When we see an abandoned building on the side of the road, seldom do we think of it as more than its surface: a shell of a forgotten life.
But when Kathleen P., Global Connections Member Relations Manager, sees an empty house or building, a number of questions come to mind. And if you want the answers, you’ll find them in her artwork.
“What happened there? Who lived there? What’s left in that house?” Kathleen asks herself. “So a lot of the paintings I do are empty. There’s a story there, but what is the story?”
Aside from keeping Global Connections members happy, Kathleen enjoys spending a couple hours per week creating surreal scenes on canvas in her home’s downstairs studio. Ever since she started drawing Care Bears and Smurfs for fun in 1981, Kathleen has had an eye and talent for art.
By using every high school elective to take art classes, she explored several mediums such as ceramics and oil painting. Painting was the one that stuck. Kathleen has since developed her own abstract style, which complements her knack for seeing what could be instead of what is.
Her favorite piece, titled “Quiet Street,” simply came from stumbling upon a picture of an old white house.
“I started off thinking that I was going to paint this cool white house and it turned out to be like nothing I was thinking,” Kathleen said. “But I ended up loving this more. It turned out to be a lonely little village.”
And most of her finished pieces end up being unintentional. Kathleen won’t do an entire painting in one sitting because between walking away and coming back to it, she could have a whole new perspective.
“You always have to step away or you’ll end up with something that you didn’t want,” she said.
Still, people love her artwork. Coworkers have inspired paintings, friends have asked her to do galleries and she even decorated piggy banks for charity.
Kathleen also has three siblings, all of which are teachers; none of which have anything to do with art. They have asked for some of her paintings, but some of Kathleen’s art is has found ways to bring them closer together.
Their grandmother, who was born in 1914 in Clinton, Indiana, lived during a time when mail addressed to “Marie in Clinton” found its way to her. She always talked about being born in a “pink house.” No one in the family knew what that meant, so Kathleen painted her own vision of “Pink House.”
“It’s one of those houses,” Kathleen said, pointing the painting. “Maybe it’s that one right there.”
You can find examples of her work on facebook.com/uniqueexpressions2012.