When Katie Allen shares a photo of a small clearing in the Scottish wilderness, the subject of her latest landscape, in truth, it's a touch underwhelming. Across the table, her depiction is anything but.
While the unremarkable woodland setting is instantly recognisable in Katie's landscape painting, it has undergone an evocative transformation. Each element is accentuated by her vivid pattern and tones, still representative of their natural form but as if observed through a kaleidoscopic lens designed to highlight nature's vibrancy.
Given kaleidoscope derives from a Greek phrase meaning 'to view a beautiful form', it's perhaps fitting that while scouting inspiring environments through her camera's viewfinder, Katie is documenting nature's exquisite cyclical patterns. Additionally, seasonal changes challenge her use of colour and secure her art to its inception "at the moment, I'm painting summer, and I wouldn't have any interest to paint a winter painting, I couldn't do it, it would feel wrong".
Furthermore, Katie's obvious empathy for the natural world allows her to immerse those who've become detached from its intrinsic beauty. A prosaic photo from a woodland walk has become a capsule of tranquillity.
Once back in her studio, photos become a sketch composition. They're as if someone was attempting to draw directions to a place you've never been and appear put together in the most time-efficient manner possible. Everything from her latest artwork is present in the sketch, but in the most minimal sense, Katie connects with nature so profoundly she's able to paint its forms freehand.
Despite Katie's art having always been attuned to its environment, it's undergone a metamorphosis, "I'm happy for it to evolve. It's bound to over time. If you look at my work from 20 years ago, it has changed quite a bit". You'd scarcely recognise an extremely minimal all-white plaster relief, though its elegant curves provide an aspect of lineage to its maximal cousins of the present.
"It's a natural process," Katie suggests. Indian architecture proved particularly inspirational, with its "vast palaces made up of tiny intricate gemstones" fueling a fascination with perspective, "I loved that idea of working on a large scale with lots of tiny details".
Alongside architecture, "looking at other artists and what they do" developed Katie's experimentations with micro and macro scales. "It's a bit like how a musician samples. I see something I really like, and I'll transform it into something unique to me," Katie revealed while joking her paint-splattered benches were her "mixing decks".
Alongside acknowledging her artistic influences, Katie was delighted to reveal she plans to visit the Milton Avery exhibition at the Royal Academy. "I've already got my tickets," she beams while explaining he was Mark Rothko's mentor, whose landscape painting proved inspirational for his colour interaction. Katie suggests Avery's abstraction influenced her painting of "tangible" landscapes, which mitigates "the abstract concerns of surface paint, texture and colour".
Describing balancing representational and abstract elements alongside one another ignites Katie's passion further: "When I start off painting, I'm trying to depict a place and its feel, then it becomes all about the surface that I'm trying to create, the colour combinations, shape and pattern, so in that respect it becomes abstract, my work hovers between the two."
Much like in the ecosystems Katie depicts, achieving equilibrium is essential. Her composition ensures each element is in harmony, producing paintings that captivate from any perspective.