By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Writer
AT JUST eighteen years old, Katlyn Rolle has decided to go big with her art, literally.
After starting small, with cartoon-style sketches, usually of her fictional characters, and eventually expanding to drawings outlined with ink and filled in with watercolour, the young artist is now showing off her work in grand style for all passersby to behold.
“For a few years, I attended art classes after school. This exposed me to various art styles, so from then on, I did a variety of pieces. I started doing acrylic paintings, character designs, colouring pencil pieces, portraits, ink sketches, and realistic still lives. Later on, I also embraced doodling and more improvised artwork,” she told Tribune Woman.
In recent years, Katlyn has explored digital art and even some photography.
“I mainly enjoy designing characters in my digital pieces, maintaining the cartoon aesthetic. Recently, the scope of my art has quite literally expanded by working on a 12 x 4 ft mural,” she said.
For her, being an artist truly feels like a gift God has given her to deal with challenges throughout life.
Katlyn said when she is drawing, sketching or painting, it feels like she’s in a safe space where none of her troubles can reach her. Art is a constant in the life that supplies her with confidence and a sense of peace, which is important during these turbulent times.
“I think part of what makes the field of art itself so great is that it never goes out of style. Throughout millennia, art has always existed as a part of history in some form. As this age becomes more and more acquainted with technology, the demand for traditional paintings may lessen, but graphic design may become more in demand it is a very competitive industry right now. Even if a certain form of art becomes less popular, a new form will emerge, whether it’s through canvas prints, logos, clothing design, interior design, animation or even game design,” she said.
“The beautiful thing about this is that once you learn and practice the fundamentals of art, these skills become ingrained in you and can be applied almost anywhere in the art field. And obviously, working in the field of art can be truly enjoyable and fulfilling. Art itself runs off of inspiration and motivation, while some jobs in other fields can be completed just by going through the motions. When you feel passionate about something it is always possible to push through rough patches and become successful in your career.”
The young artist recently completed one of her newest projects: a mural for KFC’s Mackey Street location. In the mural, she depicts one of the fast-food chain’s new sandwiches in her style.
This was Katlyn’s first time doing an outdoor mural or anything on that scale.
“The mural was very high, so I also had to work on scaffolding for the first time, and in the sun. Not to mention I did this after spending weeks cooped up as a university student attending virtual classes. It was certainly an interesting experience, to say the least, but one I do not regret in the slightest. As an artist, I felt reinvigorated. This project brought back to life much of the inspiration within me that had died with the start of the pandemic,” she said.
“I had guidelines for it to depict the sandwich, but I came up with the composition and overall design. I wanted to make it seem like ingredients were flowing and combining into each other to create the sandwich. I went for a cel-shaded look with this mural.”
Speaking more about her recent work, Katlyn said there is a piece in her collection called “Aspen”, created during a summer arts immersion programme. For this piece, she experimented with character design and different colour palettes, for both the foreground and background. The design of the character of Aspen was partially based on Peter Pan, and the overall themes of nature stem from her love of nature and her concept art for a work-in-progress project.
Another artwork, “Sticks and Stones”, is a 3D piece Katlyn made during a semester at the University of the Bahamas. This piece is inspired by her love of log cabins and cosy spaces. Katlyn said she wanted to challenge herself with this piece and see if she could make something relatively complex out of the materials specified in this art assignment.
“One of my favourite pieces is called ‘Mother Nature’. When creating this piece, I thought about the elements of nature that always fascinated me growing up. Poinciana trees are throughout my neighbourhood, and I had always considered their flowers some of the most beautiful and unique ones. They also remind me of my early childhood. Therefore, these flowers were the perfect thing to crown the head of an ethereal woman connected to nature itself,” she said.
Another favourite of hers is “Seahorses”.
“A while ago, I was swimming in a pond in Eleuthera. I dove under, only to find that it was filled with seahorses. This experience felt magical since I had never seen these creatures up close in their natural habitat. At that time, I did not have a GoPro (camera) to take any pictures, so I painted this piece to commemorate that experience,” said Katlyn.
The teen artist said while painting the mural at KFC she received great feedback from Bahamians first-hand; many people stopped by to encourage her.
“They always expressed how they couldn’t believe I painted something like it, and how much they loved my style. I found it funny when people said, ‘It looks so realistic’ when my style felt quite the opposite. It truly surprises me how so many Bahamians feel genuine joy when seeing an artist at work,” she said.
Going forward, Katlyn said she plans to complete a few more mural jobs during the summer months. And throughout the rest of this year, she is aiming to put out more consistent pieces via her Instagram page, including more digital paintings, traditional sketches and acrylic canvas pieces.
“I will also work on improving my animation skills so I can start posting animations as well. Furthermore, I am currently in the early process of making a few comics that I want to publish eventually,” said Katlyn.