You would like Kate Waddell. She has a serene, focused smile and a great handshake; her palette could have been shaken from a box of Tropical Mike and Ike’s.
Her studio is tiled with happy canvases: glossy roosters sprawled in bold, contented shades of punch and berry; breakfast settings and bowls of fruit with backgrounds blocked out in shades of pink and blood orange. Even the rich blues of Waddell’s figure studies have a warm, street-lit quality. One can’t help assuming that the world of her mind must be a pleasant place to be.
“I’m just trying to bring some joy to the art world,” she says, peacefully dabbing at a rooster-in-progress. Turning to smile at me, warmly tanned, her hair pulled off her neck in a loose ponytail. “There are people who try to be so difficult by doing this offensive stuff, but I’d rather paint what is beautiful,” she says, and the galleries- Bee Street Studios, Brown Dog– are lining up.
She’s fresh off a show held at Candlefish earlier this month, and had worked hard on having ‘cohesive palette and subjects’ for that, making everything all of a piece. “I rely on brushstrokes and line to help everything go well together.”
Her next show is back home in Columbus, Georgia- “I’m going to do more fruit stuff for that-” where she attended the same high school as Teal Duncan andLulie Wallace, who’ve also limned out successful painting careers here in Charleston, creating similarly happy, comfortable canvases that make you smile.
Is there something in the water back home?
Waddell pauses. “The arts were really big at my high school,” she says.
I was intrigued. “Seriously?”
“It’s a smaller school, so they were able to really nurture us, fostering everyone to do what they liked best.”
We’re talking about brushstrokes, appealing lines, and I mention Wayne Thiebaud, one of my favorites. About a painting of his, Around the Cake, which hung for many years in my hometown museum. How’d I’d stand there and stare at it, transfixed, even when I was young- those thick, glossy strokes-!
“In high school, we had this assignment. We had to paint a portrait of an artist and also of his work. I did Thiebaud! His lipstick tubes- that was when I fell in love with painting.” Waddell smiles privately, remembering the moment...
Check out the rest of our interview here.
P.Z. West's first novel, EVENING’S LAND, is a Library Journal Self-e Selection, winner of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Award and recipient of the Carol Marie Smith Memorial Scholarship for the NOEPE Center of Literary Arts.
Pauline West's books on Goodreads
Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance
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Candlemoth Volume 2: How To Spend It
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Candlemoth Book 3: A Twist of Fate
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Stalker: A Gothic Thriller
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