Toward the Light
"Color to me is a key to life," says upper New York State artist Katharine McKenna. Indeed, vivid color--along with an almost musical treatment of nuanced tones and interconnecting lines and structure--is the hallmark of her work.
The musical comparison does not come by chance. McKenna's mother wanted her to become a concert pianist and made sure she had lengthy training. McKenna still loves music--in fact, she sees her artworks as musiclike compositions for the eye. But when she was growing up she knew she was too shy to pursue a concert career. In high school she took up photography, and after college went into exhibition design. After some years she got a master's degree in industrial design at Pratt Institute.
Although the experience at Pratt served to whet her artistic bent, during the next nine years she became a sought-after exhibition designer and computer graphics consultant in New York City. Despite her corporate success, however, in 1989 she found herself chafing at exhibiting only other people's work and solving other people's problems. "I woke up and thought, `If I reach the age of ninety and have yet to paint one painting, I will be sorely disappointed in life.'" She determined to become a professional artist.
Yet she went about it gradually. "I didn't just drop everything and start painting," she recalls. …