Caffeine gives Kate’s girls a real buzz

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian

For some artists, coffee spilling onto your artwork can spell disaster.

For Kate McKay, coffee has become the main medium with which she works.

By layering the coffee “paint” and drawing in the finer details, McKay creates beautiful portraits of women she affectionately calls her girls.

Although coffee painting isn’t unheard of, McKay’s monochromatic illustrations invoke a dreamy reality where her girls take centre stage.

“I never do male portraits — it’s always feminine,” she said.

“I’m really in love with fashion illustration, and the strength someone so beautiful can have when everyone thinks you’re just a pretty face.

“It’s nice to try and show something more than that.”

Before she discovered the versatility of coffee, McKay’s weapons of choice were inks and watercolours.

But one day when creativity struck and she was without her usual materials, McKay turned to the next nearest thing — coffee.

“I found it was really easy for me to work with and now I prefer it over paint,” she said.

“It’s a bit of a different method.

“It’s a lot of playing with water, waiting for things to dry and taking them off again.

“And it all has to be done in one sitting.

“If I try and touch it again the next day it will be ruined.

“I’m going for a bit of an abstract vibe so droplets are pretty intentional, and if I haven’t made enough mess I’ll usually go back and add a bit more.”

McKay has always been the creative type, excelling at art when she studied at Geraldton Senior College.

In 2014 she had her debut art exhibition at a clothing store in town, but McKay’s art fell by the wayside when she married husband Scott and went travelling.

Although the 25-year-old was painting as a way to vent her frustrations, McKay now finds she paints all the time, often working late into the night.

“Initially (art) was always something I would do when I was in a bit of a foul mood,” she said.

“It’s only in the last year that I’ve been able to tap into it and really get those creative juices flowing without having to be in a bad mood. Now it’s just so much fun because I’m tapping into it again in a really positive way.”

With 15 girls in total, McKay has considered holding an exhibition, but said she’d prefer to have her paintings hanging in a shop in the city. McKay has also recently created greetings cards with her artwork.

After selling out her first batch, McKay is hoping to find a local stockist for her next set of cards.

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