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The visual transformation from chaos to order is the best way to explain my most commonly used approach to painting. Working spontaneously, intuitively and without expectations I combine color and gestural mark making to begin the layering process of my paintings. I remind my students, "this is the stage in a painting to best capture the creative energy of the initial inspiration." This is the beginning "chaos" and this is also where I let the spirit of the fluid watercolor have a say: the paint flows, the colors mix and the sedimentary and staining pigments interact in magical ways that I could never create with my own hand. Order is brought to the lively, colorful and chaotic, first layer by working back into the painting in several layers. Interlacing a planned compositional understructure and building visual depth with each layer, I gradually introduce my imagery until the painting (whether representational or abstract) is complete, the composition dramatic and the message subtle.


Freezing my watercolors in winter to see what I can "catch" is a wonderful mix of natural forces and human intervention. Besides lacy ice crystal patterns caught on my watercolor paper this technique has caught the imagination of publishers, patrons, collectors and jurors alike. This is my most recognized "signature technique", which seems fair since I have been working with my methods for 30 years, and some know me as "the ice crystal lady".

Once I mix my pigments inside I take them outside in subfreezing winter air, pour water on my watercolor paper then pour the pigment into the water. Mother Nature freezes the water and pigments forming intricate crystallized patterns on my paper. Inspired by the one-of-a kind textures, colors and motion I am given with each new painting, I develop the detail and composition into its final form. I enjoy showing the viewer my mythical winter pond, looking straight down through layers of ice that has frozen over time, with leaves, air bubbles and an occasional dragonfly trapped between the layers. Nature is not just my inspiration - it's actually a "helping partner."


The most significant "signature" element in my work is deep symbolism. A flower is not just a bloom of color in nature but representative of one stage of life in our own, human, life-death-life cycle. The frozen surface of a winter pond that reveals multiple layers of ice patterns, trapped leaves, air- bubbles, and dark water below speaks of the layered depth of a person. Looking through layers of ice is like looking into ourselves. The surface layer is easily recognized and understood. However, deeper exploration is needed to reveal the complex and veiled richness of the wonders within.

The "Journey" Series includes birds, wings, feathers, dragonflies, horses and more. Each has individual depth in meaning but all speak of our soul's journey of personal growth. This series includes Nike, winged victory who inspires transcendence, a war-horse's journey to a place of gentle acceptance, the universal dream to fly, a dragonfly's (Ojibwe name is Kwo-ne-she) ability to transform and more. All rather simple elements at first glance, these images hold much more meaning and depth with closer contemplation. This series also includes the "Industrial Evolution" which speaks of the changes, growth and evolution in our nation, not about individual growth that the "Journey" series addresses.

  The Fine Art Gallery of Kathleen Conover

906 250-8159 or 906 360-0596