Realistic Painting & Custom Portraits
My body of work is neither a product of talent alone, nor has my growth as an artist progressed in a perfectly linear fashion. The portfolio you see here is part of my developing practice, one that has been characterized by struggle to find and refine myself as an artist and one whose existence is inseparable from the encouragement I have received from my family, friends and mentors. For their part in challenging and supporting my artistic growth, I would like to sincerely thank:
What I can remember most about the first time I approached a blank canvas with a set of acrylic paint is pure and utter frustration. I was 13 and I couldn't understand abstraction for the life of me, but at the same time, I couldn't seem to make the picture match what was in my head. It took years of lessons, of painstaking reproductions and of looking, truly looking, before I realized the subtle capabilities of acrylic paint and learned to see the shapes and layers that compose our visual relationship to the world.
I came to the University of British Columbia in 2009 thinking that detail and precision were enough to make one a good artist, only to become frustrated once more with the notions of 'concept' and theoretical grounding promoted by a post-secondary education. My strength as a painter seemed utterly at odds with the detached, documentary approaches of my more post-modernist professors and the painting-is-dead rhetoric saturating contemporary art history. When I realized that it is precisely this action of carving out one's own niche that defines developing an artistic practice, I began searching for ways in which my realistic style not only enhances minor details, those that are often beneath notice, but makes them necessary to the image's broad concept.
As an artist, I specialize in realistic, detailed acrylic painting, portraiture and commission work. Since 2007, I have participated in 11 exhibitions and shows, and sold work across Canada and the United States, including 3 provinces and 10 states. In 2015, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with degrees in Visual Arts and Psychology and opened my Etsy shop, KatherineBrownStudio. My recent and current non-commission work has focused on creative portrait styles as in the City in Her Soul series as well as work addressing issues of mental health stigma and visibility. Conceptually, my work really found its stride with when I allowed elements of my psychology degree and personal experience to filter into my work, addressing issues of mental health and it's visibility, perception and signification in society, in an ongoing project I call Katharsis.
Beyond my artistic directives, I also paint for enjoyment. I love painting the human face for it's expressiveness, uniqueness and personality. The greatest challenge in portraiture is not only capturing the individual's likeness but also their character and trying to move beyond the details one could see in a photograph alone (click here for a figurative selection of work). I'm always trying to overcome a new challenge with each painting, one which I'm not entirely sure I am capable of, whether it is a particularly complicated visual element or trying a completely new style. No matter how complicated, I can never say "no" to a challenge.
Donna and Richard Brown for their unwavering support, for fostering the passion and self-confidence with which I approach every piece and idea, and for never failing to showcase my work whether on the refrigerator or the front hall.
Carey Carrick for teaching me how to see and for years of patient guidance, despite my best efforts to resist change.
Gu Xiong for inspiring persistence and hard work in the search for one's conceptual niche.
James Sebesta for colouring my work with a new perspective and for drawing me into a new conception of what art could be.
Cait Lassen for her giving me her confidence, her image and a window to the online world.
Debra Dempster and Toby Tombros for never once doubting my potential.
Nancy Billingsley and my family for their persistent support and encouragement
Shiva Shahmir for her unwavering willingness to model for me and for never failing to show me a different way of seeing.