Bringing Life To Her Images by Infusing Rhythm and Motion
STEAM When did you begin practicing your art and how did you learn?
VK My father was the most gifted artist I'd ever known. I admired his skill and have always strove to be that good. Like him, I chose a more practical career path and kept my art for myself. In high school I noticed that art was the only thing that could draw me back to my center, it became a lifelong passion and my retreat. I took art courses during my first run through college and continued pursuing it as a hobby; I have a degree in business. I was an Audit Manager over Hedge Funds when I finally turned it all around. Despite having a few artist friends and family, it seems that without credentials, the doors remained relatively closed. So I set out to get those creds at one of the best Universities in the world, the University of Texas. That acceptance letter changed my life and made me do happy dances for a good month. My practice has been lifelong; entering the domain of a working artist is relatively new to me. I have a lot of catching up to do.
STEAM Which artists have most influenced your work, and who are your favorite artists?
VK My style has evolved into something very recognizable and cohesive. Although a particular artist did not influence me, it was an art history professor at UT, Linda D. Henderson. She is a world renowned expert in modern art, 1880-1940 approximately. Through her course I was infected by her enthusiasm and interest in the artists who changed art making so drastically that we have yet to really understand where we're going. Art making now seems to me to be in the early stages of a whole new way of defining our post agrarian cultures. I always had this idea that artwork should be absolutely original, so I never set out to mimic anyone. Early on I had great affinity for Piet Mondrian, Kieth Herring, my Dad, and anyone who was living their passion of creating art. Now the most influential artists for me are Georges Braque (innovation), Paul Cézanne (color and commitment), Judy Chicago (beliefs) and Sonia Delaunay (color and beauty). And I have to shout out to the amazing Northern Renaissance painters; their skill and humanism touches me deeply.
STEAM Describe your creative process. Do you start with images or ideas? What tools do you use in your work?
VK I'm deeply affected by the impressions I have of society: on a large scale like women's issues worldwide to how people treat each other in small social settings. Ideas come to me, and they go. I've become much better at writing my ideas down as soon as possible before I lose them. Often an idea will sit with me for a while; I'll ponder the thought and imagine how to communicate my impression visually before I face the canvas. When doing a piece such as a portrait of a singer, for example, I attend their shows, talk with them, and learn a bit about their background. I try to immerse myself in their persona so to capture some piece of their essence. I try to communicate my appreciation for what they are to us. Of course, the worst moments I go through cause me to explode with creativity as well. A bad relationship ended a few years ago, I remember spending the whole night writing poems, one after another; so I've got that motivation as well. Most of my work is free style, meaning I don't transpose images onto the canvas. I may on occasion look at an image to help me define the form, but will turn from it and start making large marks on my canvas as interpretation of an image that expresses an idea. I try to bring life to the images by infusing rhythm and motion in the composition. I then load my palette with the colors that best expresses a particular mood I'm trying to capture, and then I paint. I take a layering approach. I spend many hours looking at the piece in its early stages, studying it, and coming up with ways to enhance it. The painting tells me what it wants to be in the end.
STEAM Does inspiration come to you or do you actively seek it? If so, how?
VK Inspiration comes to me all the time. Some people have accused me of being aloof or ignoring them, some, I think, have thought I'm just in a daze...a lot. In actuality I am consumed by my thoughts which are exploring an idea and visual images just pop out. I'm in a different world, and I get to go to those places a lot. That's why I make it a practice to write down or text myself these ideas. I have given some thought to exploring the world to seek out a deeper understanding of oppression so I may delve to deeper levels in my interpretations. I've considered Germany. A country where my ancestors come from, which has the burden of an extreme past where so many atrocities were committed, and the following generations are still grappling with that past. I believe experiencing life there would inspire me greatly in profound ways. They've learned the lessons I'd like to paint.
STEAM Is there one piece that is special to you, or that you particularly enjoyed creating?
VK I did a painting of Stevie Ray Vaughn a few years ago, prior to developing my style. So it looks nothing like my current work. However, it was one of my first paintings. I felt so immersed in his persona. I felt a connection with him and will always love that piece. I don't think I can do another portrait of him, I'm afraid I'd fall in love, and that would be really tough to talk to my friends about. The piece was donated to a fundraiser for a young Austin based musician who was diagnosed with brain cancer. That was the best place for that painting to go.
STEAM How did you get involved with the Austin Blues Society? And how does ABS influence your art? Does being the president of ABS influence your art differently?
VK I'd been in Austin for about six months and hadn't really met many people my age. The college of Fine Arts at UT is full of young students. They're great, and I can't say enough about how proud I am of that generation coming up; they've made me feel one of them. However, a middle aged woman doesn't really fit in too well at a 20-something kegger party. I'd been involved in the music community in Dallas for a few years trying to do good works and still had a strong passion for uplifting artists. I wanted to meet people and maybe make a friend or two, so I sent my resume and nonprofit background to ABS hoping they could use my help; I've been serving with them ever since. I've become very good friends with one of its board members and he's introduced me to a lot of fine people. My love for artists and what they do have profound impact on my work...both my philanthropic endeavors and my artwork. Being president of the ABS takes a lot of my time, too much sometimes. It takes me away from painting to write emails, go to meetings, manage membership databases, etc. I hope to transition off and devote more time to my art, but I am dedicated to getting some goals accomplished for the music community. It's all a balancing act.
STEAM You are about to graduate UT with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree – what does the future hold for you?
VK My dream? MFA program in Berlin and many happy years working in and exploring New York City. Because of my business background, I see myself in some kind of arts management, I'm not sure if that would be a gallery, a school, I don't know... But at least I have options and the options must remain in the arts.
STEAM Where is your work on display now?
VK I'll be showing in early 2015 at New East Arts Gallery in Austin. Skylark Lounge, who participated in Big Medium's art tour, EAST, has invited me to show during the next tour in November. I currently do not have gallery representation; my roommates would probably say we live in a gallery. Some select works can be seen on my website at www.veronicakumpffinearts.com.