I'm so excited to introduce the first installment of "Femmes Who Spark Soul" with Oakland based artist Kelly Ording. Femmes Who Spark Soul is a concept that has been living in my head for a long time - an opportunity to create community, encourage collaboration and most importantly share the amazing, bad ass females creatives of the world!
I came upon Kelly's work on Instagram while researching artists for an upcoming hotel project (should be done early next year - can't wait to show you guys!). I love how her work is simple but also painstakingly detailed - influenced by her love of Asian art and a deep connection to water, her work highlights simple geometric form yet when you look closer, you can sense the precise control of the meditative linear motifs. This tension between control and organic ease - seen in her hand dyed coffee canvases - makes her colorful geometric landscapes so dreamy.
When I spoke to Kelly I was struck by the fact that both her and her husband are full time working artists - WITH kids. Anyone know lives in the Bay Area knows that being a full time creative is becoming harder and harder these days - and takes serious hustle and discipline. All the more reason why I wanted Kelly to share her wisdom with us.
I hope you enjoy my chat with Kelly and enjoy her beautiful work as much as I do!
SSS: How did you make the transition to being an artist full time?
KO: Making the transition to being a full time artist was a long process. I worked at an Art Handling company for 10 years after graduating from Art School. But, during that time, I worked on my art practice every night and weekends. I exhibited my work wherever I could and learned to paint murals. I also had two kids! But, eventually opportunities in life and my career just lined up and the time came where I just had to jump. It's been six years since I quit my job and I've never been busier!
I love that I have complete control over my schedule. I can go to the grocery store at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday, which seems very decadent. I also love to travel, so, I am able to go places in the off season.
The toughest thing is that I am very disciplined when it comes to work and I actually have to make myself slow down a bit and take a breather. So, I am constantly telling myself that I need to balance work with things like exercise and relaxation. It's tricky because work never seems like work. So, if I didn't make myself stop, I'd go on forever.
SSS: How would you define your style?
KO: My quick definition is that I paint Abstract Landscapes and Abstract Geometric Works. If someone is still listening, I usually go on describe my process of dyeing paper or canvas and going on top of that with very detailed, precise line-work and careful use of shapes and color.
SSS: What inspires your work? How do you stay creative?
KO: I am inspired by so much I see around me. I look a lot at textiles (weavings and Ghanian textiles at the moment), architecture (mainly bridges and negative space), and other artists' work. I love the work of Frank Stella, Milton Avery, Alicia McCarthy, just name a very few.
"You may have to work twice as hard as a man, but do it anyway"
SSS: Any advice for female creatives?
KO: I think about this one a lot! I am always wondering about how my experience differs from that of a man. How things would be different if I was a man. Actually, I could probably go deep into this one! But, we'll keep it short....
1. If you are looking for a partner, find one that is prepared for the time you need to take to follow your passion, create your work and allow you to be in that special place in your mind.
2. Take that time to follow your passion, create your work and allow you to be in place in your mind. Be selfish about that and don't deny yourself that because you are needed a million other places by a million different people.
3. You may have to work twice as hard as a man, but, do it anyway.
4. Don't be discouraged if your name gets passed by, just keep going. Trust yourself and your talent and believe that you will someday be recognized. Yeah, it may be ten years after a man that is less talented than you are, but, do the work because you love it.
5. When a construction guy at the mural job site asks you where your boss is, tell him to Eat A Di*#k! Ha ha... just kidding. So vulgar!
Check out some more of Kelly's beautiful work below. More on her website: http://www.kellyording.com/artwork