Thursday, October 11, 2018

DPW Spotlight Interview: Kaia Thomas

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Kaia's painting "Cotton Study" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Kaia's DPW Gallery Page:

Painting has been my passion since a young age. It is my meditation and anchor, coupled with a desire to share the beauty I see and cherish in this world. There is always that hope that the beauty I see and feel resonates through my work.

I prefer painting in oils and my subject interests are all over the place, but I do love painting the landscape, particularly the southwest landscape, and spend a good portion of my time painting outdoors. Second favorite subject would be animals, I love capturing their beautiful spirits on canvas!

I have had a number of inspiring artists and teachers in my life - early influences as a teenager were Georgia O'Keeffe and Maxfield Parrish, later influences include Richard Schmid and Maynard Dixon - just to name a few of course. I have studied and taken art workshops with Phil Starke, Chris Morel and Glenn Renell. I have participated in painting events such as the Escalante Canyon Art Festival, the Bisbee Plein Air Festival and as guest artist at Maynard Dixon Country. I'm a member of the American Impressionist Society and an American Women Artists member with distinction. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Whether I first started with Sumi-e painting or oils I can’t quite remember, but I was around fourteen at the time my uncle, who had a background in the arts, introduced me to both mediums. The Sumi-e supplies (Japanese black ink painting) came from his Japanese foreign exchange student who had left them behind, so I had the ink, grinding stone, brushes and rice paper to play with. I loved it! It was my first lesson in not being timid in my application. It’s a very quick, expressive art form. For both the Sumi-e and oils I found books on the subjects and taught myself basic techniques.

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

Over the course of my time as an artist I’ve always had to endure creative dry spells, as does every artist. When I had a house cleaning business, I rarely had energy for my art. These past six years since going full time artist have been very focused and any dry spells have been short-lived. It’s nice to have other hobbies or interests to lean on when that does happen though, it helps to recharge the batteries.

Cotton Study
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I have tried pretty much all the traditional media and once saved up money to buy an airbrush, still not sure why I did that… way too frustrating and complicated for me! My first serious medium was a Rapidograph pen set, given to me around age twelve. I filled many sketchbooks with imagined animals and plant life. Landscapes and animals have always been subjects I love, although I prefer to paint what inspires me rather than be bound to a subject.

(click to view)

Which ones have stuck and which ones have fallen away?

I think oils will always be my one true love… I rarely work in anything else, but I do enjoy charcoal drawing and occasionally watercolor.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring? 

I recently watched Lorenzo Chavez do a pastel demonstration during Maynard Dixon Country and it really inspired me to pick up the pastels again. I would love to take them “en plein air” and give them a try.

(click to view)

Who or what inspires you most?

Beauty, nature, light, contrast – stuff that can show up anywhere, anytime. It’s why I prefer not to drive because I’m always craning my neck or having to stop the car for pictures. I get inspired all the time by other artists, thanks to social media. A few inspirations to name: Maynard Dixon, Georgia O’ Keefe, Richard Schmid, Sergei Bongart, James Gurney, Jill Carver, Glenn Renell, Tibor Nagy… and the list goes on…

What does procrastination look like for you?

Hmmm… let me get back to you on that. :)

Utah Afternoon
(click to view)

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

I try to treat it like going to a job… I need to be in the studio by 9am and put in at least two hours of painting. I use a timer for this to stay focused and to remind me to stop and stretch. I also designate certain days of the week for stuff like computer work or plein air outings. I do try to paint every day, but life happens.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Well, if its plein air painting, just step outside! In the studio, I usually have something in mind that’s been nagging at me to paint. When I don’t, I spend time going through my reference photos until something speaks to me.

Trouble Maker
(click to view)

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

I’m always experimenting with new tools, techniques and colors which keeps it interesting. Changing my subjects helps too. I flip back and forth between landscapes and animals, and more recently I’ve been working on some figurative pieces which are challenging. I think challenges keep it interesting, pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

Garlic Study
(click to view)

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

Right now I would say balance… it’s a struggle sometimes to get everything done in a day and often it’s the wrong things that take priority. For example, if the body doesn’t get taken care of, without it there’s nothing more to talk about. Putting the right emphasis on what needs done and creating more balance in my life is well worth figuring out.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Definitely creating art and witnessing when that art speaks to somebody… selling it feels pretty good too!

Thanks, Kaia!

© 2018 Sophie Marine

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