I’m so honored when someone decides to interpret my art by making their own version of it! This was inspired by my painting “The Wound”!
I had some kind of breakthrough in my thoughts about my future painting last night. It was wonderful. The Dead Lolita theme has felt old for some time now. I don’t connect with the role of Lolita anymore, I’ve come too far on my journey of self-empowerment. It has been four years since I first got the idea of killing my inner Lolita – and I think I killed her on the way without even noticing. All the artworks for the Lolita show will be included in other collections.
The new theme for a future collection of paintings is “black on black” – whatever that might be. I have worked a lot with demon portraits against a black background and I would say it is my signature style. I love playing around with different nuances of black, adding more life to the dark and, often flat, color. I will also go back to making mixed media pieces instead of just acrylic on canvas – I have some new ideas I want to explore when it comes to my technique. This is exciting! I have already prepared some canvases. All covered with black paint, of course.
My new painting is finished! I put a lot of work into it and I feel great. This piece is very personal and has a lot of emotions mixed into it.
Here is what the first draft looked like:
My core expression is always found in simplicity, clarity and in the raw, captured emotions i wish to express.
I have been studying alternative art forms lately. I want to unleash more. I want to be bolder, more raw and experimental. But also more poetic, more sensitive and delicate. It is like I have to sides to my artistic voice – and perhaps even to my personality.
I have a very controlled side – where the melancholy and the seriousness lives – and then I have this wild side where there are no limits to the playfulness in the raw emotions. Maybe it’s the Pippi-Bergman thing again. I love my two sides but they have a tendency to clash sometimes and it’s not a good match. I need to learn how to separate them so they are pure in their very different expressions. The magic is in the pureness – and being fully committed to a psychological state or the juxtaposition of two raw emotions (like fear and happiness or rage and playfulness).
My second trauma started around the summer of 2006, only a couple of years after the painful divorce from my abusive husband. Needless to say, it was too much to handle and I quickly sunk into a deep depression. During this time my art went through a big change as well. As I was dealing with the depression and feeling absolutely broken, my paintings shifted from a more realistic style to being covered in color splashes, almost like blood splatter and tears. “My Secret” is a good example of this transformation. Both versions are from late 2006.
I am really painting again. No self-doubt, no hesitation, no fear – just me having fun in the studio. And even if the subject matter is very disturbing and painful for me, I don’t feel sad or anxious while working – I’m just letting it all out and as it leaves my heart and end up on the canvas, I am healing even more. Last night I ended up in that wonderful flow of creativity and passion that I’ve missed so much and I couldn’t sleep because of the rush from the flow.
One of the best things I’ve done lately is to define what my idea of ‘the perfect artistic expression’ is to me. I made a list of what I’m trying to achieve with my artistic voice, and if I just follow the list I will have no reason to doubt myself or compare myself to other artists:
Capture strong emotions in their primitive state
Use vivid colors
Find a balance between light/dark and playful/serious
Simplicity and a clear composition (no unnecessary details or a realistic approach)
The expression should not be flattering or perfect in an obvious way
The expression has to feel like ‘home’ to me
Some week ago, I wrote about how I’ll study my creativity as a scientist to see if I use it as rest or play (work), but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not about that. I use my creativity as both rest and play and it’s relaxing, fun and hard work at the same time. What I’ve discovered is how I use the different techniques and media to express myself – I am always driven by my core and what it has to say and therefore my creativity is a very intimate force. The digital expressions, writing, digital art, poetry are all based on my innermost feelings and thoughts but I am more flexible here. I can weave my personal stories into a more general expression, something that concerns other people. But with my analogue art – such as painting, mixed media, drawings etc, I feel more protective of the pieces. They don’t concern other people, only me. My analogue art is my most intimate expression, perhaps that’s why it’s so linked to my sexual energy.
My digital art, painting, drawing and mixed media.
