A Tuscaloosa resident and Kentuck Festival of the Arts artist, Kathryn Gage is exhibiting her stunning acrylic paintings in our Hotel Indigo Gallery until the end of July. In lieu of our typical First Friday reception and artist talk, we got together with Kathryn via email to learn more of her inspiration and work flow.
Working as an artist for over thirty years, Kathryn has had plenty of time to hone in on her distinctive style and notes her graphic design background as influencing her paintings. She majored in graphic design at Auburn and then worked for many years as a graphic designer. In her current work, she lays out composition and color in much the same as she would in a design layout.
Aside from graphic design, Kathryn has worked in several other creative areas: selling painting and murals in the early 90's, starting a children's clothing business called Clarabelle & the Hen which featured her illustrations, illustrating children's books, and more. However, it was only a couple of years ago that she really dove back into painting.
Primarily painting female figures, Kathryn draws inspiration from the 1950's--the crisp dresses, tidy hair styles, modest swimsuits, and dramatic, but never overdone, makeup. When talking about her vintage inspiration, Kathryn always mentions her grandmother.
"My grandmother loved clothing and was always beautifully dressed, and I have referenced old photographs of her many times in my work... my grandmother who fancied herself as the family photographer. I can still conjure up the smell of burnt flash bulbs and hear the timer of her old Polaroid camera."
Pulling from images she may find--an old photo, an ad, or one of her photographs--Kathryn then completes a sketch, tosses the photo away, and paints intuitively. She used to work primarily with blues and greens, but has more recently been studying color more intensely to create palettes that are dramatic and unusual--colors that almost become electric when placed together. Kathryn has just completed a Summer Beach series, which is a collection of ladies in swimwear. Her main focus was working with color combinations which would be the most impactful.
Kathryn has a been a Festival artist for a few years, and she loves the sense of community among artists. However, the biggest thrill for Kathryn is when someone chooses something of hers to take home. She says, "It spoke to them more than any of the hundreds upon hundreds of options a show offers. That blows my mind every time and fills me with immense gratitude."
“I strive to stick to painting what I want to paint and to feel truly connected to it versus painting for the masses and to match the furniture. Having said that, I think in order to be successful, you have to find a happy medium. Of course I want my work to enhance the space in which it hangs, and to play to a palette that is relevant from a design standpoint.”
Please call Hotel Indigo directly to purchase, or email email@example.com.
Kathryn recently lost her day job due to COVID-19, so she is officially a full-time artist! She says, "I was too afraid to make the leap on my own, but here I am now, ready to hunker down and do this thing. I am excited for what's to come!"
Kathryn's work will be on display at Hotel Indigo in Downtown Tuscaloosa until the end of July. To purchase any of her pieces, you can contact Hotel Indigo directly or email firstname.lastname@example.org