Thursday, November 23, 2006

An Interview With Kathy Ostman-Magnusen (Part One)


When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

Several years back I worked at a craft co-op in Santa Barbara. It was the first time I realized that there was real money to be had doing crafts. There was a potter in the co-op who was making consistent sales. My ex husband made me a wheel, we took an Adult Ed night class and learned how to throw. After about the 6th class, during a question and answer session, my ex announced that we were going to make our living doing pottery. The whole room grew dead silent and everyone looked at him stunned with their mouths open...iINCLUDING ME!

We did in fact quit our jobs some 6 months later, moved to the mountains in N. California and did just that.

I just want to interject however that I don't consider the 'production' of anything as art, rather a craft that stems from art.

How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

The souvenir pottery business gave me a lot of know how. One small step at a time while asking A LOT of questions along the way gave me a wonderful education and confidence.

Production pottery, production anything for that matter, is a soul robber. While I gained marketing tools and learned that to achieve my goals I needed to be a self starter, I also realized that money can turn someone into a machine. I painted during all of that time but I did not feel the freedom of expression I have found since I walked away from that business.

Marketing something that is mass produced, even though completely hand made is easier to handle than marketing art, from the heart. You take it pretty personally if someone rejects your soul on canvas. I find myself vulnerable to criticism but because my goal is also marketing my art I accept it. I want my work to get better and criticism is a part of that. I might cry and feel pathetic for a few days but then I press forward. I think I am a more balanced and centered person because of art. I AM also pretty spacie at times but as an artist but I don' apologize for that, it is just me going within.


How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

Several years ago I was at a crafts fair with my pottery. I had two of my paintings there that I was delivering to a nearby gallery. These paintings were from my "Erotica Series". This series really does not show anything that might offend anyone except for the expression on the face or the setting, i.e. one of my pieces is "Lap Dancer", yet she has her hands over her breasts. The paintings at that show were much tamer than that though. A man came up to me quite upset and wanted me to take the paintings away. I asked him, "Why?" What did he think he was seeing? He had no answer because he was only seeing the suggestion of what he felt was wrong. He became very flustered and walked away. I must confess I kind of got off by toying with him, but that is not the reason I paint my "Erotica Series". I continue adding work to that series because I paint women in all contexts and scenarios and I just don't think sex is a bad thing.

I have many ongoing series; Hawaiian; African; Cosmopolitan; Fairy's and Mermaids; etc. My ethnic paintings have social relevance because history vrs.society is implicated by the subjects expression and attire. An example of this is many of my Hawaiian paintings are taken from historical photos during a very dark period for Hawaiians. They lost their land, their Queen and their culture in one clean sweep. Their faces reflect the emotions that anyone would feel under such oppression. I paint my African Series in a different context. My goal in that series is to paint triumph, pride and strength. My mermaids and fairy's convey the hope for magic that we all long for. I just think we are multi dimensional and should not limit our thinking. We have all struggled in one way or another and should try to relate in some way to others in their sorrow or fresh awakening to fantasy.


What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

Gustav Klimt, I have a series called "In Search of Klimt". I have tons of books that go on sale at Borders or wherever. Da Vinci and Michelangelo live in my house along with all the impressionists. I comb emotional content from anything I see including children's drawings. Art is everywhere and in everything. If a child or even an adult comes to me with a ball point pen drawing there is redemption in it and I look for that. When I find it, I find their heart and mine.

My husband has inspired me a lot because he believes in me and encourages me to create. I have a few friends like my friend and web-master Carrie who encourage and believe in me as well. They aspire to inspire and their gift to me is remarkable.


Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

I am a self taught figurative artist and illustrator. I believe that talent is passion and desire and the rest is practice. I also feel that anything can be learned from a book and inspiration is found even in a fallen leaf.

As I already said I owned and operated my own souvenir pottery business in Northern California. I had eight contracted workers and one full time shipper. Products were created, hand sculpt, wheel thrown and personalized to meet each clients specific needs. My company shipped to most National Parks, Disney World, J C Penny and over 1000 specialty shops all over the US. After 20 years in the souvenir business I decided to focus on her painting and sculpting.


How long have you been a working artist?

When I was a little girl I actually peddled my work to neighbors. I have memories of charging my mothers friends a nickel for my theater shows and art lessons for their children.

A true marketing sense came to play when I had my pottery business though.


If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

I think they relate to my passion. We seem to long for the same rainbow or dream.


Discuss one of your pieces. (Let me know which one you are talking about."What were you thinking when you created it?

NOTE: I already have an article about 3 pieces posted on Buzzle and Ezine Articles. If you do not want all three then feel free to just pull one example. ~ Kathy

An Artists Journey of Color and Mood
This is a journey of sorts from one frame of mind to another and the colors and moods that guided me. I describe three paintings and their process.

"Anticipation" 36x24 oil on canvas, dated, Sept. 1998 part of my "Passion Series"*
was actually a breakthrough piece for me. I had been painting my "Victorian Series" for months, spending hours on modulating the colors. I paint a lot from photos. My goal with the "Victorian Series" was to put in as many colors in the skin tone as I could. Looking at a photo or life long enough a lot of colors begin to show themselves that normally go unnoticed. Modulating many colors I became frustrated and board after finishing 10 or so of them. I had a canvas that I had painted a dark blue and decided that maybe it would be ok to just play.....and not modulate at all. I found a picture that I liked, studied the colors, filled my brush a fresh for each stroke and applied them to my canvas. I have not modulated since. I continued painting with this color palette naming the series "The Passion Series". I still tried to fit every color in the rainbow on my palette as I do to this day adding small nuances wherever I can. I would add here too that the series before "The Passion Series" was "Hawaiian Legacy" which is predominantly done in sepia, tones.

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