Stephanie K Kane: Escapism, Finding Home, and Who Makes Art Political

Stephanie K Kane is an artist with a hand for portraiture, large-scale canvas and digital art. After I responded to her online call-out to do digital portraits (see bottom of article), I spoke to Stephanie a touch beyond the surface on what she does best: Create.

                                                   "I've Got a Sheet If You Want It?" by S K Kane

                                                   "I've Got a Sheet If You Want It?" by S K Kane

Why do we paint?

Sometimes it can be an narcissistic thing, I want to show off to others or myself, I want to confirm a deeper personality or challenge my ability. It can be a meditated reflection and type of therapy, a way of exploring or communicating those thoughts and feelings. It is a different way of speaking. I really struggle with communicating sometimes, and I can speak through my creations. Perhaps this doesn’t come across to the spectator, but painting is a way of me understanding myself and in a way  that is more important. There are also times when my consciousness flows - that mindless gap in time where you create lines or boxes or stars on a piece of paper. I think its just processing information. These are the reasons why I paint and they differ or over lap from day to day - there must be more reasons out there.

How do you choose your subjects?

Something always grabs me. Faces and hands can get me really excited. If it wasn’t creepy or inappropriate, I would stare at people for hours. The heavy pigmentation or even the translucence around an eye, or the the dip above your lip captivates me. Faces are so weird. They’re just a mass of lumps and dips, layers and layers of different colours and shades that move and constantly change. I love to digest that, translate it, celebrate it. 

I usually paint myself feeding off a strange energy that I haven’t worked out what it is yet. I used to think I used myself as the main subject because I was the only person around at the strange times of the night I decide to paint, but I’ve grown out of my weird anti-sleeping stage of life and I am still continuing to choose myself. And I think it is at those times where I am really exploring my sub-consciousness.  

Do you have a another level of intimacy once you’ve drawn them? 

Painting or drawing someone does make me feel more comfortable with them. Maybe because this was the chance that I did get to stare at them for so long. I can’t just draw the subject for ‘face value’ - I hope that there is more captured than that. I am always more pleased with artworks that are based on people that I know, and I believe that’s because I’m exploring them as a human through different mediums.  

Is it important for artists to find home with other artists? Like you, with Push Crayons?

Iron sharpens iron. Working along side other artists inspires and sharpens. Being in a collective with artists in different fields is so much fun and completes projects in ways that you can’t do, or can’t do as well, without another person. 

Why is Art political?

I don’t particularly agree that art is always political. There are some artists that create without an agenda or create simply for aesthetic reasons but it’s the viewers that turn that work in to a political piece. When I first thought about art being political, Van Gogh's sunflowers came to mind – for example; what would the political intent be behind that piece? What could it possibly be commenting on or standing for? I researched the piece, learning about the ideas of social commentary and working against the usual colour formation, but there was still that gap in time where to me that painting wasn’t political at all. I would say it is the spectator who personally decides if a work of art is political. The majority of the time everyone has something to say about everything – but sometimes there is that gap in time where there isn’t an opinion attached. 

Imagine if the world allowed you to freely be an artist – no bills, no requirement to ‘work’, no mortgage. Would you still paint? Would it still be the escapism it is now?

Yes. Painting gives me mental freedom and that is the most important. When I paint it is like I am thinking a thousand thoughts throughout the process but I can’t particularly hear what I’m thinking. When I have finished, there is pure silence, and it’s such a nice feeling. I can sometimes go through patches of time when I don’t create anything at all, and I believe that it is usually a time when I am mentally researching and exploring different thoughts and feelings. After that process, I can create. That said, there are always periods in time when I feel so moved by something I need to react too. Painting is so organic and necessary to me I can’t imagine that changing regardless of my situation.

Follow Stephanie K Kane on Twitter, visit her website, or buy from her online store!