Between Here and There: Kari Hall Interview by Bridgette Guerzon Mills

I wanted to share this interview by Bridgette Guerzon Mills, artist and curator of the exhibit Between Here and There at artstream studios in Dover, New Hampshire. Bridgette was kind enough to give me permission to repost her content on my blog. You can also find the original post on her blog as well as the other two exhibiting artists Melissa Hall and Linda Wein. I hope you enjoy reading about my paintings!

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Between Here and There: Kari Hall artist interview
May 8, 2015

After visiting the Between Here and There show at artstream last month and seeing Kari’s work in the show, I have to say that her work just needs to be seen in person to get the full impact. Imagine yourself standing in front of her work and just losing yourself in layers and nuances of her surfaces. Beautiful. But, I already knew this. I met Kari and first saw her work when we were in a FUSEDChicago show together in Chicago and I immediately was drawn to her work.

You can view her body of work in Between and Here at the artstream website and her larger body of work at her website.

Kari Hall, The Waves Upon Us, Encaustic, 20x16 inches

Kari Hall, The Waves Upon Us, Encaustic, 20x16 inches

1. Can you talk a bit about the body of work currently on exhibit at artstream? What was your inspiration?
My works are memories of landscape that tell a story about my personal connection to Italy. I am inspired by my recollection of particular places and the history of my Italian ancestors. My experiences traveling to Italy have proven there is a connecting thread that ties my fascination to my background. I am continuously recalling the textures and colorful coastal towns in Cinque Terre, the calming Mediterranean Sea, the rolling vineyards in Tuscany, and ancient stucco walls in Rome. Using my imagination I translate these memories into abstract, multilayered pieces.

All of the paintings I created for this exhibit incorporate image transfers from my own photography, historic documents from my ancestors, paper or other found materials. These elements are either layered near the surface or combined into the underpainting, creating an illusion of receding back into space. The encaustic medium allows this sense of depth and intrigue. I like that it holds mystery of what lies within and invites one to step up closer for a moment of discovery and familiar connection.

2. Even though people often say “Let the art speak for itself” I love to hear the story or inspiration behind the artwork. Can you share a story/thoughts behind one of your pieces?

There is always a story behind my work. Every painting has significant meaning to me. On the Sanctuary Trail #1-9 is about my exploration and discovery on the hiking trails in Cinque Terre, Italy. One of my favorite hiking trails is on the high trail from Manarola up to Volastra, a less-traveled intimate path where you see farmers tending their olive groves and orange trees on hillside terraces. This high trail connects each town to its sanctuary (church). Each panel in this series is a memory of the landscape and elements of nature that spark my imagination. I have vivid memories of the deep blue colors of the sea, the shape of the lush vineyards, the bright purple wildflowers, and the texture of the ancient paths. Cinque Terre is like heaven on earth. When I am lucky enough to visit I am always captivated by it’s timeless beauty.

Kari Hall, On the Sanctuary Trail #2, Encaustic mixed media, 6x6 inches

Kari Hall, On the Sanctuary Trail #2, Encaustic mixed media, 6x6 inches

3. You recently left your career as a graphic designer to pursue your art in a more full time capacity, what has been the biggest challenge during this transition? Any advice for how you handled the challenge?

The biggest challenge so far is being my own boss. All of the responsibility is on my shoulders, and it requires a lot of self-motivation, dedication, and hard work. But I know the hard work will pay off, and I have motivation because I am passionate about what I do. I’m extremely grateful to be able to do what I love. Another challenge I’ve faced is learning how to find balance between working out of my house and avoiding distraction. I find that sticking to a routine helps; getting up early, not watching TV or running errands during the day. An important part of staying productive in the studio is taking care of myself by maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. I get outside everyday (even in the harsh Chicago winter!) to walk my dog and go to the gym. Taking short breaks gives me a fresh perspective when I get stuck on a painting. I feel as though I’m just getting my feet wet in the first few months of being a full-time artist, but I am working hard to achieve my goals and I plan to see them through. I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked before and I love every second of it.

4. I feel that your work has a duality- the abstract compositions and then the collaged photo encaustic works. Do you feel that there is a distinct separation between the two or is there an overlap?

There is an overlap. When my intent is to feature a specific image, it can be the primary focus of the composition. I am continuing to work more with my abstract compositions, but I may choose to incorporate mixed media elements that are buried under many layers of wax. I am interested in pursuing both directions, at least a combination of the two, and I don’t feel limited to one over the other. The benefit of working in encaustic is that it allows me to explore multiple ways of creating an abstract painting.

