Sandoval Signpost
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  Featured Artist

Kandy Tate

Kandy Tate in her Placitas studio with her painting Santa Fe Summer (photo credit: Oli Robbins)

c. Kandy Tate

A Stream Runs Through It, oil on canvas, 16 x 20, by Kandy Tate

c. Kandy Tate

Lolita the Llama, oil on canvas, 12” x 24”, by Kandy Tate

Kandy Tate: Moments and feelings suspended in paint

—Oli Robbins
Kandy Tate’s paintings convey the sentiment of a moment. The smell of blooming tulips, the thin, crisp air surrounding Aspen trees, the colors and shapes that dance off a lake on a Spring afternoon—all of these sensations are palpable in Tate’s paintings. She successfully captures them by depicting first impressions and ignoring superfluous details. Says Tate, “When you glance at a scene, it’s what you first see. You don’t have detail, but the overall feel of it.” Like the Parisian Impressionists before her, Tate focuses on atmospheric effect—studying the play of light on objects and figures. “I’m more attracted to color, sunlight, and design, rather than exactly what it is.” Tate’s paintings are not hyper-realistic, and if they were, they may not carry the same intensity of feeling. Her compositions are reduced, her brushstrokes visible, and her colors intense and vibrant. Tate seizes and transports the viewer to passing instances in time.

“Ever since I was little,” Tate remembers, “all I wanted was to be an artist.” She grew up in Kansas, where her grandfather owned a farm and a ranch. He introduced her to art-making by drawing her pictures of the farm animals, which continue to be among Tate’s favorite subjects. In addition to landscapes, she frequently portrays goats, llamas, donkeys, and cows. “They’re kind of conversation pieces,” says Tate of her representations of the animals and their quirky personalities. At about age nine, she began taking art classes, at school and on Saturday mornings at Wichita’s art association. After high school, she went to Wichita State where, on the advice of her father, she got a degree in drawing and painting as well as art education. She went on to get Masters in both, and taught art in schools—eventually becoming head of the art department of a middle school. Tate finds great satisfaction and joy in teaching, and continues to teach classes on Landscape Oil Painting in Albuquerque and at The Range in Bernalillo.

Tate’s education in the fine arts extends beyond Wichita State. The painter also received training in Woodstock, NY in the late 70s, when the town still had, in Tate’s words, “hippie flavor.” In 2005, she traveled to Europe and studied in Paris, Florence, and Giverny. Her experience at the Louvre was one of her most memorable. She recalls “standing there with an easel, right there by the paintings, copying them. Talk about discipline and concentration—you had to forget about the swarms of people all around you.” I would have assumed that Tate mastered the “plein air” technique in France, seeing as she spent time in Giverny, home of the legendary Impressionist Claude Monet. But in fact, she learned the ins and outs of painting “en plein air,” or “in the open air” (a technique esteemed by 19th-century French painters who prioritized working in natural light), from a fellow Kansan, with whom she traveled to Taos on painting trips.

Tate’s work can be found in films such as The Big Kahuna, on metro phone book covers, and in several notable collections, including that of former first lady Barbara Bush. Mrs. Bush encountered Tate’s paintings in Missouri, outside of Kansas City. The Bushes were good friends with Tate’s husband’s aunt and uncle, whose house they were visiting when they first surveyed Tate’s work. Mrs. Bush fell in love with her early watercolors and, after returning to Washington, instructed one of her secretaries to call Tate and request a painting. When Tate listened to the voice mail on her machine she thought, “This has got to be a joke.” But after looking at her caller ID, which read “White House,” and promptly calling the number back, she realized that the Bushes were indeed to become her patrons. Tate painted Mrs. Bush and Millie (the family’s beloved Springer Spaniel) in the infamous White House Rose Garden. The oil painting first hung in the White House, and is now part of the Bush’s personal collection. A print of the painting resides in the halls of Barbara Bush Middle School in San Antonio.

The Wichita, Kansas, native—who has maintained her charming midwest accent—moved to Santa Fe in 2006, and then Placitas in 2009, when work brought her and her husband to the Albuquerque area. The two had admired New Mexico for several years prior and, while still living in Kansas, purchased a condo in Santa Fe so Tate could spend time painting the unique landscape. Like so many artists who have transplanted themselves in our beautiful state, Tate finds that New Mexico, and its epic skies and sunsets, has improved the quality of her work. “Moving here and seeing it visually all the time has really helped my colors and atmospheric conditions.” She studies light intently, watching how it “hits an object, bounces around and creates shadows.”

Tate displays her work at the Weems Gallery on Louisiana as well as in galleries in Denver, Oklahoma City, and North Carolina. Currently, she devotes most of her energy to teaching, painting, and traveling to art shows. Like teaching, art shows keep her busy and encourage her to focus on creativity and the observation of beauty. After the recent loss of her husband, Tate realized how important it is to continue pursuing passions and talents. She is more than ever immersed in her craft, allowing art to heal.

Many of Tate’s paintings are available as giclees and lithographs. To inquire about classes, or to view Tate’s paintings in person, call 424-1168. You can also visit her website at:

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