In her body of work branded “Fractured Angelics,” local artist Kate Thompson creates angels reminiscent of those on ancient frescos. This summer she taught a fresco-style painting workshop in Orvieto, Italy, home to some of the world’s most impressive holy murals dating back to the 13th century.
But she’s not out to reproduce the masters. Rather, she’s interested in showing the flawed, imperfect side of all heavenly creatures — including those still on earth.
“‘Fractured Angelics’ was created from a verse in a Leonard Cohen song, ‘Anthem,’” she shares. “‘There is a crack/There is a crack in everything/That is how the light comes in.’ My angels have experienced the human condition, and the human condition has broken through the spirit. Where the cracks begin, the two fuse.”
Her artwork, she says, parallels her own spiritual journey. She describes her pieces as expressive, haunting, and deeply personal.
To communicate growth, emotion, and conflict — the essentials of existence —Thompson opts for a mixed-media approach, layering what could be opposing elements. Over a primer of gesso, she combines watercolors, PanPastels, charcoal, and acrylics. “On top of all this goodness, I apply oil bars with a palette knife,” the artist says. “It all works. It really does.”
First, though, she scavenges items such as fabric, lace, and vintage ledger papers to build her fragmented canvases. Then, she stamps, stencils, and paints on top of the multifaceted collage.
She’ll show others how to develop these surfaces — what she calls “yummy substrates” — at an upcoming acrylics workshop, “Wild is the Child,” at Saluda’s Random Arts.
Although Thompson will demonstrate the approach she uses for her angel paintings, in this class, participants will focus on children and animals — subjects that are equally as rich as angels when it comes to opportunities for artistic expression, she notes. (A supply of vintage photographs will prompt narratives for her students’ pieces, and the images can also be used in the finished collages.)
“It’s just a variation on a theme,” she says. “The children and the animals need each other to experience the human condition and the spirit.”
Kate Thompson’s two-day workshop, Wild is the Child, takes place at Random Arts in Saluda (481 Louisiana Ave.) on November 5 and 6, 10am-4pm. $250. See randomartsnow.com or call 828-749-1165 for more information.