FOR THE LOVE OF COLOUR

If you’re like us, you loved the eye-catching cover of our last edition, Issue 25 of DOWNTOWN Magazine. The talent behind the dreamy, bright artwork is Kate Owen. We loved Kate and her art so much, we invited her back to share her story. So kick back with a cuppa and immerse yourself in the colourful world of Kate Owen. Artist or not, we’re certain she’ll inspire your creative streak.



Much like her artwork, Kate is a breath of fresh air. Humble, lively and radiating the kind of positivity that leaves its mark on you, Kate was a delight to interview. I could have spoken to her all day. It’s the kind of beautiful energy you can also feel in her art. An uplifting vibe running through the colourful, abstract pieces that draws you in and makes you smile. “If I make someone smile with my art, then I’ve done my job,” she says.


Kate’s jobs have always revolved around creating and making people smile. From sewing wedding dresses to baking cakes, she’s a creative through and through. Her job is now painting in her studio, overlooking the family property near North Star in Northern NSW. As Kate describes it, it’s her “purpose-built oasis of peace and positivity”. Take one look at her airy, light-filled studio perched over the lake and it’s easy to see why a day in the office for Kate gives her a sense of freedom and escape from the everyday.


It’s no surprise to learn that art was one of Kate’s strongest subjects at school, although it was a long time before she pursued painting seriously. After school, she studied fashion design at college in Sydney before working in various design, buying and retail jobs for brands including Table Eight, JAG, Big W, Harrods and Harvey Nichols in London. Growing up on her family’s property near Moree, Kate swore she’d never live in the country again – or marry a farmer. Of course, she did both. After marrying her husband Mick in 2000, Kate dabbled in painting for a few months before falling pregnant with their first son. With her growing family of boys, she got distracted from painting, but that didn’t stop Kate from indulging her creative streak. Over the years she owned a mobile gift and catering business, coffee and gift shops, a cake business, supplied health food stores with her homemade wholefood treats and even co-wrote a healthy cookbook called Friendship Food. Kate shares tales of starting businesses with her young family, transporting cakes around the countryside and touring America with her book as though it was no big deal. She never once mentions that it was stressful or that she doubted herself. She just tells it like it is. As though there was never any question that she wouldn’t follow her passions. While it’s obvious there were times she had a lot of balls in the air, it was all a natural progression for Kate who followed her heart. She’s inspirational, to say the least. The backstory might be long, but it helps to give a sense of the creative energy that is Kate Owen. All these experiences lead her to today, where she’s come back to her first creative love. She’s painting for the pure joy of it and it shows. Kate started painting full-time just three years ago when her youngest son headed off to boarding school. She painted in the storage shed for over a year before deciding she wanted to build the studio she works from today. She started posting to Instagram in late 2017 and is now one of the most follow-worthy Australian artists on the platform. For a mesmerising behind-the-scenes look at her process, head to Kate’s Instagram account and watch her saved, timelapse stories. They’re fascinating and you’ll gain a wonderful insight into her layering process and the themes in her work. Kate’s pieces feature botanical shapes, inspired by the lines of nature; leaves, cactus, flowers and the landscape around her. Painted in vivid strokes, awash with colour and movement, her paintings are feminine, yet bold. The kind that adds an uplifting warmth wherever they’re hung.



An uplifting vibe running through the colourful, abstract pieces that draws you in and makes you smile.

“I used to paint exactly what I saw, or from photographs, but I don’t do that now. I paint from my memories. I paint a feeling. It’s all about colour and the impressions of what I see.” Collage is a big part of Kate’s work too. Saving painted scraps of paper as she goes, scribbling and using up excess paint, she keeps all these pieces in a box. Now and then she finds something really “yummy” on a scrap of paper that fits the piece she’s working on perfectly, as though it was meant to be. Kate then speaks about the ‘Golden Thread’ that runs through her work, that she trusts and follows intuitively. “Each painting rolls into the next one – similar but with new elements. The thread follows through from each painting to the next. I go off on tangents and certain colour palettes and you can see that progression through my work.” Heading into her fifth year of painting full-time, following that ‘Golden Thread’ of creativity that runs through everything she does, Kate says she’s now really confident in her style.

“What I do comes from inside. I paint for less stress and more happiness.” And couldn’t we all do with a little bit of that in our lives?


Visit www.kateowenartwork.com.au to view Kate’s latest collections and for stockist information.


{words: Jessica Bradberyphotography: Pip Williams}