ArtChat [Blog Interview Number 26] – Katherine Wood

Katherine Wood’s solo exhibition "Into Blue" will open on Friday the 19th of April. Please come along to the opening night held at the gallery from 6pm to 8pm. Meet the artist, have a glass of wine and enjoy this beautiful body of work from a very talented woman.

AC: Katherine, you’ve recently made the permanent move from South Africa to Australia. What has been the biggest adjustment so far?

KW: Life in Australia is very similar to South Africa so there hasn’t really been a culture shock that is often experienced when immigrating. Having lived in Melbourne for a year and having visited the Sunshine Coast on numerous occasions has also made the move more comfortable. However, leaving familiarity and ‘starting over’ is never easy and often daunting but three months in we have settled nicely and it is already feeling like home.

AC: Do you think this change of scenery and lifestyle will be reflected in your paintings?

KW: I do think so. Every stage of an artist’s life has an impact on their outlook which indirectly carries through to their work. Having been painting professionally for over a decade now, my style is pretty much my own but the new experiences and outlook will slowly reflect in my artworks.

AC: You regularly include a sole tree in your artworks. What does this signify?

KW: The tree, personally, has always symbolised “us as individuals”; how we come into this world alone and how we inevitably leave this world alone (our immortality). Yet, like the tree, strong and defiant we stand. A metaphor for our own insignificance in relation to everything we have to face out there – the vast and powerful sky that continues to challenge us. We have to conquer all our demons alone. Like the tree we stand proud and deeply rooted in contrast to all the temperamental elements, always changing, sometimes challenging, peaceful and sometimes relentless and turbulent. The tree acknowledges our simple and beautiful existence that ultimately shows how tiny and insignificant we all really are in the bigger scheme of Life.

AC: Everyone always comments on the dynamism of your thick impasto in your paintings. How do you achieve this aesthetic and how long does the paint take to dry!?

KW: The texture is an imported ‘secret ingredient’ that I apply with a pallet knife and then paint over with oil paints. It is a material that we discovered 10 years ago whilst at an art fair in Scotland that could handle a change in temperatures (as my works go to all environments of the World), movement as well as not rejecting the oil paints. I just loved the effect it offers and has been a trademark of my work ever since. It does not affect the normal drying time of the oils.

AC: Your paintings tend to depict sparse landscapes receding back to a flat horizon line. What draws you to paint these particular scenes?

KW: I studied at Stellenbosch University in the mountainous winelands of Cape Town and would often just disappear with my sketchbook and lose myself in nature. This was the start of landscapes as my subject matter and I have just progressed from there. My strength was always in my technical sketching and drawings which I try and adapt into my figures and other works. However, I find a simplicity in the horizon in my works that breaks the balance and strength between the sky and land. I also try to achieve depth in my work through the use of my horizon and the defining ‘tree’ which creates a focal point.

AC: You and your husband have a young family, are there any aspiring artists wanting to follow in their mother’s footsteps?

KW: Not just sounding like a typical mother but the artistic ability is evident in my children. I also come from a very artistic family with my grandmother and mother being very talented artists and my sister is now a professional photographer so the gene is strong. Whether I would push my kids into being professional artists is another question as it is a tough career, but yes, they love to draw and paint.

AC: Who or what first inspired you to start painting? Did you always envision yourself becoming an artist?

KW: Art was everything to me from a really early age. I was very lucky to have a fantastic art teacher at my secondary school who identified my talent early on and nurtured it. I was enrolled at Frank Joubert in Cape Town which is a specialist art school from an early age which gave me a great grounding. I was also fortunate to have a mother who believed in me and encouraged me to go follow my art studies and career. I always wanted to be a part of art and I started out by owning my own gallery before I really became a successful artist which gave me the insight into the world of art. My career took off from there.

AC: Katherine you are internationally recognised, what do you attribute your success as an artist to? Do you have any advice for younger emerging artists?

KW: I guess always having a support team behind you has made a difference. As stated, my mother to start with and then my husband. However, at the end of the day it has been my personal never die attitude and strong will to succeed that has evidently carried me onto success. I am very dedicated and treat it as a full time job. I also have the privilege of having my husband to take care of the administration and sales side of the business which allows me to focus on painting which often hinders other artists. I also took a big step in 2004 in opening my own Signature Gallery which has allowed my product to become a brand and a business. My advice to emerging artists is to believe in yourself; if your work is good enough then it will sell. Allow your work to emerge into the market and don’t be too heavy with your pricing to start with and let the market work itself. You will soon find your niche and pricing structure when the time is right.

AC: When you are not working on your painting how do you like to spend your time?

KW: Kids, kids, kids. I guess between painting and looking after a young family there are not enough hours in the day and they really keep you on your toes. I really love spending time with my family and so I guess my spare time and energy is devoted to them.

AC: Can you describe your work in one sentence for us.

KW: My branding logo is: “My work is not about reproducing reality; it is about capturing the energy that creates it.”

AC: And lastly we always like to know what music you listen to while you paint?

KW: I am an oldie at heart so love the older music but I really only listen to the radio as I feel this keeps me in touch with the world outside my studio. I don’t go on the computer at all and don’t really watch the news, so I guess this is my window to the world and keeps me in touch with reality. I also like the daily banter of the radio hosts other than the voices in my head...



"My art is not about reproducing reality; but capturing the energy that creates it" - Katherine Wood