Kay Devlin AKA Triduana

Artyczar

Moderator
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Hi all! It's that time again to continue our moderator spotlight series. We hope you have been enjoying it!

Next up, we have Kay Devlin, who you have all come to know around here as Triduana. She has been a great help to us, and she is also a fantastic artist. We are honored to have been able to interview her for the spotlight and get to know her better. It's been exciting for us, and hope that you will join in our excitement by reading along. So, relax, grab your favorite beverage, and enjoy! Here is her interview:

1. Where are you from and where do you live and work now?

I'm originally from the little-known town of Sutton-in-Ashfield, near Nottingham, very close to the centre of England. It's an old mining town, really not much else I can tell you about it! I moved out at 25 after I graduated, lived in Yorkshire for a short while, and now I live in Edinburgh, where I've been for almost 18 years.

2. How did you begin making art in your life? (Did you study in school?) And how old were you when you started?

Art was my favourite subject in school and I studied it up until A-level. There are quite a few artistic people in my family and it was my dad who started me off drawing and painting in watercolour, but he had very strong opinions on how things should be done. So did my teachers at the time, and they were all telling me conflicting things, which I think resulted in me being confused and not taking my art any further for a long time. After I moved to Edinburgh I took some weekend classes at the college and a few life drawing sessions at the gallery, and this really motivated me to take it up again and start developing my own style.

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Cormorant: pen and ink on heavy cartridge paper, size A4.

3. What's your favorite media to work in and why?

I have two favourites: watercolour and ink. Watercolour because it's so versatile: you can do everything from quick work in a sketchbook to really detailed pieces that take a lot of time and concentration. I love ink for similar reasons. I like sketching in ink because there is nowhere to hide mistakes. And of course, you can also combine the two, which I also love doing!

4. Do you have specific artistic influences/favorite artists? (who?)

I love artwork with a strong narrative, something with a story behind it (even if I don't know what it is). My favourite artists are probably Arthur Rackham and John Wiliam Waterhouse; I find their work absolutely captivating.

Other favourites / influences include L. S. Lowry, William Morris wallpaper, Moorcroft pottery, Charles Rennie Mackintosh ... things with bold lines and strong shapes. I like to incorporate these themes into my work, though I'm not always brave enough. I keep working at it.

And a big shoutout to botanical illustrators, whose work is both inspirational and invaluable.

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Spider: ink and watercolour on hot press paper, 1/4 sheet.

5. Can you share some of your process?

I use reference photos, but I don't like to copy directly. I'll print out the main parts I want to use - usually desaturated so I don't copy the colours exactly, and make lots of sketches and notes until I get the composition how I want it. Then I sketch everything out, trying my best not to add to much detail, and then I just go for it. This leads to unpredictable things happening which is part of the fun! Sometimes I have elements that are drawn from life or made up too. I want to draw from life more often.

For watercolour I almost always stretch my paper on a strong board - I don't like working on wrinkled paper! It also means I can throw as much water as it as I like, if I choose to. I tend to start with the background first, then paint in the shadows, then build up the colour in stages.

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Butterfly, faded: Watercolour on cold press paper, 1/4 sheet.

6. Would you describe your current studio or workspace? We want to picture it!

I have a nice wooden desk in my spare room. Nothing fancy, with a spotlight clamped to a shelf above. There's enough room for my board/paper and my palette (which isn't big) and my water (I use a teacup, with my blotting tissue rolled and put through the handle), and my laptop on the far right for tunes - I need music while I work, rock music or heavier. Occasionally I work at the kitchen table as the daylight is really good and there's plenty of space to spread out.

7. What is your favorite aspect of art? This can be art in general if you'd like. (Anything about this is valuable.)

I find it very calming. I can suffer from anxiety and when I start painting, it takes me away from things I worry about. I also love that moment when a piece of work starts to transform from the 'ugly stage' to something that looks half-decent. And when I've finished a piece, I love that sense of achievement. It's all good for my wellbeing.

