“The nude figure is easily the most challenging thing to draw or paint because it is so familiar to us as humans. If something is wrong proportionally in the drawing, then it is readily apparent. Practicing drawing the nude figure will improve all aspects of your art”
Greg Kimsey has a clear memory of his first artwork or what he thought was an impressive drawing of Batman. He was just 3 years old and has been drawing ever since. As a teenager, he was awarded an Art Scholarship to Piedmont College but decided to join the US Navy instead. Years later, he was determined to get more serious about his passion and started painting, taking courses and got a job doing artwork on furniture.
Now Kimsey likes to tell stories with his paintings, works primarily in oils and his favorite subject is fantasy, but he also enjoys painting landscapes, portraits, and still-life. This talented American artist paints and draws from his studio and store, the Art-Full Barn: a unique and fun 1920’s barn he and his wife Gail founded in 1998 as a gallery, that later also became an art school, supply and comic store, and studio in Clarkesville, Georgia.
In this Q&A, artist Greg Kimsey shares with PoseSpace why he chose oil as his primary medium, a beautiful anecdote about one of his paintings and what advice he gives to young artists starting their careers:
Why did you choose oil as your primary medium?
Oil has a luminosity I am not able to achieve with acrylics. I love the smell of oil! I love the way you can work them for hours to blend, or can add a drying agent to get them to dry quickly. My second favorite medium is graphite. I love to draw, and I love drawing the figure in particular.
One of your favorite subjects is fantasy. Where do you get your imagery from?
My inspiration for my fantasy work comes from all around me, other artists’ artwork, as well as my imagination. I will come up with a scenario, then seek out figures that fit the story. Live models can be expensive and setting up photo sessions can take a very long time and effort. PoseSpace has done the work for me and so far I have found every pose I need.
In your artist statement, you mention that your ultimate goal is for others to find their own stories within them through your art. Do you remember a particular moment when this happened?
One particular painting was one called God’s Light, where a ray of sunshine was shining on a rock in a mountain stream. A gentleman came in and told me what the painting meant to him; that is was his wife’s soul calling to him, saying that she was OK, and he cried. I did too. He thanked me for painting it. For me, the painting signified God calling me back to art after 5 years of putting down the brushes “forever”. The stories are not that dissimilar.
What are your goals or aspirations as an artist?
I am currently working very hard to improve painting human skin. I think I can draw relatively well and accurately, but the subtlety of skin tones is another beast altogether. So I aspire to be better at painting figures, not just drawing them.
How has your style changed over the years?
I have gone through several style changes over the years. I had my “impressionism” period, the limited palette period, etc. I have evolved to my current look through plein air painting studies, studying old masters such as William Bouguereau (both his figures as well as his backgrounds), and soaking up current masters such as Cesar Santos and Andrew Tischler, and try to bring what I can use from their work into mine.
How do you start a work — do you have any rituals?
I don’t really have a ritual for getting ready to paint as far as meditation or anything like that. I have recently become more aware of longevity in my art so I prepare my surfaces and use materials that will stand the test of time. I do several thumbnail sketches, working out composition and values, before touching the canvas. I search for reference, whether landscape or figure, and try to work out any issues in photoshop before beginning to paint. I have found computers to be especially indispensable in creating my paintings. I use plein air studies or live models as well whenever practical or possible.
What challenges do you face working with the nude figure?
The nude figure is easily the most challenging thing to draw or paint because it is so familiar to us as humans. If something is wrong proportionally in the drawing then it is readily apparent. Practicing drawing the nude figure will improve all aspects of your art.
What do you think of PoseSpace? Do you have a favorite model?
I am so glad to have stumbled upon PoseSpace when looking for a model for a painting. I love the variety of models, skin tones, builds, and multiple angles for each pose. Anastasia is easily my favorite model, although there are several I go back to again and again. Thea, Jenni, Dave, IrinaV, Jesse, Mandy and Vaunt are my “go-to” models for my fantasy art.
You also teach at the Art-Full Barn. What advice do you usually give to young artists just starting in their careers?
The best advice I give all of my students is to start seeing as an artist sees. I urge artists to cast “labels” from their vocabulary and start seeing what an object is “doing”. It may be a tree, but don’t think of it as a tree; instead, see how it is illuminated, see its texture; is it soft and supple or is it gnarled and old, or maybe strong and stately. SEE and object, don’t label it.
My next advice for someone who wants to be a great painter is to become a great draftsman first. Learn to draw, and draw well, and your paintings will improve as well. That is where PoseSpace is invaluable as it offers the most difficult thing to draw at the outset. Everything after mastering the human figure is a piece of cake!
Greg Kimsey’s website: https://www.gregkimseyart.com
The Art-Full Barn: https://www.artfullbarn.com/
PoseSpace Artist Page: https://www.posespace.com/artists/?ai=463
Interview by Andrea Miliani