Kay might never have become such a popular artist if not for an evening art class at a Community College near Portland, Oregon, in 1967. Her instructor identified her natural artistic talent and requested that she teach oil painting classes the following year. His failing health inspired him to lay the foundation with the college administrators for Kay to completely take over his classes. She accepted that offer with a passion that continued for 12 highly successful years for her and her students.
She paints only with oils and employs some of the techniques used by the old masters. Her major paintings take several weeks to complete because she paints in thin layers and each layer must dry before starting on the next layer. Glazes are used throughout the painting process to give the image depth and brilliance.
Kay and her husband, noted artist Ron Holyfield, presently live in the beautiful Tennessee River Valley in southeastern Tennessee, not far from the Great Smokey Mountains. To obtain reference material for their paintings they spend countless hours doing field research, sketching, photographing and video taping the behavior of animals and their habitat. Together they have observed more wildlife behavior than many research biologists. Since 1994 they have spent about 3 months each summer in the Black Hills of South Dakota where they are artists-in-residence at a resort and live with about 1500 buffalo (Bison). A number of Kay's paintings are her impressions of the prairie, hills, and the wildlife of that part of the country. Her intimate knowledge of the Pacific Northwest is also readily apparent in her landscape and wildlife paintings of that region.
Although she leaves her paintings open to interpretation, her skillful hand guides your visit through each image where you are mesmerized by her realistic habitat depictions, feel the rough bark of the lodgepole pine, smell its resin, and perhaps even see your own footprints in the frosted grass. Most important, the relationship she creates between wildlife and habitat is as authentic as if seen through a window into the wilderness that is Kay's classroom.
Kay's accomplishments continue to accrue. Some of her special honors include:
- JURIED into annual Artists for Conservation "The Art of Conservation" exhibition, 2009.
- JURIED into annual Society of Animal Artists "Art and the Animal" exhibition, 2009.
- JURIED into Oil Painters of America, 2009.
Her painting, "TATANKA SPIRIT", was selected to be the image used for the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup, 2008.
INVITED to exhibit in "Paws and Reflect - Art of Canines" national tour May 6, 2007 - March 15, 2010.- JURIED into annual Society of Animal Artists "Art and the Animal" exhibition, 2002, 2003, 2009.
Kay has participated in premiere art shows and events for many years. These include:- Waterfowl Festival