Artist Interview - Katherine Liontas-Warren

Who are you and what do you do? 
My name is Katherine Liontas-Warren and I am a Professor of Art at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, where I teach drawing, printmaking and watercolor.   I have a Master of Fine Arts (1983) in Printmaking and Drawing from Texas Tech University and a Bachelor of Science in Studio art (1981) from Southern Connecticut State University. I am an active and professional artist and exhibit my works nationally and regionally.

Why do you do what you do?
My occupation as an artist and teacher is a very rewarding and passionate lifestyle.  I absolutely love my career and feel very fortunate to be surrounded by art students and colleagues who love to create and teach art. I create and teach art because it’s a part of who I am, and I strongly believe that Art is essential for developing critical thinkers in all professions.

How and when did you get into art?
My earliest memories of art began in the late 60’s. As a young child, I copied excessively from the photographs in the Funk and Wagnells encyclopedia. I was determined to render and copy these photographs accurately with great attention to detail.  Eventually, I began to collect objects such as shells, rocks, sticks, and oddities found in nature or junk shops.  These objects became my inspiration for creating surreal images during my undergraduate studies. I also visited the Yale Art Gallery weekly which was quite inspiring to a young artist.  My graduate work focused more on abstract realism, and after graduation, I began to work more with narrative and realistic drawings.

How has your practice changed over time?
My personal experience in teaching has inspired my artistic change and growth. I genuinely believe teaching and creating art is a necessity for me. Both careers have kept me honest and open to learning new methods, techniques, and in the development of new concepts.

What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created? Why?
This is very difficult to answer. I look at each piece as a unique work but eventually the uniqueness is replaced by a newer work of art. So making art is an ongoing process of discoveries that never cease.

What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given?  
My mentors in graduate school, both printmakers, advised me to try and try again, and after that, try again, and when it succeeds, try again.

What’s one art tip/technique you can share with us that you find really helpful? 
Making art is not easy and if you expect it to be easy, you are pursuing the wrong career. Good technique happens after mistakes are made. And once these mistakes are realized, learn from them, and grow.  And remember, you will make more mistakes as you continue on this journey of art making.  It’s a part of creativity and learning.

Do you have any secret tips or techniques you use to salvage a piece when you make a mistake?
My secret tip although it’s not really a secret is to try and try again.  A mistake is a memory that is meant to direct you and to enlighten you. Once you realize the power of a mistake, then the art process of thinking will allow you to search and investigate the work of art from beginning to end. A mistake keeps you humble.

What is your favorite Strathmore paper?
For my beginning drawing classes I prefer the Strathmore 400 Series Drawing, 18 x 24 inches. For my own drawings, I enjoy the Strathmore Toned Tan Sketch paper and the vellum and smooth Bristol Strathmore papers.

What art materials could you not live without?  
I love all my art materials. It’s a disease, a good and healthy one.

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