Featured Artist: Kate Lightfoot
I wanted to start sharing some words of wonder from people other than myself on The Visual Female. I decided that to kick it off I would do a special segment that allows an artist to showcase their creative process. I had the pleasure of getting in touch with Kate Lightfoot – what follows are her own words about her craft and how she arrived at these two pieces.
I’m a self-taught Aussie artist who lives in a quiet Melbourne town-house with my lovely boyfriend and two demanding cats. I’ve always drawn – as a kid I’d sit in front of the TV with the family and just draw for hours. There are so many movies that I know the audio for, but have never actually seen!
I like to work in pencil as I have absolutely no patience and I hate waiting for paint to dry. Ink is also great fun (and quick drying!) – it has a mind of its own and I love the surprise results you can get from it.
I draw flirty, quirky girls. I love their curves, their huge eyes, bright colours and big hair. They’re purposely pretty and light-hearted. I have no interest in creating deep and meaningful messages. Turn on the news or look at the front page of the paper and there’s so many horrible things going on in the world – I just want to make something to counteract all that. Something that simply makes people happy.
Lowbrow art is my absolute passion – I trawl through lowbrow sites and pour over magazines trying to find artists I haven’t seen before. It’s always a thrill to come across a new name and discover a new style. I taught myself how to draw by studying Mark Ryden, Joe Sorren and Audrey Kawasaki’s work – trying to figure out how they get the effects they create.
I spend an unhealthy amount of time looking at images of people, flowers, animals, vintage tea sets and eventually a few of those images feel right for a piece of art. I use multiple references, so my art never looks entirely like something that already exists. In this case I was obsessed with flowers!
I start with a pencil outline – the neater the better. I’m quite obsessed with finding the right lines and capturing as much detail as feels right. I possibly should be working with values instead of lines, but there’s something about lines that attracts me.
In this case of ‘Dorothea’ I went with ink and watercolour to start with. If I’m using ink for the hair I do that first. There’s no point in continuing if I stuff up this bit! Once that turns out OK, I’ll lay down a bed of really soft watercolour and, when it’s dry, I start working in the pencil.
Finished! I gave this one a soft blue pastel haze around the outline of the overall shape. As I said, I like the lines and usually like emphasising the outline in some way. When I draw on coloured board, I surround everything with a white line. In this case I used blue pastel.
I love incorporating natural elements into my work – in this case flowers and a bird. I don’t always use reference for the girl herself, but in this case I really loved this pose and the tilt of her head. Once I’ve got some basic lines down I tend to ignore the reference of a person. My girls’ faces are so distorted the reference only really helps once I start trying to lay in shadows.
This is the first time I’ve started with a full pencil sketch. Usually it’s nothing more than an incredibly rough scrawl before I move onto my good paper. But I was really enjoying working on this sketch.
I started with very pale ink and watercolour, just to give it a base. Then started working on the face with my pencils.
I tend to start with the face and eyes. The eyes in particular are really important to me. If they’re not right, the piece usually goes in the bin and it’s a do-over. I was really happy with the way her face looked – there was something very soft and pretty about her.
It was at this point that the ink and watercolour underpainting seemed like not such a great idea! The blue tones in the hair were a bit too random for my liking. So I started working more heavily over these areas to even it all out.
Oooh, she’s getting close here. This is where I always start worrying about going too far and overworking the piece. But it felt right to keep going. I’d taken a tattoo off her arm here (it was too heavy for the overall look) and the end of her sleeve in this pic is a pale yellow which didn’t work at all. So I changed that to the red that’s in the final piece.
She just needs some final details. I worked on her in short stages – 5 or 10 minutes at the time (and then back for some games of Candy Crush!!). It was great to get away from her and then come back as I could see what needed to be done. It’s hard when you get too close to your work, so these frequent breaks worked really well for me.
Finito! I added some white stitching to her top and had to alter the branches as I stuffed up one of the shadows in her hair. Plus I gave her a redder lippy and some mascara – I always leave that till last.
* Kate Lightfoot’s work is available for sale via the following outlets
To purchase originals visit her Etsy page – https://www.etsy.com/shop/scarlettcat
For delightful prints visit her Redbubble page – http://www.redbubble.com/people/scarlettcat/shop
Kate also runs a very up-to-date Facebook page where you can see her current work as well as purchase originals from her directly. To check that out and give her a like, visit https://www.facebook.com/KateLightfootArt