There are certain artists that push your thoughts the minute you set eyes on their work. These artists capture our emotions, fleeting thoughts and take us outside of ourselves. Such is the work of Canadian artist. King King. Through her hyperrealistic art she has made it her mission to show the younger generations that a career in art is obtainable.
“My work is about breaking molds and preconceived notions about women in art, and art in general”, says Kit King. Sticking to the pursuits of passion despite the difficulty of life’s obstacles is what makes Kit King an ArtLeadHER. King has used her divine feminine talent to touch the lives of thousands and has even combined her skills with her husband. Her personal mantra is “paint for the process, not for the outcome.”
In our intimate interview, Kit King discusses working with her husband, living with agoraphobia and more.
We learned that your dad was your biggest art influence as a kid. What was your first memory of your dads art portfolio?
I remember going through a body of work that he created that surrounded the male form in various warrior stances. I remember thinking how real, yet unreal they were. Every muscle was anatomically accurate, yet they weren’t someone you’d see in everyday life. His work had a way of transporting you to another realm. It was then that I remember thinking that I wanted to do that too.
When do you think the most significant shift happened in your work?
Honestly I think I’m currently in middle of the most significant shift my art has seen. My previous works were driven and created through despair and angst, and more recently I’ve noticed I no longer create as a means to escape the negative feelings, but rather I paint because it fills me with positive ones. This is causing a very natural shift in the evolution of my work. In the past, my paintings were reflections of struggle with my personal demons. My most recent paintings have sort of been me documenting my journey as I come to terms with my personal struggles, and finding a way to work with them, accept them, and embrace them. Essentially I’m letting go of the “woe is me”, and taking control over the things that have had control over me (for the better part of the last decade), the best way I know how.
We cannot always control what happens in our lives, but we can control how we choose to react to them. And I’m choosing to find peace and happiness in my circumstance. So safe to say- having been recognized as a dark arts, macabre artist, and now venturing away from that all together, it is a monumental shift for me and my work.
You’ve never been to any of your shows. What has that done for you in terms of your self reflection and the progress of your work?
I never created for others. It’s always been so selfishly done. I never paint to perfect, but always for the process. I love to learn and grow. Art for me is personal discovery first, and career second. It will always be my passion before my job (being it’s why I started). So the fact that I’ve never been to one of my exhibits only brings me down when I think of it from a career standpoint. I paint b/c I love to paint, but I am also incredibly ambitious by nature. I’m divided between this passionate artist; that doesn’t care where her paintings end up, so long as she can keep creating, and this am
How has working on collaborative art with your husband influenced your solo work?
Well when teaching him to paint, I wound up sort of teaching myself as well. I never knew why I painted things a certain way or how I knew what technique to use when, but having to break it down for someone else, forces this introspection to your own creative process. In taking that step back to look at it from the outside and break everything down in its simplest form, you find ways to reconstruct that may be more efficient, and lead to new approaches.
Aside from technically, it’s really opened me up in a grander, more personal way. Having previously only painted to escape personal pain, that’s not something you carry into a collaboration, so it opened me up to searching for new places to paint from. Painting from love- born from a shared passion- is the very antithesis of painting from my secluded angst. One is me escaping reality, where the other is me embracing it. It’s because of painting with him, and it opening me up to this change, that there is now this massive shift my work is currently undergoing.
You had 4 pieces in ArtLeadHER’s inaugural exhibit. Can you explain the creative process of each? How long did each take?
One was actually a “happy accident”. I painted this portrait of a woman all in golds, but she did not resonate with me, so with the paint that was left on my palette at the time, I took a round palette knife and carefully, one stroke at a time, covered her in multi coloured impasto petals; leaving just her eyes peeking behind the paint. She became this curious thing. This lady behind the paint- who was she?
This painting “accident” gave way to another created in that same style. I enjoyed painting one strategically after the “accidental” piece. I was curious to see if her “magic” laid in happenstance, or if it could be recreated with intention.
The other two paintings are a mix of flat realism and thick implied impasto textures.
I can’t recount how long each took. Working with oils forces me to work in layers over days, or weeks, to allow for subsequent layers to dry. I can never manage to keep track of the hours in my works. I always get lost in them. The hours and days all sort of blur together over here.
Your pieces often show a lot of emotions. Are these personal emotions that you channel? If not, where do you draw inspiration?It is said that the essence of the artist is reflected in their work. It’s a sort of diary for the soul. So then it can be argued that painters don’t paint the souls of the subject, but rather paint a reflection of themselves. Therefore, arguably, no artist can truly capture the essence of a subject, but merely replicate it within themselves, or imitate a shared essence the painter connects to within the subject.
As much as I’d like to fight it, my works are definitely personal reflections of my state of mind upon creation. It’s a vulnerable place to put your mental state out there in the form of a painting for people to break down, and examine. Being under the microscope, sort-to-speak, is often a source of anxiety for me. I try desperately to conceal it sometimes, however it always seems to seep into my work. Seems I need to let go of the apprehension with putting my most vulnerable self out there in order to stop putting my most vulnerable self out there. A catch 22.
As an artist, how do you deal with agoraphobia?
First I’d like to point out, I’ve always been an artist. Ive not always been agoraphobic. That being said, there are without a doubt some challenges you face trying to build something solid for yourself, without being able to leave your home. Having agoraphobia doesn’t just affect my work life. It affects all parts of it. So I’ve got used to working around it. You have to work a little harder to find creative ways to make things work. Luckily getting creative is what I do best.
When people learn about the agoraphobia it’s seen as this incredible handicap that is stoping me from doing so much more. But what I don’t think people recognize is that my agoraphobia propelled me forward in this. It was the emotional fuel to paint 16 hours a day. It’s easy to paint non stop when your reality is so terrifying you can’t think of doing anything else, and long for that escape painting provides. When you’re agoraphobic, you have less distractions and more reasons to keep in the studio. It forces an honesty in my work. With not being able to go out and look at other artists work, or even see your own outside of the place of creation, it’s sort of…untainted. There’s a purity that comes with it. Each piece is a visceral part of me made tangible.
It’s easy to see agoraphobia as a handicap. It’s easy to see it for all its limitations. But you have to recognize everything great that comes from it. It’s taken me seven years to see this. But I wouldn’t be where I am if not for my agoraphobia, and maybe that’s not the worst thing. I do what I love every day with the person I love. I may have to work a little harder to get my work out there, but it may not even be out there, period, had it not been for this thing people see “holding me back”.
Who says anything has to be one way? Narrow minded thinking never created progress. I’m going to do what I love no matter what difficulties I face, and I’ll keep finding ways to build new bridges along the way.
What paintings do you have in process right now?
Aside from upcoming exhibit works (with and without my husband, Oda,) I’m currently working on a completely new and semi-secret series of works that are a way for me to bring the outdoors, in.
Pre-agoraphobia I painted a lot of landscapes. When the anxiety came about, I stopped. It was too emotionally difficult for me to paint them. It’s time for me to paint them again, but with my new perspective. I’ll never see the outside world as I once did, and therefore these new works will have something new infused in them that shows my personal and artistic journey. That’s all I’ll say for now… You’ll just have to wait until I’m ready to show them to the world.
Kit King currently resides in a tiny town in the French Canadian countryside, called Curran, in Rural Ontario. You can see more of her work on KitKingArt.com and see her collaborative work with her husband on OdaKing.com
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