Katherine Parfet ’66
I grew up in Minnesota, graduating from Summit School in 1966 and Scripps College in Southern California in 1970. I returned to the Midwest where I lived for 22 years with my husband on a farm outside of the Twin Cities. I began my career in the arts in 1972 when I started a needlepoint design business, specializing in custom work for churches, synagogues, government buildings and private clients. I received national recognition for my design line, which is still sold in shops throughout the United States. After retiring in 2000 I turned to painting, with acrylics as my favored medium. Needlepoint design was all inside the box hard edges, very controlled and meticulously painted on a grid pattern. There was no room for spontaneity. Everything had to be planned out ahead of time. So when I started to paint full time that was the one thing I knew I wanted to do -not have a plan, not look at anything as a reference, just paint.
My husband and I moved south in the 1990's and have been living in New Smyrna Beach, Florida for the past eight years. I maintain a studio and small gallery in Northern Wisconsin in the summer months, and share studio space in New Smyrna Beach with three fellow artists the rest of the year.
I want to say that I was extremely fortunate to have had an incredible art teacher at Summit- Jean Gagne. She was a great inspiration - a wonderful abstract artist, an eccentric woman. She taught me about repetition of shapes, color usage, getting your idea down on paper or canvas quickly and following your own vision. And she taught me to have fun while doing it. Spending time in the art studio at Summit was very special.
The acrylic paintings in this show are based on memories I have of growing up in the Midwest, landscapes that represent the farm fields and lakes of the north. What started out as an exercise in loosening up my work turned into a three year project exploring different ways of interpreting the landscape form. My process involved working on three or four paintings at a time, moving quickly from one canvas to the next, purposely leaving out detail in a quest for simplicity.
Working in a series takes you on a journey. The repetition creates a familiarity with the subject, a confidence that then allows you to try different techniques and color combinations that can lead to something fresh, loose and spontaneous.
What keeps me motivated and interested in painting is the idea that when I paint I am creating something that is my own vision. As an artist no one can tell you what to do. I make every decision. Each painting is a puzzle to solve, hard work at times, but totally fulfilling. If it all comes together quickly and effortlessly then that is a gift.