How did my paintings evolve?

posted in: Kay's Musings | 0

January 12, 2016  I have been asked several times how, or why, I arrived at my current painting style.  Usually I give the short answer, but here I can explain in more detail.  Having begun my painting explorations some 33 years ago, it is reasonable that my style and approach has evolved. It is, in fact, simply inevitable.  Careful study and practice for several years with brush painting masters allowed me to become confident in traditional Asian brush painting, which is called “sumi-e”, translated as “ink painting”.  There are traditional subjects, composition and materials that are taught and I respected the discipline required.  My focus was on floral and bird paintings of ink (sumi) and watercolor on rice paper, and after awhile I branched out into landscapes as well.  After initial concentrated study with my mentor (and friend) Susan Frame, I took numerous workshops with a variety of Asian style painters.  Each one brings their own techniques and outlook to the proverbial drawing board.  I absorbed all of them and placed them in my own artistic stew pot.  The result is my own unique “fingerprint” which you see now.  Splash and pour (p’o mo) techniques on rice paper became splash and pour techniques on shikishi boards, landscapes on rice paper merged with landscapes on shikishi boards.  Since I am predisposed to being unique I invented some techniques of my own to set my work apart.  I am told that there still is an Asian look to my works, but I do admit to adding my own “western” perspective.  That said, I mix both eastern and western to suit my outcome.  (As my art degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead was in Graphic Design, I also seem to have incorporated that aspect of my previous life into a more graphic approach to watercolor, which is also a bit unusual.)  I call my style “controlled spontaneity”, an oxymoron if there ever was one!

The aforementioned short answer to this question is “Because that is what artists do” 🙂

Here are some examples of my stylistic evolution:


Traditional floral brush painting:


Contemporary floral painting:



Traditional landscape painting:

Raptors over the Rappahannock

Contemporary landscape painting:








Leave a Reply