Austin artist Gage Kelsey never stops creating. Luckily, we squeezed in a little time to ask about his artistic process.
Do you have any routines or things you do to help you get into a creative mindset before you start a project?
Well to start off, I am constantly creeping on Instagram. I pretty much only follow artists. Every morning when I wake, I flip through Insta and see what people are doing. When I see a technique or aspect of a piece that I really like, I screen shot it and study it. I try to understand how it was created and break it down layer by layer. Doing this is quasi impulsive but also very helpful in keeping me constantly motivated to up my game.
Over the past year I have discovered the importance and power of setting intentions before creating. I think it is extremely necessary to take time to honor creativity before you tap-in to it. I usually close my eyes and start by taking slow breathes in and out to ground my body and my emotions. Once I have cleared my mind of the typical day-to-day mental chatter, I state my intentions (it doesn’t have to be out loud). I think in is crucial for everyone to have their own form of preparation for creating but the following is mine.
My intention setting has become a mantra that I repeat every time I mediate before painting. It has three parts:
- I start by asking the [universe] (insert whatever you believe in) to help me to turn people on. I want to give people the inspiration and motivation to go home and create. I want to relieve people of their insecurities and empower them to do what they have always wanted to do, in whatever medium that may manifest from writing to cooking to robotics.
- I then ask the [universe] to help me create something loving and uplifting. I want my art to make people feel at home wherever they are. I want them to leave feeling light and happy and smiley, and to contagiously pass it along throughout the rest of their day.
- I ask to please help me please not fuck this up! lol. But more importantly, I try to visualize the painting. I try to see myself as apart of it and truly feel the thing that I am creating. I imagine myself physically becoming the piece I am working on.
After I go through this process, I say thank you and take a few breaths to set the intention before beginning or continuing a piece. This can last anywhere from 3 minutes to 15 minutes.
What is your favorite Creation?
The mural that I recently created at Crux climbing gym is the coolest thing that I have created so far. I have been really into murals lately and “Lilly Bird” is the biggest piece that I have created to date –it is two stories tall. I have also been trying to get better technique with spay cans and feel pretty proud of the color blending that I was able to achieve. Another element that I have been trying to develop is my perpetuating doodles—making them into more recognizable realism. In this painting, I consciously pushed them to take the form of a bird. I find that more people resonate with recognizable figures like animals, insects or humans, rather than intricate abstractions. All and all, this piece is the compilation of a lot of different goals that I have been trying to achieve and they happened to come together in one piece.
When I was 17 I tried to paint a portrait of a good friend of mine for her birthday. It turned out being so bad that I felt too embarrassed to give it to her. It is still hiding somewhere in my studio. Maybe I will give it to her one day as a joke.
Have you ever felt stuck while working on a project or during live painting? How did you overcome this?
Usually when I get stuck on a piece, I try flipping it upside-down or sideways. It is helpful to gain a new perspective on a piece of art when you’re stuck. That can mean anything from flipping the canvas, going for a walk, or starting another piece and coming back to the stuck one.
The really tough part is getting stuck when live painting. You are in front of hundreds of people and you can’t just sit there for 20 minutes and contemplate. You just have to just go. So, I usually start working on another part of the canvas and then to weave it back into the part that I was originally stuck on. This tends to work out for me for the most part. The key is to just keep painting and eventually it will work out.
Can you give any words of advice to people looking to be more creative (in any aspect of their life)?
Just start! It does matter what the outcome is, it just matters that you are creating. Don’t let fear, judgment or insecurity stop you from starting. Just keep in mind that it will take time for you to develop your technical ability to be able to execute the mental vision/design exactly the way you see it in your mind. I still struggle with this today. You just have to keep practicing and eventually your skills will catch up with your ideas. Also, never forget to have fun. Creativity is a goofy weird thing that should not always be taken so seriously, especially when you’re first starting out.
What is your ideal project?
My ideal project is a 2 or 3 story wall with a scissor lift. Ideally I would be given free range on the design and would have a client who would pay for all of my supplies and pay me well for my time. I have been fortunate enough to have two projects that worked out like this.
Is there a medium you would like to pursue but haven’t tried yet?
I recently took a workshop with Amanda Sage learning the Mische Technique and played with oil paint for the first time. I am really excited to further explore this alchemical process and better understand the different mediums involved. I believe it will totally change my work, creating more depth and richer colors. It will definitely take me some time before I become proficient but I think it will totally be worth the time.