“There’s clearly a connection between your creativity and your sexuality – what is it?”, my therapist once asked me. I didn’t understand it at the time. I answered; “Perhaps it’s where I am most traumatized?”, but that isn’t it. During the 7 years where I was creatively blocked, I had a recurring nightmare about pooping in public. “The excrement is your flow, it’s a wishful dream.” She said when I told her about it. And I get it now. The flow of something very intimate that I release in the public arena. It’s coming from me – it’s produced inside me and it’s a mix of old things that my mind, heart and soul have digested and turned into something else. Something new, that want’s to be released. I make something beautiful out of the crap that happened to me in my past. My paintings and drawings are as close as you can get to my core, without knowing anything about me.
I used to feel forced to produce paintings and mixed media pieces for art shows and collectors and that’s when I got all burned out and stopped working. I got blocked, lost my momentum, my self confidence and my ambition to work as an artist. No wonder, that’s not how I’m supposed to treat my analogue art. It is far too precious and magical to me to be used as a cash cow. It’s like selling your soul. I can never go back to working like that again. I have to find a new approach to my art as something I can make money on.
Pictures from my art show “My Pink Hell” in Copenhagen, 2009:
I am not only making research about colonial folk art portraits, I have also started digging deeper into the palette of emotions. As a portrait painter specializing in strong human emotions, it’s important for me to know the nuances of them, not only their basic color. There is a difference between anger, rage and wrath – and between anxiety, fear and terror. Since I’m working mostly with the primitive emotions (like fear, pain, rage and shame), it is crucial that I have a deeper understanding of how they work, express themselves and what their core symbol is to me. For example; I’ve used upside-down crosses to illustrate negative emotions, but without any nuances. It could be fear, anxiety, rage or plain evil:
My latest paintings have the expression of rage, defensiveness and protectiveness:
Compare the expressions to my older paintings, where it wasn’t so much about rage but more about fear, shame and pain:
You can really witness my inner journey by studying my artworks. From the time I was still living the symptoms of PTSD, to dealing with the traumas by facing them – and then slowly overcoming them.
I will be able to tell better stories through my art, express myself more genuinely, if I learn how to work with the palette of emotions. They are the raw material in my art and the core of my creativity.
It’s been a windy week. I love the wind. It’s fresh and always moving in a clear direction. I like the energy of the determined movement. I’m spending the weekend thinking about my art and writing lists and notes about what digital art/painting really mean to me. I’ve found some surprising answers.
During the years of trauma treatment, I understood how I’ve been separating myself from the girl I use to be in the destructive relationships (the victim, the submissive Lolita, the sacrificing girlfriend etc). It’s like I’m doing the same separation in my art as well; I use my paintings to give the trauma a voice, and my digital art is more an expression of who I really am – a reflection of my dreams, fears and desires. My paintings is a collection of portraits of my demons, rage and pain. I make it all visible to be able to let it go.
This realization makes me look at my art and my creativity in a new way. I can see how I can use the two artistic expressions to tell a complete story – the story about myself. I use to believe that my paintings were my main artistic expression, but now I see that I can express more through my digital art but the raw core expressions comes out through my paintings. I guess I’ve been kind of conservative in the way I’ve been judging “physical” works as an art form with a higher value than digital works. What kind of a pioneer am I if I think like that? I have to be a warrior and to stand up for the digital art to make it as accepted as painting in the art world. When my friend and digital artist Joe Myers was still alive – we were planning to revolutionize the art world with a “digi wave”. I guess I owe it to him to go on fighting for the integrity and acceptance of the digital art.
These wild winds have brought me clarity. I feel like I can breathe again, without inhaling the haunting self doubt.
Everything feels a bit off and weird right now. I can sense a change coming. Another one. I can feel it. This time, the change is coming to me, I’m not forcing any processes to happen – it’s not coming from me. It makes me feel a bit lost. At times, I forget that I’m on this inner journey – I find a new level of my own consciousness and I feel awakened, like that’s the new reality for me to live in. But then, another breakthrough happens. I get these powerful realizations. Insights. The misfit pieces, suddenly have found the right places in me. Things that used to make me confused, suddenly makes more sense. I connect the dots. I see the bigger picture. Or I spot the lost and forgotten details, which are so crucial when it comes to understanding the bigger picture. This happened to me this week. Twice.
