Hello folks! We are excited to launch a new artist interview series today. Our goal with this series is to provide a platform for artists to share their process, advice, and inspiration in their own words. We recently interviewed Kat Brandao, a self-taught artist who lives in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more about her below, and get the added bonus of a Fall recipe!
Uncommon Canvas: When did you start making art?
Kat: I started making art about seven years ago. In my first attempt at painting I thought I was going to paint a poem, then I quickly fell in love with colors which led me to try abstract paintings. Once I started, I was hooked.
Uncommon Canvas: What are your favorite materials to use?
Kat: I really enjoy experimenting with different materials. I use acrylic as my base and I like to incorporate wax crayons, painting markers, charcoal, graffiti, and anything I can get my hands on, really. I also like to try using different materials for mark making. For example, I have used leaves and wood that I’ve found during hikes in some of my paintings. I’ve also used the plastic wrap covering my canvases as an art tool.
Uncommon Canvas: What inspires you when making art?
Kat: I find inspiration in everyday events where emotions are present; some examples are my walks in nature, my interactions with others, my dreams and my reality. Seeing, listening to, and making art in other forms also informs and supports my painting process. I find baking very inspiring, as an art and a connection with my grandmother, who taught me how to bake.
Uncommon Canvas: This is not art-related but…do you have a favorite baking recipe? As Fall weather gets chillier (and things get weirder out there), baking seems like it can provide us with some comfort.
Kat: My favorite bakes in the fall are anything that involves roots and pumpkins! Also bread, anytime. One of my favorite recipes are these vegan pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, they are easy and so flavorful, and get even better the next day.
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup oil1 cup sugar
1/4 cup plant based milk (I like oat or almond)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. 2. In a medium bowl, stir together pumpkin, oil, sugar, plant-based milk, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt. Stir together with a fork—don’t use a handheld mixer, as it will make the batter gummy. Once well combined, fold in the chocolate chips. 3. Fill liners two-thirds full. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let fully cool.
Uncommon Canvas: Sounds delicious, thanks! Are there any particular artists that you are inspired by?
Kat: Frida Kahlo’s work and life had a big influence on me. The way she transported her emotions into her work and her commitment to portray her reality in a vulnerable and raw way are such inspirations to me as an artist. Salvador Dali’s work also has had a big impact on me; all the intricacies and details in his work are full of meaning from his own life and struggles, and how he navigated his reality and fantasy world together in his paintings are very fascinating. I also love Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work—the vibrancy, the playfulness, the call for social awareness, all interconnected into the strength that you feel when you look at it. I have many others, but one artist that I am currently fascinated with is Anna Zemánková (who I discovered on your blog). The subtlety and dreamy quality of her exquisite flower creations have a sensibility that impressed me, which can be understood when you read about the challenges she, like Frida, experienced in her own life.
Uncommon Canvas: How has the pandemic impacted you as an artist?
Kat: Quarantining has helped me focus on what is important in my life: my children, my friends, and my connections and interactions with others. I became even more aware of how enriching these are—emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. I also feel like isolating has collectively helped all of us to look inward and at the same time realize our interconnectedness.
Uncommon Canvas: What advice can you offer to other self-taught artists/artists?
Kat: I’m not sure I am in a position to give any advice, but what I hear very often from artists who with a formal art education is that it has led to many restrictions and less freedom in the art making process. To me, that has been positively reaffirming as a self-taught artist.
Uncommon Canvas: Do you have any advice for other parents who are artists?
Kat: My art career started after my kids were already grown. Had I been painting when they were little, I would have exposed them more to playing with paint and making art for the fun of it. I think art taught in schools is usually so focused on the final result that students might be missing the opportunity to connect with the most powerful part of art—the process—and how it can transform our emotions. I try to make up the lost art time with my kids by bringing them to art exhibits, museums, and any artistic forms I have the opportunity to.
Thank you, Kat! It was a pleasure getting to know you. If interested in purchasing or learning more about her work, please visit Kat’s website: katbrandao.com. Take care!
Image credits (top to bottom): ©Kat Brandao
#1 Rebirth, 12×12 inches, mixed media on wood panel (2020)
#2 Subconscious, 12×12 inches mixed media on wood panel (2020)
#3 Vivid Dreams, 12×12 inches mixed media on wood panel (2020)
Please note that all images are copyright © of the individual artists and used on this blog for educational purposes. Selling, printing, or repurposing artwork without an artist’s permission is not nice or permitted.