Kelly Jade King Interview – The daydream believer

Kelly Jade King is a dreamer so it is no surprise her literary hero is Lewis Carroll. While other artists might wax lyrical about their inspirations, Kelly simply states music, wildlife, bugs and her dreams. She’s a self-taught artist who doesn’t take herself too seriously (she’s ‘been coughing up art’ all her life). This no nonsense attitude has helped her realise that if an artist takes on too much, they actually achieve less.

When not ‘distracted by rusty things, odd objects, brightly coloured paints and the sound of old men’s voices’, Kelly is a lover of the surreal and good old fashioned story telling. ‘If I were choosing art of any kind [as my influences], I’d say the music of Tom Waits, the films of Tim Burton and Salvador Dali’s work during the 30s and 40s.’ However, she doesn’t believe it’s that easy to pinpoint. ‘I suppose I’m influenced more by whatever happens to take my fancy at the time and influences don’t always happen to be conscious events of artistic enlightenment.’

A painting that can be more easily attributed to one of her heroes is Lewis. It is part of Kelly’s collection of works titled Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a series based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. ‘Before I start work, I like to spend a bit of time researching the subject I’m delving into, which is generally something I have a strong interest in already and Lewis and his Alice are no exception. I had bought this book called In the Shadow of the Dreamchild, The Myth and Reality of Lewis Carroll by Karoline Leach – highly recommended, a fascinating read – and after reading it I felt I not only wanted to paint his stories’ characters, I really wanted to paint the man himself. With one of the most famous photos of Lewis as reference – not that there are all that many to pick from being the 1800s – I drew a first sketch accentuating the unusual curves of his face and the features that I felt best represented his character and his life.’

The progression of Lewis by Kelly Jade King

Although nothing could beat the satisfaction of working on her own projects, Kelly (‘sometimes’) enjoys working on commissions. ‘I like the challenge of working with other people’s ideas and seeing how they develop through my artistic style, though I can be subject to worrying, so far quite pointlessly, that they will not turn out like the client was hoping. Often I have very little time and a lot on my plate so commissions are not always as fun as they could be for me and if I have the time to daydream, then I rarely fall short of inspirations of my own.’

When asked about her favourite Australian artists, in her usual straight-talking fashion Kelly cheekily pulls it back to who she really wants to talk about. ‘Can I cheat and say Linsey Levendall? He’s originally from a different S.A, that being South Africa and now lives in Canada. I adore his work because of the endless flow his surrealistic creations seem to have, the detail in them and most of all, the bizarre characters which reside in them. It seems to me that the creatures and objects in his drawings come straight out from his imagination to the paper unedited and there is something incredibly natural and beautiful about it. The way it all seems so precariously balanced is something I love also.’

Like most young artists, although Kelly loves other artists’ work she can’t yet afford to buy many originals. ‘I do not collect art, as much as I would like to, I am not really financially suited to spend money on art other than the occasional print. My favourite original that I have is by my husband, Sean King, and goes a little something like this [she points to the picture below].’

Sean King

Now a few years into her career, Kelly has some words of wisdom for emerging artists. ‘Don’t take on more work than you can handle, leaving yourself stressed, lacking in the time you need to be naturally creative and ultimately resenting the process of making art therefore becoming less productive. Also try not to let people down by being the kind of artist who ignores decent communication in lieu of ‘being in your own head space’ for days or weeks on end.’

Kelly Jade King’s art is available to buy online here.

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