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MEET: Kate Lycett
Today we are pleased to meet Hebden Bridge artist Kate Lycett, who loves capturing the beautiful countryside and creating colourful landscapes.
What is your background and what are your earliest memories of painting?
My earliest memories of drawing probably involve my Grandad, who I idolised. He bought me proper watercolours and good brushes. He was an architect and he hoped I would follow in his footsteps, but I was never good at maths. When I was a little older my Dad would take me to galleries where we would work out the compositions of old paintings. It's only more recently that I have thought about what a lovely thing it was to do and how much it has formed the way I paint now.
I studied fine art at University in York and specialised in textile design. After that I did an MSc in textile technology at Huddersfield. I worked as a designer for seven years and painted on the side. Gradually it became less and less 'on the side' until I gave up the proper job entirely. I have never looked back!
You are based in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire and many of your paintings are around this area. Has Yorkshire always been your source of inspiration?
It wasn't until I moved to Hebden Bridge that I started to paint landscapes and the change was instant. Before moving here my work was abstract and full of patterns. It was colourful, but rarely figurative. I find the Yorkshire landscape incredibly inspiring. I particularly love the decaying industrial architecture of West Yorkshire.
Colour plays an important part in your work. How do you choose which colours to paint with?
I get very excited by colour. I love the way the light changes colour, and finding the hidden colours in stone. I build up colours layer upon layer – the colours behind are as important as those on top. My colour combinations are as carefully considered as the compositions in my pictures. They convey the warmth and the light and the season. I get a bit giddy over tubes and bottles of colour and am very particular about how they are laid out in my studio. I have colour charts on my walls of all my colours so I can see how they look when they are dry.
What other media do you use?
I use inks, acrylics, gouache, watercolours, pencils. I also use threads and gold leaf.
When and where are your next exhibitions or events in the calendar?
My next solo exhibition, Tall Tress and Warm Stone, is at Heart Gallery in Hebden Bridge. It previews on March 28th and continues until July 7th. They are a lovely gallery and I am especially excited about the exhibition because it is my first solo show since May 2010. I had twins at the end of 2010 and it slowed my output of work somewhat! I am doing the Saltaire Arts trail in May and Hebden Bridge Open Studios in July. Then, in October, I am having a solo exhibition at The Chantry Gallery in Ripley, North Yorkshire. They are a new gallery for me. I love the area and have many ideas for new paintings.
You have created some beautiful Lanterns, will we see more designs coming forward this year?
I made the first lantern for my mum on Mother's Day several years ago. It was handmade and postable. I used a hole punch and a scalpel for that one, but the new ones are laser cut. The cutting can be so intricate - right down to tiny bunting hanging in the windows of the shops. The lanterns sold really well as the days grew shorter - they look lovely all lit up in my gloomy stone fire place. There are three designs at present and I will definitely be doing more this year. I have two designed, but not yet painted. I would like to be able show new designs at the Saltaire Arts Trail in May.
Who has been your main source of inspiration?
My Dad and my Grandad because they showed me how to look at things. The artists that inspire me are always changing. The Duc de Berry's book of Hours, and anything illustrated by Errol le Cain were books that made my heart beat a little faster when I was small. I love Klimt and Schiele - especially their landscapes. Most recently Anna Pugh, Michael Morgan and Edward Bawden.
Is there a reason why people don’t appear in your work?
I want people to imagine themselves in the places that I paint. I don't think pictures draw you in if there are people in there already! It would be like a stage already occupied by someone else.
What advice would you give an artist, who is just starting out?
To paint what you love because it's what you will paint best. But also - if you are trying to make a living - to sell it yourself, face to face sometimes, so that you can see how people respond to it. I began selling my work on the art and craft markets in Sheffield. It was invaluable, listening in to people chatting about the colours that excited them, and those that left them cold. Practical things too like the size and shapes of framed pieces and how things were priced. People love to hear the stories behind what you have made and how you have come to make it.
If you were not an artist, what would you be?
Frustrated? I have no idea! It's all I have ever wanted to be. I loved designing textiles, and I used to do a lot of commercial fashion illustration. It was good commercial training and gave me a thicker skin! At one time I really wanted to be a sign painter. I love lettering and scripts. That is probably a dying art now. If I was not an artist right now, my children's craft box would not be well stocked, and there would not be the endless supply of good paper available.
Kate Lycett's website: http://www.katelycett.co.uk
Follow Kate on Twitter: https://twitter.com/katelycett