Exercise in Art
By: Ann Vasilik
Kate Worm stands in front of her easel, a paint roller (brayer) in hand. She is giving a painting demonstration at the Hickory Museum of art. The model, a young girl, is posed in a chair ten feet in front of Kate with a spotlight casting her figure in strong light and shadow. Kate, motionless, gazes at the model as the minutes tick by. Suddenly she is all action. The brayer is energetically rolled on the plexi-glass palette picking up the paste-like consistency of the watercolor paint. She attacks the paper on the easel, rolling the paint in with seemingly random, long sweeping strokes. The energy is tangible in the room. No delicate, tentative washes for this watercolor artist!
According to Kate, brushes are overrated. The Hickory artist frequently uses no brush at all, choosing instead to apply the paint with printmaking rollers. Although her approach is a radical departure from the techniques associated with traditional watercolor, Kate finds it allows her to create breathtakingly bold paintings.
Kate holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a master’s degree from Columbia University Teachers College, with minors in visual arts. She studied figure painting for four years with renowned painter and educator Andrew Martin at UNC-G. She paints landscape and still life with oil, but uses watercolor and gouache for figure work.
It was Kate’s expertise in special education that circuitously led her to discover the unique working methods behind the art she produces today. While employed in 2003 as an art consultant with disabled adults at Signature StudioX1, in Morganton, NC, she noticed one disabled woman who worked in gouache. Kate states, “It looked like so much fun that I decided to fool around with watercolor, splashing it, trying to work in a nontraditional way.” Having had printmaking experience, one day she picked up a printmaking roller and rolled the watercolor onto the paper.
Rolling several layers of paint sometimes before the first has dried, she tries to keep the process impulsive without setting rules. Then she uses a 1” brush to lay in smaller areas of color, but the figure really emerges from the environment and the paper when she comes back in with the edge of a roller, or with an eyedropper of drippy paint, and draws. She says that she spends more time looking than painting. She gathers visual impressions by gazing at the model until her eyes start to tire from the steady vision. She then uses the images in her peripheral vision to see elements that she would otherwise not see by looking directly.
Kate believes it’s good to have more warm or cool colors in a painting so that the finished work is clearly warm or cool, rather than hovering between the two temperatures. The pale tones of the figure are supported by blocks of vibrant colors in the props, furniture and backgrounds. A bright spot of complimentary color will often enhance the composition, drawing the eye but never distracting from the entirety of the piece.
Kate is a signature member of the Watercolor Society of NC and National Watercolor society. She has been published in American Artist Watercolor Magazine in 2006. She took 1st place in the WSNC Annual Juried Exhibition in 2010 and was featured on the cover of the Society’s 2011 calendar. Visit www.kateworm.com to see additional examples of her work.
The Watercolor Society of NC, Western Region, will feature Kate Worm at their event June 13 at the Governor’s Western Residence, Asheville. Also on the program, Erin Tapley from Western Carolina University is the speaker for the afternoon.
Reservations may be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (828) 693-6598.
Ann Vasilik is WSNC Western Region Director.