I have known Mary Kathryn Woodward for almost two decades (boy, how time flies!) and have enjoyed a front row seat to the evolution of her stunning artwork and creative process. When you walk into Mary Kathryn's Richmond, Virginia home, you are swept away by the array of color and light. In the distance, there is the subtlety sweet smell of a burning candle and the quiet steps of a greyhound rescue. Just like the artist, Mary Kathryn’s home is a perfect reflection of her presence in the world – bright and effervescent. Whether she is at a school function for one of her three children, in the kayak, hosting a party for a book club friend, or camping along the river with her father and son, Mary Kathryn wears the same cheerful smile, signature color combination, and perfectly polished nails. 

Mary Kathryn has always been attracted to color and the storied histories of all types of art and artists. Time spent in New York and Paris planted a seed of creative curiosity, but Mary Kathryn did not start painting until she owned her own home. What began as a way to bring life to a blank space, has resulted in a rich collection of work that not only fills the walls of Mary Kathryn’s beautifully styled home but also the homes of many others throughout Virginia.

As a backyard farmer and extraordinary gardener, Mary Kathryn's outdoor space is overflowing with lush greens and vibrant colors independent of the season. Drawing on nature as one of her biggest inspirations, Mary Kathryn notices “the grace that is present in the chaos”. With the approach of a scientist, Mary Kathryn takes in every detail and slightest nuance of color, pulling her deeper into every outdoor experience. Her Instagram feed is flooded with an array of flowers, energetic honey bees, and fluttering hummingbirds. Each moment captured acts as a stored memory, flowing through Mary Kathryn when she paints.


Mary Kathryn's love for the outdoors extends to Richmond’s backyard. You can often find Mary Kathryn, her husband, and children paddling down the river or around town with a load of kayaks on top of the car. Over the past year, Mary Kathryn has fallen in love with kayaking. Not just the easy, Sunday afternoon floating down the river kayaking, but the raging whitewater, hold your breath and pray kind of experience. Now a regular on the James River white water system, Mary Kathryn is one of the few women tackling the gushing class four rapids. Embodying the freedom she feels on the water, Mary Kathryn channels these experiences and collected wisdom into her paintings.

As you might expect, Mary Kathryn's creative approach and artwork have evolved over the years. Her growth has been fueled by expertise from amazing teachers and granting herself permission to play and experiment. While practice does not make perfect, Mary Kathryn’s process has become easier and more fluid with each stroke. 


Working from her dining room table (it’s true), donning jeans and paint filled apron, Mary Kathryn uses a palette knife to create a contrast of color and layers. Mary Kathryn approaches each canvas freely, often working on several pieces at one time. She touches each piece with delicate precision, layering oil and acrylic with traces of gold leaf. Just like her personality, you discover something different about her paintings each time you look at them. 


Mary Kathryn uniquely brings bold colors to life in floral bouquets, stunning abstracts, and impressionistic landscapes. Her use of her signature turquoise color and rich texture just makes you happy - the bright colors eliminate the darkness and dance with the light. Without intention, Mary Kathryn has cornered the market with her matchless style and color palette. Her work is bold, yet soothing which makes it easy to spot a Mary Kathryn Woodward piece of art!!

Take a moment to check out her stunning work and learn a little bit more about the talented artist, Mary Kathryn Woodward. 


How has your work evolved over the past several years?

I have started to paint much more frequently and really experiment and broaden my use of different mediums.  Also, while I embrace color first and foremost, I have really tried to add a little more neutrals to let my brighter palette pop a bit. 

What is your process for creating? 

I often start by adding layers and layers of a paint to a canvas to create a rich history filled with emergent and unexpected details.  I think I create the best art earlier in the day since I am a morning person.  I am most creative when I am painting every day and in my feeling of “flow”.   It takes a while to get to that spot, so when I have a lot of time to dedicate to painting, I find myself in a in a more creative spot versus when I just start out after a big break.

What is one of your biggest challenges as an artist? 

Easily, it is trying to think of new subjects to paint.  I really only like to paint what I personally am drawn to and with a color palette that I find appealing.  I think that’s why I experiment with so many different types of paintings – abstract, landscapes, detailed flowers and then funky, abstract flowers, geometric abstracts and blurry, layered abstracts. 

What inspires you? 

Color foremost, then nature, pink light, all flora, water, and different textures, the James River, blue herons, leaves and trees.

What do you like to do when you are not painting? 

Whitewater kayaking and spending lots of time with my children are my favorite ways to spend my free time.  I also like gardening, watching squash, learning more about my bees, reading books, and pretty much any activity on the water.

Check out more of Mary Kathryn's work at and follow her on instagram @mk.holden.woodward/.

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