Kathy S. Copsey is an American artist, with Native American and European heritage, who focuses on contemporary Native American paintings featuring animals and Natives.
Born in Camarillo, California, she dabbled with other mediums while growing up, she focused on pencil drawings starting around 7 years old and was well-known for drawing horses. Although she specializes in acrylic paintings with texture (mixed media) featuring animals and Native Americans, she also enjoys working with several other mediums including pencil drawings, freehand (digital) drawings, writing, music composition, photography, and videography. She is a self-taught artist with a strong background in art and music, having worked in multiple positions including computer graphics, custom picture framing, as a self-employed musical instrument repair technician, and managing a music store for many years, and she now focuses purely on her art as a full-time artist.
All of Kathy’s work is done freehand, and her painting style includes detail and texture giving her paintings an unique style and realistic look. Finding inspiration from many sources, with the strongest influence from Native American culture and animals, many of Kathy’s pieces come from dreams and visions she has received. Kathy’s tribes include Yosemite/Sierra Miwok, Mohawk Turtle Clan, Lumbee/Croatoan, Powhatan, Shawnee, Lenape, and Cherokee, but Kathy focuses on works featuring all Native American tribes, not just her own.
Kathy believes the world is truly an inspiring place with many miracles everywhere, if we only just stop long enough to look and consider how truly amazing everything is. Unfortunately, there have also been many wrongs and so much damage done to Native Americans and nature that she strongly feels she must help correct these wrongs. One of her goals is to become so successful that, in addition to sharing and helping recreate the love and passion she feels for animals and nature, she can make a major impact to help make the world a better place for both people and animals alike.
Kathy has her art on display at the Wind River Trading Co. in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and she displays her art in numerous local shows and galleries throughout the Ventura County & Los Angeles County areas and on several sites online as well. Her artwork has reached multiple places around the world, and she has won numerous awards. Be sure to sign up for Kathy’s newsletter and visit her website at kathycopsey.com for information on upcoming shows.
Hello Kathy! When did you begin painting and how did you get started? What did you want to become when you were a child?
Kathy: I specialize in contemporary Native American paintings featuring animals and Natives, but I dabbled with other mediums while growing up. While I did artwork beforehand, I really starting to focus on my art as pencil drawings starting around 7 years old, and I was well-known for drawing horses while growing up. I have had many interests over the years, including writing, being a self-taught artist with a strong background in art and music, having worked in multiple positions including computer graphics, custom picture framing, as a self-employed musical instrument repair technician, and managing a music store for many years, and I now focus purely on my art as a full-time artist.
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
Kathy: My main focus is on contemporary Native American paintings featuring animals and Natives as Mixed Media (Acrylic paintings with texture) on canvas. Most of my current works come from dreams and visions I have received, while others come from having an idea in mind, and all of my current works include a message with each piece.
What is the process from start to final artwork, do you envision it from the beginning or is it a different process?
Kathy: Generally I have at least most of the layout of a piece in mind even before starting each piece, but sometimes an idea can evolve while working on a painting, either by adjusting the layout or adding to it. This can include changing my mind on what the background should be or sometimes adding an additional animal to a piece, and I know each piece will always turn out the way it’s supposed to.
What is your most recent piece of art that you have enjoyed working on the most?
Kathy: I enjoy working on each and every single piece of my current artworks, and each one has its’ own unique challenges, often being similar to a puzzle in figuring out which part will have texture and which part just paint as well as how to create the right type of texture, whether it be something like the texture of fur of an animal or the texture of snow or something else like trees. While there may be some similarities with certain aspects in some paintings, they are all unique and no two pieces are alike.
Do you have a real-life situation that inspired your artwork? If yes, what was it?
Kathy: Many of my own experiences and Native American heritage contribute to my artwork as well as the experiences of others with Native American heritage. This could be something as simple as something like a Southern Sierra/Yosemite Miwok woman gathering acorns in Yosemite a few hundred years ago to a more general sense of an animal either close up or in a specific scene, coming from the messages and dreams and visions I receive for each piece.
You say your goal is to make the world a better place for both people and animals alike. Do you think art has that power?
Kathy: Art is very powerful in many ways. This can be something as simple as capturing a magnificent scene or moment in time to something that may be quite simple, but with a specific message, and it can be very therapeutic and healing. Not only do I include strong messages with my artwork, but I also donate a percentage of my art sales towards helping Native Americans and animals in need. One of my goals is to become an extremely successful artist, so much so that I could even buy some land to give back to Natives and nature and help each return to a balance once again. One movement already happening with a few tribes that I believe in strongly is bringing bison back to Native American tribes and lands, the bison being one of the most important animals for several tribes. Something that has been a strong core value of Native American culture is living in balance with our Mother Earth, and it is extremely important that the entire world learns and returns to this value for the life of all kinds.
What artists influenced you the most and why?
Kathy: While I enjoy looking at many styles of art, the artists that have the greatest impact on me are Native American artists and artists such as Bev Doolittle who focus on Native American themes, animals, and nature for these are what speaks to me the most and compliment the subjects of my art.
How has your art evolved over the years?
Kathy: I have developed a very unique style of detailed painting with texture. First starting with focusing on detailed drawings in pencil, then starting to paint again, starting to create freehand (digital) drawings, and finally developing my style of acrylic paintings with texture (mixed media). I have done works of other subjects as well, and I have generally focused on animals the most over the years, and with my current focus on contemporary Native American paintings which features either entirely animals or animals and Native Americans.
You also write, compose music, do photography and videography. Tell us more about it.
Kathy: Some of my many interests include a wide range of other subjects ranging such as music. While I was exposed to other instruments growing up, from instruments such as xylophone and ukulele, I started playing the flute in a band at about 8 years old. Eventually, I needed more challenge, and by the time I was 13 years old, I had started my own musical instrument repair business, fueled by the need to repair instruments I bought used so I could start teaching myself how to play more instruments.
By the time I became a senior in high school, I had taught myself how to play numerous instruments including all the modern woodwinds and several brass instruments used in bands as well along with some piano. I dabbled in composing my own songs for a bit back then as well, but now I focus on composing backtracks, sometimes including playing one or more of my Native American flutes, for videos I do for my artwork.
In addition, I have always loved photography, taking a photography class in junior high school which included learning how to process film to print, and now I take photos for enjoyment as well as for reference for my artwork.
Growing up I also loved to write, ranging from stories to poems enough to consider being a writer for a living, and I have even written, illustrated, and published 2 books. Now I use to focus my writing on the messages I include in the description for each piece of art.
Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?
Kathy: I hope to inspire and capture the attention of as many people as I can with my art. Not only do I want to give the impression that my artworks are something of beauty, but also to impress upon those who see them the importance of the message each piece brings. Far too often we can get lost with the things we have to do or focus on each day, and far too many people have lost the ability to see the beauty that lies all around us at any single moment in time.
There is so much more than what meets the eye, so often the beauty of something can lie within, beyond the external appearance one might see at only a quick glance. There is so much more to everything around us that we only just need to stop and learn to get in touch with again.
Every single moment and every single life is precious. This is part of core values held in Native American culture, and I truly believe that Native American culture holds many of the answers and solutions that the world needs. I hope to help share and bring these values into focus for each and every person I can, help everyone how amazing the world is and all the true beauty that is around us at any given moment in time, and help everyone learn to be gentle and kind to life of all kinds, thus making the world a better place for all.