Location: Front Royal, Virginia, USA
I really enjoy looking at Kathy Russell’s wonderful digital art. In a world where the internet and phones rule, it’s exciting to see this new art form make a splash in the horse world! The soft, dreamy backgrounds and the sharply defined horses would make any horse lover’s horse look like it galloped out of a their dreams and into reality. Keep up the great work, Kathy!
I grew up in and around Washington DC. I started shooting photos in the early 80’s of hardcore punk bands. I continued with photography over the years, but now my subjects are equines and the birds & wildlife in the mountains where I am now. When I moved to this area, my goal was to get my best shots of every species of bird and mammal that I saw on my property. Though horses seem to have a special place in my heart.
My Spotted Saddle horse has been the subject of so many of my images. I love wandering through the National Park which surrounds my property looking for birds and wildlife. It seems no matter what subject I find and work with, I do always go back to the equines. No other animal has the beauty, grace and strength of a horse.
I have never had any “formal” training in photography. “I’ve always loved painting, but was never very good at it. I would get ideas that never seemed to come out on a canvas. I found my outlet when I learned more of the digital art side of photography. Mixing my images together or layering them with textures and digital brush work. Some images have had over a hundred layers to them. I use a lot of brushwork to blend and combine images together in many instances. Which brings in the love I had for painting. My work does wander to the surreal and whimsical side at times, but always come back to or include the animals.
I’ve never done my work professionally. Dealing with some disabilities I have not taken my work to that step. I love what I do. I become absorbed in each image that I work on. If I don’t feel that wonder of seeing where an image will go right away, it usually turns out a mess. I’ve learned to scratch those and move on to the next. Something usually comes up that will take me back to those photos, to try again. I am always reading and learning from others.
I have been honored to have my images published in a number of magazines, used on the back cover of a Barnes & Noble hardcover book and to win or place in a few worldwide photography contests. -Kathy Russel
TFS: When did you first start creating art? Has it always been a passion of yours?
KR: I’ve always drawn and painted since I can remember. My father painted, we would sit and paint together. He was much better at painting than I was. I have many of his canvases all over the house.
TFS: Can you tell use more about digital art? How did you first get involved in the media?
KR: I think I fell in love with digital art the first time I saw it. I was never very good at painting. I could never get what was in my head to come out on a canvas. Digital art has given me a whole new world to explore. You can take it as far as your imagination will take you. The only classes I’ve taken have been with Sherron Shepard. A fantastic equine artist who has won numerous awards for her work. The more I learn, the more things I try and the more this shapes my own style.
TFS: Do you own any of your own horses? Do you use them as models in your work?
KR: Yes, I have a Spotted Saddle horse who is the model for numerous images. I raised and trained him since he was 8 months old. He is 26 now. We are both retired and he lives at a wonderful horse retirement farm very close to my home. He has some really close buddies and the care there is fantastic. I had a quarter horse years ago. He was perfect. I could do anything on him. He had to be put down at 24. I miss him very much.
What do you find works best for promoting your art?
KR: That is a rather difficult question. I don’t really promote my art. I post it in a number of groups on Facebook and just recently set up a site with Fine Art America. I enjoy entering contests. It is difficult to enter many contests because I don’t do straight photography. I truly do this because I enjoy it.
TFS: Any past/future exhibits?
KR: I just had a couple images accepted by an art gallery in Middleburg, VA. earlier in May. Most of my work is not in a physical form, so any time there is an opportunity to show my work, I must get canvases and prints made. There used to be a shop in town that took in works by local artists. I had a number of pieces there until they closed down. I live in a very small town. Not a lot of outlets for artists here.
TFS: Any wise words for other artists?
KR: I find that there are many artists that try to do things to please others. You have to follow your own heart, find your own style and have fun doing what you do! There is so much fun in seeing where an image will go and if you are thinking about what other people might think, it can be very restricting. One other thing, take in the helpful information. Listen to what people have to say, if it works for you, good! If not, then let it go.
Enjoy what you do! If you love your medium, you want to soak up as much information as possible. The more you learn, I think the further you can take your art.
Thank you for this interview and for letting me share you art with my followers, Kathy! Looking forward to reading about your new art adventures.