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KATHLEEN SCARBORO shares her journey as an artist, explaining why she has chosen the subjects that are so dear to her heart. In December 2023, she opened an exhibition entitled “Indian Women: Grace and Resilience” in the Town Hall of the 16th Arrondisement of Paris, France, to celebrate that journey, and we showcase some of those paintings here.


When I met Chariji in 1988, I had no idea that India would be important in my life, or that for thirty years I would devote myself exclusively to painting this subject. For meditators, life unfolds and reveals its main themes over time. As I look back over my trajectory, it seems that there was an inner logic that had its own momentum and all I had to do was follow along and do the work. I remember my painting teacher, Patrick Betaudier, used to say that when a painting is ripe to come into existence, it paints itself. I often feel that way.

Before starting meditation, I was already a professional painter. I had a good technique and I had the desire to produce art, but my true message, what exactly I wanted to paint, was not clear to me. So much art had been created, in so many directions, by so many artists, and I wasn’t sure of my place in the general scheme of things. One day, as I was working on murals on Réunion Island, it suddenly seemed obvious what I wanted to paint, why, and for whom. I am certain this realization was the result of the meditation I had begun practicing. Meditation gives us the clarity to know ourselves, which leads to an understanding of how to use our abilities to share with others.




What inspires me are the lives of people of modest condition, in tune with nature, and the beauty and harmony of the natural world. I generally paint women and children; their universe is more accessible to me, and I share the love of drapery, textiles, and vivid color with the women of India. The beauty that inspires me is not that of movie stars or the perfection of youth. I seek a quieter beauty that is unaware of itself and not dependent on passing modes.

Nature is an important element in my work. I love gardening and the delicate designs and the fleeting elegance of flowers. I enjoy interweaving natural elements and landscapes with portraits of people in various postures and activities.




Indian women are often mothers and combine a practical sense of daily reality, work, caring for others, and a graceful, natural elegance. They are the pillars of our world. I try to evoke this in my paintings, and this is why my latest exhibition in Paris has the title, “Indian Women: Grace and Resilience.”

I generally paint women and children;
their universe is more accessible to me,
and I share the love of drapery, textiles,
and vivid color with the women of India. 



My approach to painting was greatly influenced by classical art. I make my medium and emulsion myself, and my technique is a modernized version of the techniques of the Flemish and Italian Renaissance. Paintings take months to do using this method, and intense color is created by layers and layers of transparent oil glazes.

I became a professional artist in 1981. Throughout a career in public art, I always dealt with a commission system. In other words, customers would request a work of art and I would find a way to express their ideas and ideals. This kept me very close to a general audience who generally knew nothing about the art found in galleries or museums. Thanks to this link with an audience, working with cities, schools, and other public entities, I came to understand that the basic role of a work of art is communication. To be successful, the work has to please the client and myself on the conceptual and aesthetic levels. This was the hardest part of public art. 




Strangely, public art prepared me as an easel painter; I sensed that my mural and sculpture experience taught me to concentrate on grand themes and pulled me to a situation where I was no longer interested in my own personal trajectory, but with our shared story. This is the opposite of what we learned to do in art school where we were encouraged to explore our own personal psyche and idiosyncrasies. 

Thanks to this public art orientation, my eyes were directed toward the outside, toward other people and their ways of life, rather than looking inside. I was first given many opportunities to explore a culture different from mine in Réunion, where I visited villages, spoke with people, photographed their animals and their environment. For ten years, I worked on this theme.




Then I turned my eyes toward India. Going from Réunion to India, the light, the iconography, the style of dress, the architecture were all different; the range of colors too. As a result, my painting style changed completely. India has provided a marvelous opportunity to explore intense, highly saturated color as well as the power, compositional opportunities, and opulence of drapery (thanks to the women in their saris). The Indian pantheon of gods and goddesses, the non-temporal landscapes and temples, and the Indian people provide an unending inspiration for my paintings.






Kathleen Scarboro

Kathleen Scarboro

When Kathleen received her first commission for a mural painting from The Public Art Workshop of Chicago, it was the beginning of a lifelong career in art. Her series of Reunion Island paintings were exhibited over a nine-month period in... Read More