An Interview With KirstyPaints "Kirsty McEwen"

Welcome to my artist interview series Kristy! I'm so excited to have you here, and I can't wait to learn more about your artistic journey and what inspires you. The goal of these interviews is to provide a platform for artists to share their stories and experiences, in the hopes of inspiring others to embrace their creativity and pursue their passions.

First,  I'd love to hear a bit about you and what makes you, well, you! Care to share some fun facts about yourself, or maybe something interesting that most people don't know about you?

Four months ago I was an art teacher, four years ago I worked in corporate sales, fourteen years ago I was a teenager who loved to paint, make a mess, play the drums and take shit loads of photos. I believe we always circle back to our roots.

I'm curious to know what first sparked your interest in art and made you want to pursue it as a career. Was there a particular moment or experience that made you realize that art was something you wanted to pursue?

It's difficult to pin it down to one moment, but I remember daydreaming about it. Always. As a pisces moon, I'm always a bit head-in-the-clouds, but this was a reoccurring one! I would make art at school dreaming about being the teacher, I would sit on my office chair dreaming about having a studio and being brave enough to share my work to the world.

I've always been a creative person. All my teddies had rich imaginary lives and fully formed stories. I loved to write, paint and create. But, moving out at 18 and living in the city meant I had bills to pay and independence to prove, so I chose to forget about art and focus on ££££. It wasn't until I almost lost myself completely that I remembered the joy of creativity, and it's been non-stop since then.

Can you tell me about a time when something happened that completely changed the course of your artistic journey? Maybe it was something unexpected, or maybe it was a gradual realization. Either way, I'd love to hear all about it.

I spent three years in total art block. I didn't pick up a camera, a pencil, not even a notebook. I chose to express myself through partying, spending money, spiralling shitty relationships and excessive drinking.

It wasn't until I was locked down, made redundant and hungover that I realised.

I have to look in the fucking mirror.


It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I was forced to face myself. Ask myself who I had become, and I realised I didn't recognise myself. I didn't even like myself, or my life. It allowed me to ask, what the fuck am I DOING?!

And I began painting again.

And I remembered. It all came back to me.

And I decided to dedicate everything to creativity. To art.

And I've never looked back.

As an artist, I'm sure you've faced some struggles and challenges along the way. Those experiences have probably impacted your work in some way. Can you share a bit about those challenges and how they've influenced your artistic process?

I can tell you with confidence that every shitty thing that has happened has helped me to grow. Artistically and personally.

I find painting so theraputic.

Life is often too big for words.

That's why I paint.

It's often said that artists put a bit of themselves into their work. I'd love to hear about your personal connection to your art. Do you draw from personal experiences, feelings, or ideas when you create your work? How does your art reflect your own life?

Yep yep yep.

right now, my art couldn't be more personal.

I'm painting a series of large scale self portraits!

I'm going through the biggest transformation of my life (Saturn return anyone?!) and painting is really helping me to process it all.

With each painting I share, I also share the story behind it. The personal stories that allowed this piece to come to fruition.

You've probably had some profound or meaningful experiences that have impacted the way you approach your art. Could you tell me about any experiences that have shaped the way you express yourself through art?

You can see the chapters of my life in my work.

For example, right now is the most creative, unstable, but enriching time I've ever had in my life. I think that is evident with the silly doodles, wild brush strokes and florescent colours in my work.

My previous series was when I was teaching in schools. This was when I had to seriously 'clean up' my life. Stop drinking and stop being a twat, and become a role model for young people who looked up to me. The work I made then was safe. It was a series of still lives with colour and proportion enhancements. I also didn't have the mental capacity to try anything experimental, so I kept things fairly simple - but still bright and colourful, as I felt much more content in life.

Prior to that, my work was dark! You wouldn't believe it looking at my fluorescent work now, but I used to create much darker work. Predominately black and white photography, all printed on fabric to show the fragility of, well, me.

Feedback sometimes can be hard to take, especially when it's about something you've created with passion and hard work. How do you approach feedback and criticism about your work? Do you find it helpful, or is it sometimes difficult to hear? I'd love to know how you handle it.

