Adrienne Kinsella – Art and Cake

Photo Credit: Sophia Wolfe

What does a day in your art practice look like?
I tend to savor the setup…I lay out a palette, choose a playlist and begin painting. I love long, solitary stretches in the studio, but also welcome conversations from those who come in and out of my shared space. Whether conversing while I paint, diving deep into the music of the day, or simply enjoying the silence are all ways I process. I find painting to be a meditative place.

I work on the drawings at night. This practice emerged out of the pandemic, when I’d use daylight to paint and then render the monochromatic drawings late into the evening when proper light and its effect on color wasn’t as vital. Somehow this practice of day painting and night drawing has continued.

What inspires you?
I am continually inspired by the art scene in Los Angeles – what an amazing conversation to be a part of.
I am inspired by my incredible sisters, both working artists.

I am inspired by sweet friends, who make amazing work and challenge me to keep making as well.
I am ever inspired by the midcentury aesthetic, Hitchcock films, Raymond Chandler novels, jello salads and questionable recipes from 50s Kodachrome cook books make me smile.

Nature is a major inspiration as well…a local hike, flowers in a neighborhood…the bunnies I see on a morning run…

The longevity of plants, and cycles from seed to growth…dormancy into spring blooms speak so much. Certain native plants in California don’t germinate until they burn…what a poignant metaphor. The healing properties of native plants intrigue me. I find botanicals to act almost as time travelers. How many generations does a tree observe? As plants go through life, death, seed and back to life again – species continue and have a unique endurance.

Coping Mechanisms IV (Dreaming)
Graphite, oil and ink on paper
20 x 20 inches

What advice would you give your younger self?
That it’s going to be OK; that you’re meant to be an artist, and never apologize for that.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?
I think some of the best advice I’ve been given regarding my art career is to simply, “keep making.” There are so many things that can creep in and get in the way of productivity, and being deliberate about carving out time in my schedule to dedicate to the studio is absolutely vital.

Another great piece of advice is, “if you don’t have a pile of rejection letters on your desk, you’re not applying to enough shows.” It’s important to keep getting out there and not letting a rejection derail you. I believe if you keep trying, the right thing will hit soon enough.

Colored pencil on frosted mylar
36 x 36 inches

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
I think one of the things that keeps me interested in my work is how autobiographical it actually is. I have always tried to communicate honestly with my art in hopes that this vulnerability will help my viewers feel known. The emotional realm is a stormy one. The psychological aspects of our existence, though private, are ever present. There is a release of sorts for me in the candid nature of the work, a vulnerability that requires bravery. Sorting through the experiences of a life lived provides connection points for me as I render, and hopefully for my audience.

My motivation comes partly from my driven nature and also perhaps from a little healthy competition. I continually challenge myself to render better, push myself further, and develop my craft. I am so inspired by the amazing work being produced by my contemporaries and contributing to that conversation is a consistent motivator. It’s amazing to be making work in the current moment; where such a diversity of subject matter, approach and style find audience and acceptance.

Fire Scene
Oil on canvas
60 x 40 inches

How has personal experience influenced your creativity?
My creativity is continually intertwined with personal experience. My early work was shaped by experiences of growing up in Los Angeles, and directly references the city’s propensity to erase its own history on a continual basis. Earthquakes, fires and mudslides aside, LA has a strange fascination with the wrecking ball. Some of these pieces came out of a compulsion to “paint it before it’s torn down,” as civic touchpoints vanished throughout my life, and continue to do so. This pattern of disappearance was personal as well, as dwellings I’ve known have been lost in various ways throughout the years.

I am a descendant of the Tongva tribe, and having no land or federal recognition, this idea of loss of access is an even deeper thread. I’m finding ways to reconstruct the idea of “dwelling” by suggesting spaces where past, present, interior and exterior mingle, questioning what is, what came before and what will remain. I’m thinking about concepts of inside and outside, perhaps insiders and outsiders, and what it means to belong.

The use of myself as a model arose from the isolation of the pandemic, and yet has continued. In presenting personal struggles in my artwork, and my very person, my desire is to provide gateways for viewers to enter the work, visual bridges through familiar views, nostalgic reference points and exploring emotions and experiences that aren’t always easy to discuss. The Coping Mechanisms series contemplates the very raw experience of processing trauma. The paintings suggest ideas of safety, and yet also a sense of being frozen within a space and placed on display. Like dioramas, or a jello mold, the solitary figures are representative of the female relationship with domesticity and the tensions within those spaces that lie beyond a pristine appearance.

When No One’s Looking
Colored pencil on frosted mylar
36 x 36 inches

How do you make the leap from an idea in your head to the action you produce?
A blank canvas can be daunting. I think all art takes bravery, and a willingness to just dive in and begin is a major part of the process. Ideas come at the oddest times…whether on a walk, sitting in traffic or in speaking with a friend. I’m often inspired by vintage images whether from family archives or other sources. I then play with compositions digitally, collaging aspects together. My painting practice and drawing practice are actually quite different. The paintings are planned out ahead of time, but the drawings develop quite organically. In the drawings, the solitary figures begin with an image and concept, and the botanicals literally grow up around them. They are additive, spontaneous and yet considered – each plant carrying a coded symbolism.

I’m learning to listen to the work. Like long conversations over hours of rendering, the pieces often reveal things beyond my original intentions. Perhaps through the subconscious, perhaps like a mirror, I find things as I go. A painting will tell you when it’s done, and it takes a fine-tuned ear and a willingness to experiment in order to know when to stop. I’ve definitely overworked things, but I’m getting better at learning when something is completed.

Song in D Minor
Oil on paper
36 x 24 inches