Don’t you love abstract paintings? They bring such life and energy to a home. I recently discovered the work of Kirstin Bojanowski, a young artist who has developed a distinctive and vibrant style that I think you’ll enjoy.
A graduate of the Media and Information Techno-culture program at the University of Western Ontario, Kirstin went on to graduate from the Advertising Account Management program at Centennial College. She’s committed to her career in advertising. Yet she’s still very much an artist at heart.
The depth and range of colour she gravitates to is often inspired by her travels. A recent trip to India was compelling. Kirstin was moved by everything from the crowded streets of Delhi to the moonlight in the desert of Rajasthan. This kind of visual diversity is something she aims to capture in her paintings.
These gorgeous silk paintings are available at the Koyman Gallery in Ottawa.
Kirstin was happy to answer a few questions about herself and her approach to painting.
JM: I was intrigued to learn you completed your first painting at 18 months old. When did you realize you were an artist?
KB: It sounds like a cliché, but I actually have the painting to prove it. It was watercolour on paper and likely my first abstract. I don’t remember having a particular moment that I realized I was an artist. For as long as I can remember I had a brush in my hand. I come from a long line of working artists: my grandparents, Donnah and Allan Cameron, and my mother Donnah Cameron II who currently teaches painting workshops all over the world. My sister and I were nurtured to see the world through a certain lens – one that saw a clear summer sky as more than just blue.
JM: Coming from a family of artists, tell me how they’ve influenced you?
KB: They’ve influenced me in more ways than I know. I wasn’t formally schooled in art, so I used to brush off my abilities as “self-taught”, but I think I owe them much more credit. The most valuable way they’ve influenced me is allowing me to find my own way, and encouraging me to push my limits. They’re all very technically skilled, painting landscapes, floral, etc. Even my sister, Alexandra, is an amazing portrait painter.
I, on the other hand, require much less structure. I need the freedom to be loose with my work and almost never have a subject in my paintings. My mother always said,”you have to learn the rules before you can break them.” But I’m not sure I followed that step. We help, learn from and critique each other.
JM: You have a successful career in the advertising industry. Will you always make time for your art? What does it bring to your life?
KB: Luckily, I love my work – on both fronts. I got into advertising for the love of the creative collaboration, but also the business that drives it forward. We may not always think of advertising as ‘art’ but it’s the same organic process. It starts with an idea.
I’ll always find time for my painting. It’s my passion and it keeps me balanced. In fact, my dream is to find a hybrid role between marketing and art. I often think about how difficult it is for many artists to make a business out of their work while remaining humble. Sure, not every artist defines success monetarily, but recognition will not come by tucking your work away in a basement. If your goal is to make a business out of your art it takes strategy, persistence and loads of work.
JM: How has your style as an artist evolved? What keeps it challenging for you?
KB: My style evolves every time I pick up the brush and experiment. I suppose that’s what draws me to abstract, and especially to working with the forgiving nature of acrylics. There’s no right or wrong. There certainly are foundations to abstract painting such as colour, composition, etc, but everything else is up to the creator.
I have three basic fundamentals: colour, texture and movement. I started with my layering technique around 2002 when I was experimenting with nude figures. My backgrounds were very abstract and eventually my subjects were lost and my style was found.
I challenge myself by constantly trying new things. I also now teach which has opened an entire new world to me.
JM: Tell me about your weekend workshops in abstract painting.
KB: Teaching has pushed me to apply method to my madness, so to speak. I have a “homegrown” art education and have never had to stop and ask myself what exactly I was doing and why. This posed a new and welcome challenge.
I was able to define the inception of the method: colour. All my work is bright with colour, but also has balance, as my abstractions are not overly busy, dark, or textured. I teach workshops that remind students to think about the balance of their pieces. While abstract is incredibly free-flowing, intuitive and fearless, it’s also based on fundamentals. Once I broke down my building blocks, I was able to teach it.
I’ve taught and demonstrated for various art associations such as
* The Toronto Watercolour Society (TWS)
* The East Central Ontario Art Association (ECOAA)
* The Central Ontario Art Association (COAA)
I also host independent workshops in my family studio in Newmarket.
JM: If someone is interested in commissioning a painting or buying one of your current works, how can they reach you?
www.kirstinbojanowski.com – soon to be updated with new paintings
firstname.lastname@example.org – email
@thekbempire – twitter
www.koymangalleries.com – Koyman Gallery in Ottawa – dye on silk collection
JM: What Canadian artists have inspired you creatively?
KB: Just to name a few: Jean-Pierre Lafrance, Tom Thomson, Neil Young and Joanne Corno.
My grandparents Donnah and Allen Cameron, my mother Donnah Cameron II, my sister Alexandra Bojanowski.
Internationally, my favourite artist is Paul Ruiz.
Are you inspired by abstract painting? I’d love to hear your thoughts.