Saturday, 4/10/10: Jody Katopothis

Thanks to guest writer Cameron Hawkey for today’s post

Jody Katopothis uses her time on the An Artist A Day project to revisit a theme she hasn’t touched on in a long time: faces. As humans, we’re all wired to recognize faces. Studies have shown that infants will pick out natural faces over ones that have been altered or skewed in some way, she tells me. If you place a face in the painting, narrative will naturally follow.

Classically, illustration is about illumination – it tells the viewer a story. Jody prefers to keep meaning in her pieces more open than something so cut and dry as dictating a narrative to the viewer. “I suggest instead of tell. I let people read into the piece and extract a narrative that’s meaningful to them. I don’t plan it all out, plot it all out. I like to work on intuition.”

Intuition isn’t the only element she invites into her pieces. Earlier today, a four-year old boy was captivated watching her paint, and so she invited him to try his hand at painting. He scrubbed in a soothing patch of periwinkle in a corner. Later, she invites me to do the same. I’m nervous about putting paint onto someone else’s work (isn’t that trespassing?) but I think that only heightened the excitement about being able to do something considered so art-taboo. I painted in some lime-green stripes around one of the women’s collars. Will it make to the finished product? That’s not what’s important- just let yourself relax, she says. When painting in acrylic, it’s closer to sculpture. You can push and pull the paint over layers to create shape and warmth. I liken it to horses: you ride the horses to wherever they go; all you have to do is enjoy yourself along the way.

She mainly paints in acrylics now, but Jody used to work in watercolor. When she was ready to transition to another medium, she wanted to start painting in oil, but when she tried out the Golden heavy body acrylics, she got the thick texture she wanted from oil without all the additional care and ventilation that oils need. Her enjoyment of painting is a far cry from the horror stories of the tortured affairs of frustrated artists and a stubbornly blank canvas. “I have difficulty knowing when to stop working on a piece,” she says with a smile.

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