“Painting is just something I have to do”

“Painting is just something I have to do”

“I make art because I couldn’t not be making art,” says painter Katie Whitbread. “Creativity underpins everything that I do and feel, and always has done. “I get inspired by what is around me – flowers, plants and trees in my garden, landscapes I have visited. I get tremendous joy from colour in particular.”

“For me it’s a very personal journey. I’m very driven, and for me painting is just something I have to do. Sometimes if I can’t paint for a day or two I get really fractious. It’s almost like a feeling of relief and total engagement and enjoyment in what I am doing.”

“That’s not to say that I don’t find it very challenging at times,” she says. In her previous life she worked from the late 70s to 2000 as a set designer at London Weekend Television which was an exciting fast-paced time. It helped her to develop her sense of colour, planning and space which was great, but it also had its downside. “Although there was a lot of creativity in the jobs that I did, working to a brief to fulfil other peoples’ requirements can become oppressive.”

Following this, she trained as a psychodynamic counsellor, did teacher training and taught art for fifteen years – including specialising in working with students with social and communication difficulties including autism. This was tremendously rewarding, but the urge to create work for herself was always there.

“I am still very much experimenting, finding my way as a painter,” she says. “It’s taken me – is taking me – a long time to find my own way of doing what I want to do for myself. I feel very much that I’m on a learning curve with it.”






“Now I enjoy not planning, so there is more of an element of risk in what I paint. For example, if I’m doing a still life, like a flower, then I don’t do any planning – I just set the flowers up. I’ll often make a bit of a mess on the canvas before I start – I don’t like working on plain white – and recently I experimented with painting the canvas a very bright pink first, then using a colour like yellow ochre and a medium sized brush I will just map out very loosely how I want it to work. And then I push on from there.”

“My recent work has been quite a lot bolder, informed by a course I did earlier in the year which was painting outside in the elements, which I absolutely loved. I’ve have had a lifetime of doing work that people wanted me to do but now I’m doing work for myself!”


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