Kari Hall, Testament to the Sea, Encaustic mixed media, 18x12 inches

Kari Hall, Testament to the Sea, Encaustic mixed media, 18x12 inches

5. I’ve been fortunate to see your work in person when I was in Chicago and your work has a definite presence. I remember coming up really close to the surface and just wanting to peer into all the layers and also my fingers were itching to touch the surface. Are you paintings as heavily layered as it appears to be? 

Yes, they are as heavily layered as they appear to be. A piece could have anywhere from 20-50 layers of wax. Encaustic allows me to add depth and texture, layer after layer, and choose what to push into the background and pull to the foreground. Sometimes I want a color or mark to be distant or just a faint echo. I aim to reveal the light within each painting, which is amplified by the luminosity of the beeswax. It takes several layers to achieve the result I’m looking for.

Kari Hall, Underwater, Encaustic, 14x11 inches

Kari Hall, Underwater, Encaustic, 14x11 inches

6. Do you have any art books that you recommend?

Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist: A great resource with practical and useful information for building a career as an artist. When I transitioned away from the corporate world I found this very helpful information to start my own business.

The Artist’s Way: It’s been around for a while but I recommend it to every artist. I continuously go back and reread this book. It has helped me rediscover my creativity and artistic confidence. If you are open, it can be life changing.

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I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did. If you are in the area, be sure to stop in to view the exhibit in person. It will be up for the rest of May. Hurry, before it’s too late! I think about 14 paintings have already been sent to new homes.

Between Here and There
artstream
April 1- May 30, 2015
Artist Reception April 24th and May 29th
10 Second Street, Dover NH 03820
603.516.8500, M-F 12-6 Sat 10-2

Works are also available to purchase online. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

30 by 6 x 6

Today I am starting a 30 day project, "30 by 6 x 6". For thirty consecutive days I will create an encaustic painting at the size of 6"x6". I've wanted to do this for a long time but lack of time was always my reasoning. No longer a valid excuse! It will be a good exercise for me to work on small panels and not be concerned with size or subject. As I continue to work on commission pieces and large scale paintings, it's nice to take a step back and work on something small but personal.

Here's what I created today:

Day One, encaustic and image transfer on panel, 6"x6", 2014

Day One, encaustic and image transfer on panel, 6"x6", 2014

A painting everyday for thirty days. I've never painted that many days in a row before! I'm anxious to see what I can create in a short amount of time each day. No matter what else I'm working on, I will take time out of every day to devote to this project. I will post an image each day, even if it turns out unsuccessful in my eyes! Promise. :)

Panels primed and ready to go!

Panels primed and ready to go!

I believe this project will lead me into the core of what's within me. I always paint from the heart but this is also a time for me to experiment with no restrictions, without overthinking it or overworking it. I invite you all to follow me during these next thirty days! Thank you in advance for your feedback and support.

Read the next 29 entries on my new page 30 by 6 x 6!

Blog Hop

I was invited by the talented encaustic artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills to join in on this blog hop project. Thank you Bridgette! The project consists of answering some questions regarding art and my art process as well as to highlight three artists/creatives I admire. I enjoyed connecting with each artist and I’m thrilled to share them with you! First are my answers to the questions asked of me for the blog hop project:

1.) What am I working on/writing?

I am currently working on a series of 15-20 paintings. I’m looking forward to developing a cohesive body of work with such scale and importance to my life, and I am ready to dive in. My goal is to prepare these works for my first two person exhibit with FUSEDChicago artist Ahavani Mullen, at the Brickton Art Center in Park Ridge, Illinois in June 2015.  I'm honored to have the opportunity to exhibit my work along side such a talented artist and in front of a large audience.

I am also working on several commissioned works on both a large and small scale. I’ve been enjoying the process and nothing is more satisfying that seeing the finished piece hanging in someone’s home or office!

2.) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

Encaustic is a unique medium but I’ve seen it applied in many different ways. No one method is better than another. What makes my work unique is the meaning behind each piece - the raw emotion that inspires it - so the outcome is never the same. I am inspired by my personal experiences and memories, importance of family, and my love of nature. I like to incorporate my own photography, materials, and objects with significance or use them as a basis for a concept. My goal is to reveal the light within each piece, by use of color, texture, and layers that achieve an overall sense of peace.

3.) Why do I do what I do?

Because it is what I am meant to do. As I sit on my front porch reflecting on this question, that thought immediately popped in my head. At that exact moment, I looked up to find two bright red cardinals singing loudly in the tree. That is not a coincidence! My past two blog posts refer to the special meaning of cardinals, you can find that post here and here. It’s my sign that what I’m doing is right. A little glimpse of hope and reassurance amidst the uncertainty and risk that comes with being an artist. Without my art, my painting, and my faith, I would not be living the life I was destined to live. I paint because it’s what I was meant to do.

4.) How does my writing/working process work?

