Artist Katie Ré Scheidt traded in a 12-year career on Wall Street, to focus on her abstract expressionist, portraiture and nude works that she creates in her Litchfield County, Connecticut-based studio. We’re always fascinated by second (or third) acts of talented moms, so we were thrilled to sit down and learn about hers. If you’re in the CT-area, you can see her latest exhibit at the Loft Gallery at The Smithy in New Preston, a cozy town filled with antique shops and design spaces.
Your career transition is so interesting! How did you decide to leave Wall Street to focus full time on your art?
Well it wasn’t an easy decision. But basically we wanted to make a move before our kids became entrenched in a community, which would make it harder to leave. My job was becoming less and less fun (more rules, tighter margins, and we had just emerged from the financial crisis which was exhausting). All the while, I had so many blessings happening in my personal life. I fell in love in 2006, was married in 2007, baby #1 in 2008, baby #2 in 2009…. We had been so left-lane with everything, and I felt like I wasn’t able to hit pause and enjoy the blessings in my life. I think I realized I was able to enjoy it if I was able to move, if I changed my lifestyle and where we lived.
You were living in Bronxville, NY and working on Wall Street—were you painting as a hobby?
I love painting, and took classes at School of Visual Arts in NY here and there to keep up with it. A few commission requests happened too, from friends of friends who saw my art in my apartment.
How did motherhood contribute to this career transition?
It was a big component. First and foremost I made the change to be with my kids. My commute was such that I was on a 6:05 am train, and our nanny crept into our house at 5:55am like a ninja—she was the best! But because I was an equity sales trader, I had to entertain clients and go out after work a lot, so 2-3 days a week I would get home later than my usual 5:45pm arrival time (closer to 7pm and at least once after 9pm/10pm). There was zero flexibility.
How would you describe your artwork to someone who has never seen it?
Lyrical. Layered. Uplifting. Emotional.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the shapes of the negative space I see in the trees every day when I hike. By the subtle color shifts and temperature shifts in the hills and valleys of Litchfield County when I drive. The changing seasons and their colors in New England are breathtaking. I probably take ballpark 15-20 pictures on my phone every day of things that inspire me. It could be a color combination in the leaves, shadows cast over snow….nature definitely inspires me for my abstracts with its compositions.
What are you most excited about with this upcoming exhibit?
I feel like my abstract work is very personal, and this particular body of work has me feeling quite vulnerable in the best way. There is a gestural sort of “knot” that has emerged repeatedly in my abstract work over the past two years. It seems to be a natural gesture of mine, and one that I wanted to delve deeper into. Often it’s a mark that I make towards the end of the painting process, but it’s one that really dynamic and usually important to the overall composition. I decided to explore that scribbly knot, and hone in on it as the main subject for this body of work. It was harder than I thought it would be. Subtlety of color became important because color had to stay quieter, so it didn’t overpower the dynamic gesture that was the star of the painting. I’m excited because I feel like I’m really putting myself out there and testing the waters within myself…it’s thrilling for me to see all of the paintings in one space, and I hope people enjoy the show!
How has your prior career impacted your current one?
I think my work habits from my previous career have been an asset to me in my art. I’m pretty organized and driven, and I’m good with numbers. Also, I really enjoy selling my work. Having a background in sales and being personable helps with that for sure. I learned to persevere through a lot in my financial career at KBW. And as a result I have a lot of gratitude in my life—for my husband and children, our life here in Northwest CT, and for the ability to be present for it all. I feel incredibly fortunate. It’s a dream come true to be able to paint almost every day and to be able to raise these beautiful kids.
What are some of your favorite spots in Litchfield County?
Pergola in New Preston, CT is great for any beautiful gift like a potted orchid for a friend’s birthday—everything in there is a treasure. Community Table in Washington, CT is always perfect for date night. Their menu is always inventive and every single thing is delicious. Norimaki in Washington Depot, CT has jaw-dropping sushi. It rivals anything I’ve had in NYC hands down. It’s the best with a girlfriend for a midweek dinner out. The Cookhouse in New Milford, CT is a fun kid-friendly spot with top notch barbecue. (Kids eat for free Monday nights). Averill Farm in Washington Depot, CT is the spot to go apple picking in the Fall….it’s so fun to get hot cider and doughnuts and leisurely wander through their variety of apple trees.The Mayflower Inn in Washington, CT is a wonderful spot for drinks is on their veranda in the summer. Equally fun is a cozy drink by the fire in the library there. Maple Bank Farm in Roxbury, CT is our staple for fresh produce for what’s in season. They also have the BEST french bread that they get daily from Ovens of France in Woodbury. My kids love to feed the sheep while we are there…it’s really sweet. We also go blueberry picking in summer there which is a special tradition for us. Finally, my kids love for me to take their picture walking on the floating crosswalk outside The Washington Art Association.
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