Thursday, September 3, 2015

DPW Spotlight Interview: Lauren Kuhn

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

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

From Lauren's DPW Gallery Page:

As a self-taught artist, I recently took the leap from a full-time 'conventional' job in graphic design to focus on more important roles in my life: being a more involved mother to my three young boys and a more productive full-time independent artist. I have a home studio in Emmaus, PA, where I paint commissioned oil paintings from photographs sent by clients by e-mail (to pay the bills) and where I paint large-scale paintings of whatever-it-is-I-want-to-paint (to pay the soul). (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I've been painting since I was very young. My mother -- who herself is very talented as an artist -- always encouraged my interest in all things art, so she signed me up for private classes outside of school when I was young. One memorable class was held in a small studio right by the ocean; the whole class would wander the beach in search of shells and rocks, and then we painted our items as a still life. It was kind of amazing.

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

While I did develop an art portfolio in high school to earn AP credit for college, I chose not to study art in college and stopped painting during that time for a few years. (College dorms weren't very conducive to painting -- or inspiring, for that matter.) After having my first son, however, I rediscovered my love for painting and got back to it. Once I quit my job to focus on my kids and my paintings, only then did it really become a consistent part of my life. As soon as I established my own space for painting in my home, and began using social media to promote my work, things really took off from there.

Maritime Meditation
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

As far as mediums are concerned, I am a little embarrassed to admit that I've just stuck to oil and acrylic. I think I've just become very comfortable with it over the years. I definitely try many different styles of painting far more than I try different mediums.

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

Oil has always been my favorite. Even when I paint strictly in acrylic, sometimes I still end up switching over to oil in the last stages to get certain colors to 'sing.' 

Fish Story
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

One medium I really want to try is impasto. I love the way that impasto can give such a depth of texture that it draws people in, daring them to run their fingers over it. It's almost like a combination between painting and sculpture.

Who or what inspires you most?

My children inspire me the most. I can't help but to see so many artistic opportunities in capturing their exaggerated and impulsive movements. There's a real challenge in painting a child with the intent to capture their specific posture and gestures -- those physical markings that really make them who they are. Kids are just so genuinely expressive, they really are natural 'models'. That being the case, I paint my children a lot, which is something I'm trying to get away from -- as one can only have so many paintings of their own kids! (Even me.) Other subjects that inspire me are seascapes, waves, and the reflective nature of water. This attraction to depicting refracted color and shapes is also to blame for my recent obsession with painting macro views of classic cars -- I absolutely love painting shapes and colors reflected in chrome. Lastly, I do of course love figurative paintings, but only when the featured subjects are engaging in some sort of activity. I always tell potential clients to find photos that represent more of a 'moment' than a 'likeness'. 

The 56 Chevy
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Coffee and Facebook... a library book due back in a week... dvr'd episodes of Ellen. Those excuses aside, the fact that I have three young boys in my house (ages 8, 6, and 4) there are always PLENTY of other things to do in lieu of painting. Namely, the Housework Trifecta: laundry/dishes/floors. At the end of the day, though, it's just a matter of forcing myself to put my art first, if just for an hour or so. And then, to keep me from overthinking (and, thus, procrastinating) WHILE I paint, I keep a helpful quote by artist Barbara Kassel taped to my easel. It says, "Just paint. Stop worrying so much. Concentrate and lose yourself in your work." That little scrap of paper -- its been there for 8 years now -- has helped, immensely.

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

I follow a small, simple mantra ("do a little art every day") and otherwise I just make achievable goals for myself. I don't pretend that I can start and finish a commissioned piece in one day, as that's just setting myself up for failure. I'll just commit myself to doing something simple, like "block in all the flesh tones and lay in some background color", and then any other progress than that is a bonus. 

Pool Sharks
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I take lots of photos, and I make time to visit places where I know I can get great subject matter for paintings. If there's a classic car show in town, I'm there. If I'm at the beach with my kids, so is my camera. I pull my car to the side of the road and jump out with my iPhone more than I want to admit. (My kids: "Mom, what are you DOING? We are LATE FOR SOCCER!") As far as gathering ideas online, I browse Paint My Photo, as well as Creative Commons on Flickr. The many artists I follow on Facebook give me good ideas too. Inspiration can really strike me anywhere, though. (I text myself a lot...)

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

I fear burnout the most when it comes to doing commission work, since that's when I'm painting a subject with which I don't necessarily have a connection. I'm painting someone else's child or someone else's memory of a special day, and while I put all I can into that work, it's not something that is emotionally fulfilling or inspiring. So, as a salve of sorts, I paint one thing 'for myself' in between each commissioned piece. Something large, vibrant, odd, dynamic. Something I might sell, or something I won't ever sell. Either way, painting 'for myself' reminds me of all the reasons why I love to paint. 

Soul's Eye
(click to view)

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

How to say no, how to set boundaries, and how to know my worth and the worth of my paintings. It took me a long time to become comfortable with the business-side of art, but I think I'm getting better at it every day.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I am happiest when I can use my art to help someone heal or help someone honor a priceless memory. I think, at the end of the day, everyone has a talent. Everyone can do something well, and there's a way to channel that talent into something bigger. I've been fortunate enough to align myself with certain organizations where I can use my paintings for a bigger purpose. That is what is fulfilling to me. 

Thanks, Lauren!

© 2015 Sophie Catalina Marine

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