By Allen Kinast
Step inside Jody Katopothis’ SE Portland bungalow and it’s clear that you have entered a home where people value the power of art in their everyday lives. Brightly colored original paintings by Katopothis adorn nearly every wall, complemented by several one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture handmade by her husband Matty Sears.
“We love collecting and being surrounded by beautiful things that have been made by hand”.
For Katopothis, making art has been a way of life. “I drew on everything from an early age”. Her more formative art training took place in the early 90’s when she and her husband lived in Wales, UK. There, Katopothis enrolled in a rigorous art program entitled “Access to Art & Design” through the local college.
It was an intensive program; with forty hours a week spent studying art history, and exploring various mediums. Through this course, her desire to paint solidified.
Having started off working in her home studio with oils, she realized her housing situation (think tiny Welsh cottage) simply didn’t allow for their use. This constraint
initially led her to explore watercolors, which would become her main medium for the next 12 years.
“I really came to love how the pigments and the water interacted with each other, and the opportunities this presented,” said Katopothis.
Eventually, Katopothis would turn to her current medium of choice: acrylics. Like oils, acrylics allowed her to build up layers and emphasize textures. Yet, as she has learned to thin acrylics and create unique washes, Katopothis came to see how the medium could achieve the same sort of fluid qualities that she has long enjoyed with her watercolor work.
Katopothis finds she’s still learning subtle new ways to work with acrylics, and this exploration is reflected in her recent work. A typical Katopothis painting hovers between the realm of landscape and pure abstraction. Flashes of imagery dance across the canvas, and while they often offer suggestions as to the artist’s intent, they rarely succumb to more literal interpretations.
There are ongoing themes that Katopothis has explored and reinterpreted over time. One recurring image is an arch-like shape. For years, it has been an integral symbol in her work and originally appeared without Katopothis really knowing why it held so much power for her. Then, a few years ago, she visited the Greek village where her grandfather came from. “We got there, and the arch form seemed to be everywhere we turned. It made me feel strangely at home, and was such a connection to my past.”
The color throughout Katopothis’ work is bright and energetic, evoking the playful whimsy of artists like Klee, Kandinsky, and Miro. Most canvases feature large swatches of intricate decorative flourishes that conjure up comparisons to artists such as Klimt or Hundertwasser.
Katopothis says she enjoys creating painted “habitats, where the energy of the human world and the natural world feed off one another”.
Katopothis is busy making paintings and looking forward to being part of Portland Open Studios again this fall. “I always enjoy meeting the people who visit my studio. Everyone brings their own unique story.” Her work can also be seen at the Portland Art Museum’s Rental Sales Gallery as well as on her website at www.jodykat.com.