Home Magazine An Interview with a Boundary-Pushing Artist Katherine Liontas-Warren

Katherine Liontas-Warren has worked as an artist for over a decade. Read the interview to discover the story behind her latest artworks.

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Kooness: Tell us about your last collection

Katherine Liontas-Warren: My newest collection of art showcases a series of quill ink drawings depicting the poetic beauty of trees in the winter. These bare trees display their intimate entanglement of branches crossing and overlapping sensual and hard-edged shapes. Symbolically, the trees are metaphors of grief and loneliness. Included in this exhibition are plein air artworks - both oil and watercolors - created from direct observation. An additional collection revolves around self-reflective memory paintings that were created in the studio. These memory paintings are haunting, fleeting, captivating, and calming to the viewer. My intention is for the audience to see a work of art that makes them feel spiritually connected to Nature.

Kooness: What technique do you use to create your artworks?

K LW: The drawings that are in this exhibition were created using quill ink dip pen on handmade paper. The sound of the quill pen moving across the paper gives a sensation that resonates a discovery of tactile drawing. This sound is calming and soothing as the drawing develops into a finished work of art. The handmade paper is a perfect marriage to this type of drawing. The paintings in my show are both oil and watercolors, with a majority created outdoors. I prefer working outdoors as I experience the play of light and temperature of hues changing both slowly and rapidly. Plein air painting is challenging and absolutely rewarding. My memory paintings created in the studio - oil and watercolor - have an entirely different mood and are inventive in light, color, atmosphere, composition, and design.

Katherine Liontas-Warren. Benson's Cacti. Courtesy of 1515 Lincoln Gallery

Kooness: Is there anything in particular that inspires you? Refer to one or more artworks.

K LW: Dance of Winter depicts the poetic beauty of a forest in winter with bare trees displaying a soft entanglement of branches. This ink drawing was created as a plein air, working outdoors in the refreshing cold of the season. I enjoy the ink quality on handmade paper, describing it as a unique and intimate expression of art.

Kooness: Tell us about the evolution of your art. Have you always worked on landscapes?

K LW: The evolution of my art began when I moved to Oklahoma in 1984. The majority of my work was narrative storytelling. I was highly influenced and inspired by American Regional Artists and passionately created drawings and lithographs describing a period of history capturing the heart and style of the Midwest. These drawings and lithographs were metaphorically symbolic to my life experiences in the southwest. In 2000, I changed my style and manner of art making. I adopted a more realistic and less stylized manner and embraced realism through charcoal and watercolor works. Although I love narrative art, I have found pure enjoyment in capturing every stroke of light and color, while seeking out mark making that is intuitive and expressively realistic. Presently my works are seascapes, both imagined and observed, and the southwest terrain of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge located outside of Lawton, Oklahoma.

Katherine Liontas-Warren, Medicine Bluff in the Wichita Mountains. Courtesy of 1515 Lincoln Gallery.

Kooness: What colors do you use and why? Is there a color pattern?

K LW: For plein air oil painting, I use Vasari paints. My color palette is Titanium White, Brilliant Yellow, Permanent Bright Red, Ruby Violet, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green, Burnt Sienna, and Yellow Ochre. I also use the Zorn palette for indoor studio painting. I use this limited selection of colors because I enjoy the process of color theory. My watercolor palette is limited between 8-10 colors. My color pattern is more obvious in watercolors as I leave more negative shapes to imply movement and space within the composition.  

Kooness: How do you navigate the art industry?

K LW: For the past 40 years, I have exhibited my art regionally, nationally, and internationally. As a printmaker, I was able to enter competitive art exhibitions and was invited to display my portfolio prints in university galleries throughout the nation.

Kooness: How does your background influence your art?

K LW: I am first generation Greek and I spent many summers in Greece as a young girl. I was influenced by the perfection found within the art of antiquity at an early age and respected the concept of beauty through the classical Greeks. Today, as a mature artist, I am inspired by the breathtaking seascapes of my birth region of New England as well as the rugged landscapes of my home state of Oklahoma. On a recent trip to Florence, Italy, I discovered the medium of egg tempera. This led to a new experimental technique in my art, the combination of egg tempera with oil glazing as seen in the painting, Crowned By Ancient Waves.

Kooness: How does your work relate to any societal or political matters?

K LW: My artwork does not address societal or political matters. Instead, my art is personal in content. It is filled with metaphors that relate to personal experiences. My art is also a personal reaction to the beauty found in Nature.

Cover Image: Katherine Liontas-Warren. Song of the Wave. Courtesy of 1515 Lincoln Gallery

Written by Kooness

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