Range of emotions
Katy Ann Fox
After painter Katy Ann Fox graduated from art school, she had a choice to make. Would she settle in Reno, where she really liked the landscape and the Truckee River, or in Jackson Hole, Wyoming? The Wyoming landscape blew her away, so she settled on Jackson Hole and moved there in 2012.
“The Tetons were crazy,” she said of the mountain range whose jagged peaks she often paints. Plus, it turned out that Jackson Hole has a couple of conditions that offer solid advantages for someone trying to establish an art career.
“There’s 24 galleries in this town of, like, 9,000,” Fox said—and enough tourists to make for a brisk trade in landscape paintings. She also found that the workforce there is small, so, “It’s a workers’ market. You get to choose. Companies are stoked to hire someone with social skills.” Any time she’s needed an odd job to augment her earnings from paintings, she’s found one easily.
Meanwhile, she did establish a few roots in Reno, exhibiting at Reno Art Blast and Hub Coffee Roasters and making some friends in the art world.
Lately, Fox has been teaching a ceramics class in Jackson Hole and helping seventh graders prep for a medieval faire. “They are making a puppet show,” she said. “They’re making stained glass windows and turning the cafeteria into a medieval castle.”
Despite the forays into different media and community projects, Fox’s approach to painting is pretty traditional. She once went to a plein air painters convention in Las Vegas and was taken with their approach to painting—both the way they paint outdoors and the way they tend to think about things.
“I came to really appreciate how they were looking at something you see every day and trying to put some emotion in that scene,” she said. “Plein air painting is uncomfortable, and it kind of sucks,” she added, sounding as bubbly and amused as if she’d been telling a joke and was on the brink of cracking up. (Fox said that’s normal for her. Among her friends, she said, she has a reputation for finding the silver lining in just about anything.)
She likes the way that dodging wind and sunburn and racing to capture a scene before the light changes can force painters to make quick decisions. She said the practice of working outdoors has made her a better painter. She paints in her studio a lot, too, though, where it’s warmer.
Fox’s subject matter often includes wide valleys, snow-capped mountains and lonely buildings with peeling paint, and her style is a bit impressionistic, a bit realistic, and a bit like that of someone with a tight sense of graphic design. She said she chooses her scenes and subjects based on moments spent in the landscape that she might want to revisit, and that what each one has in common is an element of solitude.
“It’s pleasing colors, and it’s calm mood,” she added. “That’s how I want to spend my life. I want this calm and wonderful feeling.
“There’s beauty in the mundane,” she said. “My everyday life is wonderful, I’m surrounded by beautiful people and these mountains.” That’s the feeling she wants to share with her viewers.