And here I am, not knowing what to do with what I found in myself this week. It is both liberating and also fucking scary, because this realization kind of forces me to change course in my art. I was NOT expecting that. I’ve been going with this ‘finding my way back to my art and the wonderful juices of creativity’ mantra for a couple of years now – and I thought I was in a steady place. In a place where neither doubt or a change of heart, could ever touch me. Boy, was I wrong.
The meeting with Mats Tusenfot and talking about the purpose of creativity inspired many new thoughts about my own art. I heard myself tell him (with no insecurity at all): “My digital art is my most true artistic expression, painting has too many limitations, digital art is where I can say what I want to say.” What the hell was I saying – why did I say it? Did I really mean it? Ever since I was 15 years old I’ve been painting and it’s been such a big part of my identity. That was how I started out as a young artist, I was a painter, and that is the core of my creativity and my artistic voice – isn’t it? My artistic voice is made out of colors in tubes, the smell of canvas, charcoal dust – it is not speaking in a binary language translated into hi res images and textures of clouds, waves and grungy walls in a folder on my computer, right? This is very confusing to me. Is my love for painting not the same thing as what I should be doing as an artist? Is my love for digital art forbidden and cheap?
I need to figure these things out. And even if I feel a little lost and even if change can be a scary thing – I am not scared. The only thing I am certain of is that this is a time for a change that will lead to something lasting and steady. When it’s over, I will not have to struggle with self-doubt anymore and I won’t feel like I don’t know what my true artistic expression is. It is time to figure it out, once and for all. When I think about it – I’m not at all lost right now – I think all these uncomfortable questions is a result of me taking control of every area of my life, including these sensitive matters. Because now, I am ready to explore who I really am as an artist. I know who I’ve been, I know who I became when I lost my way, I know what I am made of and what I’m capable of – but I still need to find out what my art really is about, so I can become everything I was born to be – and do what I was born to do. To be able to fulfill my life’s purpose. What a great journey I’m on. I am on my way.
I am on MY way.
As an artist, I have this curious need to be dirty and messy – covered in paint, charcoal, glue or whatnot. I have the desire to be all sweaty, from taming something – perhaps a canvas or a block of clay. I want to dig my hands into something I can mold and discover a hidden form within something raw and forgotten.
I think I’ve always had this need. Perhaps it’s just part of an artist’s genetics or maybe it’s because I had so many allergies and a serious case of eczema as a child and my body had to be almost sterile clean so I wouldn’t get infections. I don’t know why I have this need to feel messy but it makes me feel ambitious, like I’m part of my dream, working hard, using my resources, like I’m creating something that is part of me and that I’m part of – with everything I am. Like a testament to my life’s true purpose. To create magic with my own two hands.
Working with my digital art is an amazing experience – the creative process is more spontaneous and playful, but there is no messiness. It’s a very sterile process. So I need to paint, I need it.
Watch my work-in-progress video for my latest painting “THE CORE” (and yes that’s my eerie voice)
I’ve made a fun journey through different styles in my art. I started out as a surrealist. I was 16 years old when I finished my first real painting – a surreal self portrait. Then, I moved on to explore expressionism, cubism, more surrealism and then some kind of a primitive realism.
Works from the time before I found my true artistic voice [1995-2005]:
It wasn’t until I suffered a deep depression in 2006 that I started using my creativity and my art as therapeutic expressions. I also joined the European Lowbrow movement – that later turned into Popsurrealism. It was in the “big eyes-large-head” mannerism of Popsurrealism that I eventually would lose myself and my artistic voice – and then get blocked and mentally paralyzed for almost 7 years. The cutesy stuff was bad for me, it’s just not who I am. I’m raw and direct both as a person and as an artist. I don’t sugarcoat things. I use a lot of humor in my art but it’s never cute.
My boyfriend, who’s really clever and very perceptive when it comes to me and my art, came up with a good description for the paintings I’ve done post hiatus: “primitive surrealism”. I like it. I’ve always felt at home in primitive art and in surrealism so I guess both genres have helped me develop my own style and visual expression. From now on, I’ll call myself a primitive surrealist. It’s perfect.
