Artist Kathie Odom

During her presentation at the Plein Air Convention & Expo, Tennessee artist Kathie Odom will reveal that she has been fortunate to find spiritual and personal support as her career skyrocketed to higher levels. What will she recommend to artists in Santa Fe?


Artists often balance feelings of elation with anxiety, security with fear, and pride with self-doubt. That is especially true when they are embarking on their careers and have limited experience displaying their work in front of collectors, critics, and other artists.

“Grand Crimson” 2015, oil on linen, 10 x 20 in., Collection the artist, Plein air

Kathie Odom started out feeling she might not be ready for some of the top competitive events in which she was selected to participate, but her confidence was boosted by the encouragement of others. Bolstered by the support of her family, collectors, and fellow artists, she has been juried into some of the top events in the country, and she has averaged one award in every plein air festival in which she has participated. All that happened because others believed in her and she learned to believe in herself.

“At Rest” 2014, oil on linen, 10 x 20 in., Courtesy District Gallery, Knoxville, TN, Plein air

“Looking at what has happened in a few short years, one might wonder how I could doubt myself,” she says. “I think every artist has feelings of uncertainty about his or her own creative work. It’s something they just do. And although I have felt all those emotions, I’m thrilled and humbled to say I have received encouragement and support from other artists and I am becoming more confident in what I have to share through my art.”

“Sun-Bathing” 2015, oil on linen, 10 x 20 in., Courtesy District Gallery, Knoxville, TN, Plein air

People who see Odom’s paintings often comment that they exude a joy and vitality, owing to the gestured application of bright, clean colors. “I wasn’t sure I liked people saying I paint happy pictures because it reminded me of some of TV artists who painted happy trees and happy mountains,” says the artist. “However, I came to understand people weren’t making that association, and, in fact, they were responding to the lightness and freshness in my paintings. I loved that I could bring that kind of happiness to people.”

“Tangerine Fall” 2014, oil on linen, 12 x 24 in., Collection the artist, Plein air

Odom adds, “I also thought about my tendency to leave some peripheral areas of a painting loose and thinly painted, allowing the layers of color to be evident. To me, those sections tell viewers where the artist came from and how she got to this place. Still, I try not to have those thinly painted areas look contrived. They have to result from the total painting process and can’t come off as being a gimmick. I’m really passionate about plein air painting and allow myself to get lost in the wonderful process, but I do have to step back every once in a while and make decisions about how my finished paintings will be received. I’m free with paints, but I care about the end result and what people will live with for a long time, both in terms of the content of my paintings and the durability of the materials.”

“To Bee at Home” 2015, oil on linen. 16 x 20 in., Collection the artist, Plein air

Speaking of materials, Odom makes her own painting panels by adhering double-primed Centurion linen to sheets of 1/4-inch MDF board. Her brushes are Rosemary Masters Choice long flats that, in her experience, allow her to achieve a greater degree of transparency with oil colors. She also says she “couldn’t live without a palette knife” because it helps her paint the edges of buildings, extend lines, and add texture to her paintings. Recently, she began using Gamblin’s solvent-free painting medium along with Gamsol mineral spirits.

“Sugar Stacks” 2015, oil on linen, 12 x 9 in., Collection of JP and Anne Marie Borneman, Plein air
“Cotton” 2015, oil on linen, 24 x 30 in., Courtesy District Gallery, Knoxville, TN, Studio

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