Kimberly Fox always works in a tight, realist style. Currently, the Nashville artist is exploring the use of realistic subjects against abstract backgrounds. "I think there is a perception of abstract work being easier, but I think it’s much more difficult," says Fox. Southern Grist Brewery is featuring three of Fox's canvas pieces this Jan and Feb of 2018. These pieces explore the connection between realistic and abstract styles a bit further by involving the subjects in the design of the painting itself. They honor the fact that every seemingly random swipe of color in an abstract piece actually took a lot of observation, thought, and process. "Every layer is work and that’s what my subjects are involved in. Joyfully involved!" says Fox.
WCG: How did you get to be where you are now as an artist?
Fox: I started in my teens as a caricature artist at Opryland 30 years ago! I have been taking commissions and selling my work ever since. I did portraits for many years, and started doing murals and commissioned work for designers about 15 years ago. I have been selling my own work at festivals, galleries and online for eight years now. I believe that being a self-taught artist and creating murals has been instrumental to my success. I have always had a brush in my hand even when times were hard. Being required to paint what was requested by other people instead of being able to choose my own subjects has benefited me the most. My work itself and my methods have changed over the years, but hunger has always been my driving force. If I don’t paint, I don’t eat. It’s that simple. And... I really like to eat.
WCG: What does being an artist mean to you?
Fox: Being an artist means observing the world on a daily basis in a constant study of colors, patterns, and textures for future reference. It is an artist's responsibility to produce work that is beautiful, whether visually or emotionally. Creating provides an opportunity to change peoples daily environment in a way that brings them joy. Artists are born. We can’t turn it off. I feel honored and blessed to live like this.
WCG: What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work?
Fox: The ultimate goal is to provoke a positive emotion. My SGB featured artwork is so fun and playful because it is an artistic reaction to a traumatic season of life. I wanted there to be an expression of joy both in the subjects that are interacting with the piece, and the viewer who gets a laugh when they see this interaction. I’ve interacted with thousands of people over the years at festivals and it’s always entertaining to kind of hang back and wait for the response to a certain work. If someone is laughing out loud, I usually know what piece caused it. Bringing that moment to someone is pure joy. It's a wonderful accomplishment to make someone laugh out loud! For a long time, I was more focused on honing my craft and being the best I could be rather than on the reaction of the viewer. The relationship was between myself and the painting, with the viewer being involved on the sidelines. Now that I’ve been doing it so long and have trained myself to be able to paint anything, the goal has shifted and the relationship is between the viewer and the painting, which is how it should be. The best part of showing my work in public is when people get drawn in to the work and completely forget I am there, which is also how it should be! That’s a great experience because the reactions are raw and real.
WCG: What two art-related achievements are you the proudest of?
Fox: Being able to provide for my child while keeping a brush in my hand is the biggest accomplishment to me. Survival alone is something to be very proud of. This is the only job I’ve had for many years and I’ve managed to raise a great son who is in college now. His observation of this process and appreciation that I followed my heart is the best accomplishment I could have.
I’m also very proud of the various mural work I’ve done for schools and churches. I remember what it was like to be a child with some artistic ability and seeing what other artists had done in public spaces. The inspiration was invaluable. I’ve always been of the mind set that if somebody somewhere can do it, then so can I. It gives me so much joy to know that there may be a child that sees my work and thinks “I could do that someday”. Because they can!
WCG: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Fox: Work, work, work. Set up an area where your work is always ready to start at a moments notice and then utilize your moments. It’s a wonderful way to live, constantly observing the world as a creative treasure trove of ideas for a future work. However, it can also be exhausting. It’s going to be challenging. You will have hard times when the work doesn‘t come easy. The people you need most won’t always believe in you. You will get your feelings hurt by critiques. There will usually be paint somewhere on your body. Your entire life will be spent pursuing an unattainable goal of artistic perfection.
...Still interested? Is it just who you are and you have to create, no matter what? Then this is the job for you. Because there are also days where the paint flows as if there are angels sitting on your brush. You will succeed. The people who love you will be proud of what you have done. You will be proud of yourself. Your heart will soar when a complete stranger wants what you created so bad that they are willing to hand over their hard earned money and live forever with what you created. Your entire life will be spent observing the beauty in the world and enjoying the bliss that comes when recreating that beauty in your chosen medium. You will never retire, or be fired. This is a way of life, not just a chosen profession.
Fox's Closing Remarks:
Dedication to anything is what drives success. A professional athlete doesn’t just get out of bed one day trained and ready to be on the field. There are thousands of hours over years of training that go into it. Art is no different. If you want to excel, you have to train every day. But it’s most definitely worth it!
SGB Featured Work (Jan - Feb 2018)
All in a Day’s Work
acrylic on canvas
Paint the Town
acrylic on canvas
Labor of Love
acrylic on canvas
Keep Up With Kimberly Fox at:
Facebook- Kimberly Fox Studios
Instagram- Kimberly Fox Studios