In the Spotlight: Artist Q&A - Kate Dolan


In the Spotlight

Artist Q&A - Kate Dolan

Bold, powerful, energetic and emotionally charged are just some of the words that one might use to describe Kate Dolan’s work. Kate is a self-taught abstract artist, who has a clear and natural understanding of colour and composition. Interested to gain a little insight into Kate’s work we thought we’d ask her a few questions.

Salvadoran Woman  oil on canvas 96 x 96 cm

Salvadoran Woman
oil on canvas 96 x 96 cm

1. How did you get into art?

I have always been creative, from a young age I had a pencil in my hand, making terrible drawings of flowers in vases and of friends faces. Back then you'd always find me in the art studio at school. Everyone thought I'd leave school and become a fashion designer; I was really into textiles but it was only after leaving it totally behind for 8 years whilst I took a job in advertising did I eventually find my way back to painting. Thankfully realising that something fundamental was missing from my life and luckily knowing what that something was. 

2. What is your chosen subject and why? 

Abstract Expressionism is everything to me. It means so much and so little and that's what I love about it. I find the challenge of balancing a painting that is effectively made up of marks and brushstrokes fascinating, stressful, exhilarating. I have always had an eye for colour and the subtleties that come with building colour, pairing colours, making sure that colours are happy together, it's a passion for me. 

However, that's not where my work ends. I often paint figures as I find the whole process very therapeutic and you'll sometimes find that a figure lies underneath my abstract paintings. I'm never precious about painting over work I'm not fully satisfied with. 

3. What materials do you use and why?

Acrylic paint because it is super quick to work with and I am very impatient. We just understand each other; I definitely know where I am at with acrylic! I also dispel the myth that you cannot get the same pigment saturation out of acrylic paint. Yes, it might not behave as well over years but people often mistake my work for oil, you just need to use the right brand!  

Oil paint because it's a challenge and you get different effects from the mediums you use with it.  I got bored of oil painters telling me that acrylic paint was shit so I wanted oil and acrylic to sit side by side and for people not to see the difference. Also, it's a totally different beast so I wanted to prove to myself that I could paint with oil. 

4. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Nature mainly for my colour palettes but also it can come from fashion, travelling or an image that I like. I am heavily led by my emotions which is fundamental for my expressionist works. You can usually see my state of mind from the paintings you'll find in my studio. 

5. What’s your studio like?

A mess with paint all over the floor and walls. You might call it organised chaos. Too hot in summer, too cold in winter. But I love it. 

6.Are there any other artists that inspire you?

So many. I cannot list them all here but my main inspiration comes from the Abstract Expressionism era of Willem DeKooning, Joan Mitchell & Helen Frankenthaler. These artists are gods to me, I would have loved to be part of that movement.  I also love finding emerging and established artists on Instagram, I follow a lot of other artists and am constantly inspired watching their journeys.

7. What is it you are trying to achieve in your pieces?

I want you to feel something. I don't care what it is but I want you to connect. 

8. How do you know when a piece is finished and when it’s the right time to stop?

I have a three-question rule:

- Is it brave?

- Do you get lost in it/feel something when staring at it?

- Are there any marks that bother your eye? 

If I can look at a painting and I mean really stare at it without noticing something that feels wrong, it's done. 

9. Are there any other art forms that you would like to try such as sculpture, ceramics, printmaking etc?

Yes, I am going to start printmaking with an artist friend of mine, he is going to teach me. I would also like to get into textile print design at some point, using my paintings to make fabric prints, I think that would be cool. 

10. What are you working on currently?

Right now, myself and another artist in my studio are making a painting together. It's the first time I've collaborated on a painting with another artist but I trust her implicitly so I think it's going to be great!