Interview: Kelly Lenh
Written By: Amanda Ly
Kelly Lenh is a LA based mixed media artist primarily working with watercolor. She blends fine art and illustration, specializing in portraying the female form in a fantastical manner with a fusion of tactile and reflective elements to enhance the viewer experience. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games and going on food adventures with friends.
Why do you like doing art?
Art is something that has no limits. It’s truly expressive and individualistic, there will be no other that thinks and creates exactly like you.
That’s why art enraptures me.
What is your muse?
I draw inspiration from many things: new materials, challenge prompts, and most frequently, other artists’ works. There are certainly themes I gravitate towards such as galaxy, magic, and fantasy creatures.
How often do you create art?
During the school year, I create art 2-3 days in a week, mostly for school projects. Ideally, I would like to create personal art 4-5 days in a week.
What genre of art do you tend to make?
I tend to make art that would fit somewhere between fine art and illustration. Fine art because at times I create art simply for art’s sake with the very textural elements and illustration because sometimes I create art to tell a story or idea. That being said, it’s still a very broad spectrum in-between fine art and illustration and my art lies somewhere there. Regardless of what it classifies as, I hope when people look at my art, they can feel empowered, inspired, or just enjoy it for what it is.
What genre of art is the art you put in the gallery?
The art I created for this gallery show is the same genre as the art I tend to make.
Which of yours is your favorite? Why?
My favorite out of the six pieces I created for the gallery show, as many has also said, is “Astrologer: Asteria” because the experience working with resin was a first, yet it was so exciting to be working with a unfamiliar and uncommon material. There were a lot of things that could have went wrong and it was not without some flaws but I love the piece for what it is. Much of the process were things that remind me what I enjoy about making art. “Astrologer: Asteria” is only the mark of the beginning of more resin I will make in the future.
Which piece of art in this gallery is your favorite? Why?
Out of my fellow artists in the second gallery show, I appreciate Elias Lopez’s works because of the subtle color choices, color melding, and form creation.
Outside of this gallery, who is your favorite artist? Why?
I have many artists that I draw influence into and deeply enjoy their artwork. May Ann Licudine, who goes by MALL, utilizes washi tape immensely in her resin layers and is strenuously meticulous with cutting and painting the atmospheric details of her whimsical and colorful work. Zeen Chin, a digital painter, is someone I admire for his color choice, blending, and character and concept design.
What is your ultimate career goal?
Keep learning, keep exploring, keep creating. Because art is so expansive, there are no limits; I look forward to how diverse of projects and people my artwork can impact and enhance.
What was your thought process behind the art for the gallery?
The motivation and mindset going in was “Create what you’ve been wanting to create but have been putting off for whatever reason.” There is a subtle theme to all my works in this gallery show: reaching for the stars to achieve your goals. All of them are variations of outcomes that choices from whether or not you choose to brave the odds and work through all the chaos to come out the other side better.
What inspired you to make "Astrologer: Asteria?"
I knew I wanted to showcase a resin piece in this gallery show. What I really wanted out of this resin piece was the abundance of shine for the viewer to savor and enjoy. I originally intended for Astrologer: Asteria to be accompanied with a sister piece of a moon theme but it wasn’t coming out as intended so I displayed this piece alone. Ultimately Astrologer: Asteria for me, was about having fun and exploring the medium with the galaxy theme that I enjoy oh so much.
What's in her mind? Are those ghouls surrounding her or her own mystical energy rising up around her? Does she have powers? Is she human? She seems to be able to float? Is she part of a story? Your story?
Astrologer: Asteria’s concept originated from an Inktober year where I designed characters based off arcane elements such as magma, poison, electric, etc. I designed the character for the Star element but I never got around to making a finished piece for her as I ended that Inktober year early from being swamped with school work. She has a cape that spreads into a view of the galaxy, which certainly means she has mystical powers. I don’t have a character backstory fleshed out for her but outfit design was kept true. Although, I do envision her as the goddess or seer of the stars. Some of my character designs play into a character universe in my head, complete with main characters, a storyline, culture, and world-building, that I hope one day illustrate into mini-snippets, a comic, or just individual artworks.
What's the story behind "Filter?"
“Filter” is about a choice on how one deals with the chaos around. This mermaid chooses to block it out and close herself within. The irony is that the bubble that is being used to filter the outside is only filled with the same negativity and chaos outside that’s being perpetually repeated. But what’s outside is not just negativity. There are wonderous hidden positive moments signified by the flowers, rhinestones, and pink playful tail.
What's the story behind "Manifest Potential?"
“Manifest Potential” is also about a choice on how one deals with the chaos around. This mermaid chooses to channel the chaos around her and refine it with her powers into a pearl. She turned her situation around, transforming something that seemed useless and hopeless into something valuable.
I see you like to use glitter, watercolor, and acrylic ink a lot? Why is that?
I’m all about layers and shimmering details. Glitter allows me to add that last embellishment to sprinkle a little magic and shine when you view the piece in the right light. Watercolor was my first medium after color pencils and has been a medium that I’m always striving to improve on. The subtle layers of colors you can achieve with watercolor and ease of using other mediums on top is why it’s my main medium. Acrylic ink is a fun element to throw in, usually when I add the drips where I let the color inks mix into each other and it’s a surprise every time it dries.
What made you decide to use rhinestones instead of other materials?
Using rhinestones adds a special, luminescent, and 3D element that would be hard to replicate otherwise.
What is gouache?
Gouache is essentially watercolor with a different ingredient binder added to it, an in-between of acrylic and watercolor. It activates with water even after it’s dried like watercolor but dries opaque like acrylic. It dries matte while acrylic dries glossy.
What is the difference between washi tape and other tape?
Washi tape is essentially decorative paper masking tape made from Japanese rice paper. It makes it easy to stick and easy to remove, which makes it convenient for me to adjust and work with it in my artwork.
How do you choose your colors?
I gravitate towards cool colors: blue, green, purple, magenta, and the odd yellow-orange. I choose colors that fit the drawing’s theme then pick colors that are a little adventurous to add interest to key elements of the piece. I’m always looking to improve my color selection.
How would you categorize the genres of art in this gallery?
The gallery hosts truly a vast and diverse array of artist styles in this show, everything ranging from fine art to children book illustration to ceramics.
Are there any last words you would want to leave to any new aspiring artists?
All artists – hobbyists, amateurs, professionals -- have felt that inadequacy: comparing yourself to others and their artworks, hearing the disapproval of others, and the internal hesitation to open yourself to vulnerable. You aren’t alone and you have potential. Putting yourself out there is scary, uncomfortable, and takes a lot of energy. But the times that you do and you get something out of it that you would never expect is priceless. I’ve been granted numerous opportunities from being okay with trying, failing, succeeding. It’s a constant but needed reminder for many fellow artists.
Amanda Ly is a current PCC student and is part of Inscape's Spring 2020 staff as the special projects editor.
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