Visions from within home…
Artist Kathy Gittens lives amid
the rolling pastures of a Welsh
valley, but the inspiration for her
beautiful paintings comes not
from the views outside but from
things inside her own home, as
Tessa Gates reports
WHILE many women long for a career that takes them out of the house. Kathy Gittens has chosen to pursue hers from inside her home – and is loving every minute of it.
Kathy is a talented artist. She is also a farmers wife and mother of four children aged seven to 14 years. Her husband John farms 728.8ha (1800 acres) with sheep and cattle, and Kathy works in a studio in the farmhouse at Glanafon Farm, Meifod, Powys.
She took an honours degree in illustration at Leeds Polytechnic, graduating in 1981. "I met my farmer when I first started painting and came home and got married," explains Kathy. Throughout marriage and motherhood she kept up what she terms a "skeleton" career illustrating books and designing covers for cassettes and CDs.
When her youngest child, Edward, started school she "came out" seasonally, stepping up the pace of her work and changing direction, creating large decorative pictures of objects found in her own home. Fruits, flowers and foliage in pretty china, on dressers, lace cloths, amid rich toned furnishings, give a detailed glimpse of much loved possessions in a home many of us would aspire to. Her colours are strong, vibrant, and it comes as a surprise to find she works in watercolour.
Her artistic change of direction came about by accident.
"The first paintings were done to enhance my dining room and then I did some for the childrens rooms and people started saying I should sell them," explains Kathy. "I learned what people wanted and started with experience."
For the past year she has worked from 8.30am until 4pm each day as her career has taken off with a vengeance.
A very successful exhibition, which saw her originals – some with £1000 price tags – selling like hot cakes, gave a real boost to her confidence. It also convinced her that the suggestion she made limited edition prints of some of her works, was a good one.
"Deciding to publish is quite a gamble because it costs a lot of money to make prints," explains Kathy. "I had to choose 10 of my pictures* and to make sure I chose the right ones I decided to do my own market research. Anyone and everyone who called at the farmhouse was asked for an opinion."
As she intended to sell the prints at the Royal Show, and the Royal Welsh Show, among other venues, her research group was well targeted. Her own favourite Lemons and Lace is among the pictures chosen, and it is limited to 250 with the signed and numbered un-framed 420 x 550mm (16.5in x 21.7in) prints selling at £75. Smaller prints such as The Missing Page, a study of a jug of flowers beside an open book, cost from £35. All her work is also titled in her native Welsh.
Her husband and children are very supportive and she is full of praise for her mother, who coped with catering for contractors and family while Kathy was away at the agricultural shows.
"I have loads of ideas for another collection. I have to be disciplined and set myself a goal and then I work and work until I achieve it. The thing is I really love painting," says Kathy, and you can see from the excitement in her eyes and her smile, that she really means it.
• Inquiries (01938-500563).
Painting subjects closest to home has brought Kathy Gittins real success and she is currently working on a new collection of vibrant watercolours.