We have long admired the work of Kate Jarman – from connecting us to nature and our sense of belonging in the world, to the breadth of colour and composition in her work. 

Kate's paintings have a distinctive feeling of freedom to them. Her dynamic use of colour and visible brush strokes capture the feel of a place and the natural life that inhabits it. 

Kate doesn't just paint. She paints joy. This Perth-born artist brings colour, creativity and glorious texture to everything she touches.

What a delight it was to sit down with Kate, talk about the evolution of her work and the infinite gifts of nature. (We also just love shining a spotlight on local talent). Enjoy!

  1. It’s good to have you back Kate! What exciting things can we expect to see from you in the coming months/year?

Oh, thank you, it's great to be back! I am currently working on some new desertscapes with a more muted palette. I like the idea that a place can exist solely in your imagination while having some echo and anchor points to a real place somewhere in the world. I thought about this a lot during the covid lockdowns (when people couldn't travel physically) that you can still satiate some of your wanderlust with images and your imagination!

Last year, the kids and I moved closer to the beach. This inspired a series of coral paintings called 'The sea, the sea'.

I've been delving into underwater photography from around the world for inspiration. The paintings are like underwater landscapes but with more mystery as nearly everything apart from the foreground is obscured. I enjoy working with oil paint in a more painterly and abstract way, but they still have points of representation and would be considered figurative! 

  1. Your work is a homage to the ‘Jungalow’. Why are you drawn to this subject?

As humans, we are innately drawn to nature for our sense of belonging in the world. There are many studies on the mental, emotional, physiological and spiritual benefits of being in nature, and I believe this partly because it helps contextualise our existence.

Whether it’s the sublimity of an expansive sky that reminds us how small we are in comparison to its vastness or a sense of awe at the intricacies and beauty of birds, flowers and coral, it reminds us we are part of something bigger and wondrous.

I’m interested in how we bring nature or representations of nature into our homes to be surrounded and reminded of it even when we are inside.

  1. We've just received some mini originals in the showroom – What has inspired these paintings?

I am interested in not just these birds’ physical beauty but also in learning more about their habitat, behaviour, and evolution over time. My Dad was an avid bird watcher; as kids, he would take my sister and me swamping through the river near the airport. We would find all sorts of different birds and nests, and he would teach us about them.

There is a bush track close to the ocean and city that I love to walk. It’s full of many different types of birds and their birdsong which varies depending on the time of day. I find them really interesting, and the breadth of colour and pattern on them always leaves me in awe. I paint them as an expression of my fascination for them and as an ode to their magnificence.

The little desertscape is inspired by the Joshua Tree National Park. The Joshua tree is one of my favourite plants because of its ability to live in such a harsh environment and for its beautifully simple structural form. When it comes to colour, I love to break the rules and explore how it might feel with all senses engaged to be immersed in that landscape and represent that feeling. 

  1. Can you describe the process of creating these paintings? What does a typical involve?

I am inspired by colour, specifically colour combinations, so I usually start with an idea of a palette that I feel excited by once I have decided on the subject. I first paint the solid background with acrylic paint, which I sand between layers. Once that is smooth and dry, I start by drawing my subject and then work with linseed oil and a cloth to shade, blur, and create depth. Then I use very thin layers of oil paint that dry between layers to build the painting up.

I have specific colours that I always start with, and they are phthalo blue, raw umber, Australian red gold (rust) and Payne's grey. I try and refrain from using black until the end as it forces you to look at the nuanced shades of dark areas and shadows first.

  1. What are you seeking to portray in your latest work?

I like to share my curiosity and wonder about the natural world in a playful, whimsical way while exploring the medium of oil paint and how it can be worked. I like to leave some visible brush strokes because it adds the quality of a slow art form carried out by a human hand. I started using the aesthetic of a flat background when studying fine art at university because it creates space that gives the details room to breathe.

  1. What would be your dream project?

I want to work with kids and share my knowledge and love for painting with them. I have dabbled in art therapy and other community arts projects. I would really like to see kids engage in this artform and always have it as something to lean into when they want to escape into their imagination. 

  1. What was one of your biggest lessons learned since starting out?

One of the most confronting lessons I learned when I finished my Bachelor of Arts was that it was okay to paint beauty for beauty’s sake. I cherished my time at university, but it had a heavy conceptual bent. I had to bravely shake off the idea that painting purely for aesthetic reasons wasn’t valid. Throughout my degree, it was ingrained that your work should be making a social or political statement or pushing some boundary.

Once I embraced painting what I wanted to paint, which were lyrical, joyful, colourful expressions of my joy and wonder for the infinite gifts of nature. People started telling me that it made them happy every time they looked at one of my paintings or prints - the inherent value became evident.

I also think that provides the motivation and inspiration to continue going, be inspired, and evolve creatively. I truly love what I paint.

  1. What are some of your methods for staying motivated, focused, and expressive?

I remember we looked at a documentary series during my degree on the working practices of various artists around the world, and one of the most consistent things across all of the artists was that they had their own way of intentionally getting themselves into a state of flow creatively. It certainly wasn’t a matter of waiting for inspiration and they were disciplined and methodical in their approach to their studio practices.

I know that I am motivated mainly by colour and palette combinations, so sometimes just a walk in nature and seeing a colour combination in a leaf, flower or landscape or playing with swatches will spark creative inspiration. I often look through images of deserts and other landscapes to stir my wanderlust and imagination.

  1. What’s next – can you share with us your vision and some of your long goals? (if not answered above already)!

I would like to start teaching painting to kids in some capacity on the side. I ran some lessons with small groups of children at my son’s school a few years ago, and it was incredible to see how engaged, and expressive they were and how unique their finished paintings were. I also really enjoyed seeing how proud and impressed with themselves they were. 

I am eager to complete a mural and make repeat patterns out of some paintings to expand on a textile collaboration!

We currently have three mini original paintings available in store from Kate, including this beautiful piece, Jude!


August 23, 2022