As York Open Studios 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID-19, I thought I’d put a little collection of pics and notes together for you, to give a ‘virtual’ visit to my studio and tell you a bit about my work.

Please explore this website to see more of my paintings and drawings. If you have any questions, or want to discuss anything, just get in touch. I’d be very happy to have a natter.

Thank you for visiting!

Welcome to my studio…

You may have visited me in my old studio in Castlegate House during York Open Studios 2018 and/or 2019. I moved from the city centre to The Gallery Studio at Arnup Studios in Holtby in September last year, so this year would have been my first Open Studios here. I would have shared my space with the very talented and all-round-lovely-person, Sarah K Jackson (aka. Winifred Taylor) again, who specialises in textile art.

This is my studio…

…and this is how it looked just before I moved in…

I’ve worked hard on the space since I moved in, painting the bare brick walls white, to bounce the light around (though if someone had warned me how long it takes to paint bare brick, I might not have started!). All the furniture from my last studio fitted in nicely and I even managed to recycled the old blinds.

The pics below are from the Arnup Studios Special Open Weekend, celebrating our launch, back in November last year.

The studios were built by Mick and Sally Arnup – painter/ceramicist and sculptor respectively. Here they are outside my studio (their gallery space) in the 1970s.

Their daughter, Hannah Arnup, herself a ceramicist, took the property on following Sally’s death, and is now my landlord.

What do I do?

I’m a painter and a designer, and I do both from my studio. This is me in the middle of this cheesy selfie (below), with Sarah Jackson on the left of the photo and my sister Sarah on the right, at YOS last year at my old studio in Castlegate House. (Sarah Kate, Kate, and Sarah – it got very confusing!). Sarah J’s gorgeous embroidered work is in the background.

I predominantly paint landscapes and people, and use a variety of mediums including acrylic, oils, watercolour, graphite, charcoal and chalk.

My work is often textural and expressive, and I love to layer subtle colour. My paintings are often described as ‘weathery’!

Inside my box of acrylics

Get me all organised! I find these clips very useful, as they save me from rummaging

My beloved Boby Trolley is next to my easel. It’s full of mark-making tools, glues and other useful gubbins

(pic © Olivia Brabbs)

Oil paints (pic © Olivia Brabbs)

My landscape paintings start by studying the landscape, and experiencing it first hand. I don’t work from photographs, so the drawings and paintings that I do outside (en plein air) are my source material and reference for my studio paintings. I often spend many days studying an area, at different times of day, in different light and weather conditions, to discover its unique qualities and its character.

I recall far more when looking at one of my drawings than I do from a photograph – the direction of the wind, the temperature, the sounds, the smells, the texture of hard rock or grasses, how it made me feel… The marks I make on the paper working outside are instinctive too, and are a direct and intuitive response and connection to the landscape around me.

Here are some of my favourite places…

Back in the mountains

My perch on a hill in Snowdonia (Rhinoggydd), looking north towards the Snowdon range (complete with sheep poo)

I’m out in all weathers

Painting Enys Dodnan near Lands End, Cornwall

Sketch-kit lite. Watercolour palette water brushes, graphite and white gouache

You have to get creative sometimes! Sketching on the beach in Northumberland

High in the hills above Harlech, North Wales, looking north (complete with more sheep poo!)

At the Hole of Horcum – Where’s Wally?

Painting on the beach at Penmon, Anglesey – a rare outing for my field easel. I usually travel much lighter

sketching on a rock

Sketching at Ynys (an island), near Portmeirion, North Wales

I almost always work on paper outside, as it’s light-weight and easy to carry. I work on heavy weight acid-free watercolour paper blocks (glued around the edges) and make notes either on the page, or in a separate sketchbook. Depending on what it is I want to capture, and how much I can carry, I work in watercolour, graphite, pastel, charcoal, chalk and acrylic. Here are some of the results…

Thornwick Bay. VERY cold – had to stop when I lost feeling in my fingers

Sketching at Spurn Point

Drawing on the beach

Sketching at Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens

Little visitor! Just look at those cute antennae…

A selection of works on paper are available to buy from my online shop

When I get back to my studio, I make my en plein air studies into books, that I design myself, collating them with my field notes and writings. So far I have completed seven A5 ‘sketch books’.

The books and art cards are available to buy from my online shop

It’s disappointing to be missing out on my planned trip to Sennen Cove in Cornwall in May this year, where I would have re-visited one of my favourite bits of coast, creating lots of new studies. I hope to get to the Anglesey coast later in the year, but will try to do more local study trips this year, when it is safe to do so.

Back in the studio

Back at the easel, I start with prepping my canvas. For a textural piece, I use pumice and other dimensional mediums to ‘sculpt’ the forms, before working with paint.

The canvas below was a commission of Tal y Llyn, completed in oils and mixed media (pictured in my old studio in Castlegate House). It illustrates my process well. The study pinned at the top of my easel was an en plein air study, painted during one of my trips to Wales – I referenced this and other studies of the area while painting. The finished piece returned home to Wales, along with the study.

A detail of the finished painting, showing texture and subtle colour layering

The final painting. 1000 x 400 mm on 35 mm deep box canvas

The final painting (apologies for the quality of the photo!) It measured 1000 x 400 mm on 35 mm deep box canvas

Please explore this website to see more of my studio paintings. It’s full of them!

Most are available to buy through galleries (links and details are next to each piece). Some are available to buy directly from me. Please note that due to COVID-19, my studio and the galleries are currently closed to the public, but they are still open online and over the phone.

A selection of my paintings and works on paper are also available to buy from my online shop, as affordable giclée prints (high quality digital prints)

What’s on the easel?

I usually work on at least two paintings at a time, so I can work on one while the other is drying.

Click here to see what’s currently on my easel…

The human form

I love to paint and draw people. Always have. Anatomical study fascinates me, as does the character of the sitter. To me, every body has its own beauty and every face has a story to tell.

I attend regular life drawing sessions in York, once or twice a week. Life drawing is like a muscle that needs to be exercised! For studio paintings and portraits, I invite models to the studio for a number of sittings.

More life studies can be seen by clicking here

5-minute study in pastel on brown paper

15 minute pastel study

Sarah. Study in charcoal

Sarah. Study in charcoal

Catherine. Line study for painting

A selection of life studies are available to buy from my online shop

Others, I work on as paintings, or frame…



I hope to welcome you to my studio when these strange times are behind us. If all goes well, I will be taking part in Art& in October, and will be opening my doors for York Open Studios again 17/18 and 24/25 April 2021 (pop it in your diaries!).

Just get in touch with me if you would like to talk to me, have any questions or would like to discuss commissions, exhibitions, or sales.

Stay safe and look after each other.

Kate x


Other artists that would have been taking part in YOS at Arnup studios this year are:

Sarah K Jackson (textile art)

Peter Heaton (photography)

Tabitha Grove (painting)

Reg Walker (sculpture)

And in Holtby…

Chris Utley (ceramics)

Constance Isobel (jewellery)

Please take a look at their wonderful work as well as all the other fabulous artists that make York Open Studios such a special event.


All photos, images, artworks and intellectual property © Kate Pettitt. All rights reserved