Kim Fay is a prolific and versatile artist of great insight. I found her on Linkedin and after taking a look at her website http://kimfaystudio.com/, I knew I had to chat with her. Her work is inspirational, multi-layered and vibrant. After chatting with her, I found that her mind actually mirrors the beauty that you see in her work...
“… I want to mix the representational and abstract because all imagery is a combination of both. To be purely representational leaves the heart, blood and circulatory system out of a painting. When you combine the two, it breathes air, movement and flow and gives the piece a molecular foundation to have life beyond a picture of something ...”
MICHAEL: Hello Kim, Love you work. Let's start with your paintings. They are so rich and substantive. To me, it actually looks like you paint in layers. I mean, there's so much going on with light, shading, perspective, color, etc. I can't think of any other way you can achieve such success without painting this way, but I'm not the artist. How do you approach these paintings?
KIM: Thank You Michael. My paintings are an invitation for the viewer and myself as well to embark on a journey of some kind of discovery within each piece. The image being a lure that brings you in and each time you look at the painting, it would be wonderful to find something new.
For me, this is achieved by constructing a series of layers within the painting that become a visual fabric, each one furnishing things I find important to convey within them - color, light and form. Each layer has a story of its own and chapters to the final image.
When I am putting them all together, I feel it’s a bit like an orchestra where each layer, color, use of light, perspective are various instruments and I listen to each one - which ones add high notes, which bring in a rhythm and back beat, the strings of nuance - ultimately bringing them all together into a final composition that ideally builds up to a kind of crescendo.
MICHAEL: Given the musical allusions you've mentioned, do you listen to music while you're working? If so, what kind? Is the painting process more emotional, intellectual or spiritual? Is it meditative or loud and erratic?
KIM: It combines everything you mention! A roux of intellect, spirit, serene or cacophonous staccato and when it really hits the sweet spot very emotional. I wonder then if the viewer can feel it like my pulse?
MICHAEL: I do.
KIM: It’s inclusive of all sounds, images, feelings you'd experience from daily life, these days there's so much in addition and beyond that to tap into. For example, the sense of infinity we get from the Hubble telescope images. The incredible light and colors and promise of more the deeper we go, not to mention the human heart and psyche, So unlike artists of 100 years ago, today it's incredibly exciting to be aware of where light, color, sound and perspective can take us if we look and listen.
MICHAEL: Do you listen to music? What kind? Is silence better? Do you work during the day or night? In other words, when and how does your creativity kick in?
KIM: Music has always been a big part of my work, primarily classical music like Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, etc., but it's pretty diverse: Jazz, punk, rock, various countries. Silence has also always been a major part; it hinges on whether I want to get out of my head or into my head! My preference is to work during the day as I'm big on natural light. My creativity kicks in mostly in the mornings. I get the surge of ideas and energy for the canvas and ideas come throughout the day. I keep a schedule based on that, but life experiences, catharsis, also can jump start the creative impetus no matter what the time is.
MICHAEL: As a writer, I understand that completely. I love the way many of your paintings walk the line between abstraction and representation or they'll have elements of both. Why do you do this?
KIM: I want to mix the representational and abstract because all imagery is a combination of both. To be purely representational leaves the heart, blood and circulatory system out of a painting. When you combine the two, it breathes air, movement and flow and gives the piece a molecular foundation to have life beyond a picture of something. An abstract piece can stand on its own without an objective image, a representational painting without some abstraction leaves you flat. I find the combination powerful like plugging in an electric guitar.
MICHAEL: Wow. I love that. Your murals are stunning. You really seem to like capturing society and civilization through color and painterly storytelling. No?
KIM: Thank you, Michael. The murals are an ideal scale for a narrative story. It’s great working on large-sized pieces that become a part of their environment and also an energy source on their own while illustrating and reflecting various things: landscapes, people, architecture, design and abstraction.
Creating a large thread through a wall or ceiling or wherever it may be - that has a rhythmic path with such imagery interwoven on it. This huge composition is balanced with light, color and various forms to drive it. It has to have a strong foundation of these things to support its scale. I have a great time doing the murals and hopefully that comes across to whoever is looking. They may even find something of themselves in the piece.
