The Eastern Shore seems to be teeming with interesting and talented local artists. Ocean City is a particularly concentrated area with the Art League’s Center for the Arts, and the Convention Center’s new Performing Arts Center. Local events bring out the artists in droves like Spring and Summer fest, and the Arts Alive fine art show. At ShoreBread we are especially excited to have met with a local artist who utilizes an innovative technique to produce stunning works of art.
Kathleen Gallion has led quite an interesting life which includes working in the US Navy, earning her doctorate in Audiology, and taking an artistic journey through exploration and experimentation with plant life.
It seems the question we always want to know from artists is when and how did they become interested in art. We also asked Kathie how her love art got her to where she is today?
“I have been making art since I was a little girl. I loved drawing – lots of intricate vines, flowers, and animals. I would study the comic strip drawings and art in the museum down the street.
I initially majored in art in college. When I rented a studio and started skipping classes to finish the work at the studio, I wondered why I was paying for college. I just wanted to “do” art – I didn’t want to teach it. I considered leaving college but my parents mildly freaked out. I was young and couldn’t support myself as an artist so I changed paths.
My second love was children, so I transferred schools and studied Speech Therapy then electronics and otolaryngology technology in the Navy and eventually became an Audiologist. Along the way there I did some work in printmaking, had a pottery business, and started a children’s book. But most of my creative energy went into my family, home, and garden.”
It is from her home and garden that Kathie is able to make truly stunning works of art, through a process she calls “Flower Abrasion.” These abstract impressions of plant life from Kathie’s own garden are unique beauties that surprise even Kathie herself.
“In 2010 I was at Assateague Trust Coastal Plant sale and saw an artist friend pound out pigment from a violet. It shocked me! My insides screamed, ‘That’s what I do!’ when I saw the impression and implied line made by the pigment. I told that friend that someday I was going to do art again. She responded with, ‘What are you waiting for?’
That challenge caused me to go home that night and take a stab at it. That challenge began the first Organic Impression series.
I played around with bits of plants from the garden. First a stem, or part of a rose petal, is ripped from the plant and laid onto watercolor paper. A good pounding with a hammer releases the natural pigment within the plant onto the paper. Oftentimes it’s a blob of color that bleeds from the plant, or sometimes it spits its’ color outward.
My painting is done without sketching. Since I use pounded out bits of flower petals and leaves as the medium to begin each piece, I call it flower abrasion. For months, piece after piece spilled out of me. I was facinated how much variation there was! There is a magic to the process, with a destination that I never could have known in advance.”
Kathie’s inspiration is drawn from multiple steps in this process. Her fascination with different mediums and the mystery behind the pigments of each plant guides the direction of her pieces. In addition, Kathie says the major driving factor during her creative process is emotion and the wonder of creation. Many of her pieces represent themes of light and darkness.
“Always, I’m in awe of how these bits of deconstructed plants can change into another beautiful form for me to play with. The process is a journey.”
Kathie’s future plans include using her paintings as patterns for textiles like rugs, pillows, and bedding. She is currently seeking opportunities to move in this direction.
For anyone who would like to see Kathie’s work in person, this Saturday, July 2nd 2016, she will be showing in the 50th Annual St. Peter’s Juried Art Show in Lewes, Delaware. The show occurs on the first Saturday of July each year, drawing over 140 fine artists and fine craftspeople from the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond. So many lovely creations can be found in the exhibitors booths that surround St. Peter’s Square from 9:00am to 3:00pm.
You can also visit Kathie’s website, myorganicimpressions.com, where her pieces are available for purchase and you can email with Kathie directly.