Lindsay Peyton
Ballard artist Katie Anderson has her work on display at the Seattle Art Museum.

Ballard artist Katie Anderson takes off

By Lindsay Peyton

For Ballard resident Katie Anderson, determination is the name of the game – and her hard work is paying off.

In her day job, she stands at the helm of a 12-person team, working as creative director of the marketing department for Group Health.

And when she steps into her studio, she is able to let her talents shine on a whole other level, as a serious artist.

The abstract painter’s recent works are currently on display at the Seattle Art Museum Gallery, as part of a group show entitled “Start Now.”

The exhibit is running through Feb. 1.

Some of her paintings were inspired by a trip to the south of France a couple of years ago. She was there for about two weeks.

“I was just soaking up everything about it,” she said.

The gallery manager Jody Bento said Anderson’s works are primarily an homage to the natural world.

“Her work is very lyrical,” Bento said. “It involves a lot of gestures that present a mysterious element. It’s about being in nature – and not just looking at it.”

She said that Anderson’s work has been well received by visitors to the gallery.

“We have a large clientele here that really like work that’s abstracted from nature, that’s not a straight painting of a landscape, but more of a reinterpretation of that landscape,” Bento said.

She was impressed that Anderson pushed herself to paint larger pieces for this show. “It was a challenge for her,” Bento said. “And I think we did quite well.”

Anderson is not the type to step down from a challenge, after all.

She has always had a creative spirit – and began painting in junior high. “It just became my main hobby,” she said.

In college, she majored in graphic design and then pursued a career in the field.

“I really loved doing graphic design,” she said. “So when I first started working, I sort of set fine art aside.”

About 20 years ago, Anderson refocused her energy on painting. “I decided I wanted to get back into it,” she said. “It was like a mid-life assessment.”

To restart her creative spark, she enrolled in a number of classes. One weekend figure-painting workshop taught by Barbara Fugate was particularly inspiring.

“She had her students draw large and fast,” Anderson recalled. “We probably created 100 paintings. It was exhilarating. That’s when I realized how much I enjoyed making marks, especially these big energetic marks.”

While Anderson enjoys figure painting, abstract art is where her heart is.

“I reached a point where I just needed to paint and develop a reliable process,” she said. “I had to develop what my own visual vocabulary was. A lot is about shape and marks.”

Her career in graphic design provided her the discipline to spend hours and hours at work – and to be open to feedback.

“Both of these practices help each other,” Anderson said. “And the things I learn in my own personal creative process help me in my job.”

She started showing her work in 2008, starting with student shows at Gage Academy. She has since exhibited at the Corridor Gallery, Mathews Gallery at Theater Schmeater, the Artist Trust Benefit Auction, artEAST and University House Wallingford.

Anderson recently moved her studio to Ballard Works, 2856 NW Market St, and continues to push her art in new directions.

“My work continues to evolve, but I feel like I have arrived at a particular level,” she said. “I have a more specific vocabulary and I’m being more revealing, exposing more of myself and being more comfortable with that.”

She wants her canvases to create a space that allow viewers to slow down and contemplate.

“Getting lost in a painting is nourishing,” she said.

Every day, Anderson lets her mind wander at the shimmering surface of water in South Lake Union, the changing trees and the clouds in the sky.

“That’s what I want in my paintings, to give people some place to go and get a little lost,” she said.

For more information about Katie Anderson, visit

For more information about the SAM Gallery exhibit, visit

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