This week we are getting to know more about Kathleen Hudson in our series "5 Quick Questions" in which we interview different Co|So members about their lives as artists. This week Kathleen tells us what inspires her to create art, what her art says about her, and how she produces her artwork.
Kathleen Hudson, Evening on the Charles, oil, 14 x 20"
When did you decide that you wanted to be an artist?
My parents tell me I drew incessantly as soon as I could hold a pencil, so perhaps I’ve known it from the jump. Yet I didn’t commit to painting as a profession until after college, where I studied History & Literature and kept the brushes wet with a tabletop easel in my dorm room. The Copley Society factored into that decision—I applied and got in the year after I graduated, and meeting the other artists in Co|So convinced me to dive in and pursue painting full time. Prior to that I’d only known a couple of professional artists, and none of them painted landscapes.
What inspires your artwork?
I love to paint movement in the landscape. No element of a landscape is static—light moves, wind sweeps through foliage and disturbs the mirror-like surface of still water. I try to reflect that movement in my work to make the landscape feel “alive” to the viewer.
I tend to paint more remote landscapes because they have a timeless quality. I consider the story of the places I paint, and it’s moving to think that people in centuries past might have taken in the same view with my same sense of wonder. There’s a connectedness to be found in the remote landscape.
What artists (living or deceased) do you draw inspiration from?
I picked up my favorite medium (oil) at age 12 by copying several of John Singer Sargent’s paintings. I remember spending hours in the massive Sargent exhibition at the National Gallery and not wanting to leave! His sense of design and his confident paint handling are striking.
John Singer Sargent, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, oil, 1882, MFA Boston
In the last few years as I’ve gotten involved in plein air festivals, I’ve begun to learn just as much from contemporary artists. (The list of painters whose work I actively follow would be too long to share here.) The best thing about participating in festivals and national shows is getting to know other artists and seeing how they bring their life experiences to the canvas. It’s a very inventive, generous, and familial community.
What does your art say about you?
I hope my paintings communicate the joy I take in the landscape. We live in a world filled with wonders, if we make a practice of opening our eyes to see them. I’ve been reflecting on this more lately as the parent of a toddler—to watch a young child actively unpack the world around him is to realize how much I fail to observe, how much my eyes pass right over. He notices things (patterns in nature, unusual colors, animals and plants) that I don’t always observe because it’s still new to him and he has a child’s boundless curiosity.
I find that I’m most observant, and most filled with joy or wonder, when I’m outside painting from life. Painting leads me to slow down, observe my surroundings closely, and pick up things I would have missed otherwise.
What do you consider your most important tool when it comes to making art?
I love mixing things up and experimenting with different substrates, but I like to keep my paints consistent since the pigments become like old friends over time. I get to know their character, the way they interact with other pigments on my palette, and how they look in different types of light. I found the paints I love a couple years ago when I picked up a tube of Michael Harding’s Ultramarine Blue. It’s the purest ultramarine I’ve ever seen, it stays wet on my palette for plenty of time, and it’s got a great consistency. I wound up switching over and using Michael’s entire line. He’s an artist himself, and a perfectionist when it comes to his pigment sources, paint consistency, etc.
Kathleen Hudson, Early Morning on the River, oil, 14 x 20"
You can see Kathleen Hudson's work in Along the Charles, on view in the Upper Gallery through November 11th. She will also be taking part in Cape Ann Plein Air (CAPA) this Monday, October 15th. CAPA’s mission is to preserve and promote Cape Ann’s legacy as the birthplace of American plein air painting.