Kandyce King, Abstract Artist from Portland
Being artistic and being able to create something beautiful and personal with your hands is often said to be therapeutic and healing for the soul. Not everybody, however, can manage to keep the creativity alive or are so lucky that they can create a business out of their passion.
We have interviewed the very talented abstract painter Kandyce King about her passion for art and her journey that led to where she is today. A journey that has not always been easy, but with the right help and paint and brushes within reach, she has managed to grow as an artist - and continues to do so every day.
In our series Time For Creative Souls, we interview exciting, creative people from all over the world with a vision and an own view on the world that they share through their creativity.
Dear Kandyce, first of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you began painting?
Hmmm… Things about myself. I love music, especially spiritually charged music is a big part of my painting process. Music lyrics and songs rolling around in my head usually wake me in the morning, not the alarm. I wonder sometimes why I am not more musically inclined. I love to sing, but rarely do it in front of people. I have a husband who is wonderfully supportive of my art career and a little fur baby who is my studio mate.
I began painting when I was a young girl. When college rolled around, I announced at the dinner table that I was going to be an art major. That didn’t go over to well and I was quickly informed that it wouldn’t be an option. However, a year before graduating with an education degree, I dropped out of school due to a mental breakdown. Then, I just painted. The paintings from that period in my life became my Senior Show. I returned the following year to pursue art and graduated with a Commercial Art Degree in 2007. Being relatively newly married and trying to survive, I worked as a graphic designer for four years until I had another break in my mental health. This time a diagnosis would soon follow. Again, I found myself quitting my job and feeling as if I were a huge failure. Now, having been through therapy I understand how to process those thoughts and feelings in a more positive way. Eventually, in 2013 I started slowly painting and sharing my work on Instagram. I had a heart for abstract art and was too scared to try and create it on my own. I asked an abstract artist on Instagram if I could study her work and recreate it. She agreed and so I began with 4x4” squares and just started to learn. I got a little braver and started to venture out into the unknown.
When college rolled around, I announced at the dinner table that I was going to be an art major. That didn’t go over to well and I was quickly informed that it wouldn’t be an option.
In 2014, I started selling my own work here and there and having shows in local restaurants/coffee shops. In 2015 I participated in the 100 Day Project hosted by Elle Luna (if you’re a creative I highly recommend it). This project helped me create the habit of making every. Single. Day. Now, I feel as if something is missing if I haven’t been in the studio at least once during the day. In 2016, I had my first gallery show and from there it has just snowballed. I have recently moved to Portland, OR and I feel as if my opportunities are endless. In 2018, I look forward to working with some new retailers and having some pop up shops around the city.
Kandyce uses mixed media for her paintings: Acrylic, pastel, ink, drawing etc.
You describe yourself as a mixed-media artist. Can you tell us more about that?
Yes, I love using all sorts of media to create. Whether it is ink, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, collage with paper, I’m down for it! So, when I create I create with a lot of mediums.
I usually work with my acrylic or watercolor paint first adding layers of of pastel and pencil or pen mark after. The pros of working with acrylic are that it dries quickly and you can move quite fast developing a painting. The disadvantage of working with pastel is it is messy and can transfer onto other pieces of work if you’re not super careful.
Have you always been a creative person?
I’d have to say yes, going back to talking about music… As a young girl (age four) I learned to play the violin via the Suzuki method. I remember closing my eyes as I played the songs and there was a visual story in my mind as I played. My mother recalls me swaying with my eyes closed to the music. I think I have always been creative.
Most of your paintings are abstract, but you also have some paintings of nature, flowers etc. Do you have a favorite motive?
Such a good question! I paint what excites me at any given time. I don’t put myself in a box and tell myself that I have to create one thing. If I feel like I need a little inspiration to get started I may run to my local grocery store and pick out a bouquet to draw, but honestly it’s whatever I feel called to at any given time. When the irises are in bloom, you better believe you’ll see me painting irises.
When I do find myself lost in a painting, I go back to my design background and look at the elements of design to help me figure out the problem I am encountering.
Speaking of favorites, is there one specific painting of yours that you are especially fond of?
Another great question. I am very fond of my “Words Translated” series. It was a series where I explored really hard memories from being manic and psychotic. I wrote down abstract type poetry related to memories I had and then painted a picture based off of those poems or words. This helped me process a lot of things that happened during that scary time. The images were much different than what I normally paint, but they are dear to my heart.
What is the most difficult part of painting abstractly?
Trying to explain abstract art to individuals who don’t understand or maybe don’t appreciate abstract art.
I don’t find painting abstractly difficult, it comes pretty naturally to me. I rarely get stuck. I feel as if I can recover almost any abstract piece when it isn’t exactly what I had hoped for because it is abstract. When I do find myself lost in a painting, I go back to my design background and look at the elements of design to help me figure out the problem I am encountering. IF all else fails, I cut it up and use it as part of a collage or greeting card.
Where do you seek inspiration?
I seek it from above, from within, and from outside. When I seek from above I mean to say that I am a strong believer in a higher power. When I seek from within, I am processing and expressing things from within my heart and mind. When I seek from outside, I look at nature and all things created.
I paint what excites me at any given time. I don’t put myself in a box and tell myself that I have to create one thing.
Are there any special people in your life that have helped to inspire you as an artist?
Oh, my yes! Both my grandmothers were very encouraging to me as a young girl and artist. My maternal grandmother took private art lessons with me and always had fun artsy things for us to do together. I also find that the Instagram artist community has really supported my growth as an artist.
Can you tell us about your process when painting? Some artists have rituals when painting. Do you have any?
Yes, I do. I begin with putting on my music and then just let things naturally unravel. Sometimes I stop to journal or jot a quick thought down, but mostly I let my hands move and just CREATE!
The musical style I listen to while painting is almost always spiritually charged music, usually Hillsong United or other atmospheric, spiritual groups. If you were to step into my studio, you’d find me with music full blast, moving my body, with lots of different size paint brushes within reach, and me with colorful paint nearby. My hands are messy and I enjoy getting my whole studio turned upside down.
Kandyce King in her studio, surrounded by colorful paint and lots of different brushes.
We are always looking for more inspiration. Can you recommend three of your favorite instagrammers who will inspire us in an artistic way?
I love my sis-in-law @lindsay__king she has such a beautiful process and her words are always insightful and inspiring.
I find myself very drawn to @marissahuber her patterns, authenticity, and humor are wonderful!
My other art girlfriend from college @artstudiokm work is so rich, light, expressive… I can’t explain it! Go check her out. She isn’t posting a ton these days, but her feed is really beautiful.
Thank you for sharing your passion with us, Kandyce!
➸ You want to see more of Kandyce King's artworks and learn more about her painting style? Take a look at her website and her Instagram for more inspiration - but be careful, you might find yourself in the middle of a creative urge in no time!
Interview by Mermaid Stories
Photos by Kandyce King & Wilton Wedding Photography