love asking artists about their inspiration – and looking at Kate’s lovely wave and ocean scenes I am not too surprised to learn that she loves the beach.
“I am inspired and awed by the incredible beauty that surrounds me in nature, whether I am walking the dogs on a deserted beach at sunrise or hiking in the mountains behind our house.
Being a Pisces and having grown up by the beach, swimming, surfing, and windsurfing in the ocean, the sea is often my muse. I am fascinated by its power and energy and ever changing moods. It is a constant in my life which I could not live without.
I was also incredibly inspired by an exhibition of the Spanish painter Sorolla’s work in London which I was lucky to see. Known as” The Master of Sunlight” his paintings literally glow with light and colour. I literally cried in front of them and went back to see it twice. I have since discovered that we share the same birthday, hopefully this is serendipitous!”
“What I find most challenging about being an artist is time. I don’t always have the time to dedicate myself to painting and I also feel I have so many beautiful scenes that I see on a daily basis that I want to paint. I actually get quite anxious thinking about all the paintings I want to do with so little time! Oh, and all the amazing artists I follow on Instagram! Will there ever be enough time to get to their level?!!”
“My favourite medium is definitely pastel. I love its tactile quality and being able to hold that handmade stick of pigment and get covered in pastel dust. I also love the fact that there is no messy mixing of colours and cleaning up – it’s so immediate.
I work on cold pressed water colour paper – Hahnemuhle 300gsm is my favourite and I often do a watercolour underpainting. I work in hard pastels first, using my favourite conte sticks, then in soft Schminke pastels – which I love!”
I ask Kate what her experience of the South African art scene is.
“In terms of pastel and the South African art scene, it barely exists and there are no pastel societies as there are in other countries. In America there is a pastel society in every state and then an umbrella pastel society, IAPS, which they all belong to. Lucky for me I can still be an international member and currently am a member of The Pastel Society of America, The West Coast Pastel Society and The Red Rock pastel Society of Nevada. These societies are very active and with Covid 19 all exhibitions have been online. This has meant that I have had a chance to enter.”
Her dream is to become a signature artist of The Pastel Society of America which is very prestigious. It also entitles you to write ‘PSA’ behind your name. She also dreams of having a solo exhibition in a well-known gallery.
“My proudest moment was receiving a cash prize and honorable mention in the monthly International Bold Brush Painting competition – especially as it is a competition for all artists – not just pastel painters. It was wonderful to have my pastel work recognized.”
Kate’s favourite artist? Well, she doesn’t just need to choose one!
“My favourite old master is Sorolla for his incredible use of light. Favourite contemporary artists are pastellist Lana Ballot who paints waves like no other, Felicity House – also a pastel artist – whose use of line is amazing, oil painter Haidee Jo Summers: a modern day Sorolla and Stanka Cordic who paints incredible atmospheric portraits. Oh and I mustn’t forget the newly discovered Sarah Freeman who draws in graphite (mainly her husband who is a postman) – her drawings are mind blowing!”