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All Things Ampersand

Artist Profile: Pat Kodet, Resilient Optimist

In third grade, Pat Kodet bought a John Nagy art kit. She did her ‘homework,’ drawing twenty minutes every day. From the get-go she could draw easily and realistically. The rest, as they say, is history.

The discipline instilled by the kit stayed with Pat. She loved seeing the progress in her work. By high school she was selling her pen and ink drawings. She joked that she knew she really was an artist when her work was admired so much that it was stolen – a portrait of John Lennon literally torn from the pages of her sketchbook, the thief most likely a fellow student.


Pat majored in art in college with a concentration in painting. She did it all: Painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, batik, graphic design (just in case she had to “make a living”), then went straight back into painting. After graduating, she walked into her favorite gallery, showed her work, was accepted and exhibited. Her work sold right from the start.

Though she has had other jobs – she worked for Crayola and briefly drew breed-specific dogs to be silk screened onto T-shirts, Pat has always made whatever art she wants, mixed in with the occasional commission for abstract paintings and portraits. She has been active in the arts community, a board member of the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Artists Council, past-president of the Coachella Valley Watercolor Society, and more. She also spent much of her career teaching art at all levels. She said that she and her children were already “doing art” together, and that led her to teaching it.  “You can’t play the piano if you don’t practice. You ‘gotta learn the scales,” she says, making an analogy to the importance of practice in studio art as well as music.

“Fractured Jewels”

Unlike many art teachers who believe that anything goes, Pat is a firm believer in curriculum that builds skills. Her web site ThinkArtNow.com provides 72 sequential, fun, creative art lessons based on elements and principles of art with a focus on drawing, painting and collage. (The lessons conform to the California Visual Arts Standards.)  To put it simply: Pat believes in a solid foundation where learning to draw basic shapes, to do shading and shadows, comes before everything else and enhances creativity!

Pat is an unabashed optimist. It’s fortunate that this is her basic nature because she’s lived through a house fire, losing every piece of art as well as the studio in which she worked, and she’s more recently survived a major health crisis. “I’m happy about every little thing,” she said. “I painted ‘dark’ for a while after the fire but moved past it. I’d considered sticking to computer graphics, but my friends helped me see that I couldn’t stop painting. I used some of the burnt wood from the fire to make charcoal for drawing. Even though I’m not yet back at 100% with my health, I’m not letting anything stop me.”

I love being able to experiment without thinking about whether the substrate is going to warp or won’t hold up.”

“Face in Watercolor”

Pat’s resilient. Her studio now includes a mix of spaces, a converted bedroom, the laundry room sink, a big piece of plywood and a plastic sheet on top of her dining room table, and she paints outdoors as much as she can. She joked that she used to make “2-nap” paintings because her daughter slept while she worked. Most parents can relate: Grabbing small blocks of time is one way to keep making art even when life gets complicated.

Prior to the 4-artist collaborative challenge she’s part of this year, along with Andrea Raft, Meg Walling and Sylvia Torres, Pat had done some collage work on Ampersand Art Supply panels. Her favorites are Claybord and Aquabord. Now that she’s part of the challenge, she’s working on 12” x 12” cradled Gessobord panels. “I love the clean surfaces and perfect edges, I like letting the sides of the wood show” she says, “and I love being able to experiment without thinking about whether the substrate is going to warp or won’t hold up.”

“Cinnamon Hair”

Pat’s influences are diverse: Dali, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Jonathan Winters, Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, Richard Diebenkorn. She finds inspiration in Matisse’s collages and van Gogh’s color and texture. Perhaps because she knows how precious and fragile each day can be, Pat paints whatever she wants, challenging herself to keep growing and changing and her work sells no matter what direction it takes. “I repeatedly learn something new, and then I do it, and then I teach it. And then I do it again. And again,” she said. These days Pat teaches individuals and small groups and does a few demos now and then, not the heavy schedule and larger classes that once were a big part of her life.

When she’s not making art, Pat can be found cooking, dancing, spending time with friends and family, traveling, swimming, and unlike the self-judgement-free self-assured artist she is the rest of the time, she sings – but only when no one is listening!

Patricia Kodet graduated from San Jose State University, with a BA in Fine Art. Patricia sold paintings just out of college at various art galleries in San Francisco and the Bay Area. She painted commissioned portraits as well as abstract acrylics. She is now a full-time resident of the Coachella Valley where she is creating Abstract paintings.

Kodet’s expressive approach to a non-representational painting has created a series of soft flowing paintings. They are painted with passion and strength. About 80% of most paintings are painted with her hands (in gloves). After the initial pushing of paint with both hands, she uses large brushes. Many of the paintings are completed in 1 session.


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