Kent Paulette - An American Artist and Master of Movement in Painting Q&A


Kent Paulette, American Artist



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Seducing the Molecules - 48 x 24 inches


Miami Lights and Locomotion



Hips to the Hat


Yummy Bear


The Magnetic Glory - 24 x 24 inches


I'm Just Action - 48 x 24 inches


Child of the Echo Verse

 

Love the outdoors, creativity born through music, inspiration found in dogs? Then step into nature on a canvas with our second ANH Artist Q&A! North Carolina-native Kent Paulette brings meaning to every brushstroke varying from his "Ninja Splat" technique to his spontaneous "Leafing" brushstrokes. Whether he's pelting canvases with paint in a mountain creek, body surfing while absorbing the words of the ocean, or creating masterpieces in his Banner Elk studio, Paulette captures life in the moment with breathtaking beauty. Step into the world of this self-taught artist to find out more about his latest project and be inspired!

Q1. You mentioned in your bio that your parents were supportive of your artistic efforts. Did you always know that you wanted to paint?
A1: After high school I spent a year putting together a book of my writings and artwork. During that time, I was learning to use Photoshop and Illustrator. After that, I just wanted to use actual paint instead of digital paint and I haven't stopped since.

Q2. Since you spend most of your time painting in mountain creeks, would you say nature plays a big role in your artwork?
A2: Haha, well I definitely spend most of my time playing in mountain creeks. I did have fun that one time painting in the creek when I was creating my Ninja Splat video. During the week, I get inspired by the nature that surrounds me, and then on the weekends I bring that inspiration with me when I go to paint at Studio 140 in Banner Elk, NC. But even there, I mostly paint outside, so I'm never that far from the trees. I regularly hug trees, swim in the creek no matter how cold the water is, and talk to the birds. I went to the beach for a couple weeks this summer and probably spent 80 hours alone in the ocean riding 2,000 waves. I came back to the mountains and each wave became a brushstroke in my series of Eros paintings. During all of those hours alone, the ocean would speak to me and I would roar back at it. I chanted and raged into the waves and the ocean sang along. One of the phrases from those songs was, "I am human when I obsess, but I am shaman when I am free." I'm now in the early stages of planning my next series titled "Shaman Not Human".

Q3. Have you noticed any changes in your art when pieces are performed publicly as opposed to in private? Rather, do you think the people who watch you paint affect the 'whims of chance?'
A3: I've been painting in front of people for the last couple years, and it's so different than painting alone. Before, when I'd paint alone, I'd always try to control my environment by turning off my phone, playing only certain music, not talking to anyone, etc. But at the same time I was trying to let go of control in other aspects by inserting chance events like letting the paint drip or throwing it through the air. Now, when I paint in public, people will come up to me and scare me, or ask me a million questions, or tell me their opinion about the painting. Compliments can be just as bad as criticisms. If I've just started a painting and they say it's perfect, then it can be hard for me to move past that and continue to take risks. But these encounters with people are also chance events just like the wind and rain that often step in to collaborate with me on my paintings. What I'm learning with all this is how to insert the present moment into each brushstroke.

Q4. Does the imagery in your paintings come from what's around you while you work, things you've seen before, or a combination of both?
A4: Sometimes it's those things, but I usually paint from photographs. I'm most interested in the brushstrokes and the moment when the paint touches the canvas. As far as the subjects go, I respect all things equally and I try to express that love when I paint any subject.

Q5. You said you don't like to paint with hesitation. Does that mean you paint every piece from start to finish in one sitting or rather, creek-standing?
A5: For several years before I started painting in public, I would finish most of my paintings in one day. I was pretty obsessive about it and I needed to give up control in that area, too. Now I go with the flow a bit more. Sometimes I start a painting on one weekend and then finish it on another.

Q6. How would you describe your creative process? We have to know more about throwing thick paint at canvases eight feet away!
A6: I call those Ninja Splats 'cause I look like a ninja when I throw the globs of paint and then they go "splat!" I also have Ninja Splashes which involve a certain flick of the wrist at just the right moment or else the paint goes flying straight up in the air. Other types of brushstrokes I use are my Building Blocks, Leafing, Scratching Thoughts, Kisses, Slaps, Screams, Spells, Windows and lots of others that I haven't titled yet. They happen spontaneously and it's all about capturing the present moment with each type of brushstroke.

Q7. As an artist, what would you say is your favorite medium to use?
A7: I used to use oil paint but for the last several years I've mainly used acrylic. I'd say acrylics are my favorite.

Q8. Who would you say is your biggest inspiration?
A8: My best friend for many years was my dog Corky and she remains my biggest inspiration. You can see her little love light shining in everything that I create.

Q9. Are you a completely self-taught artist, or did you complete art training/education somewhere? If so, where?
A9: I had some art classes growing up in elementary and high school but other than that I'm completely self-taught. For each painting I learn by playing with the paint and by setting up experiments to see what happens.

Q10. You said music plays a big role in your creative process. Do you have any musical artists to add to our playlists?
A10: Laura Marling, John Hartford, Fela Kuti, Tunng, Blue Roses, DJ Zebra's mashups, Jeff Black, Brandi Carlile, The Tallest Man on Earth, and Pete Roe.

Q11. Do you think local art is important? If so, why?
A11: People often tell me when I'm painting that they used to make art but don't anymore for some reason or another. I always try to encourage them to get back into it because I think they'll be happier getting to express that side of themselves. Other people tell me that they have no artistic skills and I try to encourage them to do something creative also. And of course, I always encourage kids to paint and to continue to do so as they get older. I see first-hand just how important it is to have local art as I watch so many people visit our gallery and walk away feeling inspired to go create something artistic themselves.

Q12. What advice would you pass on to aspiring artists faced with a world full of new technology?
A12: The new technology has its uses like allowing artists to stay connected and share their work with a larger audience. I certainly use it artistically, socially, and commercially, but I try to place limits on how I use technology so I don't get too swept away in it. My brother and I jumped into our mountain creek recently in late October. Afterwards, I told him that the shock of that cold water made us forget all about our iPhones.

Want to learn even more about Kent? Browse amazing pieces of artwork on his Facebook page

www.facebook.com/KentPaulette or learn more about the artist himself on his website www.KentPaulette.com

By Jordan Moses



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