Watercolour is a delicate and subtle medium, as fluid and unpredictable as the water that constitutes it. Katie Meuser swims in it effortlessly, using paper and water to create evocative and revelatory landscapes. Powerful in their indeterminacy.
Katie’s painting style can be defined as Abstract Expressionism: the non-figurative component of her landscape paintings blends with the emotional charge of her memories. Growing up in Nebraska, nature and wildlife always inspired her. However, her representation of the landscape is never literal; her aim is not to show viewers what they can already see in nature but to draw them away, awakening their subjectivity and emotional side. The series of watercolours Sojourned: Lost In Thought that she selected for this issue tells of a physical, sensory, and mental landscape: Costa Rica. During an art residency, Katie explored its sceneries, capturing its lushness, bright colours and energy. She pours that into her artworks, which do not show us a photographic and objective Costa Rica, but the feelings it can create in the observer. In her watercolours, two landscapes overlap: the en-plein-air landscape and one of the subjective emotions felt there.
Katie’s technique is also functional to the emotional flow she wants to suggest. She mainly uses watercolour, acrylic, and ink as materials. She defines her painting method free-flowing technique, a process she developed during university and no longer abandoned. In her watercolours, she used a wet-on-wet style, painting different layers of colour to obtain varied shades, transparencies, and textures. Water becomes a fundamental material for Katie’s art practice: through water, she does not create perfect outlines but flexible, fluid, mutable forms.
Katie’s approach to the subject of landscape owes much to her favourite painters, including Francis Bacon, for the raw and emotional use of colours, and the English Romantic painter Joseph Mallord William Turner, with whom she shares a love for intensity. Like Turner, her painting does not seek to render natural and atmospheric phenomena analytically. Everything passes through the lens of her feelings and emerges transformed. Turner once wrote in a letter Indistinctness is my forte, a statement that also perfectly fits with Katie’s style.
In addition, her paintings also recall certain aspects of German expressionism, particularly in Franz Marc’s landscapes, which are certainly more figurative, but with the same symbolic, powerful, even anti-naturalistic use of colour; and Helen Frankenthaler’s abstract landscapes, created with the free soak-stain technique.
Katie Meuser completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2009. Her large-scale abstract-expressionist paintings have been exhibited in shows and festivals in Chicago, Seoul, and will go even further. Through her unique process of depicting the landscape, she makes viewers truly feel her artworks, not just see them.
Kate Meuser is the Bronze Artist of the ArtAscent Landscapes call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Landscapes issue.