Painting styles post depression [2006-2016]:
It’s interesting to see how many similarities but also how many differences there are between my physical artworks (paintings, drawings, collages) and my digital art. I have gone from chaotic compositions in both my physical and my digital art to simplicity and stillness, but in my paintings I’m so much more raw and colorful, whereas in my digital art I’m more cinematic and poetic – perhaps because I’m also writing poetry on my computer, perhaps there’s a connection there.
My digital art [2007-2016]:
It’s a beautiful morning and I’m watching Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanour in bed while enjoying my morning coffee. I always wake up with this desire to write. Mornings are so full of intimacy. You wake up naked, with a blank mind. Like yesterday was a past life. A mini birth. And the youth of the morning hours is full of promises and hope for the day.
I will paint later. That’s my promise for today. It’s funny with paintings still in progress. I have this feeling in my body when I think about the piece I’m working on, a tingly feeling. Like I can’t wait to meet up with my lover in a few hours. There’s this sensation of commitment. Passion. Lust. Anticipation. I don’t have these feelings for my digital art. It’s something about the physical act of painting that is like the dance of two lovers. I’m trying to tame the canvas like it’s a wild animal. It makes me feel dominant. But it’s not like I’m always winning. The positions are easily switched. I feel flushed. Sweaty. My body is moving to fit the brush strokes. I’m close. Focused on the delicate details. I’m taking a step back to admire the view. The lines. The space between the lines. Curves. Linear movement. Texture. Structure. Light and shadow. I crave expression. Creation. And after I’m done, I’m exhausted.
I can’t wait to fill the hours of this day with everything that’s in my heart today. It holds every little nuance of me. I will put those into my painting as well.
I took the day off to rest. I’ve been working hard on the painting this week and I’m a little rusty – it’s been a long time since I was able to have this kind of deep focus. I get easily drained. But I am not complaining, I feel really happy. My mojo is working, I feel sexual and inhibited while painting, even though the painting is very controlled and well balanced. But there is so much happening inside me. At night I have these dreams where I’m finding new rooms in my house, rooms I didn’t know about. That’s how it feels like inside me right now. I’m finding new space to occupy. New land to conquer. More of me.
I’m letting go of all the bad energies, I’m not holding on to any anger, regret or bitterness. Perhaps that’s why I’m taking this painting in a new direction. The original theme was rage, but it’s just not there anymore. I’m trying out some new things, both in my technique and in the themes. I have such a big treasure chest of a private mythology now since all those years in therapy. The symbols of the mythology is slowly getting integrated in my art. It is really exciting. My new art is more personal. I feel naked, but in the best of ways.
I finally have a title for my new work – “The Core”, and I think it’s a transitional piece. Something that has both my past and my future in it. A new Era is coming and a new artistic language is emerging from my core. I’ll let it speak up. Loudly and proudly.
I just found this photo of a painting from 2009 that I never finished and most likely discarded. Apparently it’s an egg demon with roots that has pooped itself. It made me laugh when I rediscovered it.
My body is all tingly. To paint is to create new life. It excites me. Brushstrokes are like colored breaths. Dipping a dirty brush in the water – see how the paint dissolves like smoke just beneath the surface. Dancing with lines. Hiding in the space between them. Messy hands, covered in paint. White. Pink. Prussian blue. Skin. The scent of nuances without a name. Shadow-less time. The stillness of the studio. Rough strokes with the brush like scratching, wanting to tear into the life inside the canvas. I am soon there. Inside it – but bringing it out. Exposing it. My nature, in a thousand layers of paint.
Coffee is part of the palette when you are painting in the morning. Everybody knows that.
This digital piece was an experiment, to see how close to the illusion of a painting I can come with digital cut outs in PhotoShop, here are some of the flowers, and the vase I used in the composition:
Before I found my true artistic voice, I used to paint flowers and still lifes all the time. It was fun to revisit the process of building a flower bouquets but this time with layers and layers of hi res images instead of paint. These acrylic paintings are from 2002-2005:
Artworks by Kris Lewis