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Kay Stratman takes ‘wild places’ virtual

Pandemic postponed her show, so she made an online flip book.

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Kay Stratman

Kay Stratman didn’t arrive in the Mountain West until she was in her 50s.

Her fascination with the region began after a family road trip as a teenager, but her husband’s career as a conservationist and environmental advocate found them in a suburb of Washington, D.C., in the early aughts.

In 2007, after much planning and forethought, the couple moved to a home in Melody Ranch.

“It was fortuitous, me being an artist and he being in conservation,” Stratman said. “It was a perfect fit. And besides, we already had a green Subaru Outback and a black Lab.”

Kay Stratman

In “Moment of Clarity” Kay Stratman captured one of her favorite subjects during her favorite time of year: aspens in the fall. “The watery technique I use is perfect to create the shadows and knots on the trunks and bark,” she said.

In the years since, Stratman has applied her idiosyncratic technique, which blends multicultural influences, to depict Western landscapes and wildlife. She is represented in Jackson by Horizon Fine Art. Although her exhibition “The Importance of Wild Places” was postponed from its planned showing at Raitman Art Galleries in Breckenridge, Colorado, during March and April, Stratman has made it available online as a virtual flip book.

The diverse blend of technical influences that Stratman employed to create the pieces may make her seem enigmatic, but each influence has a direct link to her life as an artist and student.

After spending 14 years working in a commercial art studio in Minneapolis, Stratman met an artist who practiced an ancient East Asian form of ink painting called sumi-e. The technique was so compelling to her that she devoted herself exclusively to learning and creating in the esoteric form.

“For about 25 years I painted in a very traditional Asian style,” Stratman said.

The shikishi boards that serve as Stratman’s canvas are a holdover from that time. The boards are made by layering gold leaf and then rice paper onto a wooden backing.

The second technique that is central to the work is p’o mo, a form of Chinese watercolor painting that involves pouring paint over a canvas and using gravity to create fading, blending and shading. Stratman creates definition in the work through fine brushwork.

Kay Stratman

“Landing Gear” by Kay Stratman arose from an art event that was organized in support of the Hardeman Barns that house the Teton Raptor Center. Kay Stratman’s exhibition “The Importance of Wild Spaces” was rescheduled after Raitman Art Galleries in Breckenridge, Colo. shut down, but the paintings are now available online as a virtual flip book.

“My work evolved into a more contemporary style and something that was personally developed, but it was all part of my journey,” she said.

Because her process is almost as interesting as her work, Stratman often gives demonstrations in conjunction with exhibitions. Last month, with the help of local digital marketing consultant Rose Caiazzo, she made a video of her process.

In the video Stratman is shown creating “We are Stardust,” a brooding nightscape of the central Teton Range. The video is part of a larger push by Stratman to bring her art in to the digital domain.

“Every part of marketing any business now, and particularly artwork, is social media,” Stratman said. “The only way to get people to see virtual exhibitions is through social media.”

Stratman’s public presence may be shifting into the digital realm, but her passion still lies in quiet moments with nature. During the winter her dog, Laddie, was dealing with health issues that required her to stay home with him often. So since before the COVID-19 crisis, she has been painting more and more images of the view out her back door.

“I just put my head down and stayed in my studio and painted a lot,” she said.

One such piece “Melody Ranch Morning,” made it into her current exhibition. 

Kay Stratman

Like all of the paintings in “The importance of Wild Spaces,” Stratman created “Apres Ski Hour” using her idiosyncratic combination of mediums — watercolors on a traditional Japanese shikishi board.

Contact Gabe Allen at 732-7062 or

Scene Editor Gabe Allen fell in love with the Tetons after spending a season guiding backpacking trips in Jackson Hole. When he is not working, he can be found rock climbing, backcountry skiing or playing music with his aspiring psychedelic pop outfit.

(2) comments

Annette Osnos

[smile]I have to say that Kay's art really is gorgeous. Whether it is realistic or more abstract, the colors and composition really work. She painted a piece for me From a photo in south Africa and it is spot on. Lucky us to have her here in Jackson capturing all of nature's beauty.

tom fauntleroy

It is stunning----the unique techniques, the contrasting colors, the creative compositions, and the sheer beauty are all wonderful.

Tom Fauntleroy

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