As part of the Roger Williams Park Conservancy’s “Art for the People’s Park” campaign we are excited to offer some small, “plein air” art classes this summer. You can read about and register for these classes here on our website. Local artist Kathy Hodge is leading painting and drawing classes in July and she shared more about herself, her art, and the Park, below. Read on!
Hi Kathy! Thank you for leading art classes in the Park. Tell people a little about yourself. How did you end up as an artist in Providence?
“I was born in Providence. My parents met at the Rhode Island School of Design and so, the age of 16 I picked up their oil paints, put aside as their family responsibilities took over, and began my first oil painting. I attended the Community College of RI (CCRI) for two years, and transferred RISD as a sophomore. I finished my BFA degree at Swain School of Design in New Bedford, and returned to live and work in Providence. I now reside in Riverside.”
You have been an artist-in-residence at so many national parks and seashores, like Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Cape Cod. Tell us why you are attracted to those experiences and what you have learned from them?
“I first discovered the National Park Artist-in-Residence Program in 1993 when I applied and was accepted to Rocky Mountain National Park. Since then I discovered many other Parks which offered the programs, and was very fortunate to be accepted 11 times in our National Parks, and twice in National Forests in Alaska. The artist lives and works in the Parks for two weeks to a month. The program allows me to be immersed in the landscape and interact with knowledgeable Park Rangers. Visiting so many diverse environments made me aware of how everything on this planet is connected, and how we need to protect these immense but fragile environments.”
You have worked with the Natural History Museum and Planetarium in the past. What was that like?
“For the past few years I have led a drawing and painting class in the Museum of Natural History, where we work from the taxidermied specimens. As wild animals seldom stay still, it is a great opportunity to study them close up and in 3 dimensions, seeing details and form not possible by working from photographs. We are hoping to start up the classes again soon, you can email me to be put on the list to be notified of future classes.”
What do you hope people learn from your plein air painting and drawing classes in Roger Williams Park?
“Even if you are most accustomed to working in a studio, painting outdoors is a great exercise in observation of light effects and depth of color not possible in photographs. Time limits encourage one to make every brushstroke count. You may or may not leave with a finished painting, but you will have a greater understanding of the landscape and a fresh impression of your day in the Park.
In the charcoal drawing class, I begin with soft vine charcoal and we work almost sculpturally, pushing around the charcoal and adding lights with our erasers until the form of the landscape takes shape. We then move to using our pencils, from soft to hard, as we build on the foundation we have built and begin to add details. Velvety blacks and painterly effects are possible in Charcoal, and it is a great way to understand the landscape in preparation for painting.”