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Art & Life with Katelynn Mills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katelynn Mills.

Katelynn, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Art has been central to my development as a human. My earliest memories consist of being mesmerized by the magic of making colors and shapes come together on a plain piece of paper to create an image. But there’s more to it than that; being the firstborn (and the only girl) of three siblings, I went from being the center of my parent’s world to being essentially ignored within the first few years of my life. Drawing saved me from being lonely. What’s more, being from Orange County, unlike the rest of California, I was raised in a very conservative, very Christian place and I was subject to an extreme aspect of that. I wasn’t allowed to fraternize with people outside of my Christian circle until I moved out (got kicked out) as a young adult. People always ask me how I escaped that mode of thinking and living – my answer is art. In his journals, da Vinci speaks to the nature of observation and how drawing is the most intimate way to observe and understand life. That makes a lot of sense to me; drawing taught me how to be an observer and how to communicate with myself and the world around me. It’s something I was born to do.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
In so many words, I work in a style algorithm. It’s a structure that moves me through series’ of 8 paintings, the numbers 1-8 respectively having both sets as well as adaptable rules (i.e., the rule for #3’s is that they must have two portraits, #6’s rule is “pattern” or “democracy”). I’m a multidimensional human with many interests and have never been able to be loyal to any one mode of painting. I’ve set up a sort of paradoxical situation because I don’t want to be assimilated any more than I want to be exiled/ utterly lack recognizably or structure. The range of my cybernetic method serves me well. That’s the “how” of my method — it’s something that helps me track the complicated changes in my painting behaviors as it pertains to my environment. I don’t believe that subject matter is all that important. Joyce Pensanto shows us that a charcoal drawing of Donald Duck can deliver a heavy, moving experience. William Blake shows us that even one of mankind’s greatest poets can render some obtuse, illustrative doodles. So subject matter has to transcend into some greater meaning through the work itself. For me that makes talking about the significance of subject nearly impossible because I paint like I get dressed in the morning — it’s as though I never wear the same thing twice.

What responsibility, if any, do you think artists have to use their art to help alleviate problems faced by others? Has your art been affected by issues you’ve concerned about?
For me painting is about staying in touch with humanity, not making flaccid political statements. Art historically I don’t think the role of artists has changed. What’s going on in the world right now terrifies me, but if it has any influence on my work, it’s that it makes me paint with a stronger sense of vocation, maybe even desperation. I feel like I can’t predict when my civil rights may be revoked or when the cost of living is going to become so impossible that I’ll have to go back to being semi-homeless and only keeping a sketchbook like I did when I was younger, so when I paint I simultaneously try to make the best work of my life and have no fear of destroying it. It’s all one can do considering.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I’m always up for studio visits! I paint at Logan Creative in Santa Ana — it’s an Orange County gem from which some of the best artists in the area work out of. We’re planning open studios for the first Saturday in December.

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