Victoria Biedron

Flower power

Painters Katia Kyte and Victoria Biedron agree that flowers, the subject of their two-woman show in Newport, “exist to give you joy”

Coming up this month in the Upstairs Gallery of the Newport Visual Arts Center: Flower Girls, a two-person exhibit by Lincoln County artists Victoria Biedron and Katia Kyte. The self-taught artists share a great pleasure in the subject of flowers.

The exhibit of 24 oil paintings of flowers native to Oregon originally was to open Jan. 16, running through March 20, but due to COVID the opening has been pushed back — tentatively — to Jan. 23. Some of the images will also be online. We talked with the artists about their work.  Comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Katia Kyte recalls being drawn to art since childhood, but in her native country of Russia, art was not encouraged. “No one would even think you could even be a painter,” she said. “You could be a doctor, or teacher…. In Russia, I would be shamed by my parents.” Kyte lives with her daughter in Lincoln City, where she teaches art and yoga.

Lincoln City artist Katia Kyte says she prefers to keep her paintings suggestive rather than refining them to a polished state -- that saying less is more powerful.
Lincoln City artist Katia Kyte says she prefers to keep her paintings suggestive rather than refining them to a polished state — that saying less is more powerful.

How did you end up in Lincoln City and how did that inspire you to paint?

Kyte: I met my husband in Russia and moved with him to Oregon in 2008 at the age of 26. He was the only family I had. The first time I heard, “What do you want to do?” — that was from my husband. It took me back to painting. I didn’t feel that in Russia. I felt if I wanted to live a more authentic life … that would be here. He died in a car accident in 2015. Now I’m here by myself with my daughter.

Wouldn’t it have been easier to return to Russia?

I had this thought a lot. I grew up in a family that is dysfunctional. Subconsciously, I wanted to live my own life and try something that was mine. I needed to find out who I was. I was given this opportunity to step away from my family and lead my own life and make my choices, to be who I wanted to be. It was scary. I keep the options open. Life is interesting. I’m trying not to be resistant to it and I am trying to be open to changes. 

What is your preferred medium?

I like painting with oils. At some point, I needed to have some fresh air in my artwork and I tried to paint with watercolors — 100 paintings in 100 days. I like doing challenges. I was painting a flower each day using watercolors. I was thinking it might become my preferred medium. I like that you have control. Smaller scale. Less mess. No solvents. It’s lighter. It was a good break; it gave me good inspiration to come back to oils and see why I liked them in the first place.

“Salmon Roses and Lilies” by Katia Kyte (oil, 12 by 12 inches)
“Salmon Roses and Lilies” by Katia Kyte (oil, 12 by 12 inches)

And?

With oils, you can get textural quality. Brush marks. You cannot achieve that in watercolor. I do enjoy the vibrancy of watercolor. But just for fun. I would consider myself most established with oils.  I tried acrylics, it flattened. It doesn’t give me that juicy, wonderful stroke that will stay the way oils do. With acrylics, it’s kind of plastic-y.

Talk to me about working plein air.

It is being so much in the moment. It is an activity where I can practice mindfulness without any expectations, really. Sometimes in an hour and a half or two hours, I end up with very spontaneous painting. In the studio, I cannot do that. It’s not possible because photographs don’t give you all the necessary feeling you feel at the location … the smells, the wind. I can take the picture, but it’s not the same as you see with your eyes.

Continues…