Kina Forney is an artist living in Ottawa, Cananda. This is her first installment in a 4-part series as Artist Strong’s Artist in Residence. You see the art she creates on Instagram @kinaink. Visit her website and subscribe to Studio Updates at www.kina-ink.com
Hello fellow creatives, my name is Kina Forney and I have always been an artist. I love to draw, illustrate, design, paint, craft, create, and share. I thrive in community with others and aim to create work that resonates and brings feelings of joy and nostalgia to the viewers.
Lately I’ve been learning a lot about myself and my practice through coaching as well as through teaching others the fundamentals of painting and drawing. I am so grateful for the chance to be featured as an artist in residence because it is a much needed reminder to come back to defining what it is that I do.
Throughout this residency, I’d like to take a look at my practice as a whole and its part in my life, and then dive into what I consider my “pillars” of my practice, roughly defined as Play, Teaching, and Design.
There is no linear road to becoming an artist, and I feel that is the biggest misconception. You are not given a path to become an artist in the same way that one becomes a doctor, lawyer or engineer. The funny thing about becoming an artist is often that you were one the entire time, and now you are just figuring out how to make your life work around that so that you can somehow keep doing what it is that you love and also pay the bills and support yourself and others… so that you can in turn keep doing the thing that you love.
That’s kind of where I’m at right now. I had a varied, colourful past which I won’t go into too much detail because I have a tendency to really ramble, but here’s the short(ish) version.
A Brief History of Kina and How She Got Here
Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved to colour. She’d get large sheets of paper from her dad’s office and draw on them. She had a fascination with stationery and typography and books. She loved writing letters to her friends, even if they lived nearby. She loved to colour and make crafts. In high school she took her artwork a bit more seriously, focusing on practicing her drawing skills. Then she took Fine Arts at University but went into graphic and web design to pay the bills. She worked for the government, for an animation studio, for a school fundraising company, and as a print publisher. Eventually realizing that she kept trying to pursue her own art in all of free time between jobs, she decided to go freelance. 7 years later she’s still trying to figure it all out.
And now you’re all caught up!
So now I’m officially an “artist”, at least that’s what it says on my business cards. I love how when you tell someone that you are an artist there are a few common responses received.
The first, “I can’t draw to save my life, I can barely make a stick man.” I feel like I am drawn to teaching to dispel that one. Can you write your name? Then you can draw.
The second, “Oh, I know an artist, do you know so and so?” No, I don’t know your friend the artist, and just because they too make art does not mean we are kindred spirits. Anyone who has the intention of being an artist technically is one, so the chances that I know your artist friend are very low. But here’s my card and you can get them to contact me!
And one that I get the most often: “How nice it must be to make art all day!” This one irks me the most because it undermines all of the work we do that isn’t art just to make the space to create at all. Buying supplies, answering emails, networking, marketing, documenting, organizing, cleaning, sitting at artisan market tables in the rain… you get the idea.
I think the myths that surround the everyday life of being an artist are created by the romantic notion that as artists we “do what we love” in order to make a living.
I suppose this is because purchasing fine art is considered a luxury, so creating it must be one as well? Do what you love and you never work a day in your life, right?
Well, as many of you people know, that is simply not the case. At least in my experience, this is the hardest job I’ve ever had. Yes, it is one that I chose, but it does not mean it’s a walk in the park.
As a mother of two, a partner, maker of meals, housekeeper, home owner, grocery buyer and cat owner… When do I ever even have time to paint?
I think being an artist is a practice of intention. No, we do not paint all day. Nor would we be capable of such a thing. Some days I go to my studio and do nothing but re-organize my paints a hundred times, or curl up with a book, or chat with studio mates. We all have seasons. Sometimes for weeks on end I paint feverishly to meet some self imposed deadline and wonder why I ever agreed to this. Other times my mind is as far away from creating art as possible, and I am out hiking, camping, or doing yoga on someone’s dock.
Through coaching I’ve learned that I have two sides. One version of me is a pragmatic, organized lover of discipline, rules and timetables, organized art supplies, and clean refrigerators. The other version is a colourful, messy, chaos spreading, laughing and dancing reckless child, jumping from one unfinished activity to the next.
So far my most recent challenge has been how to encourage these two sides to play nicely. When they are in harmony, I can create with abandon during designated chunks of time, complete projects on schedule, and show up as my fullest self to my family, friends and students. When they are NOT in harmony, I live in chaos; extremely messy, late for everything, making promises I cannot keep, or in contrast, creating schedules and rules so strict that they are simply unachievable, and berating myself and others when they are not upheld.
In closing of this first post, I will share my latest artist statement. I feel it sums things up pretty nicely and gives you a good idea of what it is I do (not just the art stuff, but the life stuff, too) and why it’s all worth it to me.
I create for that moment of being captivated by something so beautiful that it brings you back to a place and time when you could suspend your disbelief just long enough to feel a sense of pure joy and childlike wonder.
My ever changing subject matter embodies the innocent, carefree nature of childhood itself. It shifts wildly from one world to another, from the playroom floor to the outskirts of the galaxy, bursting at the seams with detail, light and colour.
I dedicate my practice to creating space for my inner child to explore. With every piece I make, I am discovering my own simple truths that manifest through uninhibited play; connecting the dots of meaning like following breadcrumbs to find our way back home to ourselves.
Life as an artist is an ongoing practice of lovingly reminding myself and those around me of our right to pursue what brings us joy, to connect with others and to take time once in a while to play.
Every month, 1-3 artists show up in our Artist Strong community to share their artistic process, journey, explorations with us over the course of a month.
The goal is to normalize the MANY, VARIED experiences of being an artist.
And if YOU want to apply to be an Artist Strong Artist Resident, subscribe to our weekly updates to hear about the next time applications are open.