Kim McCarty's watercolors hover between presence and absence, innocence and wisdom, and past, present, and future. Un peu de soleil dans l'eau froide, if you will. We discussed her addiction to watercolor, ongoing challenge, and sources of inspiration.
You started out with oil painting, then you switched to watercolor. How did this transition come about? Did working with watercolor change your artistic approach?
I switched after our house burned down in the Malibu fire of 1993. We moved into a small home with young children, oil paint was no longer an option. I then began experimenting with watercolor and paper. After all of these years, I never felt the desire to go back to oil on canvas.
This year, The Billboard Creative picked 33 artists (including you) to display their art at major intersections throughout LA. Knowing your work is viewed by thousands of people on their daily commute must be exhilarating. What was that experience like?
It's been such a fun experience! Everyone loves a billboard, especially in LA! Mona Kuhn did such a wonderful job curating all the artists and billboards. I won't be surprised if other cities follow suit. The press definitely loves the idea of a civic-minded show.
Your preferred technique is wet-on-wet, which is not an easy one: it’s not controlled easily; it lives on its own. What attracts you to it?
I think that's what attracts me to it – as crazy as it seems. Everyday is a gamble, but that one time when line and form come together is amazing. Unfortunately, during the process a lot of paper is wasted. I'm attracted to watercolor's translucent and modulated attributes. In my work, I attempt to convey the uncertainty of presence, which a wet-on-wet technique allows to reveal.
We are often mesmerized by something we don’t understand the nature of. Being unable to figure out how a particular piece of art is made attracts us to it: we can’t believe that something out-of-this-world like the Sistine Chapel ceiling was painted by an actual human being; or what’s going on inside Annie Leibovitz’s brain that makes her see the things she sees. Are there any artists (photographers, movie directors, composers, etc.) that evoke these emotions in you?
There are so many writers that inspire me – J.M Coetzee, Ian McEwan, Hanya Yanagihara; performers – Florence Welch, Johnny Cash, Aloe Blacc, my sister Lori Lieberman, and so many more; photographers – Rineke Dijkstra, Robert Frank; visual artists – Baselitz, Giacometti, Kara Walker. This list is huge!
What places do you find artistically inspiring? What's a place you've always dreamed of visiting, but never have?
Lately, have been wanting to visit Laos, since I'm told it remains unchanged. I'd also love to visit India and Burma. I need to find time to get there!