Kristin Cooney is an Atlanta-based artist who finds a balance between practicing dentistry and creating beautiful artwork for the home. Using a combination of acrylics and oils, Kristin creates beautiful florals, colorful abstracts and her figure series (including her latest series, Bathing Beauties) have serious vintage Vogue vibes.
In this interview, Kristin shares about when she first discovered her love of art, an inside look at one of her series inspired by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and more.
When did you first discover your love of art?
Growing up, I always took pride in my perfectly curated sticker collection as well as my couture gift-wrapping abilities. Every creative thing in my life had to be filled with color, draw attention, and procure compliments. So, creating art has always been something I’ve craved. This along with my desire to be a doctor led me to dentistry as a profession – the perfect blend of medicine and art. As soon as I got my degree, I worked every day but took art classes at night. That love of art was always bubbling below the surface and had to be embraced. Now, I practice dentistry as well as paint and love the balance.
You use both oil and acrylic on canvas and then add many layers of paint to get just the right effect for your abstract, floral, and figure pieces. What drew you to these different mediums?
Acrylic and oils both offer different advantages. I usually start with my base layer in acrylic because it dries so quickly and I can easily make changes. Areas that need more vibrance or blending are completed in thick, yummy oils until it’s just right.
What is the color or color palette you find yourself working with most often?
Pink, pink, pink – my absolute favorite! I try once in a while to complete a painting with no pink at all. I step back, look at it and think, “You know what would make that look better? Pink”. Now, if a client gives me a certain color palette to work with, I definitely stick with that. If I can’t get pink into the composition, then a Tiffany Blue is essential.
You recently shared some beautiful floral small works that you added resin to for a beautiful glossy finish. Tell me about the process of applying resin, and what’s the most important thing to remember when working with a polymer?
The resin adds something extra special to a painting. For my florals with lots of linework, it makes them pop. For my figures, it has the opposite effect of making them look softer. I’ve learned all this through lots of trial and error. Resin has certain working times, many steps of preparation, and lots of mistakes that can be made along the way. So, I recommend artists try it quite a few times on small pieces before braving something large or for a client.
I love the old Hollywood/vintage feel of your feminine figures. What is your favorite figure piece that you’ve created?
I’m constantly looking to vintage Vogue photos and fashion from the mid-century era for inspiration. People used to dress up for everyday things back then and I want to inject some of that elegance into homes through art. My favorite figure piece is the very first one I painted titled “Maura”. She wears a light blue dress with a mandarin collar and ruffled sleeves. She’s positioned in a 3/4 turn and her lipstick is ruby red. I’ve recreated that piece numerous times for clients with Maura wearing varying colors of her timeless dress. Some clients have even asked me to have her holding a martini, which makes her even more fun!
You’ve turned some of your abstract work into lucite serving trays. When did you first come up with the idea of turning your artwork into a ‘useable’ piece of art?
I posted a photo on Instagram of an abstract painting in a shiny acrylic block. One of my favorite clients contacted me and asked if it was a lucite tray. I immediately responded to her and congratulated her on a fantastic idea. I took that idea and ran with it. A manufacturer here in Atlanta designed a tray where I can slide a painting into the bottom of a clear tray and voila… a unique gift for the home.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Tell me a bit about the Menagerie Collection and how it was inspired by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
I think we can all agree that aside from Midge Maisel’s fabulous wardrobe, her NYC apartment is the highlight of the show. Entering through the front door, you immediately see a wall of what looks like de Gournay’s hand-painted silk chinoiserie wallpaper that is elegant beyond words. The expense of a whole wall is beyond reach for the average person. But what if one original painting could produce an equally elegant impression? Well, that’s what inspired me to create my Menagerie Collection, full of blossoms and birds in muted pastels and neutrals. They were so calming and pretty, I hung them in my bedroom until they sold.
What series have you enjoyed working on the most?
My Glamorous Ladies Series simply flowed out of me a few years ago. I was obsessed with the Netflix show “The Crown” and the gowns that Princess Margaret got to wear. I found some of her wedding portraits online and used those as inspiration for this series. I used no brushes, just a palette knife to create these ladies, and the soft edges it produced left them very abstract yet glamorous. So many people reached out to me to paint commissions of their daughters from this series – it made me so happy!
Where is your favorite place in the home to hang artwork that you’ve painted?
We have very high ceilings and natural light in our foyer, and it just begs for original art. So, I rotate whatever new pieces I’ve created in that spot. The lighting there is perfect for professional photos of the pieces before they sell.
Can you tell me about the piece that you’re currently working on?
With warm weather approaching, my mind wanders to the high-waisted and brightly colored bikinis of the 1950s these days. My newest series “Bathing Beauties” is full of nostalgic beauties dressed in bikinis, cocktails, and fabulous swim caps.
Website: http://www.kristincooneystudio.com // Instagram: @kristincooneystudio
All images in this post were provided by Kristin Cooney.