Virtual Exhibit and Online Artist Talk – Kathie Odom: 4 Seasons

Kathie Odom: 4 Seasons

Virtual Exhibition
April 5, 2024 – May 31, 2024

Online Artist Talk
Thursday, April 25 at 11:00 a.m. Central/12:00 p.m. Eastern

By Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media, and Design –

Our current exhibit features the talented plein air oil painter Kathie Odom. Following the tradition of the French Impressionists, plein air painting involves creating landscape art outdoors, directly experiencing nature’s elements. This method allows artists to capture the fleeting effects of light and weather on the scene.

Kathie Odom

I call myself a “Nostalgic Impressionist” as a way of identifying the subjects and style of painting that interest me most. No matter which part of America I paint, I am passionate about plein air and love getting lost in the wonderful process of it all!”-Odom

A Jackson, TN native, Kathie Odom moved to Knoxville after high school to attend the University of Tennessee, where she studied Fine Art. In Marcia Goldenstein’s color drawing class, she discovered her passion for oil pastels. While a senior at UT, she met her future husband, Buddy, who was also a student and became her best friend. Though she earned a Bachelor of Science in Art Education, her teaching career was short-lived. After just one day as a substitute teacher, she knew the classroom wasn’t for her.

She began working on commissioned wedding paintings while raising her young children. She also worked for Rick Bennett in Knoxville, where she learned how to frame artwork, a skill she still uses today with her paintings. She also attended classes with watercolor painter and instructor Betsy Worden. While creating each painting, Odom shared that she is reminded of Worden’s influence.

Driven by a desire to supplement the family income, Odom embarked on a series of entrepreneurial ventures. She started with a home-based art framing business, which later blossomed into a faux finishing company, beautifying the walls of numerous homes and businesses. Juggling these endeavors alongside raising three children, Odom took a temporary hiatus to support her husband’s business venture in North Carolina. Upon returning to Knoxville in 2006, a sense of homecoming washed over her. “It was the air,” Odom remembers, “I knew the air.” Back in Knoxville, she honed her skills at Laws Interiors and O.P. Jenkins, helping these furniture and décor stores transition from traditional styles to more modern options. In 2009, for her 50th birthday, Buddy surprised her with a special gift: a Plein Air painting class.

Inspiration, 2016, oil on linen, 12 x 6 inches

Odom showed up for the plain air painting class, began using oil paint as a medium, and became inspired. Her work was shown at the first of many exhibitions within a year. She found a mentor, Jeremy Doss, in Townsend to help her and became enamored with Plein Air painting. Odom emphasizes the transformative power of painting outside. “It’s the breeze, the dirt, the trees,” she says, describing the sensory experience. More than just an artistic pursuit, Plein Air painting becomes a spiritual connection with nature for Odom. It rejuvenates her, leaving behind aches and pains for a moment of youthful energy. See Kathie Odom’s exhibition here.

Painting outside during all four seasons of the year, Plein Air works best for Odom, and she has found oil paint helps her when inclement weather occurs since the properties of oil paint do not mix with rain, whereas watercolor paint would be ruined. The sun does not halt its place in the sky, so Odom has learned to paint quickly. She usually completes a painting while surrounded by nature and rarely continues to work on a painting in her studio.

There was a time when spring was her favorite season to paint, as the greens of grass and trees were vibrant and fresh, and colorful flowers were bursting from the ground. Odom would dread painting through drab colored winters, but then she began to see violet and blue tones in the sky, snow, and shadows. Now, she loves painting during the winter months to see the unexpected slices of color.

Odom also started meeting with Tuesday Painters, a Plein Air group that would travel to beautiful destinations to paint. She recalls the meetings were more like a retreat, where artists could be together and talk about their work. When she can fit it in with her busy schedule, Odom will sometimes attend the Tuesday Painters group that has, over the years, expanded to include painters from Knoxville, Halls, Norris, Sevierville, and Loudon. One of the best pieces of advice Odom has never forgotten is if you paint what you love, the audience will know it.

Reveille, 2019, oil on linen, 12 x 12 inches

Though landscapes dominate Odom’s work, she’s also drawn to the beauty of local flora. For example, the painting “Reveille” originated from a cherished memory. During a summer walk in Smithville, Tennessee with her husband’s grandfather, she encountered a vibrant trumpet vine. This encounter inspired the painting, a tribute to that special moment.

There are times when Odom must work in the studio, which usually happens when she is working on a canvas that would be too large or difficult to work on in the field. She may also work on a landscape painting from photographs. To keep Odom focused on traveling and painting, she relies on her husband, Buddy, to manage administrative responsibilities such as writing Odom’s newsletter, updating the website, monitoring time management, and helping her with correspondence.

Since 2020, with the limitations that the pandemic presented with group gatherings, Odom began teaching online painting workshops. This opportunity has been wildly popular with her students, and the computer has become a vital teaching tool, along with the painting knife and brush. Odom mentioned that students often help her confirm internal thoughts and theories and expand her knowledge through sharing ideas. When asked what advice she would give to artists, Odom said, “Do not be discouraged about making a living as an artist. Every art student has been asked how they plan to make money. If you work at your art and are willing to diversify, you can find a place for your work, and it can be full-time. Continue to learn and never stop.”

Her paintings have received multiple awards and have been exhibited at the American Impressionist Society Small Work Showcase in Charleston, SC; Illume Gallery West in Philipsburg, MT; The Forgotten Coast Plein Air event in Port St. Joe, FL; Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibition in Bradenton, FL; Wayne Art Center’s 14th Plein Air Festival in Wayne, PA; American Impressionist Society Small Work Showcase in Fredericksburg, TX; American Impressionists Society 21st Annual Juried Exhibition in St. George, UT; Oil Painters of America 28th Annual National Juried Exhibition in St. George, UT; American Impressionist Society Small Work Showcase in Petoskey, MI; Olmsted Plein Air Invitational in Atlanta, GA; Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational in Laguna Beach, CA;  the 7th Annual Plein Air Convention and Expo in Santa Fe, NM; Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibition in Annapolis, MD; and in Knoxville at the American Impressionist Society Small Work Showcase, and the Knoxville Museum of Art’s Artists on Location Plein Air event among others. Odom was also the Featured Artist for Artists Magazine, July/August 2020.

Today, Odom resides with her husband in the beautiful mountains of Walland. She travels extensively and spends much of her time painting in the great outdoors, teaching workshops, and participating in plein air events. You can find Odom’s work at fine art galleries such as the Leiper’s Creek Gallery in Franklin and The District Gallery in Knoxville. Learn more about her work here.