Controlled spontaneity. This dynamic contradiction originally drew Kay to Asian brush painting, an ancient art she has since incorporated 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 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. Her paintings have since evolved and incorporated those ideas into a much more dynamic and personal artistic thumbprint. Recent accomplishments are “Best Wyoming Artist” award at the 30th Annual Watercolor Wyoming national juried exhibit in 2015.
Her focus now is P’o Mo, (translated as “splash ink”), though an ancient Chinese technique, the results look contemporary. Materials used are bamboohandled brushes, ink, watercolor and absorbent rice paper or gold covered “shikisihi” board. 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 spontaneous look of P’o Mo disguises the skill required to master the difficult medium and its special tools.
Now, she applies a wide range of techniques honed by years of practice and experimentation to the subjects she loves in life: mountainscapes that surround her Wyoming home; cranes sailing across a sunset; a frog bathing in a marbleized pool; empty but beautiful spaces. Kay’s paintings feel simultaneously fresh yet timeless.
An important element of my life and painting is simplicity. But no matter how simple a painting may appear at first glance, the viewer will notice something new each time they look at it, whether it is a gently shaded sky, a richly contrasting mountain, or a distant river created by meandering drips of watercolor. Each drip, splash and brushstroke exists to be studied, savored and enjoyed.
My eyes may see things differently than others – on a wickedly cold winter day, with white hoarfrost coating every surface including the sky, others may see a completely colorless scene.
Kay Stratman’ s work can be viewed daily at Horizon Fine Art Gallery.