Katherine Cowtan, artist

Artist's Statement

I have worked both as a fine artist and as a weaver.  Whether working with paint or yarns my work is full of colour, light and texture.  Painting is a great excuse to mix and play with colours directly, but I am fascinated by how colours can be mixed in weaving.


Wherever I go I am always on the look-out for inspiration.  My love of walking and the countryside, the local hills and nearby Loch Lomond National Park, as well as my garden, provide rich and varied sources for inspiration in all seasons.  Perhaps having started out as a weaver, I am often drawn to landscapes that have interesting textures, or I find colours naturally arranged in horizontal stripes!


My training as a craftsperson and textile designer forms the basis for how I process and develop ideas and compositions.  I like to have a clear intention of what I am aiming for, even if it is only through the creative process that I work out how I will achieve that. Compared with the limitations and discipline of weaving, I find painting is liberating as there is much more freedom to choose how much or how little detail and complexity to include. 


I love working with colour, but when painting I use a fairly limited palette. I enjoy the diversity of different media and use both water mixable oil paints and watercolours, often using a combination of wet into wet and wet on dry techniques to build up layers, or adding other materials to build up depth of colour and texture.  I choose the style and medium that I think is best suited to explore and represent the subject.


Through close attention to observation my paintings may be a direct interpretation of what I see, but I usually use artistic license to improve the composition!  I am more interested in the impression of being there than the detail, and I aim to capture the quality of light, colours, texture, light and mood, and often a sense of journey along a path.


For me painting is a direct way of sharing an experience and expressing some of the joys and challenges of life. I am particularly interested in exploring relationships and balance between contrasting elements within a composition. They are different each time! - vitality v tranquillity, drama v calm, cool v warm shades, dark v light, sunshine v shadow, near v far, vertical v horizontal, complexity v simplicity, illusion v credibility, painterly mark making v an illusion of reality. The chosen landscape or subject becomes not just a representation of an object or place, but a vehicle for this exploration.


Now that I have started weaving again, these are themes that I am also exploring in my weave designs.


I have regularly taken part in our local Open Studios events. I sell directly to local customers and internationally and have undertaken commissions. I enjoy teaching at local art groups and have also run workshops both from my own studio and at Culcreuch Castle, where I was 'Artist in Residence' for a few years. I am one of the artists listed with the travel company 'Wild at Art, Scotland'.  I enjoy talking about and sharing the process of developing a painting, and also enjoy talking about projects I worked on during my career as a textile designer.


Customer comments:

'The common thread running through your artwork and your weaving is that the work is full of colour, light and texture'

'Your weaving is beautiful and inspirational'

'the influence of your textile background is apparent in your work, as some of the paintings look like woven landscapes’

'Your work makes me happy...good therapy!!!'

'I love the natural colours in your painting.  So many other modern painters use such harsh bright colours.'

'I love your use of colour, and the apparent simplicity of these'

'I really like the way you use colours to convey an atmosphere of the work.'

'You make us want to just LEAP up those steps!'

'I have to tell you I want to walk right into your paintings'

'You can tell from your paintings that you love the countryside'

'When I am inspired by an artist's work in an exhibition, I see the world from a different perspective afterwards.  When I take my dog for a walk I now find myself noticing 'Katherine Cowtan' trees and paths that I would not have looked at twice before - I now see my familiar world afresh, as if through her eyes.'

'Your beautiful painting has a new home and we are beyond thrilled. I know it was a big gamble buying something sight unseen but it is even better than I imagined. The light on the lake is just special. Many thanks'

'Simple, evocative, lovely'

'With simplicity and clarity of colour and brush stroke you have captured the Fintry we love'

'You paint the ordinary, but it looks anything but ordinary'

'From a distance it looks like you have painted immaculate detail, but when you look close all you see is brush marks - the detail is an illusion'

'You have painted just enough detail for me to know exactly what it is I am looking at'

'Oh I LIKE these!'

'I can imagine taking my dog for a walk along that path, with him pulling on his lead'

'Feels so like a blizzard. Love this'

‘I could stand in front of that (painting) all day and imagine standing there looking at that view’

‘We used to take the children there to paddle in the summertime’

‘I can imagine climbing those hills'     'I have climbed those hills’

‘I love the way you have captured the light’

'The dappled light on the path in that painting is so bright it makes me feel I need sun glasses, but that is exactly how it feels when you are in a place like that and the sun flickers through the leaves as you walk along'

‘Although this painting is really big, I feel very comfortable sitting right close to it, because I feel as though I am there, and want to walk right into it’

'The way you have painted the bog reminds me how it feels to be out in the rain with wet boots'

'I like the variety in your work'

'Your work sings'

'Light shines out of the paintings'

'Your work is breathtaking'

'I really, really like your style'

'When we have our own house, these are the kinds of paintings I would like to hang on the walls'

'I know where that is. I've been there. We go there every year'

'If we weren't in the process of downsizing I would buy one'

'I am blown away with your LOVELY paintings'

'Your paintings are so peaceful they would be very thereputic on the walls of a hospital waiting room.'

'Very lyrical'

'It is hard to decide which painting to buy, and leave with only one!'

'Anyone who loves your work probably wants 35 paintings, not just one!'

'I love the combined softness and ruggedness of this painting.'

'That is gorgeous! I want to take off my shoes and run up that grassy path. The colours are natural and fresh and it looks light and airy. I also like how you've applied the paint - the marks are confident and decisive.'

 'Just lovely it reminds me of a much loved place I went with my family as a child, we would pick nick and play on the rocks, lovely memories.'

 'I feel an urge to walk up to the top. It's so fresh and brings back many memories of walking in Scotland. Beautiful artwork.'

'I was happy to stumble online across your painting of Sunny Steps, on Inchailloch, Loch Lomond. Happy because I was part of a group of National Conservation Corps volunteers who installed steps and walkways made of railroad sleepers all the way to the top of the island. That was way back in the summer of 1974 when I was a wee lad of 16. Thanks for the memory! (from Massachusetts USA)'

'Wow....I'm not sure if I recognise it but it definitely feels like a place I've been to before. It feeds my wanderlust and my adventurous side (hiking, climbing etc). The colours, textures and composition are all on point in my personal opinion. Kudos for such terrific work!'

'It's a beautiful work, really welcomes you in and looks like a much loved landscape. Really nicely executed. Looks like an actual place.'

'It is excellent, and it reminds me of walking the trails on my own mountains here. It makes me feel happy, and to want to get out and walk in the cool mountain air.'

'Beautiful, this makes me feel curious... I want to know what’s over the edge and at the end of the path.'

 'Makes me feel like walking there.... Lovely landscape... Lovely rocks & colours'

'so very proud to have a couple of @katherinecowtan_artist cards framed in my home.❤️ your paintings of #culcreuchcastle transport me back there with every glance! Thankyou for sharing your talent and love.

'This fabric is to die for!'