ARTIST OF THE
MONTH - JANUARY 2002
Kathy Cooney: Abstract Watercolor
by Sydney Francis
when I write an Artist of the Month article, I
find myself interviewing the art and not the artist. This
is not the case in this article about Kathy Cooney. Rather
than talking about the fine points and details of her original
watercolor paintings, we spoke of her family, her art business,
and of her philosophy of how painting is her personal anchor.
1987, Cooney has lived here in Moab. She has been married
for 13 years to Chuck Schildt. Together they have one wonderful
Kathy and Chuck previously owned Moab Mercantile, a retail
business that was located on Main Street. The current Moab
Mercantile is a wholesale business, where Cooney represents
her own images. She currently has eight prints available and
thirty note card images. You have probably seen Cooneys
prints all over town. She has her originals and prints in
Earth Studio, The Hogan Trading Company, Desert Sun Gifts,
Moabilia and Rain Dance. The Toh-Atin Gallery in Durango also
represents her watercolor imagery to larger buyers, like Coldwater
Creek where Cooney sells prints of her original watercolors
in larger volume. To view a full range of Cooneys products
and images go to her website: www.Kathycooney.com. The website
is the best way to find information on where to locate and
purchase her art.
is both an artist and an art wholesaler. She made it clear
to me that these are two distinct modes operandi, as the artist
personality is quite compelled just to paint and create art.
Whereas, the wholesaler must be a savvy business type who
is very knowledgeable of the marketplace, focuses on the sales,
works with the buyer, and represents the images for licensure
and reproduction. It is the wholesaler within Cooney that
supports the time and freedom for her to be the artist. This
last few years is her first attempt to experiment with art
as her job, in the past she has always has another means of
employment to support her art. Cooney originally trained herself
in technical illustration using pencil. Realism, however,
was not her desired direction, but it helped her establish
credibility as an artist. In contract, she describes her watercolors
as moderately abstract. Her current work reflects a range
of images inspired by the local environment. She has a range
of painterly landscapes, some southwestern kokopelli images,
rock art type representations, and then her recent flower
series. Her approach to landscape painting is summarized most
clearly on her website the rocks, mountains, water
and trees are not separate entities, but instead all connected
to the same heart of the scene.
most recent flower paintings are vibrant compositions of desert
flowers, using a balance of warm and cool colors. Her images
are joyous, vivacious, and extroverted, much like my impression
of Cooney from the interview.
Cooney modestly tried to tell me she was not involved in the
Moab community. But I came to find out she is very active
with local students doing a variety of artistic projects.
For the past six years, she has done art with Charlies
school class. In addition, she has been working with students
to decorate the Extended Care Facility for its patients, which
has the effect of inspiring both the students and the patients.
She was also recently instrumental in the Got Water
project where the students contributed their original art
to make a poster to educate the public on carrying enough
water with them in the desert.
In conclusion, I would like to share with the reader one profound
concept Cooney expressed to me. We were speaking of teaching
art to children, and she told me that introducingkids to different
modes of creativity is what gave them access to a gift that
allows them to have something internal to rely upon in life.
used the metaphor of a timmy-tommy cup, which
is a cup with a rounded bottom and a weight inside of it.
No matter how hard you push the cup in every direction, it
will not fall over. It is anchored by the weight in the bottom.
Art making for Cooney is the weight in the bottom of the cup.
Her work at the school with students is, in part, an opportunity
for Cooney to help kids find their own inner anchor. She shows
them this by example. And it need not be through art that
a person finds this within him or herself.
Our interview was so fun and uplifting, I had no problem comprehending
what she meant with the metaphor of the timmy-tommy
cup. I left the interview with a sense of balance and
excitement. And I found myself inspired to further develop
my own inner timmy-tommy weight.