From American Art Collector • November 2006
Kathrine Lemke Waste finds a beauty in common, ordinary objects that other people may just pass by without noticing. Her watercolors, done in a tight, hyper-realistic style, focus in on these objects in order to bring out a sense of narrative and history.
“I’m doing these in a larger format than ever for this next exhibition,” says Lemke Waste. “I’ve had a shift in perspective and these new works make me feel like I’ve really moved into a good place. I’m just looking at things more closely and want to see things other people see.”
For Lemke Waste, this new focus would not be complete without a narrative strain running through each of the images.
“Each of my paintings is the end result of a journey that both begins and ends with a story,” says Lemke Waste. “The first is the personal story or voice I bring to the object I’m painting and the last is the narrative the viewer associates with the finished work.”
The Gallery says…
“What makes Kathrine Lemke Waste’s watercolors so distinctive is her sense of reflection and perfection. She reflects upon objects from her generation and uses the reflection of light as her hallmark. In an unforgiving medium, her sense of color is perfect and her edges all well defined; true marks of a master watercolorist.”
– Clark David Olson, Owner, Bonner David Gallery
CANDY, Watercolor, 17¾” x 36″
Photo narrative: The artist says: My sweet tooth. Collectors will appreciate the contrast between the electric, artificial color of salt water taffy in a cooled environment as seen through opaque wax paper wrappers.
POP CULTURE, Watercolor, 17½” x 26″
Photo narrative: The artist says: It was 110 degrees outside when I painted this – I think I was thirsty! Collectors will appreciate the technical challenges of light bouncing off of, and reflecting through, clear glass.
This narrative is designed to allow viewers to bring their own stories and experiences to the work and, in doing so, strengthen their own connection to the painting.
“I want them to think, “My grandmother had that iron. I grew up with that very same toaster. We had a coffeepot just like that, “” says Lemke Waste. “The most important thing is that people respond to them and bring their own history, own past and own stories.”
The objects in Lemke Waste’s watercolors are also chosen quite carefully. Most have a historical popular culture appeal to them and span the whole range of Americana from baseballs and salt water taffy to Wonderbread wrappers, vintage toasters and soda pop bottles.
“I paint my objects in a bright, straightforward way following – and am indebted to – a long traditional of realist painters like Wayne Thiebaud and Janet Fish,” says Lemke Waste. “Patterns of light that dance on a reflective surface are an important part of my work and provide a way to take the viewer’s eye from one end of the painting to the other.”
Lemke Waste works very hard on the technical aspect of these paintings, which is intensified even more than usual by her use of watercolor. To her, it is important that the paintings are technically well-executed and she shows proper respect for the medium.
“Old assumptions about watercolor just don’t hold true anymore,” says Lemke Waste, “thanks to technological advances in the chemistry and permanence of the pigments used in the paint.”
Another aspect of the medium that Lemke Waste finds intriguing is the effect that happens when light travels through the work and reflects against the surface. This gives the painting the vibrancy and radiance that is needed to properly convey the bright colors and reflective surfaces of the objects rendered in the work.
“I’m drawn to the inherent luminosity of the finished painting,” says Lemke Waste. “As light passes through transparent layers of color to reflect the white of the paper as it bounces back toward the eye. Watercolor has a mind of its own; it’s alive, it moves, it is a force of nature.”