Kathy Blankley Roman
(picture credit to Bonnie Kenez-Mara)
In my paintings I explore texture and gesture, reflecting the memories and emotions that are evoked in the process. Inspiration comes from everywhere: lyrics, feelings, haiku moments, nature, the things that take my breath away. They are tucked away into a kind of reservoir, their echoes appearing in some form later in my paintings. A sense of place is a frequent theme in my work. Using acrylics, encaustic (a process of painting with molten wax), oil & cold wax…and whatever works, I am driven by a sense of play and an exploration of the materials as much as by intuition and an emotional response to the evolving painting. I also enjoy working with shodo and sumi-e (Japanese calligraphy and ink painting). They support and influence my mark making in the other media. The process is grounding and meditative and there is a great satisfaction in learning to master the hand-eye coordination that needs to be developed to control the brush. And so, it is all about the process: finding a sense of order, a refuge and release, becoming immersed in the moment and the physicality of engaging the surface. I don’t plan a painting when I start but respond intuitively to the marks, strokes and textures that have been laid down, editing now and then for composition and what feels right. Mostly, I let it take me where it will. There is a visceral feeling in the physical act of engaging the surface that releases a visual energy. It flows through the layers, creating depth, motion and an intimacy that invites the viewer in to share in a kind of dialog, to explore and participate in the experience through the lens of their own personal filters.
Chicago artist Kathy Blankley Roman has been making art of one kind or another as far back as she can remember. She was fortunate to receive a solid foundation of the principles of design, color and composition in her formative years through advanced art classes and the support of some amazing public school teachers. With that as a base, Roman learned technique mostly through workshops and classes at local art centers. After high school, she attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, studying Anthropology, with a focus on primitive art. Her first fascination with the study of early man dates back to fourth grade when she encountered the prehistoric cave art at Lascaux for the first time. It was one of those transformative experiences. “I still feel that first sense of awe and wonder that hit me like a lightening bolt”. It was to become a major influence on her and references to it are evident in her current work. She remained in Madison for the next 16 years. Taking a leap of faith, she left her job at the University Hospitals to return to school for an AA degree in Commercial Art at Madison Area Technical College and a career change. Reluctantly, she returned to Chicago only because of the necessity of finding a job with a sustainable living wage. Her love of the Wisconsin landscape and the memories associated with it are still a recurring theme in her work.
As as life and the need to make a living happened, Roman’s personal art making was always relegated to spare time status until her retirement in 2010, when she finally had the time to pursue art for herself. It was then that she stumbled on a course in expressive, nonobjective painting. It was her first encounter with painting in the abstract and “it felt like something I was always meant to do”. It was a pivotal experience that took her work in an entirety new direction and is at the core of all of her work since. An award winning artist, Roman’s work has appeared in juried and group shows nationally, online and in private collections. Selected honors include:
• Named one of the “Top 10 Abstract Artists to Watch in 2018” by Light, Space & Time Online Gallery.
• Bronze Artist Award in the Abstract issue of ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal, August 2017.
• Honorable Mention for Fine Art in the First Annual Fine Art & Literature Competition of The Woven Tale Press 2017, published in Vol. VI, #3, April 2018.
• Finalist status in the Annual Competition of The Artist’s Magazine 2014 and 2016 in the Experimental/Abstract Category.
• Inclusion into the permanent collection of the Encaustic Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM 2014.