MICHAEL: How did this all begin for you? Do you come from an artistic family?
KIM: My mother has told me even as toddler I'd draw on the walls to her dismay, so maybe that was a clue of what was to come. I can't remember a time when I wasn't creating in some way. She is artistic in a visual sense and talented and my father was an appreciator of art and ethereal thinker who from an early age took me to museums and explained how the great composers created compositions, etc. I think they both provided fertile ground for me becoming an artist as far as the discipline and mindset.
MICHAEL: The fact that you have a diverse body of work ... Is that a function of your personal inspiration or do you want people to see what you can do?
KIM: Great question. It’s absolutely a function of my personal inspiration and inherent curiosity to try new mediums/tools in order to express it. There are quite a few colors on a palette and many ways to convey them.
If I can raise the bar through diverse ways of making art, the byproduct is that people will see what I've done in the best way possible.
MICHAEL: Speaking of people, most people don't understand art or the art world. What do you make of this? What would you tell those people?
KIM: I would tell them that art has very little to do with the art world. The art world is big business with all that entails; art is made in solitude and ideally with an almost primal sense of integrity.
When you look at the ocean or a flower or building, the image as it is or an abstraction, anything of beauty, things that are painful, thought-provoking or mixed and you don't know why, but at times albeit rarely, something happens and you are touched in some way, I don't think you need to understand why this connection occurs or understand its roots in art history art semantics.
It’s something that anyone opening their eyes can understand. It has been with us since the cave paintings at Lascaux - the desire to communicate visually, whether the number of horses you saw running in a field or how you can reflect love through painting.
MICHAEL: And yet Kim, most people on earth probably won't ever visit a true art gallery. I mean, what's the point of art? Why should people care about art when they're struggling to keep their jobs let alone even think about maybe buying art one day in the distant future?
KIM: Let’s subtract galleries and museums for the sake of this discussion. They have a place obviously, but you are touching on something much more important than these so-called, “bastions of the art world” and art collectors.
You're absolutely right most people do not have access to such venues and are intimidated by them in any event. They may feel such places show work that the prices are unjustified and incomprehensible and in many cases they would be right. As the art market is generally priced by a few individuals who say this is what is contemporary and this is what has value. They may think the work makes no sense to them as well just like the prices.
MICHAEL: That’s true.
KIM: Frankly, quite a few artists feel the same way and succumb to playing this game of feeding the market at the expense of forgetting why they became artists to begin with. What's the point? Why get up in the morning and create?
I think firstly, the artist must create no matter who's looking or buying. It's just our nature like an elephant has big ears. No logic … it just is. It's a part of this human thing we have going on.
Secondly, art is not only shown in galleries and museums. It is far more encompassing than by the effete for the effete. It's everywhere these days and thus, affects everyone in ways you might not even be aware of. That’s whether it be a painting a five-year-old brings home that brings his parents to tears by what he is saying which he can only convey through art or if it's on building walls with messages that are way past decorative and can spark revolution and election brands. Or if it's a huge sculpture in the park that defies explanation but is amazingly cool.
It educates everyone with access to education and even those who do not who may only see a ripped corner of a magazine in the trash and in some way it says something to them. It is the thing that can't be explained and cannot be held in a museum or gallery box.
So what's the point of art today? What it has always been - to communicate, to uplift, to explain, to stump, to elicit feeling and to be society's mirror.
MICHAEL: Kim, I could go on and on with you, but I'll ask this final question. What does your work mean to you and where do you see yourself in the future?
KIM: My work shows me myself and demands that I look around and inside always. My work is a bit selfish that way. It lets me show you the depth of the world that fills me and everything thing that entails which is pretty infinite and ever changing, so I search daily. It's a consistent practice rather than an end result and it makes me fail continually, but when my work and I connect, it's a beautiful release of energy.
As far as the future, I will be still be visually communicating, uplifting, explaining, stumping and eliciting feeling and just being a mirror.
MICHAEL: Thanks Kim. This has been an enlightening chat.
KIM: Thanks for this interview Michael, it has made me think about a lot of things and made the wheels turn.
Check out Kim Fay at http://kimfaystudio.com/.