Midwestern landscapes in acrylic and soft pastel

Featured Artist Kay Brathol-Hostvet

Glow II, 8” x 12”, Soft pastel by Kay Brathol-Hostvet
Kay Brathol-Hostvet has been painting the Midwestern landscape in acrylic or soft pastel for three decades. Although she had been showing and selling her work for many years, in her mid-thirties she felt the need to “legitimize” herself as an artist. Married with two teens at home, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie and received her BFA in Studio Arts at the age of forty. She credits the stress of that time—balancing her home life, studio and academic studies, and keeping up with gallery work—for her shift towards the emotive. Kay was particularly influenced by the landscapes of George Inness and Martin Johnson Heade whose works transcend the merely pictorial.
One of the galleries that shows her work refers to her pastels as Contemporary Regionalism, a synthesis of the Midwest landscape tradition and personal expression. For several years she’s been interested in the concept of quiet anticipation—an expectant stillness that one feels at certain times. Things are on the brink of change: in a split-second the sun sets, or the wind might pick up, or the clouds will break. Physical space and the transient moment are common threads that suggest an array of universal emotions; the expanse of a landscape can personify sincerity or freedom, or embody loneliness or isolation.
The need to record Wisconsin’s beauty and rich environmental legacy has also motivated her. She is uneasy about our state’s future; the places she knows and loves seem to be under attack. The pastel paintings in her recent solo show, Still, at Artisan Gallery were inspired by locations around the state; a record of what we have—and could lose.
Kay finds soft pastel on archival sandpaper to be the best medium to help her communicate her ideas. She works from a combination of sources: her own photographs, notes taken when on her journeys, and design studies. The photos only act as a catalyst and reminder of form. While the paintings are detailed, they are carefully designed with an intent to capture that sense of quiet anticipation. Impressionistic or energetic mark-making is avoided to maintain the sense of stillness. The colors, shapes, and symbolism tell the story. (continued on page 8)
Brathol-Hostvet is a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America. Her pastel landscapes have been featured in the Dane Arts annual calendar and poster. She regularly teaches workshops in drawing, design, pastel, and acrylic at various art centers throughout Wisconsin and occasionally in Arizona. Her non-representational acrylic paintings have been featured in AcrylicWorks 2: Radical Breakthroughs, published by North Light Books. She is represented by Artisan Gallery in Paoli, WI and Edgewood Orchard Galleries in Fish Creek, WI. To learn more visit her website: www.kaybratholhostvet.com.

Glow II, 8” x 12”, Soft pastel by Kay Brathol-Hostvet Flare, 8” x 12”, Soft pastel by Kay Brathol-Hostvet Ardent, 20” x 28”, Soft pastel by Kay Brathol-Hostvet Vanishing, 18” x 26”, Soft pastel by Kay Brathol-Hostvet Afterglow, 28” x 20”, Soft pastel by Kay Brathol-Hostvet
Willow River Spring, 12” x 8”, Soft pastel by Kay Brathol-Hostvet Goodbye, 4” x 12”, Soft pastel by Kay Brathol-Hostvet
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