Mad skillz

Posted on January 23rd, 2010 6 great comments. Room for one more!

katrina schaman, painter, artist, local, toronto, city, life

What’s the shortest distance between two points?

“How would you answer that?”

What a good sport.

Katrina waited for me for probably, oh I dunno, forty-five minutes at a Starbucks location that repeatedly failed to register in my mind. Oh no, she said it quite clearly, it just seemed to ooze right out of my ear the moment I heard it.

I spent about thirty minutes waiting at a nearby location and then, after a brief phone conversation, hastily made my way to another completely incorrect one. Sheepishly, I repeated this process once more. Not that that helped any. I thought better of re-confirming at the third wrong coffee shop I’d hit, choosing instead to try my memory. It’d been a while.

But, as I mentioned, Katrina’s a good sport. I found her at the back of Starbucks with nary a sign that the effrontery she’d just been subjected to had affected her. Just a nice smile and a warm handshake.

Destiny: bitch or what?

“I flip-flop whether or not I believe in destiny. Some days it feels like there’s not and then other times it feels like it had to be destiny. [I lean toward] making your own destiny, I don’t think things just happen.”

I pulled out my little digital audio recorder and asked if she was okay with it. I had to hope she was, you know, given the track record up until then. Without that little wonderful device, I wouldn’t be able to write what you’re reading now. It’d be something more like: yeah, so I met this local artist name, urm, Cat — something. Except not spelled that way, I think. Oh yeah, and she’s a shaman.

But thanks to modern gadgetry, I can actually call myself a liar on the spot. “Katrina” would’ve been close, but the “Schaman” part is the family name, and pronounced shaw-mn besides. And I got the distinct impression that Katrina’s folks are most likely not practicing shamans either, despite all appearances.

Jesus Christ, overrated?

“I would have to say no, or my mother would murder me. I’ll say underrated.”

I’m referring to Katrina’s art, of course; it’s wholly organic in the same way that a peyote button is (though I think the word psychedelic doesn’t do the work  justice). Deeper into the conversation, Katrina explained to me how her consciousness intrudes onto the canvas in a way that can be disastrous.

“One decision can ruin the entire painting.” When the painting starts with a predefined form, she says, it runs the risk of becoming stale. But when it starts with some abstract swooping arcs, a more dynamic (yet oddly recognizable) image emerges naturally. And those are my words — “I start off abstract…”, are hers. “I used to take a piece of paper, draw exactly what I wanted to paint, and then I’d transfer that drawing onto the painting. It was almost like a paint-by-number at that point … it got really stressful.”

katrina schaman, painting, canvas, unreleased, acrylic, art, local, toronto, city, life

I studied design exactly 0 years. I mean, I’ve read some library books and pored over the pretty pictures, so I kinda feel I know what looks good, but I couldn’t tell you much more than that. But I was pretty sure that Katrina’s paintings weren’t done by an amateur, for whatever that’s worth. The lines are bold and sure, and it doesn’t feel like a square inch of canvas is wasted.

Fashion is for people who don’t know anything about technology. Discuss.

“I wouldn’t say that’s true. In certain ways, technology is fashion; or technology is the fashion for people who don’t like typical fashion.”

And I was right! Katrina had studied fine art at Queen’s. And in case you were thinking her some bohemian layabout with an education, I ask you to consider how readily she made a side journey to digital with Adobe Flash (I guess you already know how I feel about that), and web design – both pretty technically inclined. She’s also produced a number of other pieces, most notably a vibrant children’s book that incorporates her paintings as fills for the illustrations. I know she’s proud of it, but I think it’s fair to say that for Katrina, painting’s really where it’s at.

The choice of the acrylic medium is a mostly practical choice. As Katrina aptly explains, “I can paint a layer, go to the washroom , make a sandwich, come back, and it’s completely dry.” With oil, that wouldn’t be possible. Hard to argue with. And the size of the canvas, that’s mostly market-driven. She and I both agree that we’d rather have giant spectacles on our walls, but at a minimum of thirty-six hours at the canvas, smaller seems to be the going trend.

If you had a hammer, what would you do with it?

“I’d probably break all the junk in my house that I needed to throw out but that was too big to fit into the garbage chute.”

In retrospect I feel kinda funny about asking Katrina about her inspirations; it’s a little like asking who she’s trying to emulate. But luckily we never had to broach that subject as she gently walked around the who of the question: “Generally, if I see something that I like the colours of, or I’ll see something I like the composition of, I’ll try to work that into a painting.”

Yup, she came across a smart cookie. And even though I kept her waiting for that long, and despite running on only a few hours of sleep, she was a still a gracious question-answerer. And, again, take it for what it’s worth but I happen to think she has mad skillz.

A few of her pieces are exemplifying how living spaces could look at the Interior Design Show, and she also has a few tentative dates at various galleries around town (I’ll post details when I get ’em). But if you can’t make it or, like me, are surgically attached to your couch, there’s always Katrina’s web site. Even if you can’t quite see what she sees on the canvas, chances are good that you’ll enjoy what you’re looking at.

6 Comments on “ Mad skillz ”

  • Renee
    January 25th, 2010 8:24 am

    Thanks for that interview. Always nice to read about great local talent. :) Wishing much success to Katrina in all her current and future endeavors.


    Read more from Renee at:
  • Patrick
    January 26th, 2010 7:50 am

    I hope to do more like it, Renee. And I'm sure Katrina thanks you.


  • Kato
    January 25th, 2010 12:43 pm

    I love that painting!

    Great interview/ post!


    Read more from Kato at: http://www.pandorahsbox.blogspot.com
  • Patrick
    January 26th, 2010 7:51 am

    Thanks, Kato. I think the painting's pretty cool too — I'd definitely hang it on my wall.


  • stanya
    January 27th, 2010 12:08 pm

    I like Katrina's sense for colour combination. The lines are beautifuly laid into intricking design and colour combination makes it feel calming and thrilling at ones. I haven't seen the other paintings but what I've seen is beauiful.

    And again I just love what you wrote Patrick, the interview was well done as all your writings.


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  • Patrick
    January 27th, 2010 4:19 pm

    Well thank you, Stanya. I like Katrina’s paintings for exactly the same reason :)


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