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Light, circles, and more - Rachelle Kearns

Rachelle Kearns (@rachelle_kearns) is a Contemporary Painter and a light-inspired Artist who was born in Toronto, Canada. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington. Rachelle has always wanted to be an artist from a very young age. She was greatly inspired by her maternal Grandfather who was a phenomenal Stain-glass and Watercolor artist. As a little girl, she used to love watching him paint. She fell in love with how the colors blended and was mesmerized by the very process, and never for once had a notion that being an artist was strange or weird.

When it was time for her to decide what to choose for her Undergraduate course - she knew she had to choose between music and art as she was passionate about both. But art took the center stage and she was accepted to the University of Toronto for the Fine Arts and Arts History Specialist Program. This four-year program that was affiliated with Sheraton College was a great start for her. The teachers who taught her were living artists who practiced art while also teaching art. It was a studious program and she thoroughly enjoyed studying the course. She did exceptionally well and even bagged a few awards. But the course itself was not sufficient to leverage her career as an artist. She has been financially independent since she was 18 years old, and she paid her way through the university herself. She worked very hard through the summer - partially through the mural-ling business and also through the food and beverage industry. She journeyed through different roles as a dishwasher, a front line cook, a sous-chef, to managing people at the front office. Upon graduating, she decided to take up an offer for the Food and Beverage Manager position, followed by which she entered the sales position. This job gave her the financial stability to support her career as an artist. Soon enough, a unique opportunity knocked at her door when one of her clients who knew she was an artist asked her to be a part of a company renovation in different locations. A series of 14 large murals were to be put up in different locations, and the client asked her to be a part of the same. She put together the best of her efforts and pulled together two different themes for two different locations, and it was received well by the company. This gave her a head start on her career as an artist. Following this, she got herself a studio at a desirable spot in Toronto and started painting Monday to Thursday, from 9 to 5.

 

However, she still hadn’t found her voice as an artist. She found herself contemplating the words ‘Mercy, Grace, and Love’. Although these words were used so often, she was in search of what it actually meant, on a deeper level. One day, she was at her then-boyfriend, now husband’s cottage at the dock overlooking the water. It was a cloudy day, and when the clouds parted she was fascinated by how the sun started to dance on the water. That was her moment of epiphany - she realized that mercy is like light. It is everywhere, it surrounds us and covers us, and life without it would be so dark. Rachelle then furiously began to study how light dances on the water, how it moves and the kind of patterns it creates, the way the palette changes in different seasons, and in different hours of the day. She started out with the Mercyscape series, which was all about the light dancing on water, and was representational while carrying an abstract quality.

Rachelle then participated in an outdoor show in Toronto where all of her three pieces of work were sold out. It was a huge achievement for her, and this motivated her more to pursue the path. In the following year, she applied at a very prestigious exhibition in Toronto that was pretty hard for artists to get in. She was selected, and she began to be represented by 7 different galleries and garnered about 12 commissions, and right then, her career was launched. This was just the beginning and she has been doing art for the past 18 years.

Rachelle recounts a challenging phase in her life when she became a mother and had two children back to back with just a year of gap in between. Life was insane, and she had to quit for a year and a half. She realized she needed practice, and she needed to get back into the rhythm of making art. Her family was then blessed with a nanny, which gave her the space and time to get back into painting. Her work started transforming little by little then. She realized that in the process, the circles kept repeating and overlapping, and it became a meditative and reflective process for her. She was not fully aware of it at that time, but she felt it so peaceful to her and it nurtured her soul to paint circles after circles in a repetitive format. The Breakthrough series emerged from this, and it was more of an abstract format with the layering of circles upon circles. The whole canvas was covered by layers of circles.

The latest evolution that happened in her work was when she worked on the Bloom Series, where she painted flowers that are created by overlapping circles. It was the year 2020, and as a power walker, she would walk a few miles a day and regularly stop and take pictures of her neighbors’ flowers. She paid attention to the beauty around her for two years, and the work came out right when she needed beauty and joy above everything else. All the observation poured out of her and she had a new series all of a sudden.

Rachelle says that the time she takes to complete a work depends on the size of the canvas. The bloom series was the most complex and time-consuming, as it demanded getting the right combination of colors. She says she would paint for half an hour and then stand back and look at the work in progress for some time to figure out where it was going. She uses acrylic paint, canvas, and brushes that help her paint the exact strokes to form the perfect circles.

Talking about the challenges she has faced while on her journey as an artist, she says that moving to the United States was challenging, yet interesting. She moved to the US with her family in 2015, and it took 5 long years for her to get a green card. Until then, she was not allowed to manufacture in the US. As a solution, she had to fly to Canada whenever she had commissions or shows, paint there for a week and fly back to the US to resume a regular life. Moving to Seattle made things easier though, as she got a studio in Vancouver which was only a few hours away from home. She would paint all weekend at her Vancouver studio to continue her work for commissions and shows. All this changed in 2020 when she finally got her green card which allowed her to paint and sell in the US. The business has taken off ever since.

Rachelle (@rachelle_kearns) is a strong believer and she believes that all inspiration comes from God. She is tapped into an endless source, and the only limitation would be herself if she becomes too stressed or burnt out and fails to see the endless inspiration in store. She says she has so many ideas on her mind and there is no way she will be able to do all that before she dies, but she will continue to do it in heaven. She believes that her primary calling is to be a wife and mother, and she is well aware that this limits her time at the studio. But she is happy spending more time with the family.

Faith has helped her in her journey in a mighty way. She is affirmed by everyone who looks at her work and says that her work has helped them through difficult times and that it has given them peace and joy. She believes that she paints what she is inspired by God to paint, and He inspires her to paint peace, joy, and love and this resonates with people. Apart from art, she is passionate about music, cooking, and snowboarding.

It speaks to Rachelle’s heart to help others in need. She contributed greatly to an initiative called ‘Buy art not kids’, an art auction fundraiser intended to help in ending human slavery and for the welfare of kids in Cambodia. She along with her husband formed a committee with a community of artist friends.  This initiative ended up having 3 major art auctions and raised a significant amount of money for the work in Cambodia.

For Rachelle, the idea of success has been evolving in the last few years. She believes that if she is able to do various important things in life consistently, such as working out every day, sleeping well, eating well, having moments of pause in the day, and having time to pray, she considers herself successful. She believes that working out every day helps her produce good work, and allowing herself to have moments of pause and paying attention to the beauty around her helps her connect with God on a deeper level and open the floodgates of sustainable creativity.

Her advice for aspiring artists is not to go on Instagram and fall prey to the comparison trap. “If you want to be an artist, you need to consistently practice for at least 2 hours a day. It takes time for the work to get better, and consistent practice will help you realize where you come from and where you are going” - says Rachelle, a beautiful artist inside out.

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