In her spare time Kay Naitby enjoys painting and drawing, as well as photography. It is Kay’s artwork and artistic skills that made me want to find out more about the person behind the paintings. Growing up in Middlesbrough, Kay had always enjoyed drawing and after leaving school she attended Cleveland College where she studied art and design. However, after eighteen months, she became fed up of being a hard-up student and decided to leave college to pursue a career that would provide her with an income. Her love of art always prevailed, though, and she always found time to paint and draw, even whilst raising two sons.
Fast forward several years and it is only recently that we have seen her skills in the public domain; Kay is responsible for creating and painting the decorative signage to the windows and artwork additions inside the St Fillans Village Store. Here, you will also find her detailed, lifelike drawings of birds framed on the walls and her pictures of scenes of the area which she took with her camera. The one piece that Kay is most proud of is her latest project, a painting of St Fillans from west to east. This depicts the houses and buildings along the main road from The Four Seasons Hotel to Glenalbyn Cottage on the corner of Station Road.
Kay’s abilities are not limited to wildlife and buildings, though, and she often draws and paints portraits of people, infact she is often asked to undertake commissions of people’s loved ones (both human and four-legged). I wanted to know what is the most unusual thing that she’s been asked to draw or paint. In Kay’s own words: ““I don’t think I’ve been asked to paint anything out of the ordinary really. Lots of people ask for portraits of people who have passed away. This is an unusual task as sometimes the pictures are old and tiny and they would like the picture to be very large. By the end of the process you have invested hours and hours in work before you are happy. It’s a real honour to have a commission like this as you know every freckle, scar, dimple, blotch; you really do feel like you know the person once you hand the piece over. The reaction of the person who has asked for the portrait is usually in tears - then you know you have captured them”.
As one who has not been gifted with the artistic gene myself, I asked Kay how much does she think is down to natural talent and how much is through practising and learning? Kay’s answer; “Being artistic is both nature and nurture - I’d say fifty/fifty. You can be ok at drawing but practice does produce objects which are more pleasing to the eye. Anyone can draw, everyone should draw - for me I find it extremely relaxing”. (So there’s hope for me yet). I wondered what style of art does Kay prefer (classical, modern, etc.). Kay thinks “Art is such an individual choice. Personally I like pieces which move me, whether old or new, classical or modern. I like art that shows a real understanding of form, colour, medium etc. Oh I hate cubism!” I guess there are no Picasso’s hanging on Kay’s walls in that case. So what is Kay’s favourite piece of artwork (by another artist)? Well, it’s a sculpture by Degas called Little Dancer, which Kay saw in a gallery in London which she says is lifesize and “stunning”.
Story by Isobel Howells, St Fillans
(Aside from her hobby of drawing and painting, Kay Naitby works alongside her husband, Dave, in their boat manufacturing/selling business, Arran Boats. )