Kathy McChesney’s advice to young artists is “Open up to what scares you.” That’s exactly what she did on returning to art in 2000 after a more-than-thirty-year hiatus. A native of Southern California, McChesney grew up playing in Santa Monica Canyon in LA, which she describes as “a child’s paradise.” She studied Fine Arts at UC Santa Barbara in the 1960s but stopped creating art shortly after, only to return after years of marriage, jobs and raising children.
When she returned to art making in 2000, she began with watercolors; now, most of her work is mixed media. She paints faces almost exclusively – “Each face has a new voice.” And she spends hours on each painting, capturing what makes each person unique. McChesney works daily in her studio and describes her process as intuitive: “I don’t plan my paintings but rather let them evolve as I get more connected to the subject.” The results are gentle, evocative and soulful.
Writing about her paintings in our current exhibition, McChesney says “The 20/20 show inspired me to look back in time. As a painter of faces, my work for this show was inspired by my family’s visit to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Museum in Washington DC. There, my daughter and granddaughter were able to have their faces digitally inserted into old portraits of these early American women. The resulting contrast was both startling and familiar. A real connection emerged, and I was moved to capture the ethereal effect using collage, mixing old and new materials to capture the sense of passing time.”