Based in northern New South Wales, self-taught artist and farmer Kate Owen didn’t have to look far for inspiration when working on her latest collection Rose Coloured Glasses. “As farmers, when we look at our surroundings at the moment, it is easy to have a heavy heart because of the extreme drought situation. But by looking through rose-coloured glasses we interpret what we see into visions of lush colour, growth and prosperity in our mind’s eye,” says Kate.
And it’s this glass half full approach that has resulted in a gorgeous series of colourful abstract works that are available to purchase through online art purveyor The Interiors Assembly. “I think a lot of my work is a form of positive manifestation of what I would like to see,” adds Kate.
While interested in art as a child, Kate has no formal art training beyond the occasional workshop (where she experimented with oils, acrylics and clay sculpture) but has found her formal fashion training to be integral to her work. “The work I have done in fashion and homewares has definitely had an influence on the type of work I like to produce and also the colours I favour,” says Kate who has been painting full-time for the last two and a half years, since her youngest child left home for boarding school.
“With the kids having gone away it has freed up my time enough to devote myself to a regular practice. It’s been a huge relief to finally be able to paint all the time instead of storing away the ideas and impulses in my head,” says Kate who has a keen interest in colour and loves to experiment with different combinations, working mainly with acrylic paint.
“I like working with acrylics because they dry quickly which allows me to capture spontaneous gestural marks and not have too much time to think about what I’m doing,” says Kate. Although most of her work is done on canvas she uses paper to collage at times as well as graphic sticks and oil pastels. As a final touch, Kate will often scratch back through her finished works to reveal layers of paint underneath.
And though it’s been a tough time of late, the artist’s daily view (beautiful, undulating farm country) provides constant inspiration – as does her time spent on the road. “I’m constantly on the lookout for inspiration when driving and make frequent stops on my trips, to capture those moments. At the moment I have a particular affinity with the cactus, and you’ll see those organic shapes appear abstractly in my work often. To me the cactus represents resilience which is a value I hold in high esteem.”
Photography: Grace Cobb