An Interview with
Kathy Anderson

“Corn and White Roses”
by Kathy Anderson OPAM

This article is based on an interview that took place at this year’s National Exhibition and Convention in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. OPA Board member Stuart Fullerton, Esq. sat down for an exclusive interview with the delightful Kathy Anderson OPAM.

Kathy Anderson is a very accomplished artist, represented by many respected galleries and the recipient of too many awards to count, including 2 awards received at this year’s OPA National Exhibition. Kathy also received her OPA Master Signature status this year.

After studying advertising art and design at college for one and a half years, Kathy worked as a watercolorist. She sold her work in outdoor shows. Other interesting notes on Kathy’s resume include helping paint large backdrops for her son’s high school theater class, and conducting a mural business for about 7 years.

Stuart: What kind of murals were you painting?

Kathy: Crazy, unbelievable things. Anything… I was painting paintings on people’s walls, basically.

Stuart: So, internal wall paintings?

Kathy: (nodding) I did an entire ceiling once of sky, just sky and clouds; working on a scaffold.

Kathy: Anyway, from there, I was still doing the outdoor shows. And I used to do this show in Sherman, Connecticut. And one time I went to pick my work up and the ladies there were like, “Guess who bought one of your paintings?!”… It was Richard Schmid!

Stuart: Wow!

Kathy knew of Richard Schmid and admired his work. Richard had previously lived in Sherman, Connecticut, and he would loyally return each year to give a demonstration.

Kathy: I went back the following year to see his demo. He was walking down the path and my girlfriend was like, “Go say hello.” So I went up to him and said, “You probably don’t know who I am, but you bought my painting last year.” I was like, “You probably threw it out when you got home and saw you’d made a big mistake.” (Laughter) He was so sweet.

While doing his demonstration, Richard Schmid had talked about painting with a group in Vermont. Kathy, assuming that this group was a work shop, asked if it would be possible for her to sign up.

Kathy: He (Richard) said, “Oh no, it’s not a class, just come up and paint with us in Vermont.” Which was 2 hours 15 minutes from my house in Connecticut. So I went up there. I didn’t even know what we were painting. Turns out we were painting a model. I’d never painted a model from life before. And I thought, “I can’t believe I’m doing this!” …And he asked me to continue coming.

That began a meaningful relationship Kathy has enjoyed with the Putnam Painters. Kathy gave us a little insight as to what the group is like.

Kathy For Richard he always looked for, not so much ability, as passion; and …somebody that he knew would be totally compatible. That’s one thing we’ve always said about the Putney Painters that’s so incredible, there’s no competition between us, we’re just all like a family. It’s a great group of people. We’ve painted together for 18 years.

Stuart: How often would the Putney painters meet?

Kathy: We would meet 8 times in the spring and 8 times in the fall. Everything from life. It wasn’t a teaching environment, except Richard always taught. He would walk around and help each person. He’s so generous and wonderful, and Nancy (Guzik) too.

Kathy: (speaking of Richard Schmid) He loves problem solving. Everyone has problems with their paintings, even Richard Schmid. He’ll say, “The joy of problem solving… you just stop and you figure it out, and you go to your books, or you go to another artist, or you wait on the painting” …. allow yourself the time to let that painting rest a while, so you can go back and look at it with fresh eyes… Many years ago Nancy Guzik said to me, “When you do a really good painting, try not to just put it out there to sell it. If you know this is a good painting, save it for Oil Painters of America, or save it for your big gallery that is having a great show.”

Kathy spoke very highly of Richard Schmid and his wife Nancy Guzik, and the impact they have had on her. She even told us, light heartedly, the difference between Richard and Nancy.

Kathy: Richard loves what he paints, and Nancy paints what she loves. Everything Richard paints turns out to be so gorgeous, and he’s just in love with the paint. He loves the challenge of taking the craziest things and turning it into a painting.

Stuart: And where are you on that scale?

Kathy: I’m like Nancy, I have to be madly in love with what I’m painting.

In addition to drawing inspiration from Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik, Kathy has many other artists who have influenced her.

Kathy: I’m very lucky that I have a very close friendship with Richard and also with Everett Raymond Kinstler.

Stuart: He’s known as a portrait artist.

“Zinnias and Sunflower”
by Kathy Anderson OPAM

Kathy: Yes, he’s painted presidents and movie stars… I never was fortunate enough to study under him, but I’ve had a very close friendship with him for about 10 years… He’s been a huge influence on me… He’s 92 years old and he will aways go and support another artist or a friend because he knows how important it is for him to be there, at someone’s opening. He’s such a loyal person. My favorite Woody Allen quote is “80% of success is showing up.” Well, Everett knows that for sure… he just knows the importance of supporting other people and keeping yourself out there.

