Creative All Day: A Visit with Everett Artist Kimberly Williams
Kim, an Indiana native, has called Everett home for eight years. Over the past decade she’s left her mark on her adopted city in a variety of media— bus decals, dozens of event posters, and a painted piano commissioned by the city’s annual “Street Tunes” public art initiative.
She’s worked as the in-house graphic designer for Everett Transit, coordinated events for the Cultural Arts Department, and done freelance work for a number of local clients including the Everett Music Initiative, the City of Everett, and she did the artwork for Live In Everett's Iconic Everett t-shirt.
Now she’s stepping back from her public work to pursue fine art full time; methodically completing a series of large paintings that she hopes to show and sell in the coming months.
She’s got her work cut out for her. Each of her paintings takes about fifty hours to complete. She does all of the labor herself, creating form out of raw materials.
Kim builds the boards she paints on from scratch. She glues wood panels to frames that she cuts with a miter saw. She sands the frames. Then she applies six layers of gesso, a compound used to prime and seal the wood.
And then she’s ready to apply paint.
Her subject matter is flowers— intricate, large flowers that she photographs and recreates in brilliant acrylics. She says the simplicity and beauty of her work is inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe, one of the first female American artists to gain popular recognition.
Kim’s sense of composition and color comes from her background in graphic design, but she acknowledges that the process of painting is more meaningful to her than sitting in front of a computer.
“With graphic design I can make a brochure in as little as fifteen minutes. Someone will look at it for thirty seconds and throw it away. With these paintings,” her voice trails off as she gestures to the next room where five of her newest works hang. “The viewer’s intentions are different,” she concludes. “I like to solve problems with paint and water.”
Freelancing has given Kim a workmanlike endurance and a skill set necessary for knocking out a fifty hour painting.
She quotes Everett-based artist Chuck Close. “Inspiration is for amateurs— the rest of us show up and get to work.” She adds, “[Artists] are creative all day. They just need discipline and a place for the creativity to come out.”
That place, for Kimberly Williams, is her home which also serves as her artist’s studio. Her creative space is filled with tubes of paint, mason jars full of brushes, books, and Greek Orthodox iconography.
She shows me a work in progress, a large panel of wood propped up on cinder blocks in her studio. Two large pink blossoms exploding out of a brilliant yellow background. The details are very ornate.
Kim tells me this painting is “wrong”, that she plans to sand down the whole thing and start over.
I’m stunned to hear this. But this seems to be just a result of her work ethic, which prizes both attention to detail and gut feeling. “It’s just… not right,” she shrugs and doesn’t explain further.
I trust her instinct.
In the coming weeks Kim Williams will be working hard to complete her series of flower paintings. She’s looking for a good local venue to show her work in and prefers a clean, open space with bare walls.
In the meantime she’ll be busy solving aesthetic problems one by one— with paint and water.
Interested in curating Kim’s work? Want to see more from her portfolio? Her website can be found here.
Richard Porter is a social worker and musician. He lives in North Everett and enjoys running on Marine View Drive, bicycling down tree-lined streets, and trying to coax vegetables out of his yard.