BELOW is a video in the pecha kucha presentation. I had an opportunity to do this presentation in November and i liked it so much i decided to make the presentation as a video so people can get a brief overview of who i am, what i do, and why i do it. You can view my artist statement and bio below as well for additional insight into me and my work.
As an artist living in Montana, I have never had a shortage of inspiration, because, as most Montanans already know, Montana is pure magic, so there is no shortage of stunning views and, my first love, horses. Horses, like Montana, are in some ways, mystical and unknowable. They are soft, fierce, beautiful, and rough all at the same time. Both have taught me how to be still but mostly they’ve taught me that there is an elusive magic to life that sits just below the surface, a balance between random chance and grand design. It can only be seen when the mind is quiet and at peace. It is the essence of this magic that resides at the core of my work, and the spirit of the horse or landscape that defines the brush strokes and colors I use.
When I was a young artist, my inspirations were western artists and illustrators, especially Charlie Russell. I would study his work and pour over his books of art for hours and then challenge myself to render forms as accurately as possible. As I grew older, realism became less important than representing the essence what I was seeing in my mind’s eye; a dramatic stop-motion view that is a combination of reality and magic.
The quest to portray this magic in my art led to my deep love of the philosophies, principals and techniques of Chinese ink painting. The foundations of Chinese ink painting; the balance of opposites, the interconnectedness of all things, mysticism, and the spirit of the subject to name a few, fascinated me and I sought to use these principles in my work. Consequently, my paintings evolved into a combination of Western realism and the simplistic design and mysticism of the Far East.
These two opposing art styles also led me to the mediums that I create my work with; acrylic and ink. Acrylics are my foundation, they are versatile, easy to work with and they layer well, but I love ink because ink has its own kind of magic; it has its own plan. When working very wet, it bleeds, the results are sometimes unpredictable, and there is a chaos that can barely be controlled, but in this chaos, is a beauty. What would normally be viewed as mistakes, are viewed as opportunities. Those opportunities are what make each painting unique, no one painting is the same. Each painting from start to finish is a combination of planning and intuition that evolves from a very basic idea to a result that ends up as a pleasant surprise.
My work process is a like my life philosophy. Sometimes there are blocks and snags and things don’t go the way you want them to, but, if you just let go and have some faith you’ll end up pleasantly surprised.
Running through the forests, splashing in streams, and frolicking on the plains of Montana was where self-taught artist, Carrie Kohles spent her childhood and first discovered the magic of the horse and the land and her desire to capture them on paper. Following a career in Interior Design, Carrie left her field to pursue the arts. She is best known for her large-scale works on paper in acrylic and Chinese ink involving a mounting and varnishing process that she has developed and refined throughout the years. Carrie’s work has won awards in national and international art shows, was featured in two solo shows, and been included in several museum exhibits. She is currently represented in Austin, TX. She lives with her husband and two children in a house along the Sun River just outside of Great Falls, Montana where she still frolics and splashes when she’s not in her studio or messing around with her horses.