Artist Interview: Kate Evans

Alongside her work as a freelance illustrator, Kate Evans has been developing her own fine art practice. As the latest addition to Antlers’ stable of artists, Kate talks us through her Wilderness Series.

Against a white wall, the expanse of negative space in Kate’s paintings seems to extend beyond the limit of the picture, out around the viewer. As context and content become intermingled, the viewer feels at once invited into and excluded from the world of the painting, invoking the sense of ‘isolation and desolation’, which she indentifies in her work. Her intelligent use of colour and composition also allows her to use this space to describe the components of the picture without necessarily delineating them. 

Although her works are watercolours of landscapes, her intricacy of technique and use of negative space mean that they transcend mere representation. Playing on the insubstantiality of the medium, and combining it with the scale and delicacy of her pieces, Kate creates locations that are rich and inviting and yet simultaneously intangible and ephemeral.

Kate Evans - August Farm - AVAILABLE

Kate Evans - August Farm



How did you get involved with Antlers?

I met Jack [Antlers Gallery Director] on the first day I moved to Bristol. I went to Antlers’ first pop up exhibition, “Grotesques’ on Whiteladies Road. Right from the start, I loved the idea of a nomadic gallery and thought it would be an exciting and innovative project to be involved in. I continued to follow Antlers exhibitions and was always really inspired by the work they showed. It was about 2 years later that Jack asked me to produce some cards and prints for Antlers’ Christmas shop. They seemed to be quite popular and he subsequently asked me to exhibit at Battersea Art Fair.


Kate Evans - Greyhouse - AVAILABLE

Kate Evans - Greyhouse


What kinds of things were you working on before?

Before exhibiting at Antlers I was doing mainly freelance illustration for a variety of different clients (including the ‘I’ newspaper, TFL, The Guardian, Sunday Times, Randomhouse, Anthologie Magazine etc) as well as showing the odd painting in galleries. However, in the last year or so I’d started to produce more personal work and was just thinking about approaching some galleries when Jack asked me to exhibit at Antlers.


Your JSA profile has you listed as an ‘illustrator’, would you say that your work for Antlers is a move away from this?

Definitely! Since moving into the studios at Jamaica Street my worked has changed a lot. Being surrounded by fine artists has had a massive impact on the way I work and I’ve slowly made a transition from illustrator to painter.

It’s so liberating being able to draw or paint expressively rather than trying to please an art director. I can choose the subjects that I paint and of course my work is now much more personal. I suppose fine artists seem to receive a lot more respect than illustrators too, which I do feel is unfair.


Kate Evans - Railway Hotel - AVAILABLE

Kate Evans - Railway Hotel


Talk about your process, what steps do you go through when making a piece?

I don’t tend to plan each piece that much beforehand – I work best when the painting is more of an immediate process. For me, the most important part of an image is always the quality of the mark-making and it is often the ‘imperfections’ you get from the spontaneity of painting, which ultimately make the picture work. Although I’ll have an idea of the composition at the start, this will often change as the painting develops. I like to keep a lot of negative space within my work, so compositions that are initially quite complicated in my mind, will often become edited down into simpler, bolder images once they’re down on the paper. The paintings are usually inspired by landscapes or architecture that I find particularly beautiful or emotive. I make lots of sketches and take loads of photos of places I’ve travelled to or visited and I use these as my reference. Although often they aren’t an actual setting but rather an amalgamation of different locations and memories of a place.


Kate Evans in the studio at Jamaica Street Studios, Bristol

Kate Evans in the studio at Jamaica Street Studios, Bristol


Which other artists inspire you?

I’m always inspired by artists whose work has an intriguing atmosphere and is, in a way, quite narrative, as though there’s a story or mystery behind each painting. Artists such as Peter Doig, Karin Mamma Andersson and Andrew Wyeth are particular favourites, and their use of colour is incredible.


Kate Evans - Mountain Cabin - SOLD

Kate Evans - Mountain Cabin


How long have you been working with watercolour? What is it about this medium that you enjoy? 

I always used to use a variety of media within one image- pencil-crayon, collage, felt-tipped pens as well as watercolour – any mixture that would create the desired effect. Mark making and colour are the two most important aspects of my work. I found increasingly that watercolour became the one medium which could create the delicate, layered effect I wanted. I love that it can either be used in a light, subtle way, almost like a pencil mark, or applied quite thickly so that the pigment becomes deep and rich. I also find the way the pigments separate actually quite exciting, it is almost beyond your control. I do feel like watercolour has a reputation for being quite old-fashioned and very traditional and I hope to challenge the way it’s viewed by creating really contemporary pieces. As a medium, it is quite freeing and allows you to work in a more direct way. It forces you to be less precious about your work too. You can’t rub it out or paint over it, so once it’s down on the paper there’s no going back.


Kate Evans - Pine Forest Cabin - SOLD

Kate Evans - Pine Forest Cabin


What is your connection to the kinds of locations and landscapes that you depict in your works?

My paintings are always of places I’ve travelled to or visited. I like the idea of a painting transporting you to another place or time. It’s this feeling of escapism and the fantasy and promise of being in another location that I’m trying to create – not that I don’t love being in Bristol! But I think having grown up in the countryside, I crave space away from the city, which is reflected in my work – a lot of my paintings have a sense of isolation and desolation. Recently I’ve spent a lot of time in the Alps, America and South East Asia and these have all been subjects within my work, but I’m really just trying to create an atmosphere or a window into another world, rather than depict a specific place.


To see more of Kate’s work, see her Artist Page here:


Words by Celia Archer