Local Artist: Kyla Mackenzie

I'm lucky to be friends with some very talented people. Kyla MacKenzie, is an artist who specializes in sculptural illustration, painting and photography. She was kind enough to do an interview with me and I am so excited to share her beautiful work here on my blog. Check out her website: http://www.kylamackenzie.com/ to see some more of her pieces and her Instagram account: @kyla.artworks  

Tell me a bit about yourself…

Hah - I always find this question amusing, it’s something we get asked so frequently and yet I don’t think anyone knows the best way answer it. But I guess I’ll start by saying that I was born and (mostly) raised in Victoria, B.C. (My family moved to the states when I was 3 and we lived there for 7 years). I completed my BFA at the University of Victoria in 2014 and have since focused on travelling, skiing, learning to speak Italian, riding my motorcycle, and falling in love on the other side of the world.

Have you always been artistic?

Yes, but I also believe everyone is born with the ability to create artistically. To quote Sir Ken Robinson, “We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it”. I can’t remember my life before art, and I can’t imagine my life without it.

Where did you study? 

I studied at the University of Victoria for 6 years, switching into their Visual Arts program after 2 years of Environmental Studies/Earth and Ocean Sciences. 

What materials do you work with?

I go through phases, but most consistently I use acrylic, oil, watercolour, steel wire, and sketching pens. I really love working with wire, it forces my mind to problem solve and think outside the box.

Do you have a favourite piece?

Yes, it’s a painting called “The Drifters”, which was the last assignment of my university degree. The purpose of the assignment was to create a work that depicted a dystopian future. My initial concept was to capture the negative effect of social technology and it’s ability to self-isolate through chronic use. However, with the growing refugee crisis, I now look at the painting and see a lost family searching for a new life, a new home. The ambiguity of the piece is what gives it strength, any viewer can look at it and feel compelled to invent the narrative. The painting invites the viewer to participate.

  “THE DRIFTERS” – 24” x 30” (acrylic paint and plaster on canvas, 2014)

“THE DRIFTERS” – 24” x 30” (acrylic paint and plaster on canvas, 2014)

 Detail of  “THE DRIFTERS”

Detail of “THE DRIFTERS”

 Detail of  “THE DRIFTERS”

Detail of “THE DRIFTERS”

How long is your process?

It depends what I’m making and the size of the piece. There are some paintings I’ve completed happily in 2 hours, while others have taken weeks and have been painted over multiple times before evolving into a completely different artwork. As for my wire pieces, the drawing and composition takes several hours of research and experimentation, while the actual formation of the wire may only take an hour or two.

Who are some of your favourite artists?

I can’t say that I have any specific favourites, as I’m constantly discovering all sorts of different artists when I search for particular aesthetics or techniques, but overall I really admire the work of Picasso. He never settled for or stuck to a recognized niche. He created the niche. He stayed ahead of the crowd and was constantly challenging the concept of art and his own abilities as an artist. I admire that. I think too many of us find our comfort zone and stay there, or simply go after what we already know to be popular and avoid all risk. But that’s where most creators make their mistakes, they focus too much on being the best rather than being the only.

Where do you find inspiration?

My inspiration is often reflected by my current lifestyle or environment. If I find myself investing too much time and energy into things that aren’t important to me, I become uninspired and feel less creative. I think most of my inspiration and creativity comes from learning to trust my curiosity and following my intuition, which is constantly evolving.

What are you working on at the moment?

My focus at the moment is on creative self-discipline and artistic productivity. In the past I’ve often worked in spontaneous bursts, producing work only when a deadline is nearing or when I get a commission. So as of last week, I have committed myself to completing a small painting (nearly) everyday in hopes of growing and developing as an artist over the next few months.
 

  “ORANGE SLICES” – 8” x 10” (oil on canvas, 2017)

“ORANGE SLICES” – 8” x 10” (oil on canvas, 2017)

Where have you exhibited? 

A Vancouver-based clothing company called Kit and Ace supported my most recent exhibition, “GLIMPSE”, and my sculptural wire illustrations were featured in their Victoria showroom for 6 months. Otherwise, my work is featured and for sale via my website: www.kylamackenzie.com or Instagram: @kyla.artworks

  “EXHALE” – 18” x 24” (steel wire on paper, 2016)                 

“EXHALE” – 18” x 24” (steel wire on paper, 2016)                 

     “INTERNALIZE” – 18” x 24” (steel wire on paper, 2016)

   “INTERNALIZE” – 18” x 24” (steel wire on paper, 2016)

Was it always a dream of yours to be an artist?

Creating art has always been a part of my identity, but not always something I felt was a realistic pursuit. I think many of us take our passions for granted if we don’t feel those passions fit society’s definition of sure-success. The dream of becoming an artist was never the point, I have always been an artist, but to give myself permission to make art for a living – that’s the dream – and it’s a dream I’m working towards.  

Thank you to Kyla MacKenzie for participating in this interview and providing me with photographs of her work.