We had the good fortune of connecting with Kyong Burke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kyong, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
The process of painting on canvas or on paper gives me pleasure of expressing the beauty of things around me. Human figures and flowers are my most favorite subjects to paint. I like to use different techniques and styles, depending on subject matter. My works will range between realism and abstract expressions. I became a full-time artist after I got a bit older. Like many others, I had a dream when I was young. That dream was being an artist; but, life took me on a different path for a long time. Then, my life changed when I went to Glassell School of Art in Houston. When I do painting, I forget the world of worries. I can be in my world and express with colors, lines and shapes in my own way. My creation is mine only and I love that feeling of my accomplishment for each painting. It may not be a masterpiece, but it’s okay with me. It is all about the process.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I focused on realism, and though these earlier pieces are very direct– mainly flowers, portraits, and landscapes– my subjects were all meaningful to me. My portraits represented family, friends, people I encountered, or people who influenced me, and my landscapes were often places I’d visited. Every time I visited someplace new, I would take what seemed like hundreds of pictures for my paintings. Many afternoons were spent looking through these pictures to get ideas to paint. My classes at Glassell School of Art were a bit of a challenge and taught me to let go and loosen up, and experiment with different techniques and media. I developed a love for acrylic paint, because of its versatility, and today, most of my paintings are acrylic on canvas. I like to apply watercolor techniques to my acrylic paints, to take advantage of the textures of the canvas. The first marks, brush strokes, and colors I leave on my canvases are thoughtfully planned, but I’m not so strict with my paintings anymore. I let the composition adapt and change as I go, and there’s never a guarantee that the final piece will look just as I’ve planned. Today, my art looks very different from the watercolors I started with, but I think it still holds true to its roots in many ways. Often, I direct focus to my subject with a very direct, realism approach. Once the viewer takes in the rest of the painting, they will see the abstract elements all around the subject. My inspirations are from memories, and my surroundings, what I see and feel, and I try to blend real with the abstract to express it in a contemporary way. But no matter what intentions I have when I begin a painting, I like my viewers to have their own interpretations. To me, it isn’t important that the viewers might look at my paintings and know what meaning I think they should have. I’d rather they find their own feelings and interpretations in my paintings. If they feel the same as I do, then it’s even better, but it isn’t the most important thing. I’ll always continue to paint, because that’s my best way to appreciate my life and environment I am living in. I feel there is something more I can express and can paint better than my last one.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would like to take my friends to an event at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts or Jones Hall. There are spectacular shows at these locations and both of these venues are first class. A visit to Museum District would be planned to ensure that they could experience the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston and then go to Sawyer Yards to visit the artists working in their studios. We would work on a visit to see The Menil Collection and eat at the Bistro nearby. A dinner or lunch would be planned at Papadeaux for seafood. We would also try to take a drive to visit Moody Gardens to spend a day there. During the visit we would go to the Galleria and eat at Peli Peli Restaurant to experience the unique South African menu.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to Shoutout to my friends, especially the many friends in art. Carol Schaudt (artist), Keylne Reis (artist) and Valentina Atkinson who’s an artist herself and Serrano Gallery owner. They were always there for me and encouraged me whenever I was struggling. Mr. Romeo Clay Robinson, the artist who’s always kind and friendly to everyone. Also I would like to recognize fellow artists from Silver Street Studio, where I was a tenant; talented metal-smith artists Patty Scott and Nichole Dittmann and friendly artists Gretchen Bender Sparks, Adriana LoRusso, and John Bernhard, the Publisher of ArtHouston Magazine and artist. Of course I can’t forget to mention Arthur Turner, Houston’s distinguished artist and former teacher at Glassell School of Art and Patrick Palmer, dean of Glassell. I appreciate all the positive contributions each of these artists and teachers have made to my artistic growth.
Linkedin: Kyong Burke