This little watercolor is of a vine that grows in my garden and is making a comeback after being attacked by a hurricane. It is a 5x7-inch painting, matted to an 8x10 size, signed and ready to frame.
I know many artists, crafters, quilters, designers and digital artists, but few of them can do it all equally well. Kathy Garvey is accomplished in many media, and she moves with ease from one discipline to another with abundant creativity just pouring out of her. Today I am picking her brain.
What famous artists have influenced you?
When I was getting my BA in Art at George Washington U, I loved Picasso, Klee and Beardsley and I think most of my graphics at that time showed that. Later, I became familiar with the magical and marvelous art of James Christensen. I'm not capable of painting like he did, but I did build a costume (the Fishwalker) in his honor. I also loved the polymer clay art of Kathy Amt, Kathleen Dustin and Pier Volkus.
You do such a variety of works. What do you enjoy most?
I'm in my favorite space doodling! That usually happens in my sketchbook. But sometimes when I feel like I've wasted a good piece of watercolor paper or canvas with a poor work of art, I give myself permission to doodle on it and I also really love the freedom of that and the potential for rescuing it. I also enjoy Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. They are incredible tools for any artist and I call all of my time on them "playing."
What is your design process?
I have two processes. One is just pick up something and create with it. It can be polymer clay, fabric, paint, etc. The easiest to pick up is Photoshop and that's almost a daily fun activity to grab a photo or photos and create. My second method is to go to my sketchbook. Anything there is subject to being made up in any media. Frequently that involves creating the idea as brushes and patterns in Adobe Illustrator, taking those into Photoshop for more patterns and textures, and outputting that to a file that can be uploaded to Spoonflower and printed on fabric and sewn into something else.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
Way back in 1980 I was teaching arts and crafts to the elderly and one of the activities they loved was making wire flowers. That's where you twist wire around a pill bottle to make petals, glue the petals to fabric, cut out and assemble. I wanted to make them butterflies to put in their pretty arrangements so I went home and cut some forms out of wood and made them up. They were so popular that I copyrighted them and started making them for shops and florists. Since then, I've made many different kinds of three dimensional butterflies.
Your quilt in honor of the Pulse Nightclub victims is an awesome piece of work. How did you feel while creating it? How did you personalize it?
Thank you. I was listening to that awful news and heard the parents of the youngest victim speaking about her just graduating and ready to be off to college. It was just so incredibly sad and I had this image while I was listening of all these beautiful butterflies flying off together into the night sky. Butterflies have always symbolized the spirit to me and I wanted to learn about each person and make a unique butterfly to represent each. And that was painfully sad. I started on June 15th with the first and youngest victim and read as much as I could about her and then created the 1st butterfly in Illustrator. As I continued this same process in age order, it was doubly sad that many were so young that there was hardly any information. I felt connected to each person as I was drawing. I added the name somewhere in their butterfly before starting the next. I finished the last butterfly in September of that year. It took me about a month to assemble the poster as I had visualized it and get it printed. I then adjusted the design and text for printing to linen-cotton canvas, had it printed at Spoonflower and started quilting it in early 2017. I finished binding the quilt on the first anniversary. I have it hanging in my room and I won't ever forget them.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I was a tape librarian in the early days of computers, taught arts and crafts to the elderly, manufactured butterflies, and worked as an education secretary at Miami Metrozoo. My main career was in software support/training, and technical writing for Harris and several other large corporations. Most fun was teaching Photoshop and Illustrator to commercial companies and at the College of Southern Maryland.
What inspires you?
Nature and other artists, especially the members of The Pieces of 8!
What couldn’t you do without?
The Pieces of 8, my laptop and the Adobe Creative Suite. I use Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and Acrobat almost every day!