Kimberly Deene Langlois is a self-taught mixed media artist residing in Raleigh. Langlois works in a variety of media, including combinations of alcohol ink and encaustic wax. Her vibrant, deeply textural works demonstrate the importance of play and experimentation in her process. Her current series of abstract floral works, created in alcohol ink, showcase the vibrancy and organic flow of the medium; the centers of her flower subjects carefully capture the light, producing a 3D quality, which is a common visual motif in this series.
The Kirby’s program coordinator, Raleigh Gardiner, had the opportunity to speak with Langlois about the work in her new show, entitled “Color My World,” now on exhibit in the Kirby Cultural Arts Complex’s Upper Gallery through the month of October.
RG: Your work uses some very unique combinations of materials. What kind of materials do you use, and what drew you to this medium? KDL: I love using alcohol ink in my work, because it’s a very fluid and unpredictable medium. While I can control the ink to some degree, I have to also be open to letting the ink do its own thing and lead me in the direction it wants to go. The inks can be poured directly onto a surface and allowed to flow and mingle organically. This medium flows best on non-porous surfaces such as synthetic “paper,” ceramic tile, metal and glass; but I also love to use it on canvas and primed wood surfaces. Because of the way the inks interact with the substrate and each other, no two paintings will ever look the same. I love that each painting takes on a unique life of its own. RG: Your work feels very personal, almost nostalgic, or like they’re inspired by your experiences. Where do you get your ideas? What inspires your work? KDL: I have always been fascinated by the colors and shapes in nature. Whether it’s looking deep into the center of a bloom and studying its intricate parts, or being totally blown away by the amazing colors that appear on trees in the fall, I am in constant awe of the natural art around me every day. There’s also something about music that moves me to create. Certain songs or lyrics evoke an emotion that transforms into a creative outlet for me. Many of my paintings are named after songs or lyrics. Sometimes a specific song comes to mind as I’m painting, and other times, my finished painting will remind me of a song. Either way, I feel there’s a strong connection that exists in all my work to nature and music. RG: Your works are very textural, and seem like time — as well as a specific physical process — are deeply involved in creating them. How do you start a piece, and how long does each work take you to create? How do you know when it’s done? KDL: That’s a tough question! Many times, when I sit down to paint, I have no plan. I may have a color palette in mind but no specific organized thoughts regarding anything else about the painting. The painting may begin as a landscape and morph into a flower … or the other way around. I don’t typically paint from reference photos. I begin by laying down the ink and I see where it goes. My paintings usually have an abstract quality about them. With my flowers, the background will be poured and the petals are usually blown with air. I rarely paint with brushes. And then I like to add some realism and dimension to the centers. I think knowing when a painting is finished is one of the toughest things for all artists. I once heard an artist say that she asks herself if she’s making the painting better by continuing with it … or just making it different. Sometimes, I’ll put a piece away for a day or two and then look at it again with fresh eyes. Usually then I’ll know. RG: What is your favorite aspect about the process of creating art? KDL: I love knowing that, with my hands, I can create something beautiful and unique that was not there before. And during the process, there’s that moment that something happens — maybe a certain shape or color appears or a painting comes together in a special way. In those moments I feel an excitement … sometimes body temperature rises, and I have an actual physical reaction to what’s going on with my art. No other medium has ever done that for me like alcohol ink does. It’s a true love affair. RG: What is it like to be a working artist in North Carolina? KDL: I was born and raised in North Carolina, and I don’t think I truly appreciated the landscape of our state until later in life. We are fortunate to have four distinct seasons, each full of so much beauty, and wondrous beaches and mountainsides right here at home. I love color which is reflected in my art, and as an artist in N.C., I can simply look out the window on any given day of the year and be inspired by what I see.
“Color My World” is on display in the Kirby’s Upper Gallery through the month of October. The gallery is located at 213 N. Main St., Roxboro, and is open for viewing from 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.