Katie McGuire was born an artist, a teacher and an innovator. Her students look up to her as their mentor and a beautiful creator that is committed to the arts. As a painter and an educator helping others learn at Antelope Valley College for sixteen years, she finds rewards in being able to share her knowledge with those eager to learn. She has a deep passion for teaching drawing classes and favorited the days educated students on topics such as Art Appreciation, Design and Art History. When she is not teaching regularly she enjoys substituting for both regular and special education for the elementary students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
With the love of painting and drawing as a child, she always knew that she wanted to be an artist that sold and exhibited her work. Once she entered high school she became more serious about following her dreams and continued into college when she studied art at U.C. Berkley.
“When I went to college at U.C. Berkeley, I knew that I wanted to study art, so I focused on having my major and degree in art, and took most of my classes in painting and drawing. I also have a M.F.A. from Claremont Graduate University in Painting rewarded in 2000. When I was there, I became even more serious about my painting. Since then, I have been teaching and showing my work in group, juried and solo shows around Los Angeles.”
Katie would like her artwork to be her legacy when she passes and is the reason she teaches and devotes her time and talent to students both young and old. She stands out as a model citizen in this world and uses her creative side in art to teach others such as kids and college students. Many schools in our present time have eliminated art from the curriculum completely. There is an opportunity for others like Katie to help educate our children in the arts even if it is by volunteering and making a difference in how they can look upon the world using art.
“In teaching kids, I think that Art can help their attention skills, calm them down, and help keep them busy. For an adult student that is interested in art, I think that learning about art techniques and art history can help them develop their own style, and learn more about the world in general. People learning about art, and showing their work, can help groups of people think about other people’s perspectives in a visual form. Working together in groups on collaborative projects, can help people get to know others styles and ways of working.”
Katie specializes in portraits and figures influenced by symbolism, expressionism, Tarot Cards, surrealism, CoBra, Bay Area figurative painting and some contemporary artists. She works using photographs taken of people on her walks through Los Angeles. She uses intuition, cartoon like drawing, paint handling and expression incorporating dripping and unrealistic colors to create each portrait.
“Sometimes I add collage elements like candy wrappers, beads, erasers, and parts of bracelets. I use the touch and the way that the paint is handled to transmit an emotion or feeling about the person that I am painting. I am trying to paint a mystical person in a mystical world. Most of my subjects are homeless or street people, musicians, and psychics. The portraits that I paint use simple symbolism to portray the person’s soul, mood, energy, feeling, and relation to the world around them.”
The painting by the name of “Man In Between Two Fences” portrays a homeless man walking in a field of flowers in between two fences. The reason that he is in between two fences is that he is slightly trapped in life picturing dark and light. Katie is able to capture the emotions and thought process of a tale to be told to anyone that is willing to look upon and listen.
“There is a dark sky in the background, and his face is the light of the painting. He also has a heart where his heart is, and a rainbow above his pocket. A house that he doesn’t have is in the background with smoke coming out of the chimney. There are different types of flowers growing to represent growth, and a rainbow over a dripping cloud to symbolize a new day. The sign in the background is like a street sign and I often use them in my painting with no writing, to show them literally as a sign, and to show that the man is going nowhere, or for us to wonder what the sign means. There is also a cloud on his shirt to show the gloom of his mood. My painting is trying to portray the person in a metaphysical manner. My art reflects me because it is an image of my vision or imagination of the person that I am painting. The people don’t necessarily reflect me, but are reflections of how I see them.”
There is time set aside for Katie’s art and she has been creating a series of portraits with plans of eventually working on large scale pieces while enhancing and evolving her style. She hopes to contribute to the public art beautification by painting murals and has made it a goal to complete her own series of Tarot Cards with her unique style of painting.
“I would like to start with the major arcana cards. For example, for the first card of the deck of tarot, The Fool, I would like to create my own version of the Fool, partially using the symbolism of the cards, and partially using portraits that I take of people in real life. For the Fool, I would like to take a photograph of a male street person, hopefully who has a dog. I would like to paint him with the symbolism of the fool in the tarot cards, with a white rose, with the sun shining, holding a small bag on a stick, standing on a ledge with the ocean behind him. I would like to do this with all the major arcana tarot cards, and see how it goes. I would also like to show my art more, and sell it.”
Many artists are influenced by other art, artists and styles in the art industry with many genres of techniques and innovation. When looking upon the artworks painted by Katie, you notice that she has a style that is her own. In many of the pieces she creates she adds collage elements along with foil and candy wrappers while introducing paint to her new surface leaving open spaces for those things to shine through.
“I also add things like beads, broken bracelets, bottle caps and erasers to the surface of my painting to enhance the texture and the area of color. My painting is on the border between realism and abstraction. The images are recognizable, but they are painted in a cartoon like way because I think it gives a wonderful form of expression to the painting. The colors are unrealistic, and I work with them intuitively to represent moods, emotions, or feelings about different parts of the face and body, and to represent what the person is feeling. I like to use dripping in my painting, because you can’t control it, and where it goes, you can only see what happens when the paint drips. I use spray paint on the bottom layer, because I like the effects of dripping and the spray paint has fluorescent colors that are not possible to obtain with oil paint. After I do that, I add detailed layers of oil paint, sometimes letting the spray paint show through. I also sometimes add oil paint over that and keep working layer after layer. Then, I sometimes add collage elements.”
While there is a very distinct technique to the art of Katie McGuire, she is inspired by her favorite contemporary artist, Arnaldo Roche Rabell. He too paints portraits and figures incorporating unconscious and supernatural realms of spirit that is a part of reality in the everyday world. Although she does not use all of the following techniques, she appreciates his incorporation of rubbing, scratching and layers that describe the person he is painting through what is seen in between.
“His portraits are sometimes double heads, where he is investigating the self and its many masks as well as looking at the divine within the human incarnation. He is looking at the spiritual and psychological dimension of the person that he is painting which is something that I aim to do in my painting. I also explore his layering in my own paintings for the visual effect of the painting to look deep and for the viewer to be able to see the layers.”
Art is Katie’s main passion in life along with teaching art, yoga, music and learning about different spiritual practices. She has always loved looking at art in museums and wonders about the paintings, the person who painted them and what story they wanted to tell. People have been using art throughout time to tell stories and demonstrate ideas about the world and in many cases about simply painting itself.
“Art enhances culture, and allows people to view images, and relate them to history, through all time. Art allows us to see different artist’s perspective of the world and what they paint. We also get to see the different art movements like Impressionism and Expressionism, and see how each artist interpreted that movement in their own way. We get to understand the movements and how they relate to each other, their philosophies, history and the culture of the time.”
There is much to learn when seeking answers to the stories and history of art and as an artist herself. Katie makes dreams and ideas a reality by sharing words that are written in paint. Prolific in her style, she sets forth a journey of not only producing beautiful pieces of art but educating others and caring about what the meaning is behind the works that are shared through us all.
Written By Skye Amber Sweet
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