I’ve been thinking a lot about contemporary portraiture lately, having just given a new talk on the subject, followed by a new weekend workshop.
I’ve been drawing or painting or otherwise making portraits my entire life, and it remains an important aspect of my work.
Nowadays a lot of my portraits are photo-based, as you can see in my posts and website. I got thinking about when I first started working on photo-based and photo-digital portraits, and realized it was for my first solo show as an adult, entitled Face[t]s of Valerie, in 2007. All of the portraits were of my friend Valerie, alone or sometimes in combination with me.
This image was kind of the title piece for the show, and the deepest I explored digitally in it, (the show was multimedia, because I am nothing if not a “multi” kind of artist, lol!). It’s called The Many Facets of Valerie.
In it you can see numerous shots from the bigger shoot, allowing me to show what interested me: the living face of my subject, its variability and expressiveness. “I am large, I contain multitudes” wrote Walt Whitman, as we all are.
So it’s a seminal, developmental piece. It started a train of thought that hasn’t stopped since, though it has branched off and grown in many directions.
19"x13” digital print. And yes, it’s available.
Does this kind of post, deep-diving into an individual piece, interest you? If so, please let me know in the comments.
It’s always nice to hear that someone saw my work and both liked it enough and was in a position to purchase it so they could take it home.
“Untitled (Layered Trees)” is one of two artworks sold recently at the Take 2 exhibition at Neilson Park Creative Centre, which has its closing reception this Sunday, 2–4pm. Click here for more details. (On a sidenote, the reception is also an early-bird opportunity to register in-person for spring courses!)
This photo-based mixed media piece is 8” x 8”, on a wood panel, and layers a mounted photo-digital print under an image transfer from a piece of film that I spent considerable time altering by hand before applying.
Trees are a recurring motif in my work now that began to appear regularly once I started my anatomical hearts body of work, because the tree branches are so beautifully analogous to the branching behaviour of veins and arteries. As so often happens, our inner world reflects the outer one, because branching behaviour is a fundamental design structure in nature; it's one that I have become enchanted by.
I am drawn to the relationship between branches but also to the complexity, which reflects what I experience so often in my own mind and out in the world as I navigate a profusion of sensory inputs and relational ones as well. Complexity can become overwhelming, which some artists (eg Julie Mehretu) communicate (and create) very well.
It's interesting then that for this piece I chose to concentrate on editing the complexity, leaving only small touches of it in deliberate places.
Well that’s all very nice, but none of what I said really addresses the slightly tongue-in-cheek headline I gave this post!
That headline is rooted in my realization this year that it sometimes isn't clear that my work is almost always available for sale. Some of the more unusual formats might require a little adaptation or customization for a new, permanent home, but most of my work transfers quite easily.
It’s also true that sometimes when I’ve made a lot of new work for a show or event (like a festival) I’ve worked so hard right up until the installation that I haven't had a chance to work out pricing in time for the opening. So that can be another issue, but it’s only a temporary one :-)
I’ve had enough people ask that I thought I should clear that up!
Since I have a couple of solo shows coming up this year – March 9–21 at Cedar Ridge Creative Centre’s gallery (where I will have three rooms in their historic mansion) and in November at The Red Head Gallery in the wonderful 401 Richmond creative arts hub in downtown Toronto – I will be making more new work. My plans include a couple of large pieces but some small and medium as well, including (if my idea works out) some multiples for the Red Head show. Multiples, like print editions, are more affordable forms of artwork than a one-offs like a painting.
I’ll definitely be showing sneak peeks and works-in-progress on my social media channels, so keep your eye out there! Especially Instagram where you'll find me at @kimleekho.
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Have you ever bought original artwork (includes editions or multiples), or do you have a collection? If so, what inspired/inspires you to make the purchase and take it home (or office, or give to someone)? Was it a feeling, was there a sense of recognition, or something else?
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Instead of writing more in this second blog post about my installation at the In Situ 2018 festival, (to see part one click here), I will speak to you via the video below, shot and edited by my charming colleague photographer/videographer Nettie Seip, to whom I owe many thanks!
You'll see me on-site in the room during the early stages of installation as I talk about the work and my intentions for it. Then you get to tour through it at night with it fully installed while the festival was in progress.
Please take a look and let me know what you think!
Perhaps after the holidays I will put together some time-lapse video shot over the three nights I spent drawing the Hearts in Place mural in front of the festival audience. I will upload it to my YouTube channel – please click on the link and if you like it, consider subscribing :-)
Video shot and edited by Nettie Seip, www.nettiephotography.com
OK Go is a band that does extraordinarily creative, innovative and powerful visual music videos like no one else – they are art forms in and of themselves. They pull off incredible feats without relying on the magic of digital effects, what you see always happened in real life and in real time.
