“My work is a collaboration between figurative and abstract botanical foliage and the use of shapes, lines and colours. I have no plans when I begin to paint, I just start – usually with a leaf and it’s finished when it’s finished. I don’t overthink it – the canvas speaks to me and tells me when it’s time for tools down,” says artist Kate Mayes.
“I live in Torquay and I am lucky enough to have a beautiful home studio that my husband purpose built for me. The juggle between being a mum and painter is real and I often find my biggest creative block of time comes whilst everyone is sleeping so it was important to me have a studio at home. That way I can easily put my paint brush down and float into bed without much thought,” says Kate who is renowned for her botanical inspired creations and deep sea green palettes.
As is often the case with artists, Kate is drawn to the pure creativity and relative naivety that children can bring to the artistic table. “My inspiration comes from everything around me. My two girls inspire me, we draw together daily, and I learn from their fluidity and the freedom they have when creating. I will often draw on these experiences when I am feeling stuck or if I am trying to make a painting too ‘perfect’ I will remind myself what they would do. A mind of creativity that has not yet been touched by the outside world,” says Kate.
Self-taught, Kate’s interest in painting began at a very young age. “I grew up in a small town and about ten doors down lived the artist Leonard French whose stained glass ceiling in the National Gallery of Victoria’s great hall is the largest piece of stained glass in the world. In grade two, I was lucky enough to interview Mr French for my class project and we sat in his studio and had morning tea. He was an incredible artist and I was so inspired. I knew from a young age that art and creativity were my strengths and what I wanted to pursue,” says Kate.
Kate works mainly with acrylics after struggling to find the patience for oils. “I always imagined using oil paints but unfortunately I learned quite quickly that there is not a patient bone in my body. I now use acrylic paints and I love them,” says Kate who adapts them to achieve oil-like results. “I have found ways to implement the qualities I love of oil paints into my acrylics, using heavy bodied paints and richly coloured washes, and I can achieve the results I want,” says Kate.
When creating her latest collection, Kate was solely focussed on freedom of expression. “This collection was all about letting go, painting what I wanted to paint and experimenting with colour palettes. I gave myself the freedom to paint over parts that I had worked so hard at making look realistic. To almost gamble with my creativity was fun and I am really pleased with my final pieces,” says Kate.
Photography: Armelle Habib | Styling: Sara Huckett @lennox_rd for Greenhouse Interiors