Gina interviews Kari

my kind of selfie

My friend, Gina Easley is doing a photography piece on artists who paint animals.  I feel honored that she chose me as one artist to interview.  In addition to spending time with me and my work in the studio, she also had a few questions.

Q: What is your earliest memory of feeling a connection with an animal?

A: My earliest memory of feeling a connection to animals was as a young child.  I grew up in Northern California and our back steps were constantly visited by snails.  I would spend much time watching them closely.  I would become completely enamored by watching them travel.  I would also try to study their trails.  Where had they come from while I was sleeping?   I believed I could communicate with them, that they were my friends and I did everything I could to make sure they were safe. To this day, if I see an image of a snail, I squeal out loud.

All of the sudden I am reminded of a book: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

Q; Has the experience of working with animals as subject manner for your art changed how you see or interact with them in other areas of your life?  If so, how?

A: Of Course! motives for working with animals are selfish, really.  To be in the presence of ANY animal is extremely therapeutic and calming to me.  When I am in their presence, I find myself constantly thanking them for the unconditional love and acceptance they offer.  I thank them profusely for letting me take photos of them and when I am in my studio, painting them, I try my best to ask them how they would like to be perceived.  Animals give freely of themselves.  I want to be very careful that I never take advantage of this.

Don't worry, I got this, 48X36, acrylic on canvas, SOLD

This large painting of one of my muses, Tucker, our rabbit, is just one example of how creating these beings on canvas is so therapeutic for me.  One early summer evening I was sitting with Tucker in our backyard corral.  I had been worrying a lot (something I do not recommend - EVER - but something I am prone to do).  I noticed that when I was sitting with Tucker, outside, I had no worries, that Tucker had actually relieved me of this obsession that robs me of living my life!  But how could a being so small and so vulnerable really do this?   By painting Tucker in a large format, I manifested the reality of this (for me).

Another reason I need to paint animals is because I do not feel emotionally equipped to actually live with them.  I have been known to lose nightly sleep over trying to patrol the safety of a  robin's nest in my backyard.

When these personalities I feel so attached to are able to come to life on the canvas, I feel like they are closer to me and can become constant companions in a different form.  When they are purchased by others and leave my studio, I thank them, again, for being a companion to me and for continuing this companionship with the people who have chosen to "adopt" them.

I believe that animals are here to teach us and that we are here to learn from them.  I mentioned this quote in my earlier blog post, but I just have to mention this again because it sums up what I believe so beautifully: the Native ways of knowing, human people are often referred to as "younger brothers of creation".  We say that humans have the least experience with how to live and thus the most to learn - we must look to our teachers among the other species for guidance.  Their wisdom is apparent in the way they live.  They teach us by example.

The book, Animal Speak by Ted Andrews is also a book I reference regularly.

sketchbook page

Q: What is the message or feeling you would like someone to take away after spending time with your art?

A: I think an excerpt from my artist statement answers this question best:

I hope my work reminds the viewer that, although every individual is more than likely part of a group, they are also, most importantly, a unique individual.  Perhaps these groups of animals we sometimes overlook because of how often we see them, can be seen differently.  Perhaps instead of noticing herds, flocks or colonies, we will start to notice individual beings who each make up an important part of community.

photos by
From top left and clockwise: me with our rabbit, Tucker, Lend Me Your Ear, 
24x18 (detail), acrylic on canvas, Curly, 48X36, acrylic on canvas, SOLD, 
me with the cat, Brock and Amos at SoulSpace Sanctuary


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