Q + A with Stephanie Kirkland
Stephanie Kirkland is an Alabama abstract painter focusing on rich greens seen in nature. She received her B.A. from the University of Alabama and appeared in various exhibitions around the state.
1. How long have you been painting? Tell us your origin story!
I started painting my sophomore year of college, but I've been drawing my entire life. I remember making "books" by writing stories and illustrating them as early as first grade. I stumbled upon painting by way of needing to take a prerequisite drawing class (my first art class ever) in order to take photography. I loved drawing so much that I took a painting class afterward instead, and the rest is history. I remember getting completely lost in the painting process and loving every minute of that first class, which turned into a minor and eventually a second major.
I didn't start painting again until about three years after I graduated. In part, I felt like something had been missing, and the longer I've been out in the "real world," the more I'm reminded that the world needs artists. Realizing this has made my commitment to art that much stronger, and I've been making a serious go of it ever since.
2. How do you think your everyday life, such as your job, family, and friends, affects your creative process?
My everyday life fuels my paintings. I constantly find myself interacting with people who stress over the smallest things. My experience is a bit different in that I spent a year teaching high school in one of the poorest regions in the nation right after I graduated from college, which was hard and eye-opening in ways I never could have anticipated. Since then, I feel like I can do anything, and I'm acutely aware of how many truly small things we all worry about that aren't worth our time, energy, or concern at all. My creative process is. in part, fueled by trying to encourage others to adopt a similar perspective—to remind others to not sweat the small stuff, to breathe, and to be grateful for the here and now, no matter how messy it may be.
3. Tell us your favorite place to visit that is the major source for your inspiration!
I absolutely LOVE mountains, but I honestly haven't channeled them into my paintings at all (consciously, anyway). The lush and biodiverse state of Alabama, where I've lived for about 10 years now, has been my main source of inspiration. I'm constantly finding something new to explore—the largest canyon east of the Mississippi, a 25,000-acre "land of 1,000 waterfalls," white sandy beaches, rivers, lakes, parks, forests, the most beautiful sunsets you'll ever see—this state has it all. Must be why it's called "Alabama the Beautiful."
4. What struggles do you face?
My biggest struggle right now is finding the right audience for my work. Loyal followings aren't built overnight, but it's so hard not to want to rush things. I have to constantly remind myself to take it one step at a time, and that every artist has been where I am now. Steven Pressfield's The War of Art has been a huge source of inspiration for me. I think all creatives should read it!
5. What's next for you in 2018?
So many things! I have two juried art shows coming up—both in Birmingham—and I'm going to France in September, which will be my first time in Europe. My plan is to spend a lot of time in Southern France wandering the countryside, so I'm sure some paintings will result from it! I'm also planning to release a collection of landscapes and a collection of hand-painted ornaments by the end of the year. Sign up for my email list, and you'll be the first to know about them!