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Sandy artist well known for her mastery of nature

Oct 04, 2017 01:10PM ● Published by Keyra Kristoffersen

Kathryn Stats paints the wide open spaces. (Kathryn Stats)

Sandy resident Kathryn Stats has made a name for herself as a premier plein air painter in Utah, combining her love of the outdoors with a love for color.

“I’ve never claimed to be a plein air painter but nobody ever seems to listen,” said Stats, who is listed as a master contributor in Stephen Doherty’s new book, “The Art of Plein Air Painting,” released in September 2017. Doherty is the editor for “Plein Air” magazine and includes lessons, interviews and examples of artwork from artists all across the country in the magazine. It was while working as editor that he met Stats and wrote an article on her artwork after she participated in a gallery show in San Antonio, Texas, where her work caught his eye.

“He’s a wonderful painter and a really fine writer,” said Stats. “I’m honored that he included me in his book.”

After participating in several conventions over the years, Stats has helped teach classes on plein air painting and believes that going out into the field is one of the best ways to make you a better painter. She says you are more likely to get the colors and the changes in mood outside than when painting from a photograph.

“The best thing about working on location instead of from a photo is that you’re there for an hour or two and the light changes and the shadows change and things get better or worse. Things happen that would never happen if you are just passing by,” said Stats. 

Stats feels a special affinity for the red rocks of Southern Utah and loves how the color of the prairie mixes with original pioneer buildings and structures. She also loves to work in floral still-life when she gets the chance.

“We’re very lucky in this area that we still have standing pioneer landscape and houses and farms. Our landscape is gorgeous,” said Stats, who loves spending time in Moab, Torrey and the Grand Canyon.

Stats’ love of art really took off after her husband was transferred to work in Brazil for what was supposed to be a permanent post but actually only lasted about a year. She bought an oil-paint set and would spend time painting postcards she found and copied watercolor books with pastels. This interest flared every time she met someone with art supplies. Originally, she said, her burning desire to paint was so her family would have something to hang on the walls of their house that wouldn’t make it look like a motel room.  

While some painters are able to finish a project out in the field, Stats finds that her goal is more about getting notes and references down and collecting information for a larger painting. She has trouble finishing because there are so many more projects to start. 

“I have stacks and stacks and stacks of beginnings of plein air studies,” said Stats. “I don’t ever aim to finish. I’d say a maximum of five in the last two years that actually got finished on location and I was quite proud of myself.”

For the last three years, Stats has been part of a group of artists working with the Hockaday Museum in Glacier National Park to put on a show honoring women painters of the Past, those who went out into the park under adverse conditions at a time when that wasn’t the sort of thing women did. Stats has been in the show for the past two years with three other women painters, representing the modern women who capture the park’s scenery and essence. The show took place on Aug. 11–12 and the Montana Film Commission donated resources to help support the project. Five women from the U.S. and Canada have been chosen to submit three paintings each for the 2018 show celebrating Canada’s anniversary.

“It’s a big show and I was fortunate enough to be chosen for one of those people,” said Stats.

After the Hockaday show, Stats planned to travel up through Glacier and into Canada to begin gathering ideas and information for the 2018 show.

“There’s nothing like being on location,” Stats said. “When you’re out there in the middle of this space and there’s no one else there, you just feel like the luckiest person in the world.”

For more information about the Timeless Legacy exhibit, visit http://www.hockadaymuseum.org/index.cfm?inc=page&page=709&page_content=A-Timeless-Legacy-Exhibit-and...  

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