Katie Ré’s Right Brain
A studio visit with artist Katie Re Scheidt
Katie Ré Scheidt in her barn art studio working on one of her abstract oil paintings.
Photo by Adam Lerner
Katie Ré Scheidt remembers going home to visit her parents after working in finance right out of college, and her parent’s friends asking her quizzically, “You’re on Wall Street? But I thought you liked art?” They couldn’t reconcile the two.
While it’s commonly believed that art and math are mutually exclusive, and if you excel in one you can’t possibly have skills for the other, there are many exceptions to this rule: Katie is among them. She is able to toggle between these two ways of being - but not without some level of awareness of the switch from one to the other. “My husband claims he can see when I switch over into the artist’s mind.”
Sometime around middle school, Katie began signing her paintings with a different name—Kiki L’Hereux. It is a combination of her middle name, L’Heureux, french for “The Happy One,” and her childhood nickname. She says she was not looking for a pseudonym.
“I think I did it because I recognized when you’re in the creative flow time passes and you don’t even know it—it’s very intense, meditative almost. I love it.” And so with this moniker, Katie makes space for that side of herself that segues into this state of flow.
At 16, Katie studied classical figurative drawing for ten weeks with Cecil Gravès in Florence, Italy. This experience both established her style of working, as well as her commitment to making art. Becoming an artist, having a flourishing studio of her own, was a dream that soon became a plan.
What do you do when you want to be an artist but want to live comfortably? You go work on Wall Street. She tells me the story of the life changing advice given to her by her father after she graduated college and started working as a trader. “My dad said, ‘You seem to enjoy finance, and it will yield a nice lifestyle. Why don’t you stay doing this and plan to get setup to make art a bit later?’” She says, “I thanked him later for that advice.”
In 2010, roughly a decade later, with a growing family in Bronxville, and child whose infancy she was missing during the long days at the office, she left the New York based firm she’d been with for twelve years, through the losses and grief of 9/11. She and her husband started looking around Connecticut and found a home in Roxbury, with an historic barn on the property that had been built as a studio for an illustrator.
The year they moved, on her 35th birthday, she found herself staring at a brand new easel given to her by her husband, and a giant blank canvas, a gift from her parents. With two children in diapers, she knew she couldn’t start right away. Instead, she hung it over the mantelpiece for a year, as motivation, until she was ready. She then bought her supplies, signed up for classes at Washington Art Association, and started converting the barn across from the house into her studio.
In the five years that Katie has had her studio she has developed a strong and painterly voice as well as a vigorous studio practice sustained by commissions. Many of her first commissions were portraits of children. Her highly adept, painterly impressions of faces and figures are rendered in oil on canvas in a modern, gestural, emotionally evocative style. She now has over 2,000 followers on Instagram, and is a big believer in the positive role social media can play for artists.
“De Kooning had his first show when he was forty-one. I’m so psyched that I had a career on Wall Street and this is a second chapter. I love that I get to do both.”
Recently Katie’s work has undergone another transition, into abstraction. Large, gestural swathes of color in the manner of the abstract expressionists leave behind more literal depictions of the figure, becoming atmospheric and evocative of landscapes. Her sense of color and composition retain the confidence and beauty of her portraits, with a more universal and immediate appeal. “My studio art comes out of me for me; it is expiremental, expressive, and I believe very necessary. It also tends to sell because it’s a strong point of view.” 14 of the 24 paintings sold at her recent exhibit, “A Point of Departure” at the Minor Memorial Library in Roxbury.
Katie Ré Scheidt has shown at The Good Gallery in Kent, the Quogue Gallery in Quogue, New York, and other galleries and Art Associations throughout Connecticut. Her work is held in private collections throughout the country including New York, Connecticut, North Carolina, Chicago, and California.