Whether you’re currently under shelter-in-place or following the guidelines of social distancing or #stayhome, I wanted to give my readers an inside look into the latest show at Charlotte’s Shain Gallery. While the gallery is currently closed to the public, those lucky few who call the Myers Park neighborhood home, can walk by the gallery to peer in through windows to see the show.
If a Southerner talks music, weaving symphonies of vibrant wordplay, I would like to think that I paint similar, creating rich compositions with impressions of Southern life. The abundant flowers and unique cultural traditions of the South sing through me, into my hands and onto the materials that shape my visual song. I attempt to capture the joyful, layered character of the South, working from both childhood memories and life.Flowers are the main subjects of my work, which reflects the bounty of colorful plant life both outside and in the homes of the South. In keeping with Southern tradition, there was almost always a fresh bouquet of flowers on the table of my childhood home. The frequent presence of flowers made a lasting impression—so much so that the floral still life would become the central focus of my work. – Christy Kinard
I reached out to Christy Kinard with a few questions for this post, to give my readers an inside look into her inspiration for the pieces featured in the show, when her love of florals first began and more. Enjoy!
Your work features colorful floral bouquets that are impressions of Southern life and it’s traditions. When did your love of florals begin and what are some of the florals that you like to surround yourself with in your home?
When I was a young child my mother kept flower beds all around the house. I would help plant tulips, daffodils, mums, rose bushes, zinnias and my favorite hydrangeas. We always had fresh flower arrangements on the table of my childhood home. I was so fascinated with how the flowers grew, when I was around ten I started my own wildflower garden with huge sunflowers and all types of wildflowers. I remember coming home from school and running to my garden to see what had bloomed in late May around my birthday. I keep my favorite flower hydrangeas in my house when I can find them. Here in Hilton Head, I have a lot of exotic flowers I bring inside that are very bright. I love them so much, and I definitely need to study them more. The kids and I also have a garden of succulents in our indoor garden.
Where do you source the mixed media paper elements that you add to your floral paintings?
I have a lot of paper that I have collected from London through the years and I always use this paper. I also use old recipe books, diary entries from when I was a young girl. Lately, I have been using the fabulous shapes from my sons origami paper. I use to get so irritated cleaning up the bright mess he would leave under the kitchen table. I was painting one day and couldn’t find the paper color I wanted. I passed by the table that day and there it was laying there! So now I gather his scraps and use them. I love the shapes that are left behind from his cuttings. I also take pictures of my studio floor and art table and print out my own paper. I use paper just as much as I use paint so I’m always looking for new paper ideas!
Tell me about the inspiration behind your latest pieces featured at the Shain.
The paintings were all painted while the pandemic started to really spread. People were beginning to experience something they have never known to stay at home, shelter in place, and social distancing. People were panicked and their life was changing before their eyes. It is a message to not lose Hope! We can get through this, I was encouraging people to embrace this time with their family, to read books, to cook, to get engaged in something they have always wanted to do. The paintings were to deliver a message to concentrate on what you can control. Loving your neighbor, and to hope for a brighter day, to stay calm and to be passionate about something you care about. While I was painting it, I was thinking about history and how people in this country always come together and that we will come out of this.
What do you enjoy the most about working with Sybil and the gallery girls at the Shain Gallery?
I love Sybil, she has actually become a great friend. I’ve worked with Shain Gallery for over 20 years. The relationship with them is very strong. The girls working there are very educated about the art world and I can call them for a critic or any advice I might need. I believe this is why we have had such a prosperous relationship. They have done an amazing job representing me for over 20 years. They are extended family and I love the passion they have for their artists. I feel the twenty years with them has turned me from an emerging artist in my early twenties into the career artist I am today at 42. They have been involved and have cared about my career. One of the things I love most about them, is the fact that they want to help bring their artists to another level and that speaks volumes about them.
Whitney’s work featured tea stained paper, a process that the artist has perfected over the years and features vintage inspired abstract portrait created with a combination of charcoal and graphite sketch, acrylic paint and India ink. Whitney’s work definitely has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that we love to see in artwork and we always look forward to seeing her latest pieces at the Shain Gallery.
Read a few of my favorite questions and answers from my 2018 interview with Whitney following each of the featured pieces below.
You live in the beautiful city of Charleston, SC. How do your surroundings inspire you?
Charleston is a constant inspiration for me. This city is so unique because of its historical presence, but also because of its lively atmosphere. My work has a strong vintage-inspired feeling, which I think can certainly be credited to living in such a beautifully aged city. I also use local products to create most of my pieces (tea from the Charleston Tea Plantation), so I feel extremely connected to this amazing place.
Before you create a new piece, you tea stain your watercolor paper first. Tell me about the process.
Yes! Tea staining is a very long and intricate process, which can sometimes take up to a month to create the perfect piece! As I mentioned before, I use tea from the Charleston Tea Plantation and usually have huge containers of tea taking up all the space in my refrigerator. I stain each individual piece of paper by hand until I get the desired saturation and design. It’s certainly an involved process!
To create your ‘ladies’ you use a combination of charcoal, graphite, acrylic paint and India ink. What do you enjoy most about work with these particular mediums?
I tend to sketch with graphite, which allows me to lay out my thoughts in a loose way, then use charcoal to make some more permanent lines. I finish with either acrylic paint or India ink, sometimes depending on the saturation of the paper. The more saturated, the more the paper soaks up whatever I’m using. Although sometimes I have moments of a “happy accident,” there’s really no room for error on most of my pieces, so I have to be extremely careful!
I love the classic yet vintage look of the ladies you paint. What inspired you to choose this subject in particular?
I’ve always been told I’m an old soul. My fascination with vintage fashion and photography really led me into creating some of my most classic ladies. As for my abstract busts, I love a good vintage ‘hair-do’.
All images included in this post are via the Shain Gallery. To inquire about the availability of these pieces, reach out to gallery owner Sybil Godwin at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com