Birgitta Kappe was born in Sweden and immigrated to the United States when she was 18. Her love of art manifested itself at an early age, but it wasn’t until her two children were grown that Birgitta began taking classes at Coastline Community College to fulfill her artistic passion. At first painting was a pleasant pastime. Then one day in 1989, as she sat working at her easel on a sidewalk on Balboa Island, a woman walked up and offered to purchase her watercolor. Birgitta had never shown her work before, never dreamed of selling it. So to have someone offer to buy the painting “was a big deal!”
Shortly thereafter one of her teachers invited her to join an artist-owned gallery. By the end of the weekend she had sold another painting. It was then that she sensed she was meant to be a painter. After a couple years of working with watercolors, Birgitta began adding other mediums to the paint to enhance its color and texture. She then tried oils and was instantly hooked. The richness of the paint, its opaque and shiny quality, and the way she could manipulate it on the canvas added to the attraction.
Over the ensuing years, Birgitta studied the techniques of such American masters as Windslow Homer, Milford Zornes, Robert E. Woods, and Russian Armenian artist Ovanes Berberian. From each she gleaned a greater passion and keener understanding of her newfound life’s work.
Today Birgitta’s paintings are bold with color. From the cocoa and rusty browns of date palms in an Indian Canyon oasis, or the effervescent lavenders and midnight blues of a Pacific Grove beach, to the vibrant cloistered gardens of California’s missions, Birgitta has put the unique quality of oils to good use. Indeed she is a self-described colorist, preferring bright and forthright to muted tonal variations. To her delight, a faithful and growing following of collectors agree with her choices.
“I’m always surprised by people’s tastes. Even now I wonder, what is it about this or that painting that attracts others to it?”
Perhaps it is the dynamic interplay between landscape and artist that is evident in all of Birgitta’s work. An enthusiastic “plein air” artist, she prefers to work directly from nature, sitting sometimes for hours before a panoramic vista to identify the essence of its beauty. Her trained eye and skilled touch with a paintbrush have enabled her to reach into a landscape and find just the right nuance of light and shadow, then capture that enlightened moment on canvas.
Case in point is her landscape titled “Santa Rosa Mountain,” which is hanging at the Betty Ford Center. The buyer remarked that when he first saw the piece he recognized at once its symbolism of what the patients at the Center go through. “This is how they come in, like the bare desert; the sunlit mountain crowning the sky represents hope; the bird flying high above illustrates that when they leave, they are free.” Birgitta hopes everyone who views her work connects with it in such a way – is moved by some emotion or fond memory.
Birgitta’s work has been exhibited in many galleries over the past 15 years, and has received accolades at The Desert Plein Air Competition and the La Quinta Art Festival. In 1998 she received the award of Best Watercolor Artist at the Art-A-Fair Festival in Laguna Beach; in 2000 she was recognized as Best Oil Painter. In 2003, “Hills With Poppies” was selected for the Festival’s poster. “The best reward of all,” Birgitta muses, “is doing what I love to do.