In the studio with Kate

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Virginia Woolf wrote: “A woman must have a room of her own if she is to [make art]”. Her actual words were “write fiction” but I think it applies to all creative endeavours: having a dedicated space really makes a difference.

My “room of my own” right now is at the top of the house I share with my partner and our two children in Toronto, Canada. I love my little aerie workspace. It is a multipurpose room and it’s constantly evolving. I made the bunting which hangs on the wall from various fabrics I have designed. Not only is my desk for designing and drawing and painting, but it also serves as a sewing table.  I also have all my fabric and yarn in this room (talk about distracting!),

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please note fabulous thrift store pompom bag and giant needles!

There’s a ton of natural light, especially key for working in colour- I find daylight gives colours such pop and shine and GLOW. Yum. I love colour.

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colour studies i made with origami paper and gouache

But I digress…

The first stop on my studio tour is this:

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the cat also usually falls asleep shortly after the bambino!

once his eyes are closed I skittle up the stairs and get to work as fast as I possibly can!

I mostly sketch and draw on paper first- and write copious notes on little cards (which i later put into sketchbooks). I use tracing paper and graph paper to start working out repeating patterns. I also make colour swatches and groupings in gouache or pencil crayon, also on little cards. I have all my favourite art supplies around me- india ink and drawing inks, pencil crayons, gouache etc. I really like the effect of cut paper- I will often cut rubylith or construction paper to work out forms for a design.

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I like having LOTS of visual material for inspiration and reference. I have been collecting postcards since I was a kid- I have hundreds- from every museum or gallery I have ever been to- and they are in constant rotation. I take TONS of pictures- with the advent of the camera phone it’s kind of gotten out of control. But they are an invaluable source of subject matter, colour inspiration, even pattern form- so I’ve got a gazillion of those lying around and up on the wall too.

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I usually have several sketchbooks on the go at once- one by my bed, one in my bag, one in the kitchen etc. I also have kept most of my sketchbooks from forever and I refer to them quite a bit for ideas. I have also been building a library of books on art and textiles and design for many years and they are a wonderful resource. I use books a lot- much of what I know about repeat pattern design I have learned from books.photo 3              photo

Once I have something on paper, I convert it to a digital image and finish it up on the computer. I usually colour my final design in photoshop or illustrator.  As I go along I print stuff like crazy- to look at from near and far and sketch and re-sketch. I also like to see samples in fabric!

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two fabrics I designed: park and shanghai

I can usually dive into whatever I’m making and work pretty quickly- I’m a fast and focussed worker. This is handy given my time constraints these days! I love being up in my colorful space contemplating colour combinations and hatching new patterns. Time to get back to it… hope you enjoyed my little tour!

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hello from the brrrrrr chilly Canadian winter!

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12 comments on “In the studio with Kate

  1. Iwona on said:

    What a beautiful and inspiring work space. Love the bunting!!

  2. I loved seeing your studio and hearing your process. I see we have many similar books ;)
    Thank goodness for nap time!

    • Thanks Kim! I also noticed the book crossover- such awesome books too! Yes thank goodness for the nap, and for school for the 6 yr old! Not to mention understanding business partners! and supportive partners! Phew!!

  3. I LOVE your studio Kate! I am drawn to the amount of bright colors you surround yourself with! WOW…not that is inspiration! I love how you described your process of developing your patterns. My process is pretty much the same. I love to take my sketch book everywhere with me…you never know when inspiration with strike. Wonderful picture of your sweet baby and kitty! Ahhh…sleeping angels! Can’t wait to see more of your beautiful designs!

    • Thanks so much Holly!!! I am a colour junkie it is true! The sketchbook is indispensible I agree. There’s really nothing like a sleeping baby, sweetness personified! I do love the babies. You are so lucky to have three! Yay kids! Looking forward to seeing more of your great designs too!!!

  4. Beautiful space, Kate! It all looks fantastically happy and that baby doesn’t hurt either! What a great idea for the postcards. Now with washi tape I guess it’s possible to post and pull down at will without damaging them. Looking forward to more!

    • thanks Nicky! Washi tape is a total game changer. Although I also used magnetic stripes and those tiny rare earth super strong magnets for a lot of stuff. i’m looking forward to next week- it’ll be exciting to see what everyone came up with!

      • thanks Nicky! Washi tape is a total game changer. Although I also used magnetic stripes and those tiny rare earth super strong magnets for a lot of stuff. i’m looking forward to next week- it’ll be exciting to see what everyone came up with!

  5. your Baby is adorable, and so is your studio. Love all the colours in there (I’m a big colour maniac too), and the fun bunting you’ve made.

  6. W Brown on said:

    A beautiful and inspiring woman!

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