KIMBERLY BALLA

CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

KB: I developed my signature chemical process of painting during my BFA year at Western Washington University in 2013. The process was discovered by happy accident after long hours of experimentation. I manipulate this found chemical process to create fields of void inhabited by the presence of organic floating forms and oddities. I would heavily consider myself to be a process based artist whose work resembles ideas and constructs of the surrealists. Like the surrealists, I push to create dream-like escapes which aim to unlock the unconscious mind through imagery. Another characteristic of the surrealist movement, which my work resonates, is the push to create uncanny otherworldliness beyond our everyday reality. I also see my work fitting in with the abstract expressionists in terms of the spontaneity of my process and the emotional response I strive to invoke in the viewer.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

KB: I draw my inspiration from many sources. A main source I refer to is images of landscape. I use landscape to gather ideas of format, color, and line within my work. I use pictures of landscapes to capture the emotion which different atmospheres induce. I try to echo these characteristics to create certain emotions within my work. I also get inspiration from other artists. I like to study artists from the surrealist movement such as Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell, Paul Klee, etc.

KB: I also look at contemporary artists who might share my aesthetic and ideas about process. Some contemporary artists who I am inspired by are Darrent Waterston, James Lavadour, Gerhard Richter, and Ross Bleckner.

KB: As a type of subconscious inspiration, I would say, being a product of the 90s and its sci-fi heavy pop culture has also had a major influence over my work. Growing up in the 90s I was subjected to an abundance of sci-fi movies and television. X-Files, Armageddon, the 5th Element; the 90s was full of these kinds of flicks, which I regularly binged, and it definitely seems to spill over into my work.

KB: One of my last major areas of inspiration is from images of different organic forms in nature. I look for forms which have a fractal or branching pattern involved. These types of natural forms share the same fractal pattern which chemically appear in my painting process. My inventory includes images of fungi, ice forms, sea life, geological formations, and microbials. In my work I aim to highlight the visual and philosophical connection of paint-form to life-form and the interconnectedness of universal patterns such as these.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

KB: My process has become more mechanical and design oriented over the years. When I first stumbled upon my painting process, it was so new to me, that I just went simple with it, and threw the materials onto the canvas basically letting the chemicals do their thing. I have slowly grown away from that approach and after studying the process for 8 years I have developed a collection of patterns which I can organize to make a type of habitat. Each gesture or stroke is treated like a lifeform which inhabits its own zone of the canvas. When starting a piece, I first choose a JPEG-image from my inventory of natural patterns. Recently I have been most interested in mushrooms and fungi. I use this found image of fungi to plan the shapes which will inhabit the piece. Then I draw out a design sketch of where I want each form to be positioned within its habitat on the canvas. Next, I select an image of landscape which resonates with the feeling I want to invoke within the piece. I use this landscape to help emulate the colors and atmosphere. Finally, I start the actual painting process. First, I layer several colors to form a deep under layer. Then I apply the final top chemical layer. The chemical layer is a combination of liquids which react to create fractal patterns and groves throughout the paint surface. With each decisive stroke the paint erodes to reveal a fractal shape and under layer. Stroke by stroke the strange organic landscape comes to life.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

KB: My main aim for the viewer is for them to have some type of emotional experience when entering into the world of the work. I hope this experience touches the viewer enough to elicit a discussion on life, mystery, and wonder; a discussion which only conscious beings have the opportunity to ponder.

KB: I also hope the viewer sees the connections made within the work to the fractal branching forms. I hope the viewer can recognize the forms’ prevalence within, not just us (our own blood veins) and our planet, but within the universe. The idea that this form connects us to something other than this world and ourselves. The idea that we are, in essence, part of something bigger.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

KB: Being an artist is hard.

KB: It is definitely not as glamorous as it seems:

I have a part time job as well so I basically work two jobs. 

I don’t have much free time except when I leave town for a vacation.

I’m a night owl so my creative side doesn’t show until late. I’m usually up till at least 3am.

A lot of my money goes right back into making more work. 

KB: With all my complaints I still wouldn’t trade it:

I get to make something out of nothing and share it with the world.

I can inspire others with my work. 

The artist community is like none other, and it’s really exciting to be part of.

Showing work often leads me to towns and cities I might never have thought to visit. I like to say that “art leads me on adventures.”

I get a little extra vacation money every now and then.

I get to feel good knowing I’m accomplishing my goals and dreams as well as sharing my ideas with others.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

KB: I like both avenues of approaching art. I think it really depends on the person and even on the body of work. For my most recent series I take the “direction/planned” route. Sometimes I do miss the unplanned spontaneity of past series, and I’m sure I will revisit that direction in the future. 

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

KB: You have to show up. You have to be there, meet people, and really be part of the art world. You can’t just sit in your studio hoping that the opportunities will come your way. You have to get out, show your work, and be involved in the community.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

KB: Yes, I do regard personal style and taste to be of the highest importance, but I also recognize that not all art follows suit. Art is subjective and not all artists place importance on style or taste and that is okay.

KB: I do place high regard on having a personal style in life and in art. To have a style of your own is what makes a piece of art unique and stand out in history. I also think taste and knowing what you like is important in knowing yourself and what type of art you enjoy. If you can recognize what type of art you are drawn to, or have a sense of taste, then you know what type of art you want to make.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

KB: It’s hard not having much free time.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

KB: That feeling you get when you come home from the studio after having made a really amazing piece of art.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

KB: I’m SO inspired by other artists. I like to really keep my eye on artists doing well in the contemporary art world. Darren Waterston is one of my top inspirations, his work is out of this world. I’m also a fan of Ross Bleckner’s work. Both Bleckner and Waterston have a way in which they capture light and weightlessness that I really admire. Both artists are also known for their signature painting techniques which make their work genuine and unique. 

KB: I also like to look at the surrealists of the past such as Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell, and Yves Tanguy.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

KB: Technology is definitely a useful tool for us artists. 

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

KB: Yes. I’ll just say, “We think outside the box”. 

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

KB: Yes, I love traveling. I get a lot of my inspiration from traveling. My favorite city is Lisbon, Portugal. It’s like a fairy tale land with its waterfront views, over-abundance of castles, and centuries of history. The food is indescribable and the value the culture places on the act of dining is refreshing. The natural light in Portugal is unlike any. I was told that artists used to flock to the country to paint its golden light.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

KB: “The Secret Lives of Color” by Kassia St. Clair

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

KB: I would like to have my work included in a notable permanent collection at some point. I would love for a corporate collection like Microsoft or a museum collection to pick up my work. 

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

KB: It means sharing my ideas and imagery with the world. It means putting my creative work first and not giving up even if it’s a slow moving and difficult process. It means leaving my mark on this world.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?

KB: Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

KB: Artist Statement:

Mixing various painting mediums, I have developed a blend of liquids and dry pigment which chemically react to create unique fractal patterns throughout the painting. Over eight years of working with my technique; I have learned to harness the mysterious process as my own. I am mesmerized by this magic-like chemical approach which captures a natural process freezing it in time. Continually drawn to a technique which seems to touch on the endless cycle of nature and existence. The cycle of building and breaking down to reveal forms which eternally exist in the universal reality of nature and consciousness. I focus on these geologic-like contours, which seem familiar, with the intent to  create an other worldly intimacy. I wish for my work to create a void into a world which seems familiar yet unfamiliar, and encourage the discussion of the micro macro make-up of life and distant realities. An invitation to study the interconnectedness of universal patterns and think beyond in wonder.

CHECK OUT MORE ON: KIMBERLY BALLA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: