Lauren Kuhn is a professional artist based out of Pennsylvania, she paints in oil and works to capture special moments. She's taken the time to answer some questions from YAM to explain some of her work and her artistic journey with our readers.
How/when did you know that you wanted to be a full time artist?
I knew very early on that I always wanted to have art in my life, in some capacity. Looking through my kid-writings from 1st grade on, they all include "I want to be an artist" (also: "..and a zookeeper," but let's put that aside). Now, when I get the opportunity to spend a day working from my studio, I can’t help but feel wildly lucky in life. Of course, I’m not where I want to be as an artist quite yet, but I feel like I’m working towards that goal, and that’s inspiring all by itself.
What was the biggest roadblock you overcame in becoming an artist?
There’s no straight path to becoming a fine artist, and I certainly didn’t help myself by refusing to consider studying art. While I don’t believe art school makes one an artist, I do think it would have made me a more structured painter and given me a better foundation on the basics. Alone, I developed my own style through “the school of trial and error” over the years, and I can appreciate that it certainly would have been easier with a little more guidance and mentorship along the way.
What is your favorite thing to paint?
I love to paint macro views of ordinary things, especially if the subject involves the bending and manipulation of light. Chrome, water, glass, etc. are my favorite subjects to paint in a large-scale format. I'm usually inspired by color and contrast; most of my favorite paintings utilize the full range of values—from the darkest of darks to the brightest of whites.
If you could go back and change something in your artistic journey what would it be?
If I could go back and change anything in my artistic journey, I would have said “yes” to more opportunities. I allowed my lack of confidence to interfere with jobs that would’ve challenged me and helped me grow artistically earlier in my life. For example, for many years I refused to attempt any work that featured full-face portraiture. I insisted that I couldn’t paint faces. It was a limitation I placed on myself only because I was intimidated by the idea.
Why do you make art?
Making art helps me to focus. I often think of EVERYTHING while I’m painting. It’s like daydreaming while painting. The art just comes together while I sort out other things that need to get done, art-related or otherwise. Creating art centers me in a lot of ways.
What advice would you give a young artist?
Don’t let anyone discourage you. It takes some real luck for anyone to come out of school (art school or otherwise) and stake out a life exclusively as a fine artist. To this day, I continue to accept work I don’t want to do, just so I can support the artwork that I do want to do—and I suppose this is something that I may always have to do. Simply make room for artwork no matter what, and seek out a career that employs your creative side, especially if you need a traditional job to initially support your fine arts career. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
What do you make/create? How long have you been making these? How did you learn how to do this?
My primary field of work is creating oil paintings by commission; clients email me a photo or series of photos to use as reference for a painting, we choose a size (my rates are based on sizes), and then I ship the final piece upon payment. Otherwise, I also sell original paintings (both oil and acrylic) from local galleries and from my studio, create charcoal portraits by commission, and I own a company called Hometown MuralWorks through which I paint both residential and commercial murals.
In what ways has your family impacted your decision to be an art maker? Are family members supportive?
My mother is an artist and always encouraged my artistic side. She signed me up for art classes from a very young age, and even though I did not attend art school or intentionally seek it out as a career, she was always supportive of my work—even if it was just a hobby on the side, as it was for many years.
All images copyright © Lauren Kuhn 2020
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