By Al Gord
Kathy Francis was born in Birkenhead, in the United Kingdom. As a young child she loved creating. While drawing was her passion, she thrived on all of the visual arts including painting. Kathy always preferred art with imagery – places and people always fascinated her. That subject matter created excitement for Kathy – it allowed her to immerse herself in the locations in the art and to connect with the subjects featured in her paintings. Her passion for the arts led her to attend University in Newcastle where she received a Bachelor of Arts, Honours degree in Graphic Design. After graduating university, Kathy became an educator. She taught for 31 years, where she enjoyed celebrating her love of art with her students. It was in the classroom where she encouraged the children to explore a vast array of disciplines. While art has always been instrumental in her life, it was only recently that Kathy came to realize that she has always been an illustrator at heart. Put simply, she loves to paint.
Kathy views her paintings as a way of discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary. They are vibrant representations of city scenes, of forgotten areas, abandoned, dilapidated, scenes of everyday life, perhaps beautiful in themselves but transformed by the arrangement of complex colour patterns. Her work aims to invite the viewer to reveal more than their eyes can see. Through the use of colour, shape, structure, texture, highlights and shadow Kathy uses real landmarks to create an imaginative landscape.
Working with gouache, bodies of colour are placed to maximize detail, as Kathy creates stunning landscapes out of the ordinary. Her goal is to engage her audience with a fresh way of seeing. She wants to make viewers focus intently and look deeply; to make visible that which is often overlooked in one’s daily life. Ultimately Kathy wants to beautify the visible and invigorate. She hopes that her audience ponders reality and asks the question – what is extraordinary in ordinary things? Through her paintings, Kathy’s intent is to capture a moment in time, a snapshot of a world that can be simultaneously – beautiful and ugly.
Inspired by a lifetime of admiring painting masters Wassily Kandinsky, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and Paul Klee, Kathy appreciates the need to explore the playful and complex language of colour. Kathy was influenced by Kandinsky where colour was his keyboard. He synthesized vibrant colours with the rhythms of music. Hundertwasser, with his bright colours and organic forms, created a bond between human and nature. Kathy has taken the idea of irregular form through her use of colour rather than use of line. Klee’s mastery of colour and his use of tone have inspired a varied palette. His geometric forms encourage Kathy to bring an element of order to her compositions.
Kathy also appreciates Pop Art and the role it has played in her works. The use of bold, vibrant colours help to transform an image that is often seen as commonplace into one which is seen as special. Guided by the philosophy “take a moment” to look around and see in a way we haven’t seen before, Kathy’s paintings are a vibrant palette, where she transforms a living landscape into a kaleidoscope of colour. Her works are a celebration for all the senses; as she brings beauty to the familiar through the use of lush colours that can create energy but also tranquility at the same time.