Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kaitlyn Williams - My Very Talented Niece

I am very happy and proud to highlight my niece Kaitlyn Williams! Kaitlyn has inherited the artistry gene in our family. A high school senior this year she has been drawing since she was old enough to hold a pencil, pen or crayon. Our grandfather, George Rueff was an artist. Our Aunt, Bonnie Elbert is an artist and our cousin, Ann Rothan is an artist and illustrator as well.

What draws you to a piece of art?

KW: A majority of it is the subject matter and the color scheme. I’m more fond of pieces that feature people (women specifically) and that have a color pallet that adds a dramatic and rhythmic element to it. I like to see the movement of the marks the artist has made.

What kind of mediums do you use? What is your favorite medium?

KW: For the most part, I use dry media. This includes graphite, colored pencils, sharpies, charcoal, pens, crayons.. etc. It just depends on what I have on me. For the pieces I spend the most time on and tend to have the most fun creating are the ones that I do in acrylic paint. It’s one of my favorites to use and it’s inexpensive as well as uncomplicated in its techniques. I also enjoy watercolor as a challenge every once in a while. As any artist knows, watercolor is unforgiving and is very difficult to try and master.

Watercolors, charcoal, acrylics or oils?
KW: Each has their ups and downs and each piece calls for a different medium depending on how detailed I want to get or what mood I want to put into it. My go-to out of these would have to be acrylics since I’m the most experienced with it and it’s not as messy as charcoal, my second choice. The only thing I don’t like about charcoal is that my hands are almost completely black afterwards and there are countless marks on my face. Watercolor is third because while it looks beautiful, it is incredibly difficult to use and can get frustrating. And for oils, I have never used oil paint! The supplies are rather expensive and we definitely don’t have the funding to use them in school. 

Above our samples of Kaitlyn's work. The far left is a texture study with graphite on paper; middle upper is our family lake house using graphite on paper; the lower middle is a self-portrait using PhotoShop; the upper right is mixed dry media on paper; the lower right is chalk pastel on paper. Copyright 2013-1014 Kaitlyn Williams Art.

What artists do you like? My favorite artist is Claude Monet and I love the Water Lilies series. Do you like Monet? 

KW: I do! Monet and other impressionists are a huge source of inspiration for me. I love their usage of color and how even though the pieces don’t get extremely detailed and are very stylized, they are still gorgeous works of art. At the time, this style of painting wasn’t popular. People were so used to the hyper-realistic portraits and still lives that most today think of when they think of the Renaissance. Monet and the impressionists rebelled against this traditional style of painting and focused on painting what a scene looked like in that moment. The reason they have so many paintings of the same subject matter is that each time, something was different. It could have been a different season, a different time of day, or a different perspective. A good example of this is Monet’s paintings of Haystacks. He painted the same haystacks, but at different moments in time to show how nothing is really permanent. You can paint an orange, but that orange will change as soon as you start even.

As far as artists that I like, I’m drawn to Van Gogh and Monet as well as more modern artists like Chuck Close, Alex Pardee, and Shelby Cragg (who does a lot of illustrations and is currently illustrating a comic that will be available for purchase soon, but is an ongoing webcomic at the moment. It’s called Apothecia). The modern style of comics and illustration is something I’m really enjoying, but I am having a hard time drawing it myself. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to stop trying! Like everything I’ve learned about art, I am going to just keep rolling no matter how long it takes. So far it’s taken me 17 years to be able to draw a realistic human figure.

What do you plan to study in college? Art? What kind of degree do you want?

KW: I plan to go to college for art education - which is to be an art teacher. I plan to teach a higher level high school art class like what i’m in now (AP studio art). However that could change between now and next year or four years from now. I’m also entertaining becoming an elementary teacher from 3rd-5th grade. I just wouldn’t want to teach math because that is my weakest point!

I know you have been visiting colleges recently, what is your first choice?

My top choice for college is UNC Asheville because it has a program where I can major in Art while getting my teaching licensure so that I have more options when I come out of college. I could go into teaching right away, or if something comes up I could go work for some company designing their logos and merchandise, it just depends on what's going on at the time. 

Since UNC-Asheville is your first choice, what colleges round out the top 3?

KW: My number two is Appalachian State, and number three is Western Carolina. If you can’t tell, I am very interested in begin in the mountains! UNC-A has a terrific art program and a small campus that would be great for me personally being an introvert. Appalachian’s art building is just like the kind of art rooms that i’m used to so that was nice to see. And finally, Western Carolina has an interesting campus and history as well as a pretty cool art department.

What do you see your future being? Will you make a living with your art? Art teacher? 

KW: If all goes according to my life-plan, yes, I will be an art teacher. My future is definitely going to include art. After all, I haven’t put a pencil down since I could hold it and it has become such an enormous part of my life that I can’t imagine doing anything else. Ever. And if it was a world in which I could just paint all day, sell it, and make enough to live, I would drop everything and do it in a heart beat!!! Unfortunately, paintings are not demanded enough to where I could just do that and be fine. Lucky for me there are other careers in art that pay decently and will still allow me to do my own artwork on the side.

