Artists Interview Series presented by
Siskiyou County Arts Council
One of the ways the Arts Council supports local artists is through an Artist Directory on our website. In addition, we have begun a series of interviews with our member artists. This interview with artist Kim Solga is the first in this exciting series, so let us know what you think!! And if you’re an artist interested in this opportunity to share your creative work with others, please join our Artist Directory at Join the Artist Directory
Wilderness Art that ‘Tells the Truth’
An interview with artist, Kim Solga
July 13, 2017
Brief bio or background: I moved to Mt. Shasta in 1972, a schoolteacher fresh out of college. Our town in far northern California takes its name from the peak, Mount Shasta. At 14,162 feet, it is the second highest volcano in the US. Forests, open range land and rivers surround the mountain, with environments from damp green fern and oak valleys, to high desert sage lands of the Great Basin, to pines and oak along the rivers. The Interstate freeway runs through our valley. We can get away easily for distant adventures. We always love coming home. It’s a very good place to live.
I work with watercolors, web sites, murals, printmaking, and stained glass, writing about art education and promoting art online.
Why is art important? I believe art matters because it surrounds people with authenticity – when they create art themselves and also when they include handmade art objects in their environments.
Does your art have purpose? My purpose is to tell the truth. I paint on location, “en plein aire.” In the case of wilderness landscapes, it means hiking with watercolor paints, palette, brushes and paper secured in my backpack. Or rafting down a whitewater river with materials strapped into a dry bag. My paintings reflect the conditions I find each day – fast drying washes in bright sunshine, splatters of raindrops between storms, rock dust added to paint. My pigments are mixed with river water, the seeping trickles of a mountain spring, drops of melting ice. There is a truth I discover while working on location, a truth that extends into the images I create — and on to those who view my work. These are not domesticated scenes. My work is of the place, and of the time.
Tell us more about the environment in which you like to create? I love plein aire painting. My work takes place in this wilderness. My watercolors capture a moment in the timeless flow of river water, glacier ice, the slow growth of pine, the bloom of wildflower. I paint on location, perched on a boulder beside whitewater rapids. I sketch from a bed of pine needles beneath a spruce, surrounded by snow banks, a raven watching from a branch overhead. I climb high onto the mountain, above tree line, into the silent song of bare rocks in late summer. My paper and brushes are carried by raft down northwest rivers, to be taken out at sunset after setting up camp on a remote beach. They are packed over mountain passes in the High Sierras, or tucked into the hold of my sea kayak off the Baja coast. The work reflects the sweat and truth of these journeys. In it is revealed the texture of rock, layers of lichen and fern, in the shadows of clouds blown over mountain slopes and the dance of rapids. I have traveled to and painted in western USA, Grand Canyon and the southwest, Alaska and Canada, New Zealand, Baja, Hawaii, Europe (and soon to Africa!).
What are you working on now? In wilderness watercolor, I am exploring the levels of transparency in water. I seek to capture the surface of the water, with bubbles and froth, as it tumbles over rocks. And I want to capture the rocks themselves, beneath the water and the colors of the riverbed. Then there’s the reflections of the trees and rocks on the bank, the clouds and blue sky above. Water paintings are an amazing exploration.
In addition to watercolors painting, Kim does fine art printmaking, stained glass, web design, and children’s art education. Kim is also a muralist. Her latest mural can be seen on the north wall of the Dunsmuir City Hall building in Dunsmiur, CA. You can also see more of Kim’s work on the Siskiyou County Art Council’s website: Kim Solga