Unexpected Treasure

I was born in Brooklyn, NY and lived there until shortly after college. I had always dreamed of moving to San Francisco, and in my early 20’s, I had an opportunity to rent a sublet there for three months. I was determined to stay, so I found a job as a textile designer and ended up staying in the SF Bay Area for seven years.

The climate in northern California is conducive to spending a lot of time outdoors, and it is where I developed a love for nature that influences my work to this day. One day, on a hilly east bay bike ride, I met my husband Scott. We eventually decided to move to Virginia to be closer to family, and settled in Loudoun County.

“An Unexpected Treasure” 24×30 Acrylic

While our sons were small, I continued to work from home as a textile designer. A longing for a return to painting brought me through the doors of Art Square, which was the first steps along a path away from designing and towards fine art.

As is the case with most artists, I knew at an early age that I wanted to be an artist. New York has a lot to offer an artistically minded child, and I was fortunate to have exposure to great art at a very young age. My Mom and Aunt often took us to the Brooklyn Museum when we were children. They loved the period rooms, but the mannequins in the displays terrified me. I would race ahead of the rest of the group to calm myself in the painting galleries.

During my years as an illustration student at Parsons School of Design, I worked in the bookshop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Each day, I ate my lunch as quickly as possible and spent my remaining break time in the galleries.

“On the Edge” 12×24 Acrylic

I sought out the least crowded spaces in the museum, particularly the Islamic wing, which had chairs where you could sit and contemplate the gorgeous Persian miniatures. The intricate patterns and border designs fascinated and inspired me. Shortly after college, this love of pattern led me to a career in Textile Design, which I enjoyed for 25 years. As with every other industry, the computer eventually became the primary tool for print designing, and after a while, I began to miss my paintbrushes. I decided to take some painting classes at the dearly missed Art Square. I was drawn to study with Linda Hendrickson and Judith Thompson, because their work also displayed a love of vibrant color and pattern. I was hooked. The more classes I took, the more I wanted to paint, and I eventually closed the doors on my textile design business to devote my days to painting. My work is still influenced by my textile design career, and florals are still a prominent element in my paintings as they were with my designs.

I mainly work in acrylic, because I find it to be a forgiving medium – it is very easy to paint over a section of a painting you are not happy with, and since I am quite messy, I like that it is easy to clean up. However, I have recently been inspired to paint with oils again. I have fallen in love with the texture of the paint, and am slowly learning my way around this medium I have not worked with in a long time. I hope to feel proficient enough to tackle bringing them to paint outdoors soon. I am essentially starting from the beginning, which is exciting but also requires me to be patient with myself. In my early design days, we used gouache to hand paint our designs and it has remained a favored medium of mine. These days, I often use gouache when working in my sketchbook and I like to call it my “thinking medium.” I find it to be wonderful for working out my thoughts on paper before going to canvas as you can quickly get an idea of how something will look in acrylic.

“A Little Piece of Heaven ” 18×24 Acrylic

2018 has been an exciting year for me. In April, I was one of the guest artists for the ValeArts spring show at the Historic Vale Schoolhouse in Oakton. I had never had so much fun working so hard, and I was delighted to be asked to join the group as a full member. In June, I was honored to be the Featured Artist at Tryst Gallery in Leesburg. As the featured artist, you have to give two artist’s talks, which I was very nervous about. I spent the week before each one quietly mumbling my talk to myself and I’m quite sure my family thought I had gone off my rocker. On the big night, having my family and a bunch of my sketch club friends in the gallery calmed my nerves, and I actually enjoyed the opportunity to explain a bit more about myself and my work. So, in the end, public speaking wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be.

I have a very bad case of wanderlust at the moment, and it appears to be influencing my choice of subjects for paintings. A visit to the San Francisco Bay area this past spring inspired a collection of 10 paintings. I recently returned from a long weekend in Arizona, where I fell absolutely in love with Sedona. I have already begun to sketch some ideas for desert paintings. Perhaps, I am becoming a travel painter.

As the weather turns cold, I will return to painting flowers, gardens and bouquets, mostly because I really hate being cold.  When I’m painting flowers and gardens, I can briefly fool myself into thinking it is still warm outside.

“Sanchez St. Florist” 20×24 Acrylic

I have been a member of the sketch club for three painting  seasons. The first year, I was quite timid, and came out with only my camera and sketchbook. Everyone in the club is so friendly and happy to share information, it immediately put me more at ease. The second year, I was braver, and began painting outdoors more often.

Painting outdoors has become a bit of an obsession for me. The more I paint outside, the more I want to paint outside. I only wish I could convince Mother Nature that rain is ok on any day of the week except Tuesdays from April through October.
At the moment, my studio is in a spare bedroom in our home, but I dream of having a separate studio someday. I have always envisioned walking across my yard to a little studio building in the middle of a garden bursting with flowers. It would have a built-in espresso machine, lots of snacks, sky lights and big windows.

My current wobbly easel would be replaced by a few easels that were big enough to hold giant canvases. Perhaps there will also be a space for me to teach students. If I’m really lucky, it will even have an assistant who will do all the tasks of an art business that don’t require a paintbrush. If you are going to dream, you might as well dream big, right?

My list of inspiring artists and artistic movements is ever changing, but the “Big 6” always remains the same. Georgia O’Keeffe and David Hockney, are currently the Queen and King of the artists that inspire me; Georgia for her brilliant treatment of flowers and her desert paintings, David Hockney for his giant multi canvapaintings of Yorkshire. (If you have not seen the documentary “A Bigger Picture” I highly recommend watching him try to paint 6 enormous canvases outdoors with his assistant running behind the easels and trying to keep them from blowing away while simultaneously lighting Mr. Hockney’s cigarettes.) Paul Gaugin’s use of color knocks my socks off every time. I find it very difficult to keep my hands to myself in front of a painting by Vincent Van Gogh, because I desperately want to run my fingers over the texture of the paint. Gustave Klimt has always inspired me with his pattern, and combination of abstraction and representation. Last but not least is Henri Matisse for his bold use of color and pattern, and ability to simplify to the bare bones but still get his point across.

Kim recommends: I continually refer back to my copy of Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life. This beautifully written book is full of wisdom about the creative process. I also enjoy listening to podcasts while doing menial chores, and my favorites are the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhodes, Savvy Painter with Antrice Wood, and the Art Biz Podcast with Alyson Stanfield, all of which are chock full of valuable information.

I think that my greatest extravagance and gift is that I get to paint every day. Once my sons have departed for school, I go into the studio and stay there until it is time for them to come home. So many people have told me they long to do something creative, but they do not have the time, so I am so grateful for the luxury to be able to spend my days painting, whether in the studio, or out with the club. I am grateful to my husband and sons for their support of my art, because without it, I would not be able to spend my days happily painting.

Instagram: @kimtrichards
Facebook: @kimtrichardsart