In addition to being an accomplished exhibiting artist, Kathy also teaches workshops around the country and has taught many students over the years. Here are some of the things she frequently teaches her students:

Kathy: The main thing is drawing, drawing, drawing! You have to start with your basic knowledge of drawing. It stops you dead if you’re struggling with your drawing. In jazz they say, “Through knowledge comes freedom.” Know all your scales, know your chords, know how to read music, and when that’s like second nature to you, then you’re free to create what’s important, the essence of your painting. So drawing’s the most important.

Kathy: And also painting from life. I mostly paint from life.

Other tid bits Kathy finds worth repeating to her students:
-keep organized
-keep clean
-know your equipment

Kathy’s sentiment was “you can’t be free to do a beautiful painting when you have other obstacles hindering you.”

As the audience enjoyed seeing several of Kathy’s paintings projected on the large screens, we heard more about Kathy’s process of creating a painting.

Kathy: (referring to her paintings) All this is started from life… maybe I go back twice. And then take really good photos. What I try to capture from life is my values and my temperature. Color is not that important to me from life, because I know my colors. And I’ll have color on there anyway. As long as they’re pretty colors… What I use photos mostly for, is drawing. (Kathy walked us through her extensive process of finishing up a painting of daffodils in her studio) I had my full photo of the whole set up, and then I had individual photos of each flower so I could see where each petal was and if I had to fix a drawing or something like that.

Stuart asked Kathy how she begins a painting from life. Especially paintings which come from scenes that are naturally more chaotic and wild.

Kathy: First of all I’m an avid gardener so I know my subject really well… But I really stress design, and to me that’s the foremost thing I think of when I’m starting a painting, is the design of the painting… When I go out and paint from life with flowers, I carry little bungee cords with me. I bungee things where I want them… I did a 30 by 40 plein air painting up in Putney. What was there in life was this beautiful quince bush, giant quince in bloom. And my painting had daffodils, tulips, and pansies in it too. I picked all of that. I bought little 6 packs of pansies, took them out, and arranged them on the ground… You know the little flower tubes you get when you buy roses? I carry them everywhere and I stuck all the daffodils and tulips in the little tubes. And I stuck them in the ground underneath. So I composed the whole painting. And for the end of the painting, I had a dead Baltimore Oriole in my freezer, thanks to my little cats.

Stuart: Who doesn’t have a dead Baltimore Oriole in their freezer?

Kathy: Everybody has that right?

Stuart: (Joking) I believe they’re available on Amazon.

Kathy: I actually right now have a chipmunk, and 3 or 4 birds including a woodpecker.

Stuart: Ok, chipmunks, that’s available on the Dark Web.

The audience had a good laugh with this banter. Kathy assured us that she is very protective of wildlife and tries to rescue small animals whenever possible but occasionally her cats bring her offerings or a bird doesn’t survive after flying into a window. These are the animals Kathy would use for a painting.

Stuart: This is interesting, the flower tubes, the bungee cords, dead animals. Any other tips (laughter), things that would fall into the category of bits and bobs, you would use in composing your floral paintings? Do you ever have to stake the flowers?

Kathy: Oh yeah! I do everything. Anything to make the painting right. In someone else’s garden I’m a little more respectful though.

Stuart: So by whatever means necessary?

Kathy: Yes, what ever means necessary. In other words you don’t have to paint what’s exactly there, is the point.

“Everyone Here”
by Kathy Anderson OPAM

Stuart: (speaking to the audience) When I look at Kathy’s paintings, what I see reflects her personality. This sort of exquisite sensibility, of gorgeous paintings, of color and composition and technique. But I think what you get a sense of here today is that there’s a real sense of gaiety, of joy and humor in her work. It’s charming, it’s beautiful. That’s hard to do, to express yourself in that way.

Kathy: I think you see people’s personalities in their paintings. Thank you for saying that. That was very nice.

Stuart: Do people paint who they are, in a way?

Kathy: I think so. I see people’s personality in their paintings.

Stuart: In their choice of subject? Or in the manner of execution?

Kathy: Or their pallet. Their color choices. We all see color differently. One of the things I think is lacking in my work is I think I don’t use enough cool colors. Sometimes when I’m trying to balance the cools and the warms, which is the most beautiful pallet for me to look at, and yet it’s harder for me to do that because I respond so much to warm colors. I think you just have to be true to yourself.

As this delightful 60 minute interview wrapped up, Kathy left us with a couple of pieces of wisdom:

Kathy: If you have the passion for painting, then you’ve got to put your hours in, study with someone you really respect, and then meticulously evaluate your work.

Finally, we ended with one of Kathy’s favorite quotes:

“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”
– Stephen McCranie

Stuart spoke for us all as he closed:
“Thank you very much Kathy Anderson! We really appreciate you coming out!”

Kathy Anderson OPA

Kathy Anderson OPAM

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