Finding My Artistic Style

Hello there

I'm Kathryn McFarlane and I create multi-layered, abstract paintings, using colour as a means of self expression. I use colour intuitively and enjoy taking risks with the juxtaposition and placement of colour. I'm a Scottish artist living and working in Aberdeen. After numerous career changes from Graphic Designer, Scientific Illustrator, Corporate Communications Officer, International Trade Executive, I'm finally doing what I always wanted to do.

Over the last few years I've been creating consistently. I've been exploring various styles and techniques, improving my painting process as I work towards creating paintings that reflect my own unique personal form of expression.

In this blog I will be taking a look at what inspires me, my painting process, the materials and techniques I use and sharing glimpses of new work.


Over the last few months I had been working towards an exhibition with colour as the main theme. Thanks to those who visited the show, purchased a painting and offered lovely words of encouragement and support it was a very successful experience. I’m now looking to refocus on the weeks ahead, but with so many ideas buzzing around my head, it’s easier said than done.

So it was just the right time to take part in artist Alice Sheridan’s Refresh retreat.

There was so much to take away from the retreat, but one thing that caught my attention was the concept of Kaizen, the Japanese word for small continuous improvement over time.

This is something that I can relate to. I’m not in any hurry to reach my final destination. I enjoy the whole process of discovery, letting go of expectations and simply allowing the magic to happen.

This is what makes me look forward to getting back into the studio.


Nevertheless, as I continue down my creative path I’m curious about what’s next. There are a couple of key questions for me to consider, ’What does my art need now?’ and ‘What am I doing about it?’

The easy route is to just continue to do the things that I love doing!

However, by doing this, I may not move my art forward sufficiently or achieve my overall aim.

This, in common with most artists, is to find my own artistic style! Finding a style that is both a distinctive and original way of expressing myself is one of the most challenging aspects of painting. Though I have to admit it is also the most enjoyable.

City That Never Sleeps

Recently, another artist, Nicholas Wilton spoke about the benefits to be gained from two other concepts, ''iteration'' and ''stacking'', which can lead to increasingly varied and successful work. I particularly like the idea of learning from repeating and tweaking things (iteration) and paying attention to what actually works and carrying those elements over into the next painting (stacking). This idea of stacking up the benefits as a painting progresses appeals to me and will hopefully lead to further, stronger pieces.

With each new work I refine my painting process; learning and improving my skills as I try out something different, whether it's a different colour palette, texture or technique. Often when I'm working on one painting I think of other ideas that I'm then keen to try in similarly themed paintings.

This was the case with the painting above, 'The City That Never Sleeps'. Another painting I was working on required substantial editing of the shapes and clear decisions on the organisation of the painting. This was necessary in order to provide rhythm and harmony to the composition. I was keen to continue the selection and simplification process in 'The City That Never Sleeps' to create a strong composition.

However, I'm aware that if I don't work with a clear focus or sense of direction the results can be variable. So as I take a few weeks break, I plan to spend some time considering the next steps in my creative journey. Above all however, I want my work to be true to me, not a set of painting rules.

Bye for now,

Kathryn x

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