I had the pleasure of meeting Kathy when I was living in a subdivision of Denver called Stapleton, through the (then) brand new artist group there. I just loved her instantly, and when I saw her art, I was struck by how it fits her personality perfectly- bright, vivacious, and bold! Each of her pieces feels so full of movement and emotion, and you find your eyes excitedly following the lines and explosions, just knowing there has to be a story! But with Kathy, life is about the stories, and I think her story is one that will resonate with many artists- and with many women!
Kathy grew up on a farm in Southwest Missouri, and in a town with only 10 students in her graduating class, there was not a lot of culture and diversity to be found there. She describes her young self as being “a good kid with very little confidence.” Once she was introduced to the world through her first job and college classes, however, the world opened up! She says, “It was a whole new world. It made me curious. I wanted to investigate. Wide eyed, I started out on the journey. I was blown away. It seemed like every person's story was more interesting than the last. They were caring, willing to share and be my teachers. I think that is where I get my passion for people. There is so much good in this world if you're willing to look for it.”
Kathy tried her hand at quite a few mediums- sewing, wood cutting, tole painting (“when that was in vogue,” she says) but it wasn't until she was gifted a film camera and began taking black and white photos that things began to change. And then she received her first digital camera and fell in love! Kathy says, “That was my first entry into the “art” world. I participated in Somerville Open Studios for 2 years while I was there. Some of the photography sold, and that gave me the confidence to continue.”
Kathy's first foray into creative business came in the form of a mobile framing business. She had worked in a frame shop, originally “so I could get a discount and frame my own work.” she says. But she found herself enjoying the entire artistic process, from designing to framing to delivery to her happy clients, and this turned into a full time career. Kathy owned Ava Art, her mobile framing business, for 8 years before moving to Denver.
“I was as late bloomer,” She says, “As a single parent with a career in sales and sales management, when [my daughter] Jamie was growing up, I didn’t have the time to pursue much outside of that routine.”
In Denver, Kathy found herself at a turning point. She could restart her successful business or see what else was out there. Kathy decided to go for the latter. “Hitchhiking on photography, I started taking workshops. I learned about software packages that could enhance your photos and in many cases change the composition and make new art. Then I started to paint. That really changed my art. I still use technology for some of my images, but now I’m showing more and more painted originals”
Kathy describes her art as “Ever evolving! Definitely abstract. Contemporary, colorful, mixed media.” She says, “I say I’m like the dog and the squirrel. I see a new medium and SQUIRREL!!!! I absolutely love trying new things. Right now I am mainly using acrylic and charcoal. I’m loving the Golden Open acrylic. It has a longer drying time, more time to manipulate and blend. I also, love, love, love texture. Recently, I’ve had fun with spackling paste, sand, and sea salt.” Kathy's work is painted onto canvas and paper, printed onto metal, and she has even begun expanding into apparel and home goods, allowing her collectors to experience her bright, bold designs in many different ways!
In art and in life, Kathy's main inspiration is, as she says, people!
“In life, I am inspired by friends and family. I know that sounds like a cliche, but the people that make up our Colorado family are epic. So much love and support. I’m truly grateful.
In art, I’m inspired by networking with other creatives. I feel so fortunate to have been in on the ground floor of Stapleton Open Studios. This year is our 7th year and the artists I’ve been able to show with are and have been incredible. I also was part of the founding group of Stapleton Artists, our non-profit organization, and have served as Board Chair for 3 years. It’s rewarding helping to bring people together.”