Five Questions for Kay Smith

An interview with watercolor artist Kay Smith


You describe your watercolor technique as "transparent." Can you explain what this means and how the process works?

Being able to see light pass through clear paint on paper is the hallmark of watercolor’s abilities and allure. I use transparents such as alizarin crimson, thalo blue/green, and arylide yellow mostly in initial washes if doing traditional work, and a mix of transparents with a few opaques if painting in a direct one-application manner.

Oilfield Pumpjack Station

You've been very successful selling your work and getting your name out there. Do you have any advice for fellow Artspan members on marketing your work? Do you use social media or more traditional approaches? I notice that you're involved with many artistic organizations--is this something that has helped to further your career? Do you enjoy the marketing aspect of the work as well as the creative side?

My marketing consists of daily painting and blog posting that networks over to social media such as Facebook and to group gallery sites such as Daily Painters. Obtaining signature status with many watercolor societies helps get name recognition, while showing locally, regionally, and nationally gets image association. I love marketing and keep an open studio so anyone can venture in, look, talk, and make art. A frequent guest speaker and demonstrator, I travel anywhere including overseas to teach.

Ruidoso Road

You have a studio, "Brushworks." Is this your space or a shared space? Do you work, teach and show here? What is a typical session like when you're painting? Do you listen to music? Do you work quickly or spend hours on each piece?

Brushworks is my own cottage studio gallery, unshared, where I work 2 hours/day, all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Mondays are reserved for classes. Once a month I will do an all day Saturday workshop. I paint in quiet solitude, disliking any distracting noise such as the radio or street traffic. Watercolors and sketches are quickly done within a couple of hours, while mixed media, oils, acrylics or collages take longer.

Poppy Meadow

Do you have a favorite image or series of images of your own work? Do you have a favorite image of series of images that another artist created?

Probably my poppy series, which has gone on for years in all media. I enjoy following watercolor instructor Ken Hosmer, who paints a variety of subjects from florals to figures, landscapes, and animals in a direct manner similar to mine (putting pigment down once wetly and blending edges, not going back into areas).


Picket Line Hollyhocks

Everyone gets a question from the Proust questionnaire, and here is yours: What is your favorite color and flower?

 Red. Poppies, and a close second favorite is hollyhocks.

Contemporary Cow