Watercolorist blows in the wind

PO‘IPU — Kathy Kovala didn’t know if she could get a space at the Kauai Products Council craft fair Saturday.

“We just showed up,” Kovala said.

But, after checking with one of the vendors from whom she had bought a cap previously, arrangements were made so the watercolorist could display her wares while demonstrating her technique at the same time.

“I got my husband to help me,” Kovala said while peering up from one of her developing art pieces.

Kovala has been “wintering” on Kaua‘i for seven years, and her offerings demonstrate her ability to get off the beaten track to find sources of inspiration.

The artwork taking form in front of her was inspired by an arrangement she photographed while visiting the Grove Farm Museum, and framed around her were images inspired by the Tree Tunnel on Maluhia Road as well as close-ups of orchids she discovered at the Garden Island Orchid Society’s annual Spring Fantasy at the Hanapepe United Church of Christ’s social hall.

During her winter stay on Kaua‘i, Kovala said she spends time painting and teaching others interested in learning her technique that she describes as “rock ‘n’ roll.”

Kovala uses water and pure pigments to achieve her strong, clear-cut images that barely resemble watercolors.

“I use the brush to apply water to just those areas that I’m working on,” she said.

“Then, I apply the pigment to one area of the watered area. From there, it’s rock ‘n’ roll.”

She moves the artwork and lets gravity and the fluidity of the water do the rest.

Using a brush, Kovala can achieve the clean edges, and with her deft movements controls the amount of paint that works from the edges.

A flier that describes her accomplishments notes that “she is also accomplished in ‘throwing paint’ to create the massive leaf and flower displays seen on this ‘Garden Isle.’”

Kovala brings 14 years of owning her own gallery and teaching studio with her, the experience giving her a keen sense of working with people and her art.

On Saturday, she worked her magic while her husband hovered over their offerings, fielding questions from customers, with Kathy Kovala interjecting when she overheard bits of conversation that needed her answers.

“We have freedom now,” Kovala said. Following their stay here, they will head to Montana, and “last year, we discovered New Zealand.”

Kovala said that there are a lot of similarities between the Maori and Native Hawaiians, and upon discovering this new place to visit, she is determined to explore that destination in a manner she’s done with Kaua‘i.

Chuck Kovala, meanwhile, became excited when he discovered that a former employee of The Garden Island had done fly fishing at Salt Pond Beach Park. Chuck Kovala is a fly fisherman, and now that he knows that papio and other fish can be taken with that technique, is anxious to try it out.

“Put the money down,” Kathy Kovala laughs. “This is a happening place.”

 Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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