Interview with Katy Widger, Painter
Interview with Katy Widger, Painter
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Katy Widger, a painter living on a small acreage in north central New Mexico with her husband and four furry family members. A selection of Katy Widger’s work is displayed below. Please visit Katy Widger’s website to view more of her work! Katy also does commissions upon request.
KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as a painter and when did you realize it would become your chosen form of expression?
KATY WIDGER: Life changing events in 2001-2002 caused me to re-think my path as an artist, and I began a rather abrupt transition from art quilting, in which I hand-dyed, painted and printed my own fabric, to oil painting. I had become increasingly unsatisfied with the medium of art quilting as my personal means of artistic expression, something I had been doing for more than two decades. The events that transpired in my life during a two-year period convinced me that, “if not now, when?” applied to my longing to paint in oil. I divested myself of my hand-dyed fabric business, remodeled my studio to accommodate my needs as an oil painter, and began the journey that will be my life’s work. I am an oil painter whose focus is primarily on animals and dogs in particular. How energizing it is to know that!
KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?
KATY WIDGER: In my early years, I took art classes throughout high school, attended San Juan College in Northern New Mexico for three years as an art major (no degree) with an emphasis on drawing, color theory and design. From 2003-2006 I studied oil painting at the Albuquerque School of Fine Arts and have taken many workshops in landscape, still life, and portrait throughout the years from notable artists. Regarding painting animals and dogs, I am self-taught.
KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin painting and, in particular, painting dogs and other animals?
KATY WIDGER: I had been happily painting all the usual stuff that representational artists paint, receiving some early recognition for my work, and pondering what direction my vision would take me, when my beloved Mychal Angelo, a black standard poodle that was the love of my life, began having Grand Mal seizures. We fought a lengthy battle to save him, and in the end, I held him in my arms as we gently gave him back to God. It was a horrific education on the dangers of the rabies vaccine and over-vaccination in general. Mychal’s story is told as a cautionary tale on my animal advocate site, www.zeketheapso.us.
On the first anniversary of Mychal’s death in 2007, my grief barely abated, I stood at my easel and drew his portrait in charcoal. Soon thereafter, I painted a small portrait of the dog we had since adopted, an amazing Lhasa Apso named Zeke. I had found my Muse! Dog portraits poured from my studio, like balm on a wounded heart! My lifelong love of dogs and all animals had found its voice through my art. Soon, requests for commissions began arriving, and my joy and satisfaction grew along with the experience I acquired in painting dozens of dogs. There’s nothing quite like seeing the tears of joy on someone’s face when you present them with a portrait of their own beloved dog or cat, especially those who have passed over that Rainbow Bridge. I can’t imagine any artist finding more satisfaction in their work than what I experience in this venue!
KATHERINE CARVER: Where do you show/exhibit your work?
KATY WIDGER: Watermelon Gallery of Fine Art in Cedar Crest, New Mexico is my primary gallery, showcasing bird, wolf and other paintings. Right now I have a show of dog paintings at the Animal Neurological Imaging Center, a large MRI and surgery clinic serving a multi-state area in the Southwest near Santa Fe. And I regularly show (and receive awards) in juried exhibits of fine art in the Albuquerque area. Plus my blog at www.katywidger.blogspot.com is always the first place a new painting appears, with appropriate commentary. In fact, I love posting to my blog because I can tell each dog’s personal story.
KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?
KATY WIDGER: Bonnie Marris is just a superb animal artist. She has a remarkable education and is amazingly hard-working and thereby extremely talented. I am always amazed at her work, and her obvious understanding and love of animals, both anatomy and psyche.
KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
KATY WIDGER: Learn how to draw, paint what you love, share what you know. I have been a volunteer art teacher since 2006 at Shepherd Lutheran School in Albuquerque, teaching sixth through eighth graders the “FUNdamentals of Drawing.” Good drawing technique is foundational to any good art, whether representational or abstract. Outside of representational art, (which is in no danger of “dying out”, contrary to predictions made decades ago), there is not much emphasis on drawing, which is a shame. Being able to draw well enables an artist to pursue any type of art they desire with confidence. I hope to continue learning how to draw for the rest of my life.
KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view your work?
KATY WIDGER: My website is at www.katywidger.com, where all of my oil paintings are eventually posted. My art blog, Katy Widger’s Raindance Journal at www.katywidger.blogspot.com is usually the most up to date with new postings as each painting is finished, and the stories behind each painting. I also post invitations to upcoming shows there, also.
Thank you, Katherine, for the opportunity to share my love of dogs and other critters through my paintings with your readers!
*All images contained in this blog post are courtesy of Katy Widger.
You can read additional interviews here.