Artist Statement — Katherine Orr


What captures my eye more than the visible world 

Is the unseen, unheard, but somehow still there, world.

The spaces between words,

The quiet mid-storm, 

The corner before turning.

Blank paper,

Empty places,

The painting 

Before the painting. 

I started painting birds in the last few years -- they just started to appear in my creative dreams, demanding to take flight, as it were, in my painting.  Birds bring messages to us and for us, if we listen ... and look with more than our eyes.  

I especially love everyday backyard birds -- chickadees, cardinals, robins, sparrows, wrens ... and the small shore birds seen on ocean vacations.  But I think that birds also remind me of my childhood, and my grandmother who loved to feed and watch small birds. 

One of my art teachers told me I was a “water woman,” and in truth, I love water-based media -- especially watercolors and ink.  I feel the ebb and flow, the balance of control and serendipity are central to my work.  And when I paint in acrylics and oils, I approach it from the water world, so there is always transparency and liquidity.  Nothing is static.

I discovered broux de noix, literally walnut stain made from crushed walnuts, in France.  I love using it in a variety of my work, but especially ink and watercolors.  Merci to my French art teacher for introducing me to the magic of broux de noix!  It comes in liquid form (commonly sold in French hardware stores to refinish furniture) and also in crystals or powder for mixing with water to varying strengths -- which is much more difficult to find.  

Ask me about my great adventures hunting a quantity of broux de noix poudre in Paris, I am sure the shopkeeper is still talking about l’Americaine who wanted to buy this ordinary, extraordinary stuff.