The word Artist definitely applies to Kathleen Billis. Originally trained in ballet, she switched to voice and then later turned to painting after owning an art gallery in Virginia and meeting her husband, Maine artist Mitch Billis.
“Because I’ve had to battle rheumatoid arthritis since age 15, I guess I’m sort of an overachiever to compensate. But I feel like it’s almost an asset to me now, as returning to painting rather late in life I have so much to learn and do. But I’m lucky to have work I love. I had to give up dancing at 15 and nothing since, until I met Mitch and began painting again, compelled my total attention and motivation.”
Kathleen Billis paints in the plein air tradition of turn of the century impressionists. She and her husband travel all over the United States to paint, but live and work in Maine. The talented duo also spends part of each spring painting in Tuscany, Italy.
“I feel so lucky to be able to share the life of painting with someone who understands and indeed has taught me the kind of commitment it takes to be a plein air painter.”
To paint plein air is to be totally a part of landscape-- light and atmosphere. Finish work may be completed in the studio, but the work is about the present, capturing a special moment or feeling of place that can’t be experienced again in just the same way.
Kathleen can be observed in all seasons trying to, as Willard Metcalf encouraged his students, “Go out, paint what you see, and find a place for yourself within your own culture.” Kathleen’s colorful harbor scenes and depictions of rural life have helped her to do just that.