Seriously, you need to check these videos out, no matter what your musical preferences are, those won't matter at all. Here are some I recommend (titles are links):
What these videos show is that these guys are masters at finding ideas. Extraordinary ideas. They also obviously have an amazing team and a considerable budget to pull them off, but plenty of uninteresting ideas have that and get made.
Below is a TED Talk they gave on "How to Find a Wonderful Idea". They point out that the usual approach of sitting in your chair (or other favourite thinking spot) and dreaming up an idea, then planning and polishing it before executing it is missing a vital step: the "sandbox" – that place where you play and discover or unearth your real idea, the wonderful one that the preliminary idea (which leads you to where the sandbox is) was just the seed for.
Have you unearthed some of your own wonderful ideas in a sandbox of some type? What's your favourite sandbox? If you haven't tried it, where could you start? Let me know in the comments below!
Whether you have a long-dormant love of model railroads or can't resist dollhouses and their tiny furnishings, you're far from alone in loving miniatures. I grew up with my own dollhouse made of printed steel, but rather jealous of my cousin who had a big table in his basement devoted to his model railroad, set in a landscape he'd made and populated by exquisitely detailed buildings and street scenes.
A couple of years ago in pursuit of materials for some miniature projects (still on the drawing board) I visited, on my friend Fred's recommendation, The Credit Valley Railway Company, a truly amazing place with aisle upon aisle of trains, other vehicles, and buildings of different eras, human figures, street furniture, vegetation – even different kinds of grasses! Investigating those aisles was such an engrossing way to spend a couple of afternoons.
Plenty of artists love miniatures, miniature painting is quite a tradition, particularly in south Asia and Iran to my knowledge, but some artists either create dimensional miniatures or use the kind I drooled over at the store as their raw material.
Sculptor Kim Adams, 2014 winner of a Governor General's Award in Visual Art (click to view his award page), is one such artist whose work I particularly admire. His elaborate installations a few years ago at the Art Gallery of Ontario (click to view a slideshow from that work) were fascinating.
What got me thinking about this topic recently was an article in The Guardian about sculptor/miniature artist Randy Hage who has done a whole series in which he has re-created old New York City storefronts with amazing detail, right down to the litter, the papered-over windows and the inevitable graffiti.
On his site (click to link to it) you can see side-by-side comparison photos of the shot he took of the actual storefront and his 1/12 scale miniature. Beautiful work! Below is a time-lapse as he makes one storefront “Ideal Hosiery”.
Finally there's an epic miniature museum project in Mississauga/Oakville called Our Home & Miniature Land where they are painstakingly re-creating Canada in miniature, starting with Toronto and Hamilton. Click here or on their name to check out their site. The project is not complete yet, though they have had a public open house, but the videos of their progress are amazing! Below are a couple of samples to whet your appetite. I can't wait to see it all in person!
How about you? Are you a miniatures geek whether secretly or proudly? Did you have a dollhouse or model railroad when you were growing up, or make other kinds of models?
If so, please tell me about them in the comments below!
We had an enthusiastic group at Saturday's painting demonstration at Otto Art gallery in Toronto. I showed how I approach painting two series: my 'Aroundeds' and the 'Radiants' series that gave the show its title. I will continue to work on the 'Radiant' demo painting and post photo updates here when ready.
Sandra Otto, the gallerist, shot video of most of the event, which you can watch below in two parts.
As for the 'Arounded' painting, here are progress shots of the drying process so you can see how the painting reveals itself over time as it dries. I will continue to post more until it is pretty much 100% clear.
Please check back for even more updates/photos and links!
And if you found this at all interesting, please give this post a like or a tweet – it helps a lot, thanks!
Last week I gave a talk with a demonstration component to members of the Oshawa Art Association. My main demo was of the process I use to make my 'Arounded' acrylic paintings. A magical part of the process is watching the painting emerge as the paint dries.
At the talk I promised that I would share photos of the drying process because the changes are so dramatic as the gel portion dries, due to the nature of acrylics: when wet, the gel or mediums are milky white; they dry clear (more or less, depending on medium and other factors).
Spots with the very thickest applications can take a considerable time to dry fully. Extremely thick applications done all at once may never truly clarify.
Although there are small remaining gel "peaks" that are not yet clear, this sequence gives you a good look at the drying effects over time.
As a visual artist I like nothing more than getting up to my elbows in paint or little plastic toys, or wading in at the deep end in pursuit of an idea. When I am not teaching others in a similar vein, you can find me researching, writing and noodling around in my studio, seeing where my latest lines of inquiry lead me.
All images and content on this website © Kim-Lee Kho 2005–2018 except as indicated. All rights reserved. No reproduction without express, written permission.