By Abbie Digel, Big Sky Weekly Contributor

This gallery is part two in a three-part series featuring artists that will be showcasing their work at the fourth Big Sky Meadow Village Artwalk, July 7-8. Stroll the Artwalk on a self-guided tour while enjoying refreshments and summer weather. These short interviews are only snapshots of their styles and personalities, so be sure to stop by and meet the artists themselves.

Katie Lee, 28, was born in Montana and raised in Grand Forks, N.D. Lee is a self-taught artist began painting with acrylic at age 14 and now works with oil on canvas.

Lee recently moved back to Grand Forks, but visits Montana often.
She completed her degree at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., with a double major in Communicaitons and Spanish. Her art primarily depicts the beauty of her surroundings.

Lee’s work is available at Big Sky Furniture and Charsam Gallery.

AD: Tell me about yourself and your relationship with Montana.

KL: I live in Grand Forks, North Dakota with my husband and 10-month-old daughter. I was born in Havre, Montana and have family that lives in Big Sky who we visit a few times every year. I am a stay-at-home mom, and I paint in my free time.

I first started painting when I was 14-years-old while bored one day. I found some of my mom’s old paints, a piece of plain paper and an old photo I had taken of a lake at sunset and just started painting. I had no idea what I was doing, but loved mixing the colors to create a new one that would look just right.

While I was painting, there was a locksmith working at our house and every time he walked by he checked on the progress of my painting and comment it was turning out great. He didn’t believe me when I said it was the first time I had ever picked up a paintbrush. A few days later, he stopped by our house to give me my very first canvas. He told me he really believed one day I would be a great artist, and he wanted to help me get started. That gave me a lot of encouragement and from that point on I continued painting for fun and have now sold paintings all over the U.S. and in Mexico.

AD: What kind of art you create?

I started out painting with acrylic but now primarily paint with oils because of the texture and depth that can be created. I have two different styles of painting: Sometimes I use a brush and make my painting look smooth and more realistic, and other times I just want to take out my palette knife and goop on the paint. In either case, I typically paint with a lot of different and vibrant colors. I have never had any proper art classes, which I now sort of refuse to take because I fear that I may lose my own style and open-mindedness about painting.

AD: What inspires you?

A lot of different things, but my main inspiration comes from my Montana roots. I love painting wildlife and landscapes. I like taking ordinary things in nature and painting them with a variety of color and texture, making them look more interesting.

I will typically paint the main subject of my artwork from a photograph, or a collection of photographs, and then the background I generate from memory or just my feeling at the time. I don’t paint multiple pieces at once; I focus on just one, and I can’t move on until it’s finished.

AD: What is it like to be an artist?

Being an artist is fun, relaxing and a great way to express something you are feeling. I love when I get in the mood to paint. I go into my studio, crank up the radio and get lost in the canvas for hours.

AD: What do you like about Big Sky?

My family has visited Big Sky since I was little. We love to ski in the winter and hike, bike and kayak in the summer. Big Sky is truly an amazing place and is surrounded by so much beauty. I am inspired to paint every time I visit.

gallerybykatielee.com