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‘If a book has a map, it’s usually worth reading’: Katie Mainwaring and her maps at Catching Stars

Katie moved to Bowen as a teenager and now lives and works here full time and creates from her home in the Mount Gardner area
Portrait of Katie Mainwaring

With the coming of spring, Catching Stars Gallery features artist Katie Mainwaring’s new works which are reflective of the beauty of her surroundings, her lifestyle, and also hint at the world of fantasy that is hidden in her imagination. 

Katie’s subject matter varies from detailed line drawings of her maps to the more recently inspired landscapes and the emerging new growth of the wild plants and flowers of her homelands. 

Katie moved to Bowen as a teenager and now lives and works here full time and creates from her home in the Mount Gardner area. She joined Catching Stars Gallery in the fall of 2019 as an associate member. 

When she is not making art, Katie works with Bowenshire Stoneworks and as a landscape gardener.


Katie Mainwaring painting a landscape. By Chelsea Mainwaring


Her process when she is working on her signature map pieces involves many layers of work to get the geographical accuracy of the map, before embellishing with her fantastical characters; mermaids, dragons, sea monsters, sunken treasures and more. 

“Maps have always been a passion. I always say if a book has a map, it’s usually worth reading,” muses Katie. “The thing is with maps, they need to be accurate. It’s quite a process actually. 

“For the maps of Bowen and Vancouver Island, I first do a wash with coffee grinds, then using nautical charts as a guide, transfer the map to the actual art paper. Then, I draw the lines in ink. Once all the technical stuff is done, I can get in there and have some fun with all the embellishments and labelling. 

“I love calligraphy and penmanship, so it’s a cool way to integrate it into my art.” 

Painting landscapes and nature is intuitive and therapeutic and as Katie explains “It’s almost like it’s not really me painting and it just kind of happens. I feel like a vessel almost. Especially when I paint clouds. I love painting clouds.” 

Other artists provide a lot of inspiration for Katie as well. “I think it’s important as an artist to always be observing others’ work. It keeps the creative juices flowing. A few artists that truly inspire me are: J. R. R. Tolkien, Josephine Wall, Amy Brown and Kinoko Craft.”

When it comes to her artmaking, a favourite quote describes her philosophy of creating, being that it’s okay to follow your dreams and not allow the world to control you.

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities,” said J.R.R. Tolkien

“Another thing that I always tell people who say they wish they could be so talented or that they wished they were an artist, everyone is an artist, somehow,” says Katie. “It’s in there, even if you don’t know it. 

“One’s art is like a piece of their spirit. It’s a very personal thing to share,” she says. “I can say that my work is a small reflection of my mind, especially the piece Wayward Windows, the most literal interpretation of my imagination.”

Stop in and see Katie’s work in person at Catching Stars Gallery, open seven days, 11 a.m. to  5 p.m. She will also be artist in residence at Catching Stars Gallery on Monday, March 15 and again on Saturday, March 20. 


Landscape by Katie Mainwaring. By Katie Mainwaring