Thursday, October 25, 2012

DPW Spotlight Interview: Kevin Inman

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. 

To enter to win Kevin Inman's painting, "Santa Barbara Sunset," go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing Kevin's interview.

From Kevin's DPW gallery page:
I paint the poetry of everyday things. I admire the bright landscapes of my home in San Diego, California and strive to feel them in oil. Using old master techniques, I try to work at the crossroads of the Barbizon school and British Postwar Realism.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I've been painting for almost 20 years (since I was 14). When I was 20, I moved to Spain for a year. It was great. I had a lot of spare time and spent most of it painting. It was a major change of pace for me. I couldn't work a job there - I didn't have the right kind of visa - and my schoolwork was much easier than it was back home at the University of Virginia. So I had all this freedom and could paint most days. And I really liked that.

On weekends and school breaks, I backpacked around, mostly in Spain and Italy, working on plein air drawings and watercolor. I loved the history, the Mediterranean light, the art museums and the different cultures. This was also when I first started working with oils and fell in love with the medium.

Santa Barbara Sunset
(click here to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the page announcing Kevin's interview.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

I had more of a slow, gradual start. After coming back from that year plein air painting in Spain and Italy, I graduated college and took a more than full time job in the IT sector in Washington, D.C. I worked similar jobs for the next nine years, also completing a MFA in painting along the way.

Transitioning from a salary and schedule to being a full time artist was a major challenge and since 2010, I've been trying to make that work.

Add Deco House in Hillcrest
(click here to see original image)

What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away? Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Over the years, I've learned a few things about what inspires me to seek the next challenge. Painting daily helps keep me engaged.

When I was working on my MFA, that's when I started the transition from the abstract work I'd been doing for about five years towards my current direction. That was a slow process of incremental change and then an A-ha! moment when I suddenly thought, I'm not an abstract painter anymore. I didn't plan to do it, so what I think I learned there was to just see what feels right and go with that, even if it's not what you expected to be doing; even if it means walking away from a lot of time and energy you invested. My current body of work seems to me to be about experiencing a place, being in that place.

Of all the media, my favorites are chalk pastels and oil paints.

Waves on the Rocks, Cabrillo
(click here to see original image)

There are such lovely, strong lines and saturated colors in your work. How do you settle upon a particular composition and color combination? 

Thank you for the compliment! I like to experiment with color and try out different palettes. The strong colors in my current body of work come primarily from painting San Diego. I'm fond of the clear, brilliant light we have here. I also enjoy painting San Diego's frequent fog, which calls for a more muted approach.

Composition for me is primarily intuitive and a viewfinder helps (I like the one by Guerrilla Painter). Painters are urged by instructors to use a variety of edges in their painting, but if you look at Botticelli's work, there's always a fine, beautiful line defining all the edges. I love that.

What does procrastination look like for you? What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

Some of my best painting happens when I am not washing the dishes. Procrastination fuels creativity and artists should embrace it!

The main thing I do to schedule is I consider painting my job. I have a schedule - 8 to 6 - and that's my workday. I try to fit in painting and other tasks during those hours. Like any job, some days you are more effective than others. I schedule other tasks for when I need breaks in painting and usually I get to everything.

Another aspect of that is learning to say no. No, I have to work; I can't pick you up at the airport; I can't go to Happy Hour.

University Avenue in North Park
(click here to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Like a lot of landscape painters, I think, I see the world as potential paintings. So wherever I am, I'm thinking, how would I make a good painting out of that? For years, I've carried a sketchbook and pastels with me, so I can get fast, on location sketches for later studio work.

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I'm a tinkerer. So right now, for example, I'm learning about artisan bread baking, since I really want to make good pizza at home. I make pizza about once per week, but every time it's a different approach to dough, a different topping, a different kind of sauce. The results are often not that great, but one of these days, I'll figure out a system and every time after that, the pizza dough will be that much better.

That's what I like to do with painting too. I like to experiment with my materials and approach. I don't mind revisiting the same locations, varying the time of day, color choices, vantage point. Those small changes keep me feeling excited even though, like with the pizza dough, plenty of those experimental paintings don't work out and need to be wiped.

When I do burn out, the hardest part is the blocked feeling. Sudden, total painting inertia. Then you try to force the ideas and they go small and boring and the painting is ruined. So that's always a miserable, crazy-making time. The only solution I have is to wait it out, though I bet a few weeks in a mansion in Paris would also cure it.

Cat Painting Tuesday
(click here to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Right now, I'm interested in plein air practice in particular, and looking at the Italian landscapes of Corot, as well as contemporary work.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I like to see growth, but what I really enjoy is a personal connection to the place. You know, I was a military brat and moved around so much when I was growing up. I like focusing on the local, which is San Diego. I love when someone comes up to me and says, "This painting reminds me of trips to my grandmother's house when I was a kid..." I love hearing those stories, I love that connection.

Thanks, Kevin!

© 2012 Jennifer Newcomb Marine


  1. Hi Kevin- LOVE your bold strokes- such confidence! Really like your work- Nadi

  2. I'm a big fan too. The lack of hesitancy in your work and the full commitment to large value shapes and areas makes for strong visual impact.
    Also you have been able to make me fall in love with power lines and telephone poles.
    Good luck with the bread baking experiments.

  3. Love the power of immediacy you bring to your work. Your lines...your angles all speak of a reaction to the place which is honest and true.
    Oh yes...great remark about Paris...must remember I have to to go there next time I go through a block. Hubby may not approve but sounds like a cure to me!

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  5. Thank you all!

    I do love my power lines... can you believe they have an initiative here to put them all below ground?

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