Tell me about your Minecraft Women Project? 
KW: Minecraft is a popular video game in which you are a person surviving in the wild. You punch trees, go hunting and fishing, and build yourself a cabin and a farm and try to survive despite all the zombies, skeletons, giant spiders, and creepers that roam the land. Or you can choose creative mode and just build whatever your mind can think of! I’ve seen some pretty amazing things people have done with mine craft.

Anyways, my Minecraft Women project is a project i’m doing with photoshop to create a woman from each biome in Minecraft if people were to have lived there in real life and adapted to the conditions. So far, I have done “Snow Plains” - kind of self explanatory - and “Mega Taiga” - which is a forest similar to the redwood forests out west. There’s so many more I have to do, but between school, work, and everything else, it’s hard to fit in the time.

You have web-comic series what is it about? The website is, www.propertiesoftheuniverse.com, right? and you work with your friend Austin Garner on this project right? Tell me a little about Austin.

KW: Properties of the Universe is a concept I have been working on since my freshman year in high school. Just recently (the summer of 2014) I have turned it into an actual webcomic that is currently on a little break so that I can focus on school. The comic is about the last humans that have to survive on an alien planet where their ancestors left them. After a major intergalactic war, the great and mighty human race was reduced to dust with the only survivors being genetically-engineered humans made from ancient DNA samples. This group of kids has to discover their culture and try to rebuild their society from scratch. The major conflict is that they run into another group of aliens that have a firm belief that any species that was brought to extinction like the humans were should not exist at all. They want to make sure that the humans don’t make a comeback.

Austin Garner is my very good friend who helped me flesh out the main conflict of this comic. Before that, I just had a lineup of characters and a place that they lived. So, he really helped me make this a reality. Austin is currently attending The Art Institute in Durham for Video Game art and development. He is interested in coming up with the plots in video games and developing the characters.
You are member of your high school's chapter of National Arts Honors Society.

KW: I am! I’m running for the president this year, but we’ll see how that goes :)

You had your first personal showing last year at a local coffee house? How did that go? 

KW: It went better than I expected. I had eight paintings up for show and one of them sold for $80! It was even more exciting that it was someone i didn’t know and who wasn’t a member of my family (that doesn’t mean i don’t greatly appreciate all they do for me and my art). The most that came out of that art show was getting some exposure. At least now my name is out there somewhere in Greensboro and someone is at home with a painting that I put a lot of effort into. 

You have participated in art shows, what awards did you win? I believe you have also organized some shows as well right?

KW: All of high school I have participated in the school’s art shows. These are fundraisers for the art department and a way for parents to see what all their child has been doing. My freshman year I won an award for art 1, sophomore year I won for art 2, and junior year I won for art 3. One of those years I believe I won best in show, but my memory isn’t the best! 
Being a member of National Art Honors Society, I also help run and organize these art shows. This means I put artwork on their displays, hang up “do not touch the art signs”, walk around and answer questions, and help clean up everything afterwards.

I know you have been working a local restaurant in your hometown to save money for college and what you call Addicit-love of the arts. What else have you been doing to help with those two goals?

KW: Mostly, I have just been working some crazy number of hours. Along with this I’ve been working mostly independently in my art class in putting a portfolio together and spending almost all of my time home painting, drawing, or doing something art related. As far as funding goes, I have commissions open constantly and all of my work is for sale at prices that can be discussed.

I have asked you to do a project for me about your cousin Kenny and I am still trying to pick out pictures, maybe you should come help me with that!

KW: Sounds great! It’s just hard to find time to do much of anything that isn’t for school or work these days.

Here is another example of Kaitlyn's art work. She took a photo of a picture of my parents, Bill & Nina Williams and then did this wonderful charcoal portrait from that picture. In the picture to the right, are my parents with Kaitlyn and her portrait. In the middle is her portrait and on the right is a picture of my parents with the portrait. Copyright 2013-1014 Kaitlyn Williams Art.
If anyone wants to see your art they can go to https://www.facebook.com/KaitlynWilliamsArt and like your page. Do you have a website that features your work too? 

KW: I do not have a personal website because it costs extra money to do those kinds of things, but I do have a blog on www.Tumblr.com dedicated to my artwork. You can visit my blog at, www.katthewonderbat-art.tumblr.com

Thank you for helping me on Ancestry.com with your Mom's side of the family! It has helped a great deal. One last question, since this is a genealogy blog...
What do you think of genealogy now that you have helped me? Will you be our family's the next historian? 

KW: Yes, I'm very interested. After exploring your blog and ancestry.com I can confirm I will try my best to be the next family historian! I'm planning on trying to uncover my mother's side of the family since I know less about my maternal ancestors and even my living family members on my mother's side.  

Kaitlyn, thank you for letting me interview for my genealogy blog. I love you and wish you nothing but happiness and success in your art work & life. You have been great answering all of my questions and allowing me to share some of your art work as well.

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