Artist Kandy Tate’s beautiful landscapes and personality-rich livestock portraits have a whimsical air.
After she finished working at her art booth at the famous Antique Week in Round Top, Texas, artist Kandy Tate promptly trudged into the mud behind a nearby barn to photograph a herd of cattle with newborn calves at a watering hole. It wasn’t a mission to capture cuteness. As an artist, Tate wants to look at colors, dissect how the light hits the animals’ fur, explore their personalities. The photos will eventually become paintings.
“Painting is learning how to see,” says Tate, who has become known for her landscape and animal paintings. Recently, her work has tended toward whimsical and personality-rich portraits of livestock — think cows with curlers and pigs with pearls.
Okay, maybe at least a little cute. But also accomplished.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Tate grew up with supportive parents who fostered her love of art through art classes from an early age. As a young girl, she was fascinated with everything around her, especially the visual parade of colors and shapes. She majored in art education and painting, got her master’s degree at The University of Kansas, and, for a time, taught art in middle school. Eventually Tate left to focus full time on her own painting.
“I initially see the painting in my mind before I paint it,” Tate says. “I just cannot get it out of my mind. I have this burning desire to go to the canvas. Sometimes it comes out the way you imagined it and sometimes it doesn’t. But [the only thing] I ever wanted to do is paint and make other people enjoy and appreciate what I also enjoy.”
Her enjoyable work has been regularly featured in TV and movies, including Kristen Wiig’s new film Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Tate has even had the honor of having one of her paintings — First Lady Barbara Bush and presidential family dog Millie — hanging in the White House.
In 2006, Tate and her late husband moved from Kansas to New Mexico, where the couple had traveled frequently over the years. “I like to paint my landscapes on location, and living here in New Mexico, everything around me is a painting. The colors are beautiful. The intensity of the sunlight, the different textures, the adobe buildings — it’s always inspirational here,” Tate says.
Approaching Storm Over the Sandias
Landscape painting was, and still is, a large component of Tate’s work. But her animal paintings have really taken off, especially since she started setting up at booths at some of the nation’s largest rodeos, which has led to requests for commissioned paintings of people’s horses.
With art, Tate says, you’re always learning. “Every painting is a learning experience,” she says. And it’s an opportunity. “With the virus last year disrupting everybody on the planet, I feel like looking at a painting, especially if it’s something more on the comical side, relieves stress. You hang it up on the wall, and it’s upbeat. It’s joyful. It takes you away for a few moments and makes you happy. I think that we need happiness. We need a break from our everyday lives and a little giggle.”
Kandy Tate is represented by the Weems Gallery in Albuquerque, New Mexico (weemsgallery.com) and Truman’s Furniture Outlet & More in Ruidoso, New Mexico (trumansfurnitureoutlet.com). See her in person February 10 – 27, 2022 at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo at the AT&T Center and March 19 – April 2, 2022 at The Arbors Spring Antique Show at Round Top, Texas. Visit the artist online at kandytate.com.
From our January 2022 issue
Photography: (All images) courtesy Kandy Tate