All Kinds Of Blue

Artist Kate Mary finds inspiration for her vibrant creations in interiors, architecture and nature, using colour to conjure a feeling of place.

I would describe myself as an artist, designer, and all-round creative woman. Where to start with the journey! To be honest, I think I’ve always been creative; my Dad is an avid painter and worked as an art teacher, so I guess my creative path began there with him. We would paint and draw on the weekends throughout my childhood or visit exhibitions. It was always just a part of my life. 

I trained as an interior designer and worked in this field commercially for a while, but the transition between these two fields was so organic, possibly because both are so connected and intertwined; and my love of interiors and architecture fuels  my artwork.

Interiors and architecture are my main source of inspiration. I’m led by all the places or spaces I visit, whether while travelling or during more everyday moments such as a nice coffee or a walk in the park. I carry a wee journal with me and note down observations from places; little sensory interests, descriptions of patterns or half-heard conversations for example. All these elements find their way back into my paintings and I see the final pieces as a kind of distillation and re-imagination of these experiences. 

For me, it’s also so important to attend exhibitions and find new inspirations. I was recently at Tramway in Glasgow where I was introduced to the work of Scottish artist Norman Gilbert, his use of pattern and colour was breathtaking. Some firm favourites and inspirations would have to be David Hockney, Georges Perec, Henri Matisse, Gaston Bachelard, Betty Woodman. Incredible colour and incredible writing, which are two things that greatly inform my work.

My creative process always begins with an experience of some kind, it could be a beautiful building that inspires me, or a new species of plant, or a pattern in upholstered furniture. I then explore this by making notes, sketching and photographing elements that interest me. When I return to the studio I then make studies in various mediums – ink, acrylic and pencils in order to create compositions that interest and excite me but that most importantly demonstrate what interested me about this thing in the first place. It can be a slightly chaotic process at times, but I think that chaos is sometimes what creates the most  interesting work, it can create a bit of a dream-like quality to the work.  

I’m quite impulsive with colour and try to work with colours that recreate a feeling of place, for instance when I think of Nice, France, I think of Naples yellow, soft orange and pale or cerulean blue. Colour and the feeling it describes is essential to all my work.  

I’m drawn to blue in all shades, from vivid ultramarines to soft pale blues and I see blue as the main colour of our exterior world. They represent the colours that surround our everyday life, from the sky and sea and so I want them to have a strong presence in my work. 

Memory and the spaces I have visited determine the colours I use, so really they are affected by light, weather, atmosphere, seasons, but also my mood. A painting from Copenhagen created in summer could be completely different if the only change was that I painted it again in winter. 

Nature and architecture are the two biggest themes within my work and I try to explore the relationship between our built environment and our natural one. I love to combine memories of architectural details with botanical elements, in order to create vibrant versions of the world we live in, both elements and the connection between them are celebrated 

I was born in the north of England, but Glasgow, Scotland has been my home now for eight years since studying here at the art school. Glasgow is known as the ‘dear green place’, which is the literal translation from its name in Gaelic and we have so many great, vibrant green spaces, it is a beautiful city. Personally, when I think of Glasgow, the first colours that come to mind are soft purples and warm greys (for me the colour of rain), hazy coral pinks (from the vibrant sunsets in spring and summer) and vermilion red from the sandstone of the architecture.  

My studio is filled with things that inspire me, photos I have taken from travels, postcards of exhibitions visited, flowers and plants to give the space life, incense burning – teakwood and tobacco a firm favourite – music on! I am always more productive once I have a body of work coming together, too. 

"I try to explore the relationship between our built environment and our natural one. I love to combine memories of architectural details with botanical elements, to create vibrant versions of the world. "

The physical space is equally important too, bright with natural light, good ventilation and a calm atmosphere, a space dedicated to working and creativity.  

I think artists’ studios are fascinating, they are physical spaces that inherently give such an insight into our creative practice. Aside from the artworks and photographs, my favourite objects in the studio would have to be my wooden Ercol chair, and vintage blue vase which were both my grandma’s and hold great sentimental value to me. The chair isn’t always the most practical object in terms of comfort, but luckily for me I don’t sit still for that long. I’m often stood at the easel, or working on the floor or walls too! The blue patterned vase is often filled  with flowers, currently a large orchid that provides endless inspiration. 

Summer is my favourite season, filled with long swims in the lochs, the scent of BBQs and summer foliage in bloom. The season is fleeting here; a few days of glorious sunshine but otherwise it is usually a little cloudy and grey. Summer gatherings for me are gingham tablecloths, crisp white wine and dusky balmy evenings with great company.  

Ranunculus are my favourite flower, the array of colours and the layered forms are so beautiful and delicate. I also love cow parsley, it’s so delicate and fern-like. These grow wild around my parents’ home, and I think one of the reasons I love them so much is that they remind me of home.

I have a duet show in Seoul throughout the summer. Later in the year, I will see myself exhibit in New York and London, so lots of exciting and challenging projects ahead. 

Take a dip into the cool blues of Kate’s work

Discover a vivid summer collection of fresh flowers at The Floristry, each made to order by our florist team and available for flower delivery in Hong Kong.