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