I didn't share my work for years for fear of criticism. But also, sometimes, we don't wanna hear it. That's why I opened my online community The Imperfect Artists Society where we are super mindful of each others boundaries. If they haven't asked for feedback, then we don't offer any. It cultivates a safer environment where we can all feel respected when we share things near and dear to our hearts.

I don't give a toss anymore because I feel secure in my work. I now know that my work isn't for everyone, and I love that.

But, it's taken me a LONGGGGG time to get here. As a recovering people pleaser, I was even people pleasing in my art! I was so desperate for it to be liked, I made work to appease the masses, but in the process of it I neglected myself and creating became a chore.

I LOVE that people don't like my art. NOW it feels authentic as fuck.

And not everyone will like it and get it.

And that is cool.

So you can say what you like. I brand myself as an imperfect artist. I'm not claiming to be the best. I'm only claiming to love what I do, and now I can proudly say that I love my own art.

Pursuing an artistic career is often not an easy path. It can involve a lot of hard work and sacrifices. What kinds of sacrifices have you made to pursue your artistic dreams? I'd love to know more about the journey you've taken and the challenges you've overcome.

HA. Yep. Umm. I had to give up a lot.

When I was working in schools, I worked part time to focus on art. Could I? Nope. I was too swamped with work.

I couldn't maintain my old partying lifestyle because my brain didn't work the way I wanted it to.

I had to move away from my city flat into the suburbs because it was grey and uninspiring.

I had to end romantic relationships that weren't with other artists because I always felt judged, and unsafe to share.

I had to disappoint my family, over and over again.

I'm not saying everyone has to do this. But, for me, I had to start again to really focus on my art.

There are many stereotypes about what it's like to be an artist. Some people might think that artists have a carefree, bohemian lifestyle, or that they're always starving for money or recognition. How would you address those misconceptions and give people a more accurate understanding of what it's like to be an artist?

There is no one way to be an artist. There is no right and no wrong. Supplementing your art income with a job doesn't make you less of an artist. Taking a break from art doesn't make you less of an artist. Neither does how many sales you've made, or how you choose to live.

Being an artist is different for each one of us. I make the majority of my income through selling art education, not original pieces. Does that make me less of an artist? Fuck no! Being an artist has nothing to do with your income.

To be an artist is to be someone that makes art. That's all there is to it.

Creative blocks can happen to anyone. If you've ever experienced a creative block, can you tell me about your experience and how you dealt with it? I'm sure other artists would love to hear about your process for overcoming creative blocks.

Reconnecting to your creativity is a struggle, especially if you've been a way from it from a while. Expecting perfection is the true killer. The thing that helped me crawl out of my 3 year art block was to make acrylic pours. There is no control over the outcome, so if the pour didn't look the way I wanted it to, it wasn't because I was a bad artist. It was just a shitty pour.

Low stakes. Making art that wasn't for sharing, or selling. It was just, creating. The more I allowed myself to do this, the more I felt I could allow myself to try new things. Harder things. Greater things.

Artists often have meaningful interactions with the people who view and appreciate their work. Can you tell me about any interactions that have stuck with you over the years? What impact do you hope your art has on the people who experience it?

The first person who brought my art meant a great deal to me.

I had my work on display in a group gallery show when I first began showcasing my work. I was still very shy and unsure of myself. The buyer was exactly who I needed to meet at the time. She was so complimentary about my art and brought my painting as a gift for her daughter who had just graduated - and was going to display it in her brand new salon!

It blew my mind that someone would even want to display my work, let alone buy it as a gift. It grew my confidence so much and I'll never forget it.

There are so many young and emerging artists who are seeking guidance and inspiration. What advice would you offer to them, based on your own experiences and journey as an artist? What are the most important lessons you've learned?

Embrace everything.

The blocks. The shifts. Changing your mind, changing it again. The ups and the downs.

Everything is intentional.

It will all lead to something.

Every experience I have had has lead me here. To a place where I can call myself an artist.

Did I want things immediately? Of course. Was I ready? Absolutely fucking not.

Trust in the divine timing. Accept that people won't like your art. Make it anyway.

If anyone is interested in seeing your work, where can they find it? I'm sure many people would love to see more of your work!

you can find me on..

Instagram - @kirstypaintss

TikTok @kirstypaints


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