This dynamic contradiction originally drew Kay Stratman to Asian brush painting, an ancient art. She has since incorporated this approach into a style all her own, a mix of traditional technique and contemporary aesthetic.
After graduating from college with a BA in Art, Kay spent 14 years at a commercial art studio in Minneapolis, MN but continued to search for her own artistic medium. In 1983, she met a “sumi-e” (Asian ink painting) artist and instantly knew she had found her visual voice. Asian paintings are simple in composition, yet full of harmony, balance and peace, all elements Kay seeks in her own life as well as in her artwork.
Kay’s paintings have since evolved and blended those ideas into a much more personal and contemporary artistic thumbprint, which she describes as Asian influenced, mixed with Western experience. Accomplishments are two “Best Wyoming Artist” awards at the annual Watercolor Wyoming national juried exhibit, and achieving “Signature Member” status of the Wyoming Watercolor Society, as well as acceptance into Women Artists of the West.
A description of Kay’s technique helps one better understand the final results. Materials used are bamboo-handled brushes, watercolors and gold or silver metallic covered “shikisihi” boards. Thickened watercolor is poured onto the surface and allowed to bleed, blend, then dry. Kay continues the painting by defining areas with brushwork to reveal a more recognizable image. The initial spontaneous use of puddles of paint disguises the skill required to master the difficult medium and its special tools.
In addition to Kay’s signature watercolor style, she also works in “encaustics”, which uses molten beeswax. These works are very much mixed media, combining watercolor saturated rice paper in layers to create translucent dimension. Additionally, many are embedded with bits of nature, in particular, butterfly wings, bees, wasp nests, dried leaves, sticks and flowers. These works are beautiful abstractions of nature, in a very interesting medium, where Kay has combined all of her years of art training – graphic design, Asian watercolor, contemporary watercolor and encaustics into her love of nature.
Kay’s home in Wyoming inspires her to share her enthusiasm about the outdoors and conservation with people far beyond its borders.
Photo: Florence McCall Photography