Emerging Artists | Kathleen Hudson

Otherworldly beauty

Kathleen Hudson, Winding Road, oil, 12 x 16.

Kathleen Hudson, Winding Road, oil, 12 x 16.

This story was featured in the July 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  July 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Some paintings are just meant to be, even in a daunting race against time. Kathleen Hudson knows this well. Before heading to the Plein Air Rockies event last year, she researched potential sites to paint near Estes Park, CO, and chose Timberline Falls. It would require a rigorous alpine hike, but that didn’t deter the artist, who has been painting en plein air since she was a child and who had, during college, led backpacking trips through New Hampshire’s White Mountains. As for waterfalls, Hudson would happily paint them all if she could. One of her favorites is Cumberland Falls, not far from her home in Lexington, KY. “Most falls are in ravines, and many have significant tree cover,” she says. “Timberline is way out in the open and partway up a mountain. It’s the point at which water begins to flow from Sky Pond down to the Loch below. This means it’s in full light for much of the day, and it just glows.”

But on the morning of the plein-air competition, just before dawn, Hudson discovered that the parking lots at the trailheads were full. She’d have to hike 10 miles round-trip—and work speedily at the falls. Upon arriving, Hudson immediately began a detailed reference sketch to capture the glow of the 100-foot cascade in the radiant morning light. Then, in what she describes as a marathon painting session, she completed the final piece. Her hard-won tour de force snagged not just third place in Plein Air Rockies but also the $15,000 grand prize in the annual PleinAir Salon competition this year.

Mountains have always captivated Hudson, and not just as an artist. She studied medieval history and literature at Harvard University and devoted her thesis to their spiritual role in narratives. For Hudson herself, now 30, alpine country offers a quiet refuge. “When you lay aside your lists, tasks, and in this very connected world, your phone, it’s like entering a sanctuary,” she says. “The distractions fall away and you begin to reflect more broadly and notice beauty in subtleties. I remember the joy of introducing college freshmen to that experience. What I do now as a plein-air painter isn’t so different. I try to convey a moment of otherworldly beauty that transports the viewer to that place.” Kim Agricola

representation
www.kathleenbhudson.com

This story was featured in the July 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  July 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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