Artist Interview: Anna Kim

Anna Kim is a Bay Area artist with a 15-year background in photography; it started in the darkroom and lead up to a career in professional photography. Today, Kim focuses her art on painting vibrant colors and landscapes. She is also making wood sculptures. Her inspiration comes from her environment and her life experiences.

You’ve worked with a wide variety of art forms besides painting, from sculpting to cake design. How have these various avenues of artistic expression affected your current artwork?

My artworks are all connected to each other, from ideas to composing, techniques like adding colors and textures up to the end product. I’ve used techniques from the past in my current artworks. Scultiping helps with inspiration in my current paintings.

What recurring motifs and symbols do you like to use?

I always love to add a living thing, either a flower or a plant. Plants, for me, symbolize hope and beauty. 

Vibrant colors affect people’s mood so I’m drawn to them and you can see them in all my paintings. Of course, sometimes, I use darker colors when I’m in a less happy mood. I am really drawn to black and white, it’s timeless.


Can you describe the relationship between your work and mental health?

My art healed me from the health issues I had, so I hope it can be helpful for other people too, whether they are dealing with a physical or mental illness. 

A hospital acquired a few of my paintings for their newly built psychiatry building in the East Bay. I’m hoping they can use the painting as part of their therapy for their patients. 

How do you think artwork can be used for healing?

Art is engaging and therapeutic. It’s a form of communication that doesn’t need any words to convey a message. It’s healing to the artist that expresses their experiences and to the viewer who connects with it in their own way.

What is your most notable piece, in terms of having an interesting story behind it and/or having significant value for you personally?

It’s a painting called Happiness. It depicts an ice cream cone floating in the sky. Ice cream is a symbol of celebration. We celebrate our birthdays and special events with ice cream as a treat.

I did that painting right after I finished my treatments from my illness. The ice cream is floating because it is free. 

Can you describe your artistic process?

I start with just looking around the nature that surrounds me. I’ll take photos of what I see and if I don’t have a camera, I store the images in my head. I’ll bring my photographs to the studio and make an interpretation of it. 

I usually add textures to my paintings with gel medium. I keep adding several different layers until I’m satisfied with my work.

What do you hope your work conveys for viewers?

I want my viewer to imagine themselves in my work and imagine themselves being out in nature. I want them to experience what I experience and put themselves in the painting when they see it. I hope people will connect with my paintings in a personal, emotional way.

What’s next for you?

I’m excited to continue wood sculptures and painting. I want to spice things up, experiment, and push myself to imagine and create.