Water and color are a perfect match for artist and teacher Kathy Kovala

Watercolorist Kathy Kovala has returned to the Garden Island for the eighth year to share her talent and time with island painters.

With a long and accomplished history as an arts educator and businesswoman, Kovala feels the natural beauty of Kaua‘i, the vibrancy of color on land and sea and the humid air lends itself to the painting style of watercolor.

Kovala’s experience in watercolor began when she studied with renowned artists Nita Engle and Frank Webb in 1990.

From this time on she has committed herself to creating a unique style that has been embraced by collectors nationwide.

With a recent commission from the exclusive Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Mont., Kovala has reached a new point in her career. “As an artist this type of support is so rare and valuable. I feel so grateful.”

Kovala was invited to visit the private 13,400 acres to paint winter and summer greeting cards used by the club.

During her week there, she was able to complete an original watercolor that so impressed her clients that they used it as their Christmas card.

Considering the under-funding for the individual artist, this commission stands out in Kovala’s long career.

“It’s a huge thing to be honored in this way. With a twinkle in my eye I hope this business collaboration will continue.”

Kovala holds Kaua‘i very close to her heart. Like so many creative people who feel drawn to the beauty of the island, Kovala feels it is a spiritual connection. “I just have a feeling for this island that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s something that surrounds the land and people.”

Kovala’s deep affinity for the people of Kaua‘i has led to many close friendships, something that she cherishes about returning over the past ten years.

“I love the celebrations and the cultural activities of Hawai‘i. I try to attend these events every time I come.”

Kovala is a self-proclaimed perpetual student. “I love learning.” she says. “And watercolor remains challenging in a way that oil eventually became stagnant for me.”

Her love of learning lends itself to the art of teaching. “I really believe I am a superior teacher because I share everything I know. Some teachers seem to guard their own knowledge, I want to give mine all away,” Kovala said.

This generous attitude towards learning and teaching is another reason Kovala feels she and Kaua‘i make such a perfect fit.

‘The Hawaiian spirit of giving and sharing is what I try to do with my students. I think that’s why good things seem to just fall into place when I’m here,” she said.

Last weekend, without having planned a booth, Kovala was spontaneously invited to exhibit her work at Waimea Town Celebration. “That’s the type of thing that always happens for me on Kaua‘i.”

Experimenting with new subject matter keeps Kovala interested and engaged.

On this visit she has been working with beach glass. “I find that my paints work well here — when I’m doing magical things like the pouring of water over the paper, I know it intimately relates to the ocean.”

The echo of form in Kovala’s work with her immediate environment is of great interest to her. “I think by teaching people to paint here I help give insight to the reality of what’s here. Not just tourism, but the people and the plant life. It’s a way to appreciate both.”

Come to a workshop

Painting Panorama March 5-7, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. $275

Painting The National Tropical Botanical Gardens March 11-14, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. $350

To register for classes or more information call Kathy Kovala 742-5220 or e-mail misis@starband.net

• Keya Keita, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 or kkeita@kauaipubco.com.

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