I am very excited to share this inspired interview with Artist Katherine Corden. Her work has been a huge inspiration to me for several years. I was specifically drawn to her She & I Collection of figure drawings and color stories in her work. The color combinations are natural, unique, whimsical and playful. She lives in Traverse City Michigan and I could totally see myself living there. Lake Michigan is gorgeous and you can feel the inspiration and influence of the lake and natural landscape show up in her work.
Today is also a special day because you can preorder her stunning 2021 Calendar The Energy of Flowers. I love the theme of this calendar for 2021, “A floral calendar to ground and inspire” it sounds like exactly what I need.
Here is an excerpt about Katherine from her website, “Katherine Corden is a fine artist living in Traverse City, Michigan with her husband Dave. She has come to be known by collectors and designers alike for her ability to portray the human figure in a way that captures her subjects’ natural way of moving through the world. She attributes much of her influence to her art teaching mother who started her in early art classes, as well as her background in studying anatomy while pursuing studies for her first career as a physical therapist. Drawn to the movement, imperfections, and unpredictability of humans and nature, she tries to reflect these abstractions in her work. She uses light and proportions to depict a sense of realism, yet counters that structure with layered and gestural brush strokes. She identifies strongly with the culture and lifestyle of her home in northern Michigan and often draws upon the changing seasons around her to inform the colors and energy of her compositions. Along with her life long art practice, Lake Michigan too has consistently been a grounding source of both meditation and inspiration for her – fueling her both spiritually and creatively.”
How would you describe your artwork?
I’m drawn to the movement, imperfections, and unpredictability of humans and nature, and I try to reflect these abstractions in my work. I use light and proportions to depict a sense of realism, and try to counter that structure with layered and gestural brush strokes.
Were you a born artist? How did you find painting and art?
I was born into a family with a great love and affinity for art! My mom is an art teacher and my dad is also extremely creative. I’m lucky that art and creating were natural parts of our daily rhythm and activities growing up.
Where do you find inspiration?
I identify strongly with the culture and lifestyle of my home in northern Michigan and often draw upon the changing seasons around me to inform the color and energy of my compositions. Many of my collectors know me for my figure paintings, whether that’s figures within a landscape, social interaction, or a fundamental figure study. However, I’ve really been enjoying exploring new subject matters, whether that’s flowers that are in season, waves from our lakes up here, or windy turns on familiar roads.
What is your typical day like?
I really enjoy taking my time in the mornings. My husband will make us coffee and in the fall I love starting my day with apple cinnamon oatmeal. I then try to fit in a 10 minute meditation (currently I’m using the “Waking Up” app and I highly recommend it!) and an online barre workout. I try to get to the studio around 10 and respond to emails or I might have a meeting with a local about an upcoming project or collaboration. The rest of my day always changes depending on what’s happening in the studio. Sometimes I get to paint for the rest of the day. Other days I walk across my building to my printer to pick up prints and spend the afternoon packing and fulfilling orders.
When you are feeling stuck, what do you do?
This summer in between collections I was feeling a bit stuck, so I just let myself relax and took some days off at the studio. I drove to the beach with my sketchbook and just created and journaled without any pressure of creating something to sell. Somedays I would meet a friend or my mom and just hang out. Getting out of the house and studio always seems to help!
How would you describe “creativity”? Do you find that it comes naturally to you? Or do you have a practice or a rhythm you follow to encourage creative energy?
I’ve always viewed creativity as a form of energy. It requires honoring, nurturing, fostering, and recovery! There is not an endless supply of it, at least for me. I think honoring your creativity is very similar to honoring the healthy of your mind, body, and spirit. Creativity and stress don’t mix. I don’t have a specific practice or rhythm I follow, but I do try to pay attention to how my body is feeling and I acknowledge the other current happenings in my life. I tend to overcommit myself to people and projects. Respecting my boundaries always seems to help my creative energy.
Your color theory is so incredibly dreamy and perfect. How do you find inspiration for your color stories?
Thank you! I think I’m drawn to certain color palettes and I definitely work on balancing them while painting until I feel them “click”. I strive to use a limited palette, as I think it helps make my composition stronger, less busy, and lets the colors I’ve chosen really shine.
What is your favorite quote or mantra you love right now?
A mantra I always return to is from my mentor Emily Jeffords: “Progress is quiet and slow.”
You have a physical therapy education. How does this impact or influence your work?
I’ve always been drawn the human body and figure, which definitely influenced my decision to attend physical therapy school and focus on preventative health and body mechanics. We spent hours and hours in the human anatomy lab studying every muscle, bone, ligament, nerve and vessel in the body! We also had to learn how to palpate on someone’s skin all the different prominences and muscles. I think this knowledge has definitely given me an advantage when it comes to drawing and painting the human figure, and it has given me an appreciation for the extreme diversity and beauty of shapes and sizes found amongst all humans.
What advice would you give to the younger version of yourself or an artist just starting out?
I always say I have no regrets because if I chose a different path who knows where I would be today, but to young people in general I encourage you to move towards things and careers that excite you. Not everyone is lucky enough to feel passionate about something, but if you do have a passion, lean towards that. When you love something and have an affinity for it, you will figure out how to make it work for you.
You are an expecting first time mama; Congrats! What are you most excited about becoming a mother? And, most anxious or worried about?
Thank you! We are so very excited. I have such a close relationship with both my parents and I’m really excited to have a little buddy and I can’t wait to see my husband as a father. I’m both excited and anxious to bring them to the studio and see how we create a new rhythm here together.
How has pregnancy inspired you or impacted the artwork you are doing?
I’m not sure if this is related to pregnancy or not, but I’ve been striving to achieve more looseness in my paintings, with an almost childlike approach. It’s a delicate balance to achieve this while not letting the piece get too busy and still feel intentional.
How can we find your work and stay connected with you?