The Narrative of Art Process with Kate Stewart

The creation of an art work is a process with a beginning but no end.

With this statement in your mind, take a few minutes to study the image below and explore where you eyes and mind take you - without seeking to find a conclusion.

Breakdown in Blue, 2021

Breakdown in Blue, 2021 © Kate Stewart 1

All art commences with a genesis in the mind of its creator - the artist - and from here there is a process that is followed in order to achieve the product that we see and from which the conversations commence.

I want to introduce you to Kate Stewart 2 who has generously agreed to share some of her thoughts and the processes she engages in to create a work of art.

The Water Falls

The Water Falls, 2020 © Kate Stewart1. Ink, spray enamel and nylon thread, fabricated perspex boxes. 1200 x 550 x 30mm. Shown on display at Bayside Gallery for the 'local' exhibition 2020.

Kate works primarily in the mediums of photography, digital media, printmaking and painting.

She states:
I am concerned with the impact technology and screen culture has on our ability to perceive and interact with the physical world. For many years I have been exploring a range of mediums to convey a visual language of noise, static and dissonance. 1

The early development of the creative process journey Kate is on currently can be traced back to her 3D perspex works where Kate created an interaction between two or more layers of images. The three works shown below illustrate an experimentation with an atomised process to achieve a moire effect using a layering of translucent materials.

The shifting registers create a visual clash between two elements by placing one image of half tone dots in front of another.

The Moiré effect is a visual perception that occurs when viewing a set of lines or dots that is superimposed on another set of lines or dots, where the sets differ in relative size, angle, or spacing...producing interesting and beautiful patterns. 3

When I view a painting or a photograph at an exhibition, in a gallery, in a book or through an on-line website I always think it is like looking into a window of a home.

The first level is a visual experience where my eyes and mind combine to be attracted to the image, or repelled, intrigued, or challenged. Do I like it? Is it attractive? Is the colour appealing? Does the composition work? Is it thought provoking? What is the narrative that the artist is intending to convey?

But then, and this doesn't always happen with every image, some images draw me into deeper levels, through the window frame, to explore the artist's mark making 4 and hopefully to get a glimpse of the working of the artist's mind.

Two artists that open the windows of their paintings for me are Frank Bowling and Lee Krasner.

And now I have a third artist to add to my list: Kate Stewart who speaks the same language as these two greats from the world of art.

Kate Stewart at home

Sir Richard Sheridan Franklin Bowling OBE RA (1934 -), known as Frank Bowling, an influential abstract expressionist said: the possibilities of paint are never-ending and it is these words that are ringing in my ears following a long and fascinating conversation I had with Kate Stewart about her concept of what is a painting?

As you view a Kate Stewart work try thinking of the basic elements of art: line, shape, texture, form, space, colour and value. Value refers to the degree of perceivable lightness of tones within an image. This will help you enter the layers within the work and guide you towards a deeper understanding.

Kate’s work is primarily concerned with photography, digital image making and the expanded field of painting. Her practice is informed by photography's complex relationship to painting, the breakdown of 'truth' in images, and in extending the way in which photography can represent the hand of the artist. 1

Recent works

Recent works from the studio, combining print-making with painting and frottage.© Kate Stewart1

Materiality which refers to the choice of materials used by the artist and how this impacts on the work, is a central element of Kate's work as is the processes she employs to engage and challenge the viewer.

The process employed to create a Kate Stewart painting commences with a photographic image, most often of subject matter from nature.

Below is one Kate's latest works which was produced following a complicated process which I explain below. But take a few minutes to let your eyes and mind explore the image.


Eugenesis, 2020. ©Kate Stewart. Acrylic, pastel, varnish on aluminium composite panel.1

Stage Two of the process is for the photograph to be printed in black ink onto an aluminium composite board where the image is digitally manipulated by an atomisation of half-tone dots. This creates an embossed surface.

And from this stage a series of layers are created using (1) acrylic paint, (2) soft pastels, (3) oil paint sprays, (4) oil varnish and (5) finally sealed with an oil based glaze.

Kate is experimenting with a new kind of frottage which is the technique or process of taking a rubbing from an uneven surface to form the basis of a work of art.

The final work of art has a strong painterly quality which challenges the traditional definition of what is a painting. Kate Stewart is challenging us to consider that a painting can be created from a hybrid of mediums.

Breakdown in Red

Breakdown in Red, 2021. ©Kate Stewart 1. Acrylic, pastel, varnish on aluminium composite panel.

Kate explains further:

I’m investigating the expressive potential of the half-tone dot in a series of larger-scale paintings. These works combine oils with pastels and charcoal to develop a new kind of frottage process, where photographic imagery appears as an embossed surface within the painting.

My intention is to complicate the legibility between the mechanical and the handmade, the photograph and the painting. The visual architecture comes from a compressed photographic source, collapsing time and space into the picture plane. I’m interested in Photography’s complex relationship to Painting, the breakdown of ‘truth’ in images and extending the ways in which a photograph can represent the hand of the artist.

Through this process Kate pulls elements in the image forward or pushes others backwards creating a composition that aims to attract the viewer to enter the image. She is not interested in creating something that is easy to decipher but rather to give the viewer a map where they can create their own journey through the image and extract their own sense of meaning and what the image suggests to them.

Now I want you to view and journey through the Kate Stewart painting shown below. Consider how much you have learnt from when you first started to read this post and where you are now placed.

Open up your eyes and mind to a different and exciting way to perceive a work of art.

Breakdwon in Blue and Orange

Breakdown in Blue and Orange, 2020 ©Kate Stewart1. Acrylic, pastel, varnish on aluminium composite panel.

Kate Stewart grew up in country NSW and has lived in London, Sydney and Melbourne where she now resides. After completing a Bachelor of Economics, she worked for many years as a magazine editor, specializing in Architecture and Design and was the recipient of the Adrian Ashton Award for Architectural Journalism. More recently she has completed a Bachelor of Art at the Victorian College of the Arts, where she was awarded the Fiona Myer Award for Painting on graduation.

Check out Kate Stewart's website below.

Kate Stewart Artist | Melbourne | katestewartartist
Based in Melbourne, Kate Stewart is an artist primarily concerned with digital image making, optical art, moire and the expanded field of painting.

You can see some of Kate Stewart's work at the Bayside Gallery from 30 January until 7 March 2021. Her daughter Oleana has also been selected as one of the Year 12 students to exhibit her work.

Now in its third year, Bayside Local is a much-anticipated annual exhibition that celebrates the high calibre of work produced by artists who live and work in the Bayside area. This year we are also including year 11 & 12 VCE students.

Bayside Local launches our 2021 exhibition program with an eclectic and energising array of works that range from traditional landscape painting to experimental abstraction, intriguing photographic portraits and creative and autobiographical film. Come and experience this showcase of our creative local talent. 5

Bayside Gallery: Corner Carpenter and Wilson streets, Brighton (entry on Wilson Street)

Please check with the Bayside Gallery (Ph:92617111 ) before attending the exhibition as Covid-19 might delay the opening.

All works displayed in this post have been done so with the permission of the artist Kate Stewart.

Footnotes and Credits
2. You have seen Kate's home when recently I took you on a walk around the Boyd House in Sandringham which has been restored by Kate and her husband Adam.
3. Mark making is the interaction between the artist and the materials they are using. It provides the viewer of the work with an image of what the artist had done to create the mark, reliving what the artist had done at the time.

A very warm welcome to KAS of Camberwell who has just joined up to the AnArt4Life blog.