My name is Kathy Lee from Sydney, Australia. Who would have thought 2020 would bring Covid into our lives, and lead to me discovering at the ripe old age of 69 that I could paint, and yet that’s exactly what happened!
April 2020 saw me (along with pretty much the rest of the world) looking for ways to pass time. I have always been interested in arts and crafts but, having ruined several promising sketches in high school by adding paint, and being repeatedly told by teachers I would never be any good at art, I resigned myself to exploring other avenues.
Born in the UK, the next several years saw me exploring embroidery, macrame, knitting, lace making, textiles, jewellery making – you name it, I tried it as long as colour was involved and I could create something I liked.
1986 saw me emigrating to Australia (with my husband and 3 young daughters), where I discovered ceramics. I thought I had found my true passion until injury forced me to give it up, and fall into the arms of resin art instead. I loved the free-flowing vibrancy of the colours but, alas, the ‘hobby’ was expensive, and I discovered the residual fumes on the artwork aggravated my grandchildren’s asthma. Back to the drawing board – literally!
Enter Covid and a local art store, where I discovered watercolour and fell in love with the potential, comparatively low costs, and smaller storage space needed for finished works (little did I know that a love of this art form can lead you to accumulate amazing amounts of art supplies – my dining room table aka ‘studio’ will bear witness to this!)
I started with very loose flowing paintings, then tried some of the online tutorials – I highly recommend this for newcomers to any art form as there are lots of free tutorials on YouTube.
My confidence increased with each one and I started to experiment- first with loose flowing watercolours and then with more detailed, realistic paintings.
My work has evolved since I started in April 2020. I incorporate more detailed work, have taken up pet portraits, and discovered a whole new world to explore with charcoal and pastels. I am currently exploring combining charcoal with watercolour to see what effects can be achieved. My first work in this genre, ‘Leonides,’ sold immediately so I guess that’s a good start. I am currently working on a tiger, ‘Kambuku.’
I typically start by either seeing a plant, or photo of an animal (Unsplash is a great resource for Free photos) or just getting an idea in my head – a bit like an itch, it won’t go away until I ‘scratch’ it! Colour is a source of joy and motivation to me and literally makes my heart sing when it all comes together, as with ‘Safari Sunset’ (below) and ‘Tribal Instinct’ (at top of post).
I either draw freehand, trace or map out with a grid from photos to get my baseline drawing, and then build on it from there. Alternatively, I freehand sketch an outline if it’s from my imagination and then let the colours work their magic. With watercolour, building up slowly in layers really works well, and you ensure you get the results you want by making haste slowly.
These days, I prefer to use either Daniel Smith or Winsor & Newton paints having discovered cheaper paints don’t work as well. You need a lot more to achieve a similar, but not necessarily, equal result. I am a little more flexible with paper, buying mainly those on special at the time, but not less than 300gsm. My dream is to work with Arches paper – maybe a birthday gift this year (fingers crossed). Canson is a cheaper quality alternative.
I don’t paint on less than 300gsm paper. I do a fair bit of wet on wet and find anything less doesn’t give me the results I want. I also love to experiment with things like salt, acetone etc for different effects.
Salt was used for the sky on both ‘Safari Sunset’ and ‘Tribal Instinct’ with great results. I have been fortunate enough to sell quite a few or my artworks having decided at the outset to make my art affordable.
For me, it’s about the joy of creation, having people enjoy what they see, and liking it enough to want to take it home. What a great compliment! I’m lucky indeed that my love of colour has led me to this whole new world – I don’t think I’ll ever tire of exploring it, and it really IS never too late!Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
Beautiful very special paintings!
Thank you so much / that really means a lot to me❤️
What a wonderful discovery! You certainly are talented in the crafts and I am glad you found a passion, you can do during the lockdowns and make money at! Success all arounnd!
Thanks so much – I feel really lucky as so many are doing bit harder. Glad you like my paintings 😁❤️
Kathy Lee, So glad you found w/ c. I am 91 and have been painting since I was 63. Now live in senior living apartment and still paint daily. It truly is a lifetime skill. Mary Ann Ciulla
That’s wonderful! I hope to do the same😁❤️
Serendipity at work – how wonderful that you discovered watercolor, both for the joy you receive in using it, and the joy of the beholder in viewing your awesome paintings! Thank you for sharing you artistic journey with us!
Thanks Sandra – I have been blown away by the response to the feature and feel blessed to have met so many wonderful people lke yourself as a result 🙂
What a wonderful story and such beautiful art!! Thank you for sharing!!
Thanks so much Mary – it really means a lot
Thank you so much ❤️
Loved reading your story – having come to watercolour at age 55 after at least 30 years of wanting to learn how to paint with this incredibly fluid and gorgeous medium – how can you not fall in love with watercolours…
Thank you ❤️ My thoughts exactly – it’s so diverse- just love it❤️❤️❤️
Kathy Lee you are a Master. The teacher who told you you can’t do art, is stupid. End of story. We have those kind up in Canada too (my kid’s teacher insisted that because I am a writer,I wrote the kid’s essay . I did not and she got a huge blast from me. Your art is absolutely beautiful. You could be teaching that.
And what is that you say about “ripe old age of 69 ?” It is not too ripe or we would not be able to learn things like how to paint like you do. And it’s not old whatever that is. I am smiling by the way.
Hi, Linda! 💜 Hope you are well. Hugs.
Fine thanks as I hope you are too. Trying to get un-lazy after doing all that Christmas card painting.
😂 your post made me smile too😘Thank you for your support and encouragement- it makes my day to see the responses here and to know how wrong that teacher was ( I have 3 daughters who have grown up knowing they can move mountains with neither age nor sex to stop them). No wonder you blasted that teacher!
