American artist, Kim McCarty (1956) is known for her nubile and waif-like figurative watercolors in muted hues, which she likens to “blurry afterimages drifting past closed eyelids.” McCarty began working with the medium in 1993, after a fire destroyed her studio and she could no longer find a space with proper ventilation for working with oil paint and became quickly intrigued with watercolor’s transparency, immediacy, and “unforgiving qualities.” She works in a wet-on-wet technique, in which watercolor is applied to a moistened sheet of paper—a technique that allows for very little control over the final image because of the pigment’s tendency to spread. For McCarty, this style corresponds to the longing, loss, and vulnerability embodied in her subjects.
Kim McCarty states: "I have always been interested in identifying an expression that suggests both longing and loss. My work has gone through stages of subject matter from images of adulthood to the recent exploration of adolescence. I’m interested in the adolescence expression of fragile vulnerability and their knowing and questioning gaze.
By using a “wet into wet” watercolor medium and without specific subject, I wish to convey the transitory and emergent state. The figures heads become too large for their small, narrow bodies, their hands too large for their arms. The watercolor is so translucent that the medium expresses both flaws and perfection.
The process is extremely fleeting and an image is either created or lost within seconds. It can sometimes take weeks to create a watercolor that has the delicate balance of realism and abstraction. In many ways this watercolor process feels much like the immediacy of childhood and adolescence itself. By this process I attempt to explore the dichotomy between uncertainty and focus, and the emotional state that lies beneath the surface."
A graduate of UCLA (MFA) and the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena (BFA), McCarty solo exhibitions include Morgan Lehman Gallery, New York and David Klein Gallery., Detroit MI., Kim Light Gallery; Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles, Briggs Robinson, New York Group exhibitions include, LA Emerging Artists, at the Dominique Fiat Gallery. Liquid Los Angeles: Contemporary Watercolor, Pasadena Museum of Art. Erotic Drawing, Aldrich Museum of Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut. McCarty is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, UCLA Hammer Museum and the Honolulu Academy of Art.)