Thursday, March 27, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Kim Testone

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

To enter to win Kim's painting, "Glass of Coke" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Kim's DPW Gallery page:

Kim Testone is a Central Florida artist and former art magazine editor and journalist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drawing from the University of Central Florida and a Master of Arts degree in Arts Administration from Savannah College of Art and Design. As a painter, she is primarily self-taught, crediting her technique to the scrutiny of various instructional books, magazine articles, and online videos. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Although I graduated with a degree in art in 2000, I only began painting about a year and a half ago. I had only learned to use acrylics in college, and I hated the work I had produced, so I stopped painting almost entirely for more than a decade. Eventually, I got a job working in the arts, and after several years of talking to hundreds of artists and looking at thousands of paintings, I really came to a point where I thought, life is short, and I want to learn to paint. I also learned, after looking at so many other artists’ works, that I wanted to work realistically and that I wanted to try oils. So I bought a bunch of books, read a bunch of magazines and watched several hundred Youtube videos.

Glass of Coke
(click to see original image)

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

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

I don’t think the first painting career ever got started, if you could even call it that. After college, I didn’t have any idea what it meant to be a painter. Not only did I have no technique, I had nothing to say in my work. I did a few random pet portraits for people over the years, but I never painted anything from myself. I very much consider painting to be a new career for me.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

At some point, I tried everything – photography, acrylics, pastels, watercolor, gouache. In college, and probably for a few years afterward, I tried doing abstract work, expressionism, illustration. I just kept trying to find my place, as I was so desperate to create and so disappointed when I couldn’t make anything of substance.

Green Tea Bag
(click to see original image)

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

I really think I’ve found my place, working in realist painting and in oils. But I had to make a commitment to it, because I think it’s easy to keep wanting to try everything. So little by little, I began giving my other supplies away to take away the temptation – first my manual Nikon camera (which I had used for black and white photography) to a friend, then my pastels, watercolors and gouache to my nephew and nieces. It was cathartic, actually. I did keep the acrylics, as I think I could learn to work with them with proper training and experimentation.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I’ll definitely keep with realist painting, but I’d like to put some time into working with acrylics the right way, not the way I learned in college. There are some really wonderful acrylic artists creating amazing realist work with a bit of a graphic quality, like Erin Cone and Mel Leipzig. But they are able to manipulate the acrylics in ways that I never could. So I’d like to give it a try again, see if it would help me learn to simplify some of the shapes in my larger works especially.

Secret Identity
(click to see original image)

Who or what inspires you most?

As a realist painter, I try to look for the normal little things in life, the things that are colorful, or make me feel at peace, or remind me of something special. My larger works, which I don’t post to Daily Paintworks, are currently of baseball stadium concession stands and crowds, because my husband and I go to lots of Spring Training games and when I was working a really demanding job, that was one of the few places where I really felt at peace. And I tried to capture these little peaceful introspective moments of the concession stand workers and crowds in my paintings. But the small works I post to Daily Paintworks help me develop my technique and boost my confidence so I can pursue my larger pieces.

What does procrastination look like for you?

I’m not intentionally a procrastinator, but I often do try to do too much in a day, and so that affects my painting.

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

One thing that helps is to remember a writing by Carol Marine that I found on Daily Paintworks when I first began painting, way before I signed up to be a member on the site. She talked about how, before she began painting, she spent all her time cleaning and had the cleanest house in her neighborhood, but was depressed until she began painting, and then her cleaning took more of a back seat. So when I look around the house and think about all of the other things I could be doing, I try to keep my priorities straight and think, the dishes can wait, I need to make time to paint.

Watching the Team Practice
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I think I’m subtly obsessed with Americans’ fascination with food and confections. They become almost objects of adoration, decorated just so. And packaging, I am really interested in the marketing and packaging of food as well. So I think that’s pretty evident in my small pieces, but maybe that’s why my larger series is focused on concession stands now; they have people in the paintings but surrounded by all of this packaging and food, until it becomes a kind of weird landscape of plastic colors and textures. It’s comforting, in a way, because it’s what we’re used to in contemporary society. Ironically, though, I have a bunch of food allergies and can’t actually eat anything I paint. Sigh.

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

Right now, I think my brain and artistic voice are ahead of my skill as a painter. I have so many ideas about painting series I want to develop. But I think that doing the small paintings keeps me more disciplined, so that I continue to develop my skill regularly and can create bigger paintings at a greater skill level, too. I enjoy looking at the first few pieces I did in late 2012 and compare them to how I paint now and actually feel like I am making progress.

In Case of Chocolate Emergency
(click to see original image)

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

I believe I will always be learning something new, but I suppose the things that I am learning most are: 1) Keep the painting formula as simple as possible; 2) focus more on lighting and composition; 3) take better photos of my paintings; and 4)forgive myself when I ruin a piece and move on. A couple of months ago, someone recommended a really excellent book to me as well, “Problem Solving for Oil Painters,” by Gregg Kreutz. It was exactly what I needed at this stage of my painting, and I’d highly recommend it for anyone who wants to take their work to the next level. I’m still working my way through it!

What makes you happiest about your art?

I think we all go through life searching for something that is completely our own, and painting is that for me. I like being at a point in my life where I feel like I am ready to become a painter. Even if I had learned to use oils in college, I would not have known what to paint, not really. While I think everyone hopes their art impacts the world in some small way, I’ll be happy if my paintings just encourage my nephew and nieces and collectors to open their eyes and notice things they may not have noticed before. That’s would be a pretty good legacy, I think.

Thanks, Kim!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine Cruse

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