Meet this month’s Artist of the Month, Kyle Ma (Painting Roses).
Kyle Ma developed a love of nature during his childhood. He was drawn to art at an early age and says painting allows him to express his viewpoint on our world. Currently Kyle is also pursuing his passion for nature by studying geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. He believes his studies reinforce the idea of making careful observations and seeking to understand those observations, skills he feels are extremely important in art. Kyle is a Signature Member of Oil Painters of America and a member of the Salmagundi Club, Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, and American Impressionist Society.
Art Notes: Why is working from life important for you as an artist?
Working from life is important because that way I am as close to the original source of my subject as possible. Photography is a good tool, but there is certain information that will not get across via a photograph. It is important to observe firsthand so my work is authentic.
Art Notes: Could you walk us through your process? What do you need to have figured out at each stage?
I first think about the large shapes. In this stage I reduce everything down to two dimensions and only worry about shapes of color. Next, I work on the overall forms. I then consider the planes of different parts of my subject and make more subtle value and color adjustments to show the three-dimensionality of what I’m painting. Last I add the details — these are the smaller shapes that add more interest to the painting.
Art Notes: What questions do you ask yourself about a subject before you begin?
I ask what is the visual concept behind my subject, and what are different ways I can communicate that concept. The visual concept is dictated usually by what I believe is most important about the subject; for example, it could be about describing a certain color harmony or lighting condition. After I determine the concept, I come up with several different compositions and value/color structures and figure out what way best describes my concept.
Art Notes: Why is drawing important to you as an artist?
Drawing is fundamental to creating art because it defines the placement and angles of things. Without drawing I would not know where each shape is and the painting would not appear how I intend.
Art Notes: How and where in your work do you play with color? What does that look like? (For example, is it a temperature thing? Do you push colors in shadows?)
I normally am true to the color relationships I see, but I often shift the color harmony. For example, I might paint an entire painting where most of the colors are shifted towards a certain color family.
Art Notes: How do you communicate mood in a piece? Could you give us an example with a specific painting?
To communicate mood, I adjust color temperatures, edges, and value contrast. In the paintingRussian Hill Morning(above), I kept the color temperature cool and edges relatively soft in the shadows. I then introduced a warm light. So this gives the feeling of something early in the day. I reduced the value contrast in the distance; this makes the piece feel more atmospheric.
Art Notes: How do you assess a piece when you’ve finished?
I step back or use a mirror. I ask myself if there are any parts of the painting that are bothersome and whether or not my concept was executed successfully.