Today we’d like to introduce you to Kat McDonough.
Kat, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was the oddball kid of five siblings. The creative child, joyfully making little replicas of characters from my favorite books and replaying their stories for hours. Every great memory I have from childhood involves making something, going to make something, being shown how to make something, or being at the beach.
Fast forward to my late twenties; I decided I needed a formal art education. Majoring in illustration, linked my love of narrative work with the craft of art-making. School offered training and guidance, but the skill building was up to me. I felt like such a late bloomer. I was ten years older than most of my classmates but miles behind them in skills. But Otis gave me exactly what I put into it. And I put my heart and soul into learning and have never stopped.
My art journey continues to be ever-changing. I’m not one to stick with a certain style or medium. Illustration was my major, but being a maker is my true passion. I still feel the magic in making art from random stuff. Turning a piece of string into a scarf, cardboard into a book, or a block of 2″ x 4″ into a fine art piece, that’s what I look forward to every time I enter my studio. I say I have many muses and they are all clamoring for attention. I wish I had two life times to try it all. I’m envious of artists who have a distinct style. Who can put focused effort into a specific subject or medium. I want to carve wood one day, finger paint the next. Intellectually I know it’s a better business model to have that kind focus, but it makes me miserable. I didn’t take this path to be unhappy.
While I have many styles, I have been able to corral my work into three main categories, illustrations under Kat McD. ART, a coastal décor style I call “A Little Beachy” and the rest of my work I group under No Napping Studio.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I’m never as successful creating work if I think of how it will be received as I am when I’m trying to please myself in making it. If I am able to put on wood, or paper or canvas what I was inspired to record, then it’s a success to me. I’m always delighted to attend fairs or gallery shows where I can see people’s reactions to my work or discuss it. When people “get” what I hoped I was setting out to do, then it’s a success too. If they buy it and it gets a life outside of my studio, even better.
I’m obsessed with painting barn owls on pieces of 2 x 4’s. Oddly enough there is an Owl Fair in Ventura CA every April. For the last two years, I’ve attended. It’s a great opportunity to meet potential buyers and other artists who dig painting owls. Once a customer told me my owls all looked like portraits to him. Each with an individual personality. That made me very happy.
During the summer I run an art camp. I’m the only camper. One year I picked paper mâché, and last year was polymer clay. I’m usually a little less busy in the summer, and it gives me a chance to delve into a new medium. I research and list all the “classes” I’d like to take. Then gather materials and go for it. This year I’ve chosen linoleum and wood carving.
I belong to an art group called 818Creates. This past year we posted pieces monthly under the hashtag #818CreatesQuotableArt. We shared the invitation to view our virtual art show on the first of each month. Having a deadline ensured we’d be creating new work and be more consistent posting on social media. At the end of the year, we each had 12 new pieces of art. Some of us used the assignment to experiment like I do with my summer camp. I used it to create a new group of consistent work for my illustration site. I decided I’d make 12 covers for middle-grade novels using characters I’d created. I became so enamored with the characters I wanted to read about them, but to read about them, I have to write about them. So I’ve started on that journey — another muse tugging at my sleeve.
How can artists connect with other artists?
I would absolutely find your tribe. I belong to a critique group, which is essential for getting educated feedback on my work. Also, I belong to an art group, 818 Creates. We formed it to help keep each other inspired and do group shows. It’s a lot easier to approach a gallery or space as a group than all by yourself. Another great way to find other artists is to attend art show openings in your area, join professional groups that meet regularly. I am a member of SCBWI where I’ve met lots of illustrators and writers who’ve profoundly affected my work. In Los Angeles, there are so many ways to connect, Draw in public. People will flock to you. Take the first step into an existing organization or create your own group. Take classes or teach one. You can learn so much from other artists. And you can champion and support them.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I run two shops on Etsy.
My website with illustrations of my shops is http://www.katmcdart.com.
I can also be found on Instagram at katmcd_art.
If you are in or around Ventura, I attend the Los Olivas Adobe Owl Festival every April.
- Website: http://www.katmcdart.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alittlebeachyart/?hl=en or https://www.instagram.com/katmcd_art/?hl=en
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/katmcdART
- Other: https://www.etsy.com/shop/nonappingstudio