Cate Kauffman works in oils and pastels. She is currently deep in a series of bird paintings using photos she has taken out her back window. She recently finished a series of vegetables from her garden done in pastels. In the summer, as weather permits, she can often be found in parks and along roadways and waterways doing plein air work.
She had a good deal of her art training in high school and follows it up now with at least workshop annually to help refine her skills. She has recently begun teaching pastels.
I am a rebel. I push back against the trend toward non-representational art. I appreciate the concept of pushing boundaries, but not to the point of confusing the viewer.
No, I want you, my viewer, to “get it.” Immediately. On some level. If you look my bird paintings, I want you to see and understand you are looking at a bird. Hopefully, if you know anything about birds, you can even identify what type of bird it is. Beyond that, I want you to catch a bit of the personality of the bird itself, it’s environment, a moment in its life. Finally, if you’ve hung around long enough, I want you to notice that this is not a photograph. It’s not photo realism. There are brush strokes that add variety, colors that might be a bit unexpected and yet they work to create the illusion that this is a familiar bird.
Because, despite my rejection of non-representational art, I don’t see things like “normal” people. When I look at a flower I see values, I see reflected light, I see lines and shapes. When I look at a bird, I see shimmering colors, I see movement, I “feel” the warmth of the animal coming through it’s feathers. I’ve held birds in my hands, I have felt their little heart beats and I have felt the clutch of their tiny toes around my fingers. I want you to also feel their life. When I paint animals like dogs, cats and racoons, squirrels or sheep; I try to capture the volume of their bodies, the strength of their muscles as they wiggle away or push in for more petting.
In my still life and plein air and landscape work, I want to capture and share with you the temperature of the air, the sunlight bouncing off leaves and water. I want to find the shapes, lines and values that define what I see and somehow do that with the mundane tools of a panel, paint and brushes or pastels. I want you to know you are looking at a glass jar, or a tomato, or perhaps a field of cotton, a barn and a pine tree.
Most of all, I work to capture the beauty in the normal and mundane. The bird at the feeder, the apple on the cutting board or the old car in the shed. I only hope I have done my job well enough for you to see that beauty as well.