Head Shot of Laura Katz“My career has been styling and designing wallpaper and textiles for home furnishings. For 25 years, I had my studio in Manhattan near Gramercy Park. The work was a perfect blend of art and commerce. It gave me the opportunity to work with museums and historical societies doing collections, both licensed and under my own name.

It was not until the late 90’s however, that I began to do Art for Art’s sake. I bought a 100-year-old farmhouse in Woodstock and began studying watercolor at the Woodstock School of Art (WSA). I took to it instinctively and found it to be the ideal medium for painting en plein air as I discovered the beauty of the Hudson Valley. Watercolor was also excellent for capturing locales and moments as I traveled. I studied portraiture and painted people, places and things locally and abroad.

Laura Katz's PaintingAs time went by, I began to feel constrained. Even though my style became looser, I could not get away from representational subjects. Drawing on my archive of historic prints and original designs, I started collaging. Experimentation led to a series that was more personal as I used patterns, ephemera and photographs from my own collections. The focus I had on the interior of rooms during my career, gave voice to a vocabulary evoking mood and feeling. Images projected on backgrounds of wallpaper awakened memories, dreams and reflections as experienced in personal spaces.

Laura Katz FlyerMy musings grew increasingly abstract and I realized that after a lifetime of “coloring inside the lines”, so to speak, I wanted to break out. Studying with Jenny Nelson (at WSA) opened up an entirely different way of working for me. Whereas I had always looked outside of myself for my inspiration, I now found a way to reverse the process. Rather than painting an image I see before me, I’m letting feelings from within emerge. It’s liberating to give shapes, lines and color free reign. They seem to have a dialogue and it’s a process of discovery to move from one area reacting to another until rhythm and composition reach a point of harmony. The canvas becomes layered as I scrape off areas and paint over things so that a history of surface is revealed.

I have not let go of my relationship with wallpaper. I am using fragments and fabrics on my canvas as part of the story. Mixed-media is providing an immediate means of expression. I think I have finally learned to color outside the lines.”

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