Interview with an inspiring and stunning painter - Kym Barrett

"My life philosophy is based on the idea that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

Interview by Henry Gomez

Q1. In your own words please tell us what you do.
Most days I am in my home studio for at least several hours.  
I am drawing and painting intuitively using various drawing materials and paint, building up layers freely until a composition emerges. I work on several paintings, alternating between each, and spend a lot of time sitting back and looking at what’s happening with each of the works.

I also teach art workshops – I love the sense of community that builds when there is sharing of creative energy.

Q2. What inspired your passion for fine art and who has been supporting you from the beginning?

My high school art teacher triggered my desire to pursue art as a career – but I was to become an art teacher before I later became a fulltime artist. My family have supported and encouraged me all the way in every aspect of my life.  This sure helps in so many ways!

Q3. Have you always aspired to be an artist, or did you ever dream of following a different path?

I think really I was destined to become an artist and a teacher.  Both give me so much satisfaction. That’s not to say there aren’t tough times and angst though!
Q4. How many years have you been working in fine art?
36 years, but only 8 years as a full time artist and because of this I believe my work has evolved rapidly, and I am still experimenting and finding my way, and narrowing down the field. But maybe I’ll always be searching!
Q5. How do you feel about your industry today?
Sadly, in this economic climate, sales are slow and this is disappointing but hopefully changes will come soon.
Q6. Is there anything you are currently working on that you would like to tell us about?
I’m experimenting with oils and cold wax with drawing media, including oil sticks which I find absolutely luscious!  And also trying to work more expressively with an edgy rawness.
Q7. Who have you always dreamt of working with/for and why? How would you go about accomplishing this?
Nobody.  My life philosophy is based on the idea that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  And since I am always learning, I trust that the right person/teacher will come into my life as and when I need them.  At least this is how things have gone in the past.
I prefer to work for myself and alone.
Q8. What would you say is the public’s favourite piece of your art?
Well, that’s always going to be a tough question. People always like an easily recognisable content, so I would say one of my ‘Memory of Trees’ series. Eg Light of My Life
Q9. What is your favourite piece?
My current work is more abstract, but still has hints of landscape/Nature.  I would say my favourite piece today is – ‘This Flower, this Light, this Moment, this Silence.’  But that might change when I finish my next piece….. 

Q10. What other artists have influenced your work?
Historically, the Abstract Expressionists, Richard Diebenkorn, Stephen Duren and Australian Margaret Woodward are just a few.
The internet and the easy availability of viewing other artists’ work has meant that many artists have influenced me consciously and unconsciously. 
Q11. What made you start mixed media art?
Before 2006 my work was all acrylics or charcoal.  I then started experimenting with Japanese paper, collage and charcoal along with acrylics.  Now, I am incorporating crayons and gel mediums in my acrylic work and playing around with oils and cold wax with drawing media.
Q12. Have you found that in your career, there are aspects that have taken you completely by surprise? If so, what are they?
For me, even though I aim to connect heart to heart with another person through my artwork, the fact that this often happens is extraordinary to me! 
Q13. What is the greatest thing about working in your industry? And what would you change if you had the opportunity?
The best thing about this industry is that I get to work hard in the studio to create a thing of beauty, in an atmosphere of freedom.  It’s not without its challenges, but these are challenges worth struggling for.
And then sharing the stuff I’ve learnt with other artists.  I love to help people learn about the creative process and feel the joy of creating that I do.
What would I change?
I don’t really like the pretentiousness of some aspects of the Art Industry.  I wish people could just be real without the affectations that seem to be sometimes present.
Q14. If you could have asked anyone for advice when you were starting out.
Who would you have liked to ask?
If I had known about him then (and I only know of him through the internet), Brian Rutenberg – contemporary US abstract artist.  But there are probably lots of others.  He was the first to come to mind.
What would you have liked to ask?
What’s the most important thing to remember when embarking on life as a visual artist?
What would be your answer to that same question now?
Be prepared to consistently put the hours in, in the studio.  Work hard to do the work, trust the process and yourself.
Q15. From your experience in the arts, what advice could you offer people looking to get to where you are today?
Do lots of work and experiment, take risks, as this is the way new things are discovered.  Be prepared to struggle to produce authentic work. And be totally committed to producing your best work.
Q16. What courses/classes would you recommend someone take if they want to be a professional in the creative industry?
You definitely need both practical courses in areas of your interest as well as business type courses as it’s about 50:50 arts practice:business practice, timewise.  Also, do your own research.  Internet access to all kinds of information, imagery and other artists means our world is so small and the ‘sky is the limit’.
Q17. How many years were you working to get to where you are today? And what was that time in your life like?
I consider that my whole life has been preparation to where I am today in every aspect (as obvious as that sounds).  And my life has always been one of seeking and learning, and collecting knowledge and experience that is all ‘grist for the mill’.
Q18. From your experience so far, what have you found to be most challenging? And how are you dealing with it?
I’m fortunate in that I don’t have the pressure of having to make a living out of the sales of my artwork.  If I did, that would be the most challenging aspect.  As it is, in this economic climate, sales are difficult to come by, and unsold artwork tends to accumulate.  I like to sell off older work at reduced prices, and trust that my best work will be sold in time.
Q19. Share with us your proudest moment in your career so far?
One moment that gave me the most thrill was when my first big painting was sold to someone who I did not know at all, someone outside of my family and friends.


  1. 2 comments that I copied and pasted from my previous website, which is where this interview was originally posted:

    Jennie Hawkes Wright · Teacher at Victorian Department of Education
    you may not know what an inspiration you are to those who have had the privilege of knowing you and your approach to painting. I can only say how much I appreciate the influence you have made on me and our artistic have helped us to grow. I love your work exhibited at Eudlo, especially "Another broken thread" (?). I love the spare blueness, it's starkness resonates with my life! xxxxx Jen.
    Like · Reply · Moderate · Follow Post · May 17 at 7:32am

    Jill Blacker
    Thanks Kym...beautiful within, without and on canvas!

  2. Thank you Henry, Jennie and Jill! I just discovered this when Googling one of my favourite artists as I listed above, Stephen Duren.. I got a surprise when an image of my work came up! Cheers Henry! Kym