Interview with artist Kathleen Parr McKenna

Kathleen Parr McKenna’s paintings “celebrate a passion for color, a reverence for nature, and a love for watercolor.”

Kathleen Parr McLenna’s Hawaiian studio is busy year round with commissions and design work. “I’ve always enjoyed the mystery this medium bestows,” she says. “I can express beauty and wonder and it may never be the same twice. Every brush stroke is a pleasure and a completed painting or design is a joy to see. For me, the purpose of putting artwork in front of someone else’s eyes is to make that person feel good.” 

Q&A With Kathleen Parr McKenna

1) Your new Halloween collection is adorable. How do you celebrate Halloween in Hawaii?

Halloween is celebrated in Hawaii very much like on the mainland. There are houses and yards decorated with the scary outdoor decorations,trick or treating in the neighborhoods, costume parties and dress up awards. Because the weather usually cooperates it’s fun to see the costumes on everyone outdoors and you don’t have to have a coat on to keep you warm.

2) Customers love your seasonal art. What is your favorite holiday to celebrate?

Christmas is my favorite holiday to go all out! I love decorating the tree with heritage ornaments and new ones as well. I spend a whole day putting each one exactly in the perfect place and finish off with wide colorful ribbon around the branches. Candles and boughs on the tables, a huge collection of nutcrackers I have had for decades and I keep adding to from visiting (shops around the world). Lighted wreaths are by the front door and above the fireplace mantel. The gift wrapping is all coordinated in a color scheme different year to year. The stockings are monogrammed and always filled with those fun little extra finds.I send out greeting cards with personal notes, but I gave up on a family letter years ago.

3) What’s it like when you see your art on a product at retail?

Throughout all the years of licensing it does not get old finding a product with my art on it and break out in a smile. My family and friends send photos of things they see when out and about in their travels and are as surprised and pleased to make a discovery. Sometimes when I make a find I let the store associates or manager know and introduce myself and they are thrilled. Some stores would set up a “signing” around the holidays so the customers would purchase the item and have something a bit more special in their gift buying. Over the years I have a special collection of products that are discontinued or the companies have left the industry and the product no longer made. Those are very meaningful and have a place in time for me and the great relationships I had with so many manufacturers.