Ambassador of the Week: Kate Aubrey

Meet Kate Aubrey, this week’s top American Watercolor Weekly Ambassador!

“Been There” (watercolor on Saunders Waterford 140# Rough, 20 x 21.5 in.)
Dignity and strength and fierce, strong will; those were the qualities that drew me to my friend’s father, Marvin. That and a steady, strong love. It was in the way he respected the people around him, no matter what the subject of conversation was. These were the things I wanted to capture from the first moment I met him. Painting him was a joy. Besides, who could resist the challenge of that smoke?

Best known for her sensitive, evocative watercolor portraits and vibrant use of color, Kate Aubrey’s paintings include all genres from figure to landscape, her personal favorites being figure and florals. She took her first watercolor class in 1977 in Anchorage, Alaska, “…to get myself out of the house after my first husband died.” Since then, Kate has studied with such notable artists as Charles Reid, Don Andrews, Mike Bailey, Ted Nuttall, Jeannie McGuire, Stephen Quiller, and John Salminen. Her paintings are informed by the different locales in which she has lived, including Colorado, Washington, Cape Cod, and Nevada.

“Old Soul, Dear Heart” (watercolor on Saunders Waterford 140# Rough, 22 x 17 in.)
One of the great joys of being a portrait artist is to paint the people whom I love especially for myself. This dear friend’s portrait started out like so many paintings had been, with initial excitement that faded gradually to finishing something that “just looked like all my other portraits”. But she was special; I couldn’t just do the same old thing, not with her. So I climbed the stairs to my studio, resolved to change things up. I grabbed my paint brush, slapped in hot reds and pinks that felt like her, then painted in the dark background just as forcefully, all right over the top of the unremarkable realistic background. Then I worked with her wonderful halo of hair until it fit just right.

Arriving in Tennessee’s Knoxville area in 2014, Kate teaches workshops in Tennessee and Nevada, is a member and past Vice President of the Knoxville Watercolor Society, a member of the Artists Guild of Tellico Village, the Fountain City Art Center, and the Arts Alliance of Knoxville, locally. Farther afield, her paintings have earned awards and signature memberships in the Southern Watercolor Society and the Northwest Watercolor Society, as well as qualifying her as a Master Artist at the Cape Cod Art Center in Massachusetts. Her work was selected for the Tennessee Watercolor Society’s 35th and 36th Biennial Juried Exhibitions, winning Best of Show in 2016 and the First Tennessee Bank Purchase Award in 2018, as well as the Watercolor Society of Alabama’s 2019 Award of Excellence. Most recently, her painting, “From the Heart” was accepted for publication in “Splash 21 – Capturing Mood”, and “Still Point” was awarded First Place in the Northwest Watercolor Society’s 2019 Waterworks Amplified Exhibition. 

“Passionate Kisses” (Orange Tulips Series No. 12 ; watercolor on Saunders Waterford 140# Rough, 16 x 16 in.)
This was a wet-in-wet demo for my Intermediate Watercolor II class, soaked paper technique. All the students were fairly advanced, so I took this one further and deeper than I would have otherwise. I put in the primary yellows first, dried the piece, then resoaked and started on all the other colors. Third session was final wet-in-wet followed by drying and choosing /applying hard edges. It was a great lesson in careful over-painting to keep enough soft edges, and everyone’s brain was full, even mine.

When she is not teaching, she can be found in her studio concentrating on her figure and floral paintings with her big, black canine art critic, Piper.

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Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.



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