Local Artist Kathy Buist On Her Artistic Process And Upcoming Exhibit
By Elisabeth Brigham | June 26, 2021
Abstract oil painter and local Hamptonite Kathy Buist talks inspiration, the artistic process and her upcoming exhibit at Galerie d’Orsay.
Taking a note from nature, Kathy Buist has dedicated her life to capturing the beauty that surrounds us all. Mostly done in oil, her paintings embody Earth’s elements and transform small moments of light. Her art has won her praise from The New York Times and has been showcased in various museums and galleries around the country, including the Parrish Art Museum, the National Woman’s Museum, Andrews Museum and the Long Island Art Museum. Her newest exhibit will soon be on display at Galerie d’Orsay in Boston from June to July and will be showcased Labor Day weekend at the Hamptons Fine Art Fair.
What inspired you to become an artist?
I’ve had this desire to paint from as early as I can remember. My mom was a ‘Sunday artist,’ a very talented woman—and she was essential in my becoming an artist. When I was 11 years old, she got me my first oil painting set in a wooden box. I still have it. She sat with me and took me through it, showing me how to mix colors. When I was very young, she just let me go crazy.
Where do you draw your inspiration from now?
Outside! I mean, here especially in East Hampton—it’s so rich. I’ve been painting out here in the Hamptons since the early ‘90s, and it’s always been such a source of inspiration. I look outside in the morning and walk around; I go to the beach. It’s so intensely beautiful. There’s a quote by Monet I once read that was so impactful to me: ‘Other painters paint a bridge, a house, a boat. I want to paint the air that surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat—the beauty of the light in which they exist.’
What makes your process and approach unique compared to other artists?
What strikes me is that you might think some of my paintings are very immediate—and they are—but it takes so much time to allow that immediacy. Again, it’s capturing that essence of the moment. I can work and work and work on a painting; some take years to do. There’s a great film called The Mystery of Picasso, and you see him working through glass, all beautiful shapes and figures. And you think, ‘Stop, stop, stop!’ But he keeps going! It’s that sense of exploration that I connect with; that’s the fun part. It’s also the challenge.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest collection on view at Galerie d’Orsay?
The title of the exhibition is One Sky, and I connected with the sense of the unity that comes from it. And not just because I paint skies—but more because that feeling of unity is so important today. There’s also the more literal meaning: People are coming together now that things are opening. It’s a whole new world. Gustavo Torres [the sculptor being paired with Buist this summer at Galerie d’Orsay] is from Guadalajara, Mexico, and I’m from the United States, a small farm town in Michigan. One of the things that connects all of us is that we share the same sky. There’s this overarching connection. And the sky is just an infinite source of inspiration for me.
What is something you want your art to communicate to your viewers?
The essence of peace and calm. And maybe even, in some paintings from this collection, an energy and excitement about what’s to come. Now that the world around us is opening, there’s so much excitement about what the future holds.
What is something you discovered through your career that surprised you?
There’s an expectation on oneself to constantly come up with a surprise. I think that it’s the idea that you don’t want to stay in one place, that you want to constantly move. And in the exploration, you don’t always want to come up with the same answer. You want to expand beyond yourself. Maybe that’s why some paintings take a long time to create—because you don’t know what that painting is going to tell you it needs.
What can you tell us about any new collections or upcoming projects that you’re working on?
I have one project I’m developing in my head... but I can’t tell you about it just yet. It has to do with the breeze, with air. That’s my hint. I can’t give it away too soon because I am exploring it myself. Artistic creation is always a process of discovery...
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