In 1982, Kay discovered her true voice and passion in watercolor. Over the years of developing her artistry, Kay has studied and painted with many note-worthy watercolor artists; among them, Jane Burnham, Gerald Brommer, Skip Lawrence, Christopher Schink, Nita Engle, Maxine Masterfield, Tom Nicholas, Don Andrews, Mel Stabin and Eric Wiegardt. Her art, while influenced by others, remains her own.
In 2012, Kay had her painting “Rushing to Judgment” included in SPLASH 13-Alternative Approaches -The Best of Watercolor. This book is a showcase of paintings by the finest watercolor artists from around the world. Two of Kay’s former students are also included in this prestigious publication.
Kay has achieved signature member status in the California Watercolor Association, the Northwest Watercolor Society, and Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters, and Women Painters of Washington. She also has associate status with American Watercolor Society and National Watercolor Society. She is past president of the Eastside Association of Fine Arts in Bellevue, Washington.
Kay is also a juror for local and regional art shows. Having exhibited widely, her award winning works hang in many corporate and private collections throughout the United States and abroad.
Many of Kay’s watercolors are commissioned pieces. She loves the challenge of employing a patron’s prescribed color palette to create an artistic focal point in harmony with its surroundings. Whether it’s a series to grace the walls of villas in Antigua, or a new pair of oversized paintings for the entrance of a new Nordstrom store, Kay’s paintings combine creative expressions with great empathy.
Teaching is Kay’s other passion! She is a remarkable instructor with many approaches to watercolor. Her light- hearted spirit and informative teaching style impart a sense of confidence and competence to her students.
In 2002 in Woodinville, Washington, she built Kay Barnes Watercolor Studio and The Eden Gallery. Since then students have poured in.
Kay is teaching weekly classes, and workshops in the Pacific Northwest as well as nationally, and internationally. Students come from many regional art societies, Cascadia Community College, Daniel Smith Artist’s Materials, University of Washington Women’s Center and the Bellevue Art Museum. These venues provide numerous ways to share her knowledge and to continue seeking personal and artistic growth through the medium of watercolor while providing a safe and memorable passage for her students on the same voyage.
What I love about watercolor is it is spontaneous and fluid or controlled and precise, depending on the effect I am seeking…It is exciting to be able to get such variety from a single medium. I am constantly stretching to see where it will take me. Each painting is an adventure with the process as rewarding as the end result…The elements of good art are also found in a good life; perspective, balance, contrasts, harmony, and restraint, to name a few, so live your life artfully and enjoy the journey!