Kathy K. McClellan started her lifelong interest in photography many years ago. Her interest in photography melded perfectly with her love of nature. She is constantly in awe of God’s natural beauty around her and feels privileged to not only witness that beauty but to also capture it in her images, both photographs and paintings.
She has lived in five states and three different regions of the US. She is grateful for the abundance of beauty and inspiration that surrounds her where ever she lives. She was honored to have received the Fine Art America Tony Award in 2018.
Modern technology is providing new opportunities and Kathy is excited to finally be able to share with others the beauty that she has witnessed and experienced.
- I have played several musical instruments including the piano, organ, clarinet and oboe.
When did you first become interested in art?
I’ve been surrounded by art in one form or another as long as I’ve been alive so I don’t remember any particular point in life when my interest began. Both parents loved gardening (a colorful, creative endeavour), singing and dancing and they excelled in those areas. There was always music in our home: a piano, organ, guitar, radio and a stereo with an assortment of musical styles on vinyl. My mother was a very creative person in several mediums, creating various art projects, singing in church choirs, dancing and gardening. There were plenty of paints, yarn and sewing materials around us. She was also a writer, a discovery made after her passing when we found her body of work. She filled our home with hundreds of books over the years, from encyclopaedias to National Geographic magazines and everything in between. Many of those books were filled with visual arts.
What style of art do you use most?
I would say that I use a realistic style of art the majority of time since photography is the medium I use most often. Although in my painting I have always used various styles including abstract and folk art.
Has your style changed from when you first began as an artist?
My style hasn’t changed very much and probably not at all until I started using software technology. My photography style was always based in the realism of life and the natural world. It was only in the last several years that I started experimenting with abstract art both with my photos, paintings and digital images.
What medium do you use?
Photography is the medium that I use the most. I’ve had one or more cameras since my early teens. My earliest photographs were taken of family outings, holidays and friend events. Still life images and captures of natural settings became my focus as I continued shooting film.
I have also used acrylic paints, first on wood as backgrounds for theatrical projects, on sheetrock walls for home decor and more recently on canvas and canvas board.
What made you choose that medium?
I mainly use photography because I have found it to be an extremely versatile medium. It can be used to produce fine art, document current events (photojournalism), family milestones and personal achievements. Images can be used straight out of the camera or manipulated in a darkroom or with software. The end result (photographic art) can be as thought provoking and pleasing as any other medium that I have seen or used.
Do your ideas come from life or imagination?
Both, actually. In the past my photography almost always came from real life experiences but in more recent years my imagination has played a bigger role in the outcome of my images. My painting and writing have always been a combination of real life and my imagination.
How do you choose your images and colours?
Most of what I photograph is what I love. Gorgeous vistas of our natural world or unusual scenes I happen to view. The colors are chosen by nature or people who have created those scenes. In my paintings the colors are chosen according to the subject I’m depicting, however, I tend to use blues and greens more than any other colors.
Do you work in a studio?
I do not have a studio right now. I had an office and studio in our former home but at the present time a corner of the living area in the apartment we are renting holds a resin table with my laptop and scanner where I do digital work. Canvases, paint and an easel are tucked away in a closet when not in use.
Who is your favourite artist?
Presently my favorite artist is a contemporary fellow artist, Val Arie. I am in love with her colorful, geometric, digital style. She never ceases to amaze me with her creations.
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
It’s hard for me to pick one photographic favorite because I have so many images of places that I love. My favorite acrylic painting is the Pass Beach Cat. That image was created from two of my photographs and showcases the beach, a place I love and long for when not there.
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
It takes weeks for me to finish an acrylic painting. For photographs first there’s time getting to the location and capturing the images. I can capture hundreds of images but only use a few of those as a final image to present to the public so that means hours of going through those images, checking the quality of the details to choose the few. When I use software to manipulate an image then that process can take a few minutes or several hours. So it really depends on the individual piece.
How well do you take criticism?
Some criticism is taken with a grain of salt, some is taken seriously and some is not taken very well at all! I try to remember to consider the source of the criticism.
- I have retired from two very different careers.
What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?
I switch gears (from photography to painting, for example) or I completely take a break from it all and concentrate on other facets of my life. Listening to music, doing yoga stretches and walking can occasionally help to overcome a block.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
No, it is not easy for me to walk away. I have thousands of photos that I have manipulated in software that are waiting for me to declare them finished. Sometimes I never know if they are “finished” or not.
Have you had exhibits in galleries?
I have not had any exhibits in brick and mortar galleries. However, I participated in an online gallery titled A Day In May that was an international project in 2012. I have also displayed my photographs in several venues when I lived on the coast, including tourist gift shops.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently processing photographs that I have taken this spring and summer as well as a few photos that were taken long ago.
What are your plans for the future?
I am trying to go with the flow for the future, rather than making specific plans. As most of us have seen this past year (2020) plans can change drastically in a matter of days. However, the near future will probably see me writing more as the weather turns cold and damp outside and I hope to practice my drawing more regularly.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Believe in yourself and do what you love. Create what interests you and feeds your soul, not what you think might sell.
What advice would you give new artists?
I would give a new artist that same advice. My experience has been that it’s easier and more rewarding to create when what you are doing is a release of passion rather than a chore to be completed.
Have you done any courses to help you?
I have not taken any formal courses in art, except for music. However, I get a ton of great, educational information from the FAA/Pixels forums and personal e-mails from a few members there. I also read and/or watch tutorials online on photography and painting.
- After fostering a dozen or so dogs for a rescue group I set up a Special Collection of images titled Going To The Dogs. All proceeds from sales out of that collection go to Chloe’s Fund, which is a fund to pay for life saving treatments and surgeries for shelter animals in the Lauderdale County, Florence, Alabama area.
What do you do to market your work?
I have a Business/Fan page on Facebook and I market face to face with people that I meet in many different settings. The face to face marketing has produced more sales, although I have had a few sales because of my social media presence.
My Facebook page can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/Keppen-Art-1386778761544699
I post images there on Facebook with a link if it’s an image that I have uploaded to my site and I occasionally share images from other artists or art themed memes. Regardless of the type of image posted there’s something new posted daily. I also post daily subjects or themes for writers on Our Arts Magazine and sometimes post my own stories there.
Are you available for work (commissions)?
I am not available for commissioned work now. I have done a few commissions for friends and family (weddings and reunions) but am no longer doing that.
Have you got hobbies?
I love gardening and landscape and interior design but have not been engaging in those activities since we moved into an apartment complex. I hope to resume those hobbies in the future when we purchase another property of our own.
Where are you based?
At the present time we are temporarily living in the north-western corner of Alabama in the United States.