Kate Marshall Art Studio Visit

Kate Marshall’s studio, located in Petoskey, Michigan, has the aesthetic of a miniature Swedish barn, with crisp white walls, expansive windows and slight cracks amongst the paneling. We have been happy to carry Kate Marshall’s inspiring oil paintings at Huzza and thought it would be fun to catch up with her to discuss her process, artistic influences, and to snap a few images from her creative hideaway.

To shop Kate’s work click the images below or view her entire collection.

Kate Marshall Art: Spring 30x30Kate Marshall Art: Summer 30x30Kate Marshall Art: Autumn 30x30

Have you always painted? I’ve not always painted but I’ve always done some creative work. For many years, I was involved in theater as an actress and lived in New York. I have a MFA in theater. Then, when we moved here, I started having children and doing other things. I worked in clay and did what I could from home. As the kids were getting older I was finding it necessary to explore something. Some work. Interestingly enough, I had been reading accounts of people in England and how they would go out on picnics and take their sketchbooks, that seemed like such a civilized thing to do. The question for me was, “How does one spend one’s time?” I started painting and drawing by myself and then I took classes at college and I was encouraged to go in a show and I did and then I was captured. I was swept away by painting. I just loved it right away so I just kept working and doing workshops with different people. 

Kate Marshall Studio ShotWhat is it about painting that you respond to? I love all of it. I love the paint and the canvas and the paper. I love the process of painting, which is really what it’s about. The finished work is never as perfect as I would like it to be and never what I imagined it would be. So, it’s always a surprise and that’s a good thing. I’m not the kind of painter who is, at this point, in front of a tree and wants to make a perfect tree.

Kate Marshall Studio Shelf  Kate Marshall Art: BlueHour 31x31Kate Marshall Art: Tea and Peaches 30x30

Do you find inspiration from nature? Of course, especially living here, it would be hard not to respond to nature. It’s everywhere. There’s the horizon and the lake and the sky and fields and trees. But for me its not about the fact of it, it’s how that fact is blended with the fiction of working in the moment. So, I might start with something about… lets say the water. But through working and making those marks, it doesn’t have to be real. It can be my response to what I’ve done, which to me is what is interesting about abstract work. There is a conversation and dialogue that the painter has with the work as it progresses. So it is ever changing, responding and adjusting…you’re scraping and making a mark or writing on a canvas or whatever you’re doing to create a composition and scheme that is ultimately satisfying.

How do you know when a piece is done? Everyone always asks that. You’re done when you can’t imagine doing any more. What is finished? That is the question. There’s the whole movement of Provisional Painting, artists like Joan Mitchell and Sergej Jensen where paintings are intentionally left with things undone. If you don’t complete the work you allow people to be part of the process.
Kate MarshallKate Marshall Studio Shot

Do you work on multiple paintings at a time? Sometimes, and sometimes not. It depends you know. With the bigger ones I’ll do pieces of them and then switch them around. With the smaller works, sometimes I paint them all at once.

Do you sketch or plan your paintings beforehand? I never sketch but I may do little paintings on paper. I do some plein air, outdoor things and then I take those and abstract them. I also read poetry, which has a different way of influencing my work.

July Hike, is that recounting an actual hike? Well it’s a memory of being outdoors with water with but it’s not a transcription of a day. There is a lot of mark making in that in order to create this journey, it’s my interpretation of a time and space.

Are the marks referring to specific things? I’m really drawn to making marks but I’m not into using symbolism. Although some artists are, for me, these marks don’t have any specific spiritual or mythological meaning. Sometimes they are just scribbles, and sometimes if I’m really frustrated I’ll write in charcoal on the canvas to remind myself that it’s my expression and it can be whatever I want it to be.

How do you begin when making a painting? For me, I need solitude and being left alone to have a clear mind. I don’t make work in the summer. There are so many distractions. I don’t have much time to focus between the restaurant being open and spending time with friends and family. My mind is very cluttered in the summer, it’s not spacious. In the fall I start with cleaning the studio and sometimes I will paint pieces that I throw out just to get going again. It’s important just to start and sometimes that’s a good way to take the pressure off.

What’s your ideal creative environment? Well, if it were my imagined creative environment, it would maybe be an old milk barn with pristine white walls and 30ft ceilings. Since I was able to build my own studio, it really is my ideal work environment. I can walk out the backdoor and be here. I don’t have to drive anywhere. We are fortunate because it’s pretty quiet around here. I like it that way. I don’t encourage people to come and visit and I don’t invite my friends to come and look at the work when it is in process.

Are there other artists you gain inspiration from? Joan Mitchell. Brice Marden, the economy in his mark making is beautiful and he is one who talks about the value in modern life away from technology and the value in making marks that are true and full of process. In addition to loving his work, I really appreciate that thought. So much is done by machines that it’s good to appreciate something that is done with the hand. I love Howard Hodgkin’s swathes of color and movement. Beautiful free painting; when I respond to work I feel like it’s because there is a certain freedom to the marks. Agnes martin. I have a real minimal aesthetic but at the same time I love a lot of chaos.

What’s next? Cleaning my studio and getting back to work, I’m looking around, quieting and refocusing. Now I’m getting really eager to begin again.

Kate Marshall Art: Summer Heat 48x48Kate Marshall Art: July Hike 48x48Kate Marshall Artist

It was an absolute pleasure having the opportunity talk to Kate about her work and artistic influences. Her bright studio, expressive marks and serine pallet are a true extension of her vivacious energy. We wish her an autumn filled with inspiration as she transitions back to work in the studio.

Kate Marshall Art: Green Moon 16x16Kate Marshall Art: Copper Cut 16x16

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2 Responses to Kate Marshall Art Studio Visit

  1. T Shatt says:

    This blog post was an impressive exposé into Kate’s approach to her abstract art. It answers questions I might have bothered her with, but now… will not. Enjoy your return Kate to your medium and may you be in that moment.

    Thank you for hosting. T. Shatt

  2. Ruth Andre says:

    Love seeing Kate Marshall’s paintings and reading the interview. She is a very interesting person and I love her paintings.

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