Sun Prairie native Kaitlin Walsh at her studio, Lyon Road Art, at 101 E. Main St. in Waunakee, where her anatomical paintings are on display.
Sun Prairie native Kaitlin Walsh at her studio, Lyon Road Art, at 101 E. Main St. in Waunakee, where her anatomical paintings are on display.
After an expectant mother loses a child to miscarriage, or a cancer patient survives the illness, Kaitlin Walsh is able top provide a meaningful image to help them remember.
Walsh makes her living painting human anatomy, including embryos for those dealing with infertility or who have lost a child.
“I’ve painted hundreds and hundreds of embryos,” she said. “People want a memory of what things they’ve been through in their life.”
And Walsh enjoys helping portray their life story and being there after they’ve faced such a hardship, she said.
Originally from Sun Prairie, Walsh moved to Waunakee with her family in 2021. She is the owner of Lyon Art Studio, and her new operation on Main Street joins a number of recently opened shops sprucing up the heart of Waunakee’s downtown.
Walsh’s artwork is unique, and to the untrained eye, may seem like abstract art. She seems to enjoy that insider knowledge.
“My favorite are the wink-wink paintings, when I know it’s anatomy, and somebody who went to medical school or dental school or PT school knows it’s anatomy, but anybody else looking at it would just think it’s like an abstract design,” Walsh said.
Walsh aims to portray anatomical features as soft and “not creepy or gross,” she said, noting that currently in the studio are a series of bone paintings in red hues she is working on just for herself. She has a large clientele of doctors and medical offices, but paintings for those are done in blue, rather than in red, which can remind patients of blood, she said.
Walsh began drawing and painting as a child and became interested in anatomy when she was young. Her grandfather was a dentist and loved anatomy, as well, often sharing pictures of the human body.
Describing her love, she said, “just the stories of it—how the names came to be those names, the Latin history. He would teach us things and give us nickels at the dinner table if we remembered them.”
That inspired Walsh to study medicine, but painting was always her true love, she said. When she learned about medical illustration schools, she pursued that field in college. She went on to attend the University of Illinois in Chicago and earned a master’s degree in biomedical visualization. She learned to paint and create animation of human anatomy, providing imagery for surgeons to educate their patients and for us in pharmaceutical advertisement.
Walsh and her husband moved around a lot early in their marriage, settling first in San Francisco, California. They then worked their way to Wisconsin, moving to Omaha, Nebraska, then the Quad Cities area of Iowa before coming to Waunakee.
Walsh was just out of graduate school when the couple moved to San Francisco and she got her first job. She found out she was pregnant soon after and had major complications. Her son was born very premature and was very sick, as she tells on the Lyon Road website. It tells the story of how the company was born, as well as her son:
“We learned to appreciate the hard work of nurses, doctors and therapists and the never-ending support of friends and family…My paintings are a manifestation of this appreciation: I paint anatomy to showcase the beauty in the human body.”
She began creating fine art from medical art and found a large demand when she began posting her work on Etsy. No one else was doing that sort of painting then, she said. That was nearly eight years ago. The name Lyon Road came from the street they lived on in San Francisco when the business began.
Lyon Road Art sells prints, as well, with a printer in Iowa, one in house at the Waunakee studio and another Walsh contracts with in Europe. Much of her new work is done on commission.
In addition to selling her art, Walsh teaches classes at the Waunakee studio, and though she just opened a few months ago, Walsh said the classes are about half full. The four-week sessions run once a week. Currently, she is teaching youth drawing, beginning watercolor and oil painting.
Lyon Road Art is enjoying success, and Walsh’s sense of appreciation continues to grow.
“I feel so lucky I have a list on commission,” she said. “I’m so blessed as an artist to always be requested.”
Walsh said she never runs out of ideas for new paintings of the human body, but with so many commissions, she has trouble getting to them.
“That’s also just such a good problem to have, to have more ideas than time. I like that I’m never short on inspiration.”
To learn more about Walsh and Lyon Road Art, visit the website, https://www.lyonroadart.com.
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