Sunday, June 20, 2021

Art Focus: Painter Katie Whipple and Her Flowers

Katie Whipple is a painter from New York famous for her flower paintings. Married to Brendan Johnston, who is also an artist by profession, Whipple’s studio is located in Southampton on Long Island.

The painter

Katie Whipple grew up in Indiana. Whipple’s mother was a self-taught painter who encouraged Katie’s talents from a young age. When she was 12 years old, Whipple decided that she wanted to be a professional painter. She eventually enrolled at the Grand Central Atelier in New York City where she spent most of her time mastering figure drawing. Whipple wanted to be a portrait painter. She continued to focus on drawing and painting the figure for much of her early period as an artist. But later on, Whipple started feeling that she wanted to explore other subjects to let her inspiration flow. This is when Whipple began working with flowers.

The decision to paint flowers arose as Whipple wanted to convey joy and delight through her work. This was something she found hard to do with portraits. But with flowers, Whipple realized that she could convey these feelings perfectly. Flowers tend to evoke tender feelings of beauty and love in human beings. Whipple took inspiration from Roman wall paintings, botanical illustrations of the Golden Age, and artists like Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, etc. She feels that her figure drawing experience comes in handy when painting flowers. Whipple sees painting petals to be the same as painting human skin since they are both translucent in nature and have similar relationships with light. Regarding her creative process, Whipple treats every painting as something new.

(Image: Screenshot / YouTube)
The decision to paint flowers arose as Whipple wanted to convey joy and delight through her work. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

“In some sense, every piece I make has a completely different process. But to my students or an outside observer, it probably doesn’t seem that way. What I mean is that I tend to start my pieces in a similar fashion: a drawing, an underpainting, then the final pass or passes. But to me, each piece feels like completely uncharted territory, even if I have been painting the same subject matter for weeks or months. Inspiration comes from infinite sources, and the initial spark of an idea is what tends to guide my process for the painting,” she says to Fine Art Connoisseur.

Beauty and art

Whipple is not a believer in the adage that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. She thinks that it is only true to a limited extent. “Obviously, everyone has different taste, but there is a universality to the things we can all agree on that are beautiful. Everyone stops in their tracks when they see the Winged Victory statue in the Louvre, no matter what culture they are from. We can all appreciate really beautiful, well-made things. There’s a universal language,” she said to The Epoch Times.

(Image: Screenshot / YouTube)
Some things are considered universally beautiful, such as the Winged Victory statue in the Louvre. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

Since flowers are universally considered beautiful, Whipple feels that painting them is the ideal way to convey the feeling of joy. She hopes that everyone honors their creativity rather than trying to suppress it, whether it be in designing buildings or cooking meals for their family. In addition to painting, Whipple also teaches part-time at the Grand Central Atelier. She has won the Alma Schapiro Prize and a purchase award from the Indiana State Museum for their permanent collection.

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Jessica Kneipp
Jessica writes about films, and occasionally gets to direct them. Music, photography, art, poetry, reading and travel are pretty good too. She has a love of silent films, they are the closest she will ever get to "time travel."

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