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Lose Yourself In The Studio With Artist Holly Kennedy

by Holly Kennedy

As the sun pours in my window basking my table in light, colours begin to surround me. Colour has always been my emotional expression, sumptuous hues sooth my soul and excite my eyes, like a magic dusting of happiness. The desire to make my own designs for fabric comes from this feeling.

With a cleared space and neatly arranged paints, inks, carving tools, lino, pens and oil pastels, I lay out a large sheet of Fabriano and consider its rawness. I take time to consider my botanical references in the form of photographs and drawings as my starting point. I draw upon memories of numerous visits to my once local Kew Gardens, the springtime magnolias in bloom, the exquisite and infinitely beautiful orchids and the sea of pink cherry blossoms, petals floating everywhere.

I arrange flowers and foliage as my main source of inspiration and pull colours that I am drawn to from my inks. I study the textures of the leaves and petals and start to draw onto lino blocks that can be printed and repeated easily.

I then choose a few base colours to wash over the whole paper canvas before I start a rough outline drawing of the main flowers and leaves. This then gets painted with acrylic inks using brushes as well as my fingers. I also use oil pastels to create texture as it reacts with the ink beneath, building this up in layers allowing time for drying and reflection.

The painting is an abstracted interpretation of the botanical world around me, so I also draw upon patterns, textures and mark making to create the artwork, using dried poppy and lotus seed heads to print impressions within the ink. 

I love the viscosity of inks, how they flow and saturate the canvas, interacting with other marks and paints that come across their path as they spill forth a flood of feelings. The softness of the oil as it mixes and pushes away the ink creates wonderful textures upon the paper.

The last tiny details are made using a white ball point pen. It is truly a process of building layer upon layer of textures, ever-changing hues and patterns - an emotional expression in response to nature. 

These paintings are then photographed to become a digital file for printing onto silk or leather to be made into a unique wearable accessory such as a silk scarf, a tote bag or satin bomber jacket.

Painting for me is my stillness and soul expression, a tranquillity and happiness created by losing oneself in vibrant colour with ink stained hands and a contented smile.