Kathryn I should have mentioned, re age, that a writer started to write novels at 86 and i mentioned that to a fellow artist on one of the art sites. She replied that yes, that writer is a friend of hers and is on her second work now!!!!!!! I guess I better get my short stories going again….
That’s just awesome – looks like you better had get to work on those short stories!
Such beautiful work! It’s always inspiring to read about people who continue to learn and grow as they get older… good reminder that we rarely should let age limit us….
Thanks so much, and it’s so true which is why I kayak and travel the world solo since my husband died 15 yrs ago❤️ We only live the once so gave to make the most of every day 🥰
C’est un beau message d’espoir et ce, pendant le Covid, merci de cet écrit de vôtre part, et des oeuvres si belles, si bien réalisées et si colorées, moi, qui avait dit, un jour, j’irais en Australie … c’était normalement, le premier grand voyage, que je voulais faire, suite à la lecture d’un livre merveilleux, sur ce pays – et je suis allé ailleurs, comme en Afrique du Sud … continuez à nous faire parvenir vos oeuvres, car depuis que Charlie, ne le fait plus…c’est devenu très triste – pour lui et à tous, prenez soin de vous !
Je be parle pas beaucoup de français mais j’espere vous comprenez bien le plaisir dans ma coeur donnez moi pour votre mots❤️❤️ Merci mille fois!
vôtre texte est en français ? ou traduit ? j’espère que vous avez pu me lire correctement avec une traduction – cordialement – Cathy de France qui fait des aquarelles
Oui! 😃💕 I can read fairly well in French, but can’t think of the words to put a response together quickly. hehe 😊
Oui – c’est en français, mais c’est bien. Je comprends votre mots mais’auto correct !!!!’ À bientôt x
Wow! You are my hero! Your art is beautiful and your story is inspiring. Thank you for sharing both with us.
Thanks you – that really means so much to me ❤️🙏❤️
Beautiful work (from a just past 69 er)! Soooo inspiring. I’ve always heard that buying art supplies and painting are actually two totally separate hobbies!! Both are hobbies of mine 🙂
Oh that’s sooo true😂🤣😂. So glad you like my work❤️. Thank you
Ya me too — I looked at my art supplies all over the table as I did morning pages (aka Julia Cameron) and commented to NoteBook that those look sort of limp right now as if if they slept too long. I have what is known as Stage Fright (imposter syndrome they call it but that doesn’t make sense to me). Today I have no excuses left….
I am almost in tears of laughter reading this – Imposter syndrome!!! :):):) I love it. I haven’t done any alcohol ink painting in weeks – maybe that’s imposter syndrome too! (I just became so involved in the watercolour…)
Guess what. I finally painted with those precious Daniel Smiths. I get to the point where the water tubs are filled and the paint is mixed and the stage fright aka imposter gets scared and leaves. That means tomorrow I have to do another.
I know exactly what you mean :):):) That’s partly why I am a serial painter
Oh my! Your work is wonderful! I can’t believe you just “took it up” in April. You were blessed with talent! Thank you for sharing your story. Such inspiration!
True story! Never painted at all before then and truly thought I might may one huge mess – apparently not😂 Thank you for your beautiful comment- it really means a lot to me ❤️
Wow! very nice use of colour saturation…..vibrent colours, perspective and drawing of each painting is perfect, very detailed work in this young age, I am really inspired by your work and your art journey as well, Thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much Atique- I just love colour and I like it to ‘sing’ when I paint. If it doesn’t, I keep layering until it feels right. So glad you like it. It means a lot❤️
WOW – those are amazing paintings Kathy. Thank you so much .. what an inspiration you are!!! 🙂 I am 68 and just starting out!
Thank you so much Zoie- soooo glad you like them. I can’t encourage you enough to give it a go- I have had such an amazing time with it. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions- happy to help if I can ❤️
Girl, you are a rock star! Your pink flamingo is my favorite! 💜 Age is just a number!
I like the idea of being a rock star😁👍🏼. Age has never worried me I must say- just get out there and live your life, I say. So glad you love the flamingo- now he really was a cheeky Doodle who grew into a flamingo. Thank you so much ❤️🙏
Great message, and beautiful artwork! I too share a journey similar to yours, in that I started watercolour at 66, 4 years ago, and am loving it!
Thank you so much – How wonderful to discover new joys at any age. So glad yu’re loving it!
Your story is so heart warming and it brought tears to my eyes. You took that leaf of faith into a dream you craved within your heart. Now all your awesome paintings show the true meaning, that an artist journey begins at any age. Your an inspiriting young lady who has found a beautiful journey to travel on through 2020 and going forward. Thank you for your gift and when I’m not sure, your story will be read again an again until I’ve found the desire within me to really paint and just not doodle a ground in watercolours .💗
Your comment touched my heart – thank you! Take pride in your doodlings because that’s where we all start, and they are an art form in themselves. Enjoy your journey 🙂
Your paintings are wonderful! Very inspiring. Thank you for sharing.
I really appreciate you saying that Victoria – it means such a lot to me. Thank you
Kathryn – Your paintings are really beautiful. I’ve got you beat – I started painting at 70! Charlie was kind enough to do a story on me to. Nancy
That’s awesome Nancy ! We’re not too shabby for a couple of older birds are we?
I’m 79, activve, do volunteer work with local food bank, WAS a capable artist but let “life get in the way… Am having a challenging time getting back.. _Start a sketch from a photo today…realized just how much I had lost// so back to real basics!! thank you for sharing.. you inspire me to “push on”
How could you possibly do that
All of the painting are looing amazing. What a creative idea you implement. Great job you have done.
Love it! Beautiful.