Sunday, July 31, 2011

Evolution of a Painting: Kimmy Bess art

Kimmy Bess is an incredibly gifted artist I met online a couple years ago. I would say her artwork is best described (to my ability) as psychedelic surrealism. She has made murals, jewelry, ink drawings, and paintings on canvas and guitar often inspired by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix.

I created a slideshow showcasing the step-by-step process of one of Kimmy's works. She calls the process Evolution of a Painting. It's beautiful, beyond words. Watch the video here, and then read below about Kimmy, her background and inspiration for the painting shown in the video.

Background: Did you study art in school, or are you completely  self-taught?

In her words: "I didn't go to school for art. I started out as an art major, and took a bunch of art history classes first to get them out of the way. Then I switched to horticulture. Then I switched to history. So I ended up with majors in history and horticulture, with a minor in art history. Then I got my masters in history. Emphasis was recent American history, specifically the civil rights movement.

So, my background as far as art, I was just always interested in it. My favorite toys as a kid were always the art-related ones: crayons, markers, play-dough, blocks, etc. Took art in high school. Tried to run away from it in college because everybody kept telling me art couldn't be a "real" job. After grad school, I ended up coming back to art because I realized I just have no choice in the matter. It's the only thing I've ever been interested in doing with my life, and so now I'm playing the starving artist, trying to figure out a way to make money at it.

The painting: What inspired you to create the piece in the video?

In her words:  "Not really sure what inspired it, these images usually just pop into my head in those lovely moments between wake and sleep. My state of mind probably manifested itself into this image. Birds are fascinating to me. Their bone structure, their size, the lovely colors, everything. I like how they don't ever let you get too close to them. And, of course, I marvel at their ability to fly. It's really incredible. But when I watch them, I always think, too, about Bob Dylan, who said something like, 'No one is free. Even birds are chained to the sky.'

As wonderful as flight is, birds don't have hands. They have to pick sh*t up with their mouths. That probably sucks. Anyway, I guess I just see them as incredibly beautiful, flawed creatures. A lot like humans. So I don't know, maybe that's where the parachutes come in. I've also been fascinated for quite a while now with the ways we try to protect our fragile bodies. Umbrellas, shoes, helmets, armor, etc. they're all designed to give us some sense of security, but really, you're just one malfunction away from being completely f*cked. The illusion of security, the illusion of control. So, I guess, birds with parachutes is just a commentary on the ridiculousness of that. We look at birds with parachutes and think it's utterly ridiculous. But the things we believe will protect us are just as silly.

A little poem popped into my head some time before this painting, and I think it's related:

childish illusion
control eludes me

elastic albatross
sculpts a rude me
umbrella factory
covers it all
permeable armor
afraid to fall

The one and only Bob Dylan
So I guess that's been sort of the theme of my work for quite a few years now. But I don't mean to be all debbie-downer about it. There is a certain peace that comes with accepting the fact that the universe, not you, is in control. So I wanted this painting to have a very tranquil feeling. I hope I accomplished that."

And she certainly did.

Feel free to comment about the Evolution of a Painting video here on the blog. To me it is fascinating to see, how a simple line drawing becomes a detailed, lifelike piece.

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