My process begins a lot like this blog post. Writing in my notebook, journaling, writing my “morning pages”, making sketches, writing key words and ideas to help the painting come to life. I usually have a clear focus when I begin a piece, whether based on a feeling, a time or place, I am able to translate those emotions into an image in my head and then eventually to the surface. When I am immersed in the many layers of wax, I am taken to a place where it flows from within. There are happy mistakes that allow me to react to each mark, groove or imperfection, and it leads me to the next layer. I usually build up to 40-50 layers on each piece. I know the painting is done when it’s done. I may let it sit for a few days to let it settle in my mind but usually it's just a matter of finishing the edges.

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Thank you Bridgette for inviting me to participate in this project. It was an honor to be featured on your blog! It was a rewarding experience to think about and answer these questions about my work. I especially loved reading her answers posted on her blog last week. Read it here.

BRIDGETTE GUERZON MILLS

My mixed media paintings incorporate moments captured by my photographs with the richness of paint, creating a bridge between two worlds – the real and the reconstructed. I lay down layers of paint and pieces of photo transfers, papers or fibers to create depth in both form and meaning. The canvas becomes a multilayered surface that speaks to both the visual and tactile senses. This integration of diverse layers creates an intimate connection that invites exploration.

Bridgette's blog: www.guerzonmills.com/blog

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Below are the three inspirational artists/creatives I invited to participate in the blog hop. They will be posting their answers next Saturday, August 16.

My first pick is my best friend, Katie Budris. She is an incredibly talented poet, writer, tap dancer, and one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. We met in preschool at the young age of 4 and grew up a block and a half from one another in Libertyville, IL. I have fond memories of our favorite activities: riding bikes to Dairy Dream, playing with Barbie’s in our basement, choreographing dance routines and performing them for our parents, and of course getting muddy and full of mosquito bites at Camp Ondessonk. We may live across they country but she will always be my best friend forever. I am continually impressed by her natural artistic talent and how she fully devotes herself to what she believes in.

KATIE BUDRIS

Born and raised in the Chicagoland area, Katie Budris completed her undergraduate work at Hope College in Holland, Michigan and earned her MFA at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Her poems have appeared in journals such as The Albion Review, After Hours Press, From the Depths (Haunted Waters Press), The Kelsey Review, Michigan Avenue Review, Outside In Magazine, Yellow Medicine Review, and the anthology Crossing Lines (Main Rag Press). Her first chapbook, Prague in Synthetics, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. The focused collection is centered on her experience studying abroad as part of Western Michigan University's Prague Summer Program. Katie lives in Philadelphia where she is a professor of Writing Arts at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey and at Community College of Philadelphia and also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Glassworks Magazine. In addition to writing, Katie dances professional with The Lady Hoofers Tap Ensemble, for which she also choreographs and serves as assistant director. When she isn't writing, grading, or dancing, she's spending time with her English Mastiff, Harper.

Read some of her work and learn more about her at:
www.katiebudris.com/blog

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I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Jewel Haley at Shawna Moore’s encaustic workshop in May of 2013 at Jenny Learner’s studio. He was incredibly kind and genuinely interested in conversation, clearly an extremely talented artist. I’m really intrigued my Michael’s use of encaustic with photography and I’m honored to feature him here today.

MICHAEL JEWEL HALEY

I am a self-taught artist and photographer living in San Jose. When I was a young boy growing up in northern California, I lived for a time on a small farm where we raised dairy cows, chickens, geese, rabbits, and an abundant crop of garden produce. The father of one of my neighborhood friends raised Italian Honey Bees. My friend and I took turns each year taking care of each other’s family livestock and pets during vacations – my duties extending also to the care of the honey bees. This reciprocation extended to the bees themselves, of course, as it was these same bees that pollinated our fruit and nut trees. Bees fascinated me, and after realizing the occasional sting wasn’t going to kill me, I lost all fear of working amidst the hives. During my short education, Ed Allen taught me the process of smoking the bees, and how to extract and filter the honey from the comb.

When the seed of an idea that eventually became Studio 48 began to germinate four years ago, I was casting about for a medium in which I could display my photos in an original and unconventional way. My materials research eventually led me to beeswax, but I never made the connection to my experience on Allen’s Bee Ranch until later in the creative process – when my old buddy, Mark Allen, visited me at Studio 48 for the first time. Inspired by his visit, he returned home to the family farm to share the story of my art with his parents – who still live on the farm after more than 40 years. They responded by surprising me with a fresh sheet of freshly extracted beeswax from the Allen farm. I was floored by the family’s sweet, symbolic gesture. Many generations of bees have made Allen’s Bee Ranch their home over the past 40 years, and like a delicious sourdough starter passed down through several family generations, this sheet of beeswax will be added to my core blend, thus insuring that a small part of Allen’s Bee Ranch (and my modest contribution to its history) is represented in every finished work of art produced here at Studio 48.