I also love looking at other people's work and trying to imagine the stories behind it. There are so many good stories out there!

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Fergus & the Ladybird: acrylic on primed fibreglass, artist for scale.

8. Do you do art full-time? If not, what is your other occupation?

I would love to do art full-time, but it is just a hobby at the moment. My day job is as an ecologist for a small consultancy - I do a lot of wildlife surveys (mainly birds and plants) and advise developers on what they can and can't do, based on what I find. I work all over Scotland and sometimes northern England too. It can be hard work and I'm away from home a lot, but I get to spend lots of days surrounded by nature, so it isn't all that bad.

9. What in your past might lend itself to the kind of art you do now? (Influences, subject matter, interests, people, etc.)

I've always had a huge interest in nature and I like to think that this comes through in my art. When I was very young I had a lot of wildlife books which I read constantly and I used to copy the illustrations, which I supposed helped me with my career as well as the art I do now.

My style is also influenced by all the things I was told not to do when I was younger - I now like to leave brush marks showing, leave pencil marks in, use colours that aren't in the reference, divert from the reference, use my fingers ...

Finished.jpg

Atlas moth: ink and watercolour on hot-press paper, 1/4 sheet.

10. Where on the earth is your utmost favorite place to stay, other than home?

It's hard to pin it down to just one place. North Yorkshire will always be special to me: it's just beautiful: big open spaces, wonderful waterfalls, pretty villages and the best cheese. Otherwise, give me an ancient woodland full of bluebells and birdsong.

Lastly, do you have a website, and/or social media platform(s) you would like to promote?

I find it hard to keep up with social media! I used to have a website and a Facebook page but not anymore. I have Twitter but haven't been there in a long time. I think once I start making art again in earnest, I should make a bit more of an effort with these things!
 
Hello Kay.
Beautiful artwork and great interview. You come across as very well balanced as well as very much enhanced by things around you.
Hope the rest of your journey is rewarding to you.
 
Wonderful interview and I too, love that spider! All of your work is excellent, you have a great command of your mediums. It was great getting to "know" you. I love these interviews, they make us into a closer community.
 
Wonderful interview, Kay! I've been a huge fan of your work ever since I joined this site.

I'm blown away by Fergus & the Ladybird - I had no idea you worked on such a scale. It's awesome! Your spider is special, and the butterfly - well, all of it! :LOL: You have a wonderful touch with all your subjects.

Thank you for sharing your story with us! ❤️
 
Thanks so much Terri! Yes the lion was a huge challenge. It was part of a public sculpture trail, and at the end all 30 sculptures were auctioned for charity. It was amazing to be part of it. I've painted two at this size (the other was an elephant) and I'd love to do more, but I haven't had any more designs selected. I don't usually work so big, but it was fun. :)
 
Kay, I was so interested in your story and totally engrossed in your art. The ink and wash pieces were absolutely stunning; Atlas Moth is just so unique, as the powdery texture is really evident. Spider has a shadow that is phenomenal, and I love the long lines of the piece. The bold choice of the BG was perfect and inspired. I remember when you did the sculpture and how impressive it was. We would all dearly love seeing more of your work posted in the forums.

Your comments about getting past the ugly stage and using art for anxiety really resonated with me. And you have a fellow rock lover in me, especially heavy metal and grunge!

Ayin, thanks for another great interview.
 
Kay, lovely to hear about you. I love the butterfly on the thistle. We have the same type of purple thistle's here in Texas. Thanks for sharing some of your techniques and stories. Applause.
 
Getting past the "ugly stage" is indeed difficult, and that also resonated with me. Great answers and incredibly wonderful artwork Kay! Thank you so much for participating! ❤️
 
So exciting to read about how you got started and what you are doing. I remember seeing and admiring the spider. Thanks for letting us have a glimpse into your life, Kay, it has been fun!
 
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