In conversation with Colorado-based artist Kathy Fisher.
Can you talk about your journey into or interest in the arts?
I’ve always made the time to create, I feel like it’s part of my DNA. It was by chance that I signed up for a weekend figure drawing workshop in middle school which ignited my life-long interest in the arts. I dreamed of becoming a painter. In high school I had an influential art teacher – Mrs. P – who was an encouraging and positive influence on me during those awkward years. I’m not sure I would have pursued an art degree without that role model in my life. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in Commercial Art. Throughout my graphic design career I continue to pursue my love of fine art: taking classes at the Art Students League, an early participant in Art-o-Mat vending where I created over 300 blocks of small collage works sold in vintage cigarette vending machines repurposed to dispense art, and participating in local gallery shows.
You use a sketchbook, can you talk about how and why? I’m interested in what a sketchbook means to you and your work.
I feel that the daily practice of working creatively helps tremendously as an artist if we want our work to evolve. I simply love the idea of not having any restrictions and I find that sketchbooks are a great way for me to explore with colour, shapes, techniques, etc. The cheaper the sketchbook the better because it really allows you to play, I’m not as fearful of wasting money or materials. I believe that often times my sketchbooks are a springboard for ideas that flow over into my other work, especially my digital work.
Your work uses overlaying of prints onto often found or re-appropriated pages, can you talk about your influences and interests?
I do a lot printmaking and my favourite papers to print on are old book pages, maps, or paper that I’ve picked up at thrift stores, such as that lovely green lined ledger paper. It gives you some sort of feeling or story behind them. I’m interested in creating a consistency throughout my work, so I tend to do a lot of overlapping from one medium to the next. I’m inspired by colour and pattern. I have a great respect and love for the cut-outs of Matisse. I love the bold colours and compositions of Bonnard. I think my work tends to be very whimsical and upbeat. I strive to create work that gives off an uplifting message, I want it to bring a smile to someone’s face.
Can you talk about your process of working. How do you work, how often, is there a particular pattern.
More often than not I don’t have a specific idea in my head when I start my work. I may have a tool or medium that I want to use that day but exploring is great deal of my process. I have a home studio and I tend to spend time in it nearly every day, preferably in the mornings. I think about art often, I’ll see patterns from shadows on the sidewalk as I take my dog out for a walk, or I’ll be exercising and be thinking of a certain colour or technique that I want to use. I think the discipline of working consistently is the best way to open up that creative flow. I’ve participated in the 100 Day Project on Instagram for several years now, and each time I’ve found that creating something for 100 days in a row always teaches or leads me somewhere. Just be consistent, I think even those short bursts of time spent creating are beneficial, a lot of times it’s those spontaneous discoveries that lead you in a new direction.
Are your sketchbooks something you return to often, or do you produce them and then just store away. As in are they part of your working practice?
I’m using my sketchbooks as a tool to lead me and I rely on them to take that first step, that first mark. I often use images from my sketchbook to create a base layer for my digital paintings. I approach these works with the intention of keeping my gestural and freehand marks to act as though I would while working with paint. I feel like nothing is ever wasted while I’m creating. I’m always using my sketchbooks as a source of inspiration that is then maybe combined in a collage, encaustic work, or digitally and thus morphs into something bigger and better.
Do you find the process of creating work relaxing or therapeutic? I’ve become increasingly interested in the relationship of the sketchbook to artist.
I really enjoy the process of creating, there’s the satisfaction in figuring out the final piece but the journey is what really excites me. Creating and working in my sketchbook really does feels cathartic. Knowingly or unknowingly art is therapy, who knows where I’d be without it, but probably not in a good space. It gives you a lot of time to think and be in the moment without a lot of distractions. My sketchbooks express vocal and visual signals of what I’m feeling. I like the fact that sketchbooks are very tactile, we’re taught not to touch artwork, but I feel that sometimes the best way to experience those thick fibers or the smoothness of the wax is by touch and smell, which shouldn’t be hidden behind glass. I really treasure my sketchbooks; they are a real thread of who I am and where I’ve been.