Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kelly Packer Q-n-A (Art Crush Part 2)!

As promised, I'm bringing you a round-up of some favorite art pieces from Kelly Packer, an artist I found two years ago on Etsy. You've met Billy and Brigit, but I would like to bring some more pleasing eye-candy. I'm also so thrilled to feature an interview with Kelly about her process as an artist, and especially her use of color and materials, among other things! Kelly was so gracious and her answers are awwwweeesommmme.

First, I want to give you an idea of why I love Kelly's work so much by sharing a few favorites I found on her site. In addition to the composition itself (and some intangible characteristics I'm to impatient to try to articulate), it's her use of color.

For example, here are a few from her series "40 Saints". Each accompanies a poem written by her husband Adrian Kien (like many pieces of her work... we'll get to that in the Q&A...).

Saint Goosipher, via Kelly Packer

Denis is heedless instead of headless, via Kelly Packer

Hippolytus, via Kelly Packer

She made an insect look wonderful. I want him.
Title Unknown, image via

I adore Joseph Smith...
Joe (Joseph Smith), via Kelly Packer

"My name is owl. If I wake you up in the middle of the night you won't care. You will look at him and say something like Hey Mr. Owl, you are awesome. Thanks for waking me up. Let's hang out with yo' bad self and check out all your jazzy feathers!"
Instead of pennies for your eyes I have hamburger, via Kelly Packer

I'm not going to go all Roll Tide on you. That isn't why I love this guy. But I'm just sayin'... (P.S. This is the test if my husband ever reads my posts or not. Because this is where he would comment.... Testing...)
Saint Symbiosis, via Kelly Packer
Another favorite series of hers is the "Rue Series", which she composed while in France.
Rue Series, via Kelly Packer

Rue Series, via Kelly Packer

Rue Series, via Kelly Packer

Rue Series, via Kelly Packer

Kelly also emailed me some photos of some new, abstract pieces. Lurve.

Interview with Kelly Packer

Dwell and Tell: What is your typical creative process like? Where do you start and how do you move from there to creating your work?
Kelly: I always work from either pictures (either ones I've taken or found photos) or actual objects. It's important to have threads of recognizable structures within the drawings and paintings. Lately, my husband has been bringing me back bones from his hikes around Boise. I have been using them in a lot of my work. I also have a stack of reference books to draw passages from: radiology, MRI, and various other anatomy books.

From there it is pretty intuitive: I pull things from these sources and start to build up layers of shapes and colors.

Dwell and Tell: What inspires you work?
Kelly: Buildings with history. Spines. Alleys. Dirty things. Taxidermy. Mines. Entropy. Rooftops.

Dwell and Tell: How do you use and select color?
Kelly: That too is a very intuitive process. It's not something you can really explain. I just work at it until it doesn't look "wrong." I work at making colors vibrate and clash and push and pull. For some reason I don't use a lot of "green" green, makes things get too rainbowy. But that is generally my only rule.

Dwell and Tell: How do you consider how your pieces may look in someone's home? Do you have any feelings about how your pieces might affect the interiors/homes/enviroment of people who purchase your art?
Kelly: I am always honored and amazed when people want to live with my work. It's so wonderful. But I can't really think about it. I can't go that far down the road. That's not my job. After it leaves my studio, it becomes something new. The new owner puts their stories and interpretations into it and it takes on a new life.

Dwell and Tell: I'm so curious about how you collaborate with your husband on each body of work. How exactly does your art become a perfect partner to his poetry? Does one come before the other? 
Kelly: Our collaboration is very independent. I really loved Adrian's poem title Monopoly that he wrote before I even knew him. So I made a bunch of paintings based on the poem, one for each stanza. I really like those paintings and I still really like that poem.

And then somehow I roped him into writing titles for some paintings and the words fit the paintings so well; they gave each other depth. It depends on the project we are working on, whether the words or paintings come first. With the saint series, including Brigid and Billy, I did 40 drawings and he wrote a poem for each. But we usually go to our corners of the house and then come together to compare what we have come up with. And amazingly, it usually just works.

For our latest project, Look Up, I created ten 12x12" drawings and he wrote a poem for each. We had an exhibition and self-published them together in a book (listed here).

We must have been in the same mind-space because I think they really compliment each other.
A photo from the exhibition:  

Dwell and Tell: What mediums do you work with? Is there anything you appreciate most about them (control, blend-ability, richness of color, texture, so on)?
Kelly: Lately, I have been using acrylic and a grab bag of oil pastel, oil bars, markers, colored pencils and whatever else is lying around. I really like drawing on matboard or thick paper. I really like how the paper absorbs the drawings and allows for really dark, fine lines.

Dwell and Tell: Are there any particular brands that you've found work best? Choosing art materials can be an intimidating process for so many people, like myself, who are drawn to create and explore, but find it really confusing while at the store ("$20  for a tube of paint? Is it any better than the cheap stuff?") 
Kelly: Over the years and I have become more and more particular about my materials. Unfortunately, more expensive = better materials and it really shows during the process and in the final product. More pigment means the colors are significantly bright. Anything with the word "hue" in the name means it's considerably less vibrant. At times this is what you want, but mostly you probably want the real deal.

I have been burning through these oilbars. and each one varies so much in transparency and viscosity. It's a lot of trial and error. Which contributes to the "mistakes" that end up being the interesting parts. I was enticed by the $8 Lemon Yellow Hue, but it's a bit thin. While the Cadmium Red Medium is divine, but twice as expensive.
Winsor Newton Oil Colour
I also use these Artist's PaintStiks a lot and they are totally different than the oilbars. They are less buttery, but go on smooth (and a bit cheaper)...:
Shiva Artist's Paintstik Oil Colors - via

I never used oil pastels before because they ones I got were always chalky and very hard to work with. Then I found Caran d'Ache Neopastels:
Caran d'Ache Neopastel sets, via

Talk about buttery (and pricey). But they are worth every penny.

Also Prismacolor colored pencils are all I use because they have such concentrated color and you can get such a great line with it. And always keep my mechanical pencil stocked with lead.

I could go on, but that is probably long enough - I didn't even get to the paint (!)

Don't forget, you can buy Kelly's book, Look Up, here

I loved Kelly's work before, but I am just enthralled with her now. What great advice for the DIY artist, or crafty gal that is really lacking confidence to try something new.  Thank you so much, Kelly, for contributing!

Is there a piece or two you like most (maybe one I featured here, or one you found yourself? Are there any helpful tid-bits from Kelly you found helpful or inspriring? Have you ever considered creating some art on your own, but struggled with choosing materials, or deciphering whether one brand was better than another (or worth the cost)? Are you as in love with Kelly's use of color as I am?]]


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