Whether depicting plants, animals, buildings or people, Kathryn Wedge’s paintbrush brings life that is at once soft and vibrant, representational and stylized, to the canvas. With an eclectic background ranging from architecture to graphic design, Wedge melds various influences into one distinct character through her painting.
“I have been doing art since I was probably in grade school,” says Wedge, going on to describe an early spark when she won a calendar contest for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as a freshman in high school. “My artwork got a lot of attention and I got a lot of good vibes from doing that,” she adds.
Continuing to paint throughout high school earned Wedge a one-year scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for art. Afterward, she studied in the School of Architecture for a year before deciding to transfer to UW-Oshkosh to further pursue art.
Now based in Neenah, Wedge works full time as a graphic designer, also serves freelance clients and still has the opportunity to create, show and sell her paintings. “My career as a fine art painter really started to develop around 2000,” she explains. “I had left a full-time graphic design position to spend more time at home with my kids. When that door somewhat closed, I started looking at what I could do more seriously with my fine arts.”
Wedge began entering shows, participating in workshops and building relationships with different organizations. “By entering juried exhibitions, I was able to make the connections I needed to get my work in front of a larger audience,” she says, noting her membership in both the Wisconsin Visual Artists and Wisconsin Watercolor Society. “Those types of affiliations really put me in touch with people that can help me find out more about exhibitions and galleries I could show my work in.”
After several years, Wedge returned to the graphic design business, and almost in tandem another great opportunity presented itself. “I did illustrate a children’s book in 2008,” she explains, referring to “The Monarch’s Gift: A Journey Through the Life of a Monarch Butterfly” by Wisconsin naturalist Stephanie Feuerstein. “A friend introduced me to the author because we both had a passion for monarch butterflies. This woman I met told me she had a book about a monarch butterfly for children and I said, ‘Oh that’s funny, I’m doing my first solo exhibition in a few months and it’s on monarch butterflies!’ She gave me her words, and we realized that a lot of the book was already painted with the work I’d already done. I painted a few more and we self-published the book.”
The majestic monarch is just one of Wedge’s many artistic specialties. “I take inspiration from nature and also from people and places that I’ve been. I do architectural things, which kind of speaks back to my architectural training,” she says. “I have so many things that interest me it’s very hard to pin down a favorite. It’s really taking something blank, a canvas or a piece of paper, and creating something on it. That’s the part that’s my passion. It doesn’t necessarily matter if it’s a person or a building or a tree.”
Wedge’s creative process is dynamic and ongoing, and she finds inspiration wherever she goes. “I’m kind of out and about a lot,” she says. “If something visually catches my eye I’ll make notes and sketch something. I’ll snap a picture of it and then use that back in my studio. I go back into my studio and I draw things and crop things, and bring things into Photoshop. If I like a portion of one thing and a portion of something else, I’ll mash them together and find something that interests me enough to start painting.”
Wedge’s work can be found on her website kathrynwedge.artspan.com. She can be contacted online or at 729-9398.