My mother is a storyteller extraordinaire and a very fine painter. I was speechless during the early years, leaving her thinking I might be short on wits and talent.... In fact, our entire clan was telling stories and rolling around laughing. Looking back now, it occurs to me that I was hopelessly agog and merely staring.

My father told me when I was nineteen that no one in the United States would ever understand me or my work and that I should consider living in Mexico. I did consider it but stayed on, never dreaming he could have known anything. And at last it came to me: Being understood is not something I can understand. What he failed to predict was that some of my paintings would genuinely frighten my clients. Occasionally one will shudder and ask in a tremulous voice, "Is my painting going to look like your work?" and I assure them that certainly it will not.

Family and artists have always influenced my work but my connection to nature is surely the strongest tie to the spirit world I hope to portray. The myths and visions present themselves and somehow, I am able to see and render them. This must be what is referred to as a gift.

My family continues to be a huge source of entertainment. Frances Nail, my mother now a writer, is a force for all to enjoy with often hilarious and very moving personal essays or memoirs. My daughter, Carrie Rodriguez, is the most marvelous musician and certainly worth googling. Sister Leslie Nail is the brain of our family, with a talent for editing and helping us to seem more intelligent. And then came husband Jim Swift, a talented broadcast journalist for KXAN TV, an NBC affiliate in Austin, Texas, who fits right in with the clan.



"No words seem capable of capturing the influences involved in what is visual. You can grow up in your mother's studio as I did in Frances Nail's. You can mingle your entire life with her teachers and friends, the likes of Dorothy Hood and Karen Kuykendall.... or your own teachers and friends, the likes of Kenneth Zonker and Judy Jensen. Most profoundly though, I recall a total immersion in the natural world, out of body experiences, and trails leading into the deepest and wildest places I could find. The earth offers an infinite abundance."




On my studio door you'll find my favorite quote:

"The true artist is responsible to no one but himself. He donates to the centuries to come only his works; he stands surely for himself alone. He dies without issue. He was his own king, his own priest, and his own god."

— Baudelaire


Katy Nail