KK: Hi, Kendall! Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed. I want to ask you some questions about your work. First of all, what is important for our readers to know about you as an artist? What kind of themes/stories/emotions/aesthetics are you passionate about? How did you start creating?
KH: Of course, it’s my pleasure. I think it’s important for people to know that I’m just getting started. Not in a like, “this is my first rodeo, don’t judge me” type of way, but in a, “this is the first time I’ve opened my art up to outside interpretation” type of way. Everyone has creativity inside of them, but it’s scary to express those creative urges and actually bring them to fruition. It’s even scarier to let the world know that you’re doing it and put your work out there for others. I’m really excited to see where the journey leads and how my creativity blossoms the more I harness it. My art is very much informed by the world around me and how I view it. Almost like a satire of modern day society through my eyes. I love bright colors because art is supposed to be fun, and I would say my portrait style is interpretively realistic. I don’t like the idea of perfectly replicating an image—I want my style to shine through. I hope people feel happy when they see my art, that’s the main emotion I’m aiming to evoke.
KK: In “Into the Blue,” I found it really interesting that the women were arranged on blue and white circles. To me, this felt like clouds or water. There is something natural about this, perhaps commenting on the feminine connection to water and nature. Did you consider what insights the color blue might bring here, which can be a sad color or an ecstatic one? Tell me how you envision this piece and what your process was like here.
KH: This piece plays on the duality of women. Women are full of strength as well as ease, and we bathe in the romance of small moments. The concentric circles have a lot of energy; it’s almost as if they would continue forever if not held within the bounds of the canvas. In contrast, the women are soft and still—reading, stretching, relaxing—almost in direct opposition to the tempo of the circles behind them. I love that the background brought you to the feeling of water—I used the different shades of blue here to evoke the feeling of motion, particularly within water, so that’s spot on. I painted this in the heat of summer so I was envisioning these girls in the Italian countryside leisurely swimming in fresh water and soaking up the sun. The blue can be interpreted directly through your lens of experience or emotional state. Perhaps the women are melancholy, perhaps the women are blissfully calm, maybe they’re spiraling into the abyss around them—I like to leave room for interpretation, for each individual to have their own unique experience with the piece.
KK: In “Messy Girl no.1,” I love the color in this in particular: the pops of orange and red in her cheeks, and the gray around her eyes. I felt that these colors were somewhat unexpected, and add to the angry, dissatisfied look we see her making. What aspects of this painting are important to you?
KH: How good is this orange? I almost want to taste it, ha! The color choices here were extremely organic, some of them came to be merely by mixing with another color laid down before it or beside it with no real forethought. Emotions are complex and layered and oftentimes disregarded in this new age of plastered smiley social media faces. I wanted the emotions expressed here to be free to take shape as the painting progressed. I was really free with it, to be honest, and I think that feeds into how much sheer expression shines through. I wanted you to feel her anger, like you were the one who pushed her to the breaking point as you stare into the canvas.
KK: I understand “Messy Girl” is part of a series. Can you tell me more about that, and any other upcoming work?
KH: Yes, it will be a series. These paintings will highlight the very real emotions of women and give them space to be expressed and explored. In today’s society, women expressing their emotions makes people uncomfortable. We are seen as crazy, difficult, overly sensitive, weak, or unreliable simply for expressing ourselves. So in turn, these pieces are meant to make you feel uncomfortable when you view them: like the colors are incorrect, or the woman is off-center, or you can see the background through her skin. These decisions, while allowed to take shape organically during the painting process, lend to the overall social commentary.
KK: Thank you so much again Kendall! Is there anything else you want our readers to know?
KH: Thank you, Kai. The only thing they need to know is this is just the beginning! I’m super excited to be sharing my work and can’t wait to see where the journey leads.
Kendall Hawthorne is a New York City based painter with roots originally in sunny FL. Her pieces are bright and whimsical and can be seen as a satire on modern day society. Celebrities are idolized while the world burns around us, and much like in childhood, we hand their posters on our walls in adoration. Kendall aims to bring light heartedness and humor to her paintings. She hopes they bring wimsy and happiness to those who view them and encourage us to not take everything so seriously.