Instagram: @kacinmcafee Etsy: www.lavenderandlaurel.etsy.com
1. What's your story? Where are you from?I am a 21-year-old communicative science and disorders undergraduate with a knack for art. I am based in Alabama, USA, but plan on eventually moving once I complete my degree in speech language pathology; I hope to one day experience a white winter! Most people are typically surprised to learn that I am not an art major. I chose to be an SLP because I wanted to help a larger variety of people compared to being an art therapist. Besides, I have always loved linguistics, so it only made sense to fulfill my need to help heal others in a field that I have always found fascinating!
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.I am deeply inspired by nature and all living things. Some of the most inspirational moments of my life have been in wintry forests and under starry night skies. I also have a deep love for rare minerals. Science is very fascinating to me, it’s like real magic! I have always been baffled by the idea of of how crystals form in rich soils and the phenomena of birds in flight. Most of my paintings are dominated by plants and animals, but I am also deeply moved by strong female figures who have suffered for their beliefs, specifically Joan of Arc. While most of my artwork is light-hearted, I find that my best work has always been inspired by my own heartbreak.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?Watercolor! It wasn’t always my favorite medium; I remember often refusing to do familial painting commissions as a child because I despised the messy, difficult process of painting. For the first part of my life I would only meddle with graphite and occasionally colored pencil. I was actually very talented in realism; but in recent years I turned to illustration as it is personally more fulfilling. Everything in my life is based upon a structural and systematic pattern, albeit college classes clinical shadowing, or working a minimum-wage job. Watercolor painting is the only time I can let loose and allow myself artistic freedom and fluidity without consequences, and therefore one of my many escapes from reality.
4. What is your artistic process like?All of my artwork is based upon my own reality. I paint both my dreams and my struggles, ever-intertwined. My mind is constantly over-flowing with stories and ideas, so painting them is the only way to release that built-up energy from my psyche. Once I have pieced together some ideas that represent my current emotional state, I like to sketch out the images in my head. After about two or three rough drafts on cheap paper, I am finally ready to draw a final outline and paint. My setup is always the same, and I take great comfort in it; I radiate my supplies (scratch paper, laptop, coffee, painting water, brushes, paint tubes, and painting palette,) around me in a pragmatic order, and as a final step I will light a candle — right now I’m on a gingerbread man scent kick — and set up some cheesy one-star horror film to half-watch as I am painting.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?I would say Frida Kahlo and Bob Ross have been most inspirational in my life, although I harbor affections for many other artists. I suffer from an invisible illness, so I can deeply relate to fiery Frida Khalo, who also suffered many physical ailments. I grew up watching Bob Ross encouraging kids like myself to draw and create their own happy environment, so without his little TV show I feel like I probably wouldn’t have stuck to drawing as I have. Growing up, my brother and I had few sources of entertainment because at the time there were not appliances like iPads and personal computers to keep us company! So as my brother turned to playing his Gameboy Color, I turned to drawing the nature around me.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?I use art as a form of self-therapy. I, like many others in the world, suffer from anxiety, depression, and an overwhelming sense of self-doubt. When I am sad, I like to compile artwork that represents how I feel at that time. My art is extremely personal, but I am notorious for hiding the meaning of a piece within subtle symbols and color schemes; only the extremely observant might be able to identify my art’s true purpose. One of my most recent pieces, “She-Wolf,” is a prime example of the hidden depths of my artwork. The woman pictured is actually an original character named Penélope, who is representative of those who suffer mental illness. The color scheme is overwhelmingly calm and warm; everything about her suggests a put-together beauty. However, you will notice the bloody maroon of Pipa’s lips and mask’s eyes suggest a hidden viciousness. I often feel as if I have to hide my true self from others for fear of what they might think of me; over the years I have always hid away beneath a mask of my own design. Sometimes, though, I feel like my quiet and polite disposition is begging to crack. I feel like people can see through those cracks and recognize who I really am: a raging storm of emotions in a girl’s body. However, painting it out seems to unravel the knots in my mind. It is as if art is the only way I can feel truly whole again when I am experiencing a bout of anxiety.
7. Where did you study?I am actually a self-taught artist! I was successfully unsuccessful in entrylevel art classes, so I dropped out of art school. My imagination was simply too wild; it was hard to be disciplined enough to draw from still-life when my mind was on otherworldly possibilities. My biggest regret was not sticking to art even as a minor; there is so much for me to still learn, and I feel like I would have been better off knowing all the secrets taught in those boring classes.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years? Working in an agency?I sincerely hope to be finished with my degree in SLP by then! I haven’t decided where in my field I would prefer to work, but as of right now I am leaning towards helping children with speech deficits learn to overcome and compensate for their disabilities.
9. What about in ten?I hope to maybe complete my doctorate in SLP at that point (if I chose to do so,) and I think it would be really cool if by then I could illustrate my first book! It has always been a dream of mine, and my fiancé and I have recently been plotting our first book. He is an amazing published writer, and has agreed to help my piece together a small novel of which I will illustrate.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?I wish to inspire others to reach their fullest potential of life and to spread love and hope through my artwork. If my art inspires just one person, I feel like it will all be worth the hours upon hours of practice and discipline it took to get me here.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?I LOVE FOOD!!! My favorite food is sweets! I don’t care if they’re French, German, Japanese, American… I love them all! It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I do love a fresh macaron. I also deeply enjoy lemon bars, black forest cake, chocolate eclairs, mochi ice cream, and pumpkin rolls to name a few. My dream is to one day have a cherry-filled paczki!
12. Favourite book?Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! It opened my eyes to the unlimited possibilities and the magic of all art forms.
13. Favourite genre of music?I love folk rock, especially Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers! I find them relaxing in my chaotic world; I often listen to them while painting to help focus my attention.
14. What are your hobbies?I enjoy playing video games, baking pastries, reading, and hiking! Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time to do any of these things; when I’m not studying I’m usually squeezing in time for a painting.
15. If you weren't an artist, what would you be?I would be an orchestral violinist! I took up violin in high school and loved it; unfortunately by my senior year I grew closer to my artwork than music. I was in my school’s play Cinderella, though, and it is my favorite memory of my youth. Nothing beats the adrenaline of performing in an orchestra pit!
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