Michael's Jewel Haley's blog: michaeljewelhaley.com/blog

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I had the opportunity to work with talented artist Debra Claffey on the Diptych Project II, a collaboration of 38 encaustic artists from New England Wax and FUSEDChicago. While we’ve never had the chance to meet in person, I consider her a friend and greatly respect her work. I love how she uses encaustic to depict the stunning beauty of plant life and I am mesmerized my the depth and translucency she is able to create.

DEBRA CLAFFEY

Debra Claffey is a visual artist who uses encaustic, oil, and mixed media in her work. Raised in Connecticut, schooled in Massachusetts, she now lives and works in New Boston, New Hampshire. She holds a BFA in Painting from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Tufts University and an Associate's Degree in Horticultural Technology from the University of New Hampshire.

Claffey writes a blog, Making Something Out of Nothing, and a Facebook page. In June 2013, she organized her first curated exhibition, Natura Viva: Flora, Fauna, and Us, at ArtCurrent Gallery in Provincetown in conjunction with The Seventh International Encaustic Conference.

Debra Claffey's blog: http://debraclaffey.blogspot.com

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Look for these three artists blog hop post next week. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about each one as much as I have!

Green exhibition at FAB Studios

Excited to share I have two new paintings featured in the GREEN exhibition this month at the Fine Arts Building in Chicago! Come out to support me and other members of FUSEDChicago, midwest encaustic artists and their interpretation of the word "green". The gallery opening is one week from today on Friday March 14, from 5-8pm.

GreenShow_ecard(2).jpg

Changed and Hope Within explore my love for nature. I am inspired by elements of the natural world, travel, texture and found abstractions. "Green" is not defined by the color itself, but also a feeling, a place, or a moment in time.

Changed, encaustic mixed media, 18"x18"

Changed, encaustic mixed media, 18"x18"

Hope Within, encaustic mixed media, 18"x18"

Hope Within, encaustic mixed media, 18"x18"

New addition

It's been a few months since my last post due to a very important addition to my family! My husband and I welcomed home a bloodhound puppy named Harvey in early November. He is the sweetest boy, such a loving cuddly puppy. Just this past weekend was the first time Harvey sat with me in the studio and took a nap! He is 6 months old and already over 80lbs :) I love that he wants to be near me and especially while I paint. We've been working up to that and trusting him to make sure he doesn't try to eat anything that could be toxic. I'll have to get an extra dog bed so he has his own place to lay down so I can get work done!

Enjoy a few photos below! Now onto new work...

Color with Intent

There's a wonderful new video from R&F Handmade Paints, an encaustic paint supplier, about the company's founder Richard Frumess. If you have a few minutes it's a fascinating peek into the making of their paint and pigment sticks, celebrating the company's 25th anniversary.

Enjoy!

Also, check our their newly revamped website here.

Happy place

Nature is my happy place. I love the outdoors. I dream about being in the forest, hiking through the trees, lying down in a field full of wildflowers and tall grass, or walking through a shallow creek. My love for nature started when I was young, as long as I can remember. I was always outside playing with friends. We'd go to the park, play in the mud, swim in the creek, explore the woods — I loved getting filthy. The dirtier the better! I bet my Mom loved that. :)

When I was in my early teens, I attended Camp Ondessonk, a youth camp in the Shawnee National Forest. My best friend, Katie, asked me to go and thank God I went! More than 15 years later, it's the one place I hold close to my heart and can call "my happy place". When I close my eyes and picture my favorite place in the world, it's Camp. Truly God's creation — acres full of lush forest, natural waterfalls and swimming lakes, steep cliffs and dark caves. Not only was it a ton of fun, filled with friends and memories that will last a lifetime, the best part was being outdoors, living in nature for an entire week. Camp was not for the average outdoorsy person... it had no electricity (except the dining hall) and we slept in treehouses and caves, tons of gigantic bugs and lots of dirt! I am officially way too old to be a camper, but I have gone back as a volunteer and would jump at the chance to go again. I am so thankful I was able to go year after year and experience all of that Camp had to offer. I will always carry the memories with me!

As I was working on this small painting below, I started thinking about my love for nature and how it's shaped my life. It calms and relaxes me... makes me feel home. I picture myself in a golden field, letting the sun hit my face. Feeling free and unrestricted. It makes me think how nature is such a big part of me, maybe more than I realize... and I am passionate about it. It would be natural for my work to continue to go move in that direction. An underlying theme I never realized was there but already was present in my work?

All I have to do is close my eyes and think about my happy place. 

 

Golden Fields, encaustic and pigment stick on panel, 8x8

Golden Fields, encaustic and pigment stick on panel, 8x8