Art Talk One: Kim Collins, Fort Worth

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I aspire to write about art, artists, and exhibitions, among other things. When I heard Kim Collins speak at North Haven Garden Center in Dallas Texas on Saturday June 8th I decided to begin. Her work was part of the show; Luminous by Nature. This isn’t the first art talk I have ever attended, but the first one I am sharing on my blog.

Kim Collins is an Artist from Fort Worth Texas who works primarily in liquid acrylics. I discovered Kim’s work when I came across a Facebook ad about the talk. It was the first time I had heard of her, but when I see a sample of her art I check my calendar to see if I am able to attend. Her floral still-lifes appeal to me. I Google North Haven Garden Center and realize it is 15 minutes from my condo in North Dallas, so I sign up.

Connecting to Art

I arrive early to the event and am able to look at Kim’s work closely before she begins to speak. I find her work interesting; there are landscapes along with her floral still-lifes. Her paintings are colorful and fluid, most of them fairly large scale. My favorite is called Growing Up Together. It is a field of flowers measuring 48 x 36 inches full of life and movement. Her energetic colors reinforce my love for anything that blooms.

When my boys were young and I took them to art museums, I played a game of sorts with them. I recommend it to everyone who goes to a museum, exhibit or art fair. I gave them a simple instruction. “As you view the art, pick out your favorite piece, something that grabs your attention, something you react to, and then tell me why you like it.” This simple task gives even young children a way to connect to art. A lot of people think, “I am not an artist, or art students, and I am not sure I understand the artwork.” But like my sons, anyone is able to like something and talk about it.

Thinking that you don’t know if you understand someone’s art is one of the best reasons to attend an art talk. That is where you can find out why an artist creates what they create. Depending on the venue and the size of the event, you may have an opportunity to ask questions and even talk one on one with the artist. That was the case with the Kim Collins event. It was a small venue and actually her first art talk. Kim is a very friendly approachable person. All these factors contributed to making the talk a personal and informative experience.

I had questions. I was particularly interested in Kim’s transition from a 9 to 5 job to being a full time artist. It is a transition I am trying to prepare for. She spent a majority of the talk explaining this journey. Kim wasn’t an art major in college and had stopped pursuing art after a critique in high school convinced her she was not an artist. Later in life when Kim decided to paint again, she worked realistically in watercolors. She did some shows and received some awards. But all that changed when Kim was diagnosed with cancer. At that point Kim shed her perfectionism and began to paint more abstractly in acrylics because she had a new sense of freedom in her life. Her art also became an outward expression of her feeling about life instead of carefully rendering what she saw. Kim divides her artistic career as BC and AC; before cancer and after cancer. After cancer she was no longer afraid of messing up. Woven in to Kim’s transition was a change in the medium she works in, liquid acrylics. With acrylics she realizes she can paint over any place in her work she doesn’t think is working. These covers ups create interesting textured layers in the process. Kim began experimenting. She began working large scale. She still paints nature because for her it is a life giving subject. She chooses joy, she loves pretty things. Kim became a full time artist when she was able to leave her day job. She now has a studio and she treats her artistic work as if it were a 9 to 5 job in that she is dedicated and she keeps to a schedule.

Kim’s Process

I think the most interesting part of the talk was learning about her process and the products she uses. She likes to share these things because she credits other artist having shared their knowledge with her as essential for her development as an artist.

I decided to create something similar to Kim’s process as an experiment using ideas I had gleaned from the talk. Kim works in what is called negative space and she demonstrated the technique she uses. I decided to work with watercolors and then lay gauche, opaque watercolors in it. This is not an attempt to copy Kim’s work but to do what she does and what most artists do; allowing our creative process to be influenced by other artists. I totally planned to have something to post, but instead I have a confession to make. Kim’s process isn’t as simple as she makes it look and I am on attempt number two. I will post some art when I get something together that I like. And I will show you all my take outs, I promise. In the mean time I am enjoying the process.

Kim Collins has a lot of wisdom to share. From time to time she teaches classes and workshops and I am thinking maybe I need to take one of her classes one day. She wants her art to create an emotional response in the viewer so she concentrates on giving of herself as she paints. Kim doesn’t want to imitate a subject but to be authentic in her expression of a subject. When she paints she likes to take her mind out of it and just paint. Kim says, “I am who I am and this is my journey.”

In the future I would like to go to Fort Worth or anywhere in the area to see her shows. I will check out her website regularly to look at her new work because she is an artist I relate to and I enjoy what she creates. It is as simple as that. If art touches you, that is enough. For Kim Collins it is her aim and the reason why she paints.

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