Inspire Me: Kim Michelle Coakley

Art Walk is just one week away and we're lucky to have not one, but two featured artists this month! Kim Michelle Coakley's artwork will grace our walls, and Sharon Zimmerman will be in store with her full collection of jewelry for a special trunk show.

A lifelong artist, Kim's work has been featured in New American Paintings and she has done installations for Urban Outfitters, among others. She currently lives in the jungle of Costa Rica, raising her daughter and creating art. We're so happy to show her work here in California!

Join us Wednesday, August 9th 4-8 pm for Sausalito Art Walk. Enjoy 15% off collection jewelry, plus we'll have champagne and treats!

Can you let us know a bit about the process/inspiration behind creating these pieces?

Simplification is a good practice. I started making these paper cutouts with prints (silkscreen, monotypes, etchings, lithos, etc.) of shapes and big abstract blocks of color, brilliant colors! But not too many, maybe 5 or 6 different colors. I then would start cutting and the "shapes" started to emerge. The shapes (cutouts) were big at first and I just kept recycling the material all the way down to the smallest pieces. I used almost all the material since I hate to make waste. I wanted to set limits for myself in some ways so that I could focus and not be overwhelmed by endless possibilities. Naturally, I am very interested in the creation process and I tend to veer off course easily when there are no boundaries set from the beginning, so this helped my process very much. I was able to view my own limits and make choices to stick with the normal patterns or to break out and make something new. I learned a lot, and this was over the course of 10 years and its still going. I always have different things going on but I keep coming back to this process of cutting out and putting back together into forms that suit my eyes, mood, or intuition.

Color seems to play such a large role in your work. Do you/have you gone through periods of time where different colors speak stronger to you than others?

I can't get away from color, I mean every single color the eye can see is very interesting to me. Colors speak to me and they are my feelings. I start painting when I know what color to use. I want to learn so much more about mixing and matching and color theory but right now it is still very simple and intuitive, except that I have to be careful to keep a balance within the work. Too many colors becomes very complicated and confusing to work with. I do have to say that I am very influenced by the environment that I'm in. It's really interesting to be attracted to one color in one place and to be repulsed by it in another. In that way my color palette has changed over time. I've lived in a lot of different places so my work is in constant transformation, which is good. It keeps things fresh.

You're currently living in Costa Rica. Can you tell us about your day-to-day life and how it has affected your creativity?

I live in the jungle. Its beautiful and deep and rich with endless life. You see new bugs and animals everyday that you've never seen before and each one seems very unique and important in its own way. Everything has so much power in a place that is virtually untouched by the modern world. It's incredible to see but its also a reminder to hold your own power and find your own voice. So thats what I guess I've been doing down here. One day I find so much light and one day I fall in a hole and the dark forces take ahold. Everything's a reflection. Its made me very strong to live here. Daily life is not taken for granted. The basic nessecities are hard to come by. You can't just go to the store and get what you need and go home and fix what you need to fix, there are always huge obstacles in the way. Nothing is convenient. You constantly have to let go and trust. Everyday there are lessons and things to watch out for and keep your eyes open and make sure you're not going to get bit by a deadly snake. Its also a place of manifestation where you can make whatever happen that you want to, which sounds contradictory to what I just said, but it is like that. The jungle may teach you a few things first, or after, but whatever you want is definitely coming. It is a very dynamic place. What I also love about it is the freedom that I have to go by my own rhythm, not anyone else's. Its very free, and I've been able to let go of some conditioning since I've lived here. I am most grateful for that freedom. However I change, the work is reflective of that. It's a very clear mirror. 

You (somewhat) recently became a mother. Have you noticed shifts in your work since becoming a mama? Do you hope that your daughter chooses a creative path in life as well? 

I've just began to start working again, and only an hour here and there, after a year plus since Clara graced us with her beautiful presence. It was waaaaaay harder than I thought it would be to have a baby. You have to completely let go of everything you were before. So that process is never easy, but its very humbling and totally worth it in the long run. My work now is coming faster and I am able to be more efficient. There is a lot less messing around and a lot more productivity which is great. As for the content, I now have more of a purpose in life than before, so it feels much better to be working for the sake of my sanity and to contribute to beautifying the world. It's all about beauty and harmony to say it plainly, but it can run much deeper than that. I appreciate Clara so much for carving into my idea of life so much that I can now try to express the process of that. She is already very, very smart and creative. She loves to dance and move and is always carrying around my paintbrushes and markers so I have no worries about her not being a creative person. I'm so excited to see how that turns out.

What is your absolute favorite place on this planet?

I don't know! There are so many amazing places! And so many I've yet to see and explore. I really do want to travel back to India, I love soooo many places there; and Pavones is just a gem; and the Cape (Cod) is of course where my heart is (in the summer and fall, haha!). I'm a seasonal person, I float around to where I feel comfortable, and I really hate to be cold. I don't like to be in one place for too long but having a baby changes that for me. So, we shall see where we end up. I'm just so grateful for the sun, the light, the stars and the beauty of nature. 

We're so grateful for the sun, the light, the stars and the beauty of nature too. Very well said. Thank you, Kim!