Isis Hockenos

Born in: 1986, California, United States

Lives in: Los Angeles, California

Media: Painting, Drawing

Describe your work in 3 words: Narrative, Colorful, Figurative

See More Work:

Look, I Got You Something - India Ink, Gouache and Colored Pencil on Paper 12 x 9 in. 2018

"I explore ideas of shape-shifting, transformation, masks and identity. Through vibrant visual narrative, sometimes parabolic, other times more abstruse, I take my experiences and surroundings and weave them into a personal mythology; a canon of stories that has been developing throughout my life and that I employ to better understand the world around me."

What themes does your work involve?
Mythology, human relationships, storytelling.
Describe your creative process.
I begin with a form, typically human, often from a photo I’ve taken or an amalgamation of photos. I rework this form until it has departed completely from the original source image and has taken on a life of its own. From here I compose my painting based on what I’ve been reading and thinking about lately. I typically work on 2-3 oil paintings at a time. While the paintings are in progress I make smaller works on paper using India ink, gouache and colored pencil (as seen here). These smaller, quicker works inform the larger paintings and visa versa. I know a piece is complete when I mix a color, approach the canvas (or paper) and the painting asks for nothing; it no longer needs me and can stand alone in the world.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I have always been influenced by storytelling, mythology and illustration. Recently, I have been looking at a lot of Max Beckmann and R.B. Kitaj and more contemporary artists like Peter Doig and Natalie Frank. Both of my parents were artists and I was educated in the Waldorf curriculum so art has been integrated into my life since birth. It was one of the languages I was raised to communicate with.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?

There is good art and there is successful art. The distinction, I believe, is that good art is subjective while successful art is objective. Considering a piece of art to be “good” is based on personal and aesthetic preference. A work is successful if the piece effectively communicates the intentions of the artist.

What is the role of the artist today?
The role of the artist today is to maintain visual language. By doing so we maintain diversity of communication, which is a critical part of shaping an empathetic world. It is impossible for a person to see everything at once. The artist distills the overwhelming experience of existing down to a human scale.
Naked Work Party - India Ink, Gouache and Colored Pencil on Paper, 12 x 9 in., 2018


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Riitta Nelimarkka

"Love your work, enjoy dialogue, stay curious and experiment new ideas. Let yourself be self-critical, but not at the beginning of the project. think everything is possible and never give up. Take care of your beloved and nosce te ipsum - know yourself."

An Outsider, Camus, 1990 - Wool relief 220 x 250 x 3 cm

Professor Riitta Nelimarkka’s multifacetedness makes her one of the most exciting Finnish visual artists. Her art is characterized by a fearless use of colour and form, as well as virtuoso drawing skills and using music in her art.

She has studied painting in Paris, animation and photography in Stockholm, art history and music theory at the Helsinki University and piano performance at the Sibelius Academy.  Nelimarkka holds a doctorate degree in the arts (AALTO University Helsinki, 2001). She has received the honorary title professor from the president of Finland 2008. She has held several positions of trust a.o. been the chairman of Nelimarkka-Foundation since 1987.

During years Riitta Nelimarkka has written 20 books: art books, children's books, poetry, made several films, f.i. the first feature animation of Finland Seven Brothers, has had major exhibitions at venues including Amos Anderson Art Museum, Helsinki; Kunsthalle Helsinki; Wäinö Aaltonen museum, Turku ,Hallwyl Museum, Stockholm; Museo de la Nacion, Lima, the Russian Academy of Arts’ Tsereteli Art Gallery, Moscow, EXPO 2000 in Hannover; FIDM Museum, Los Angeles, La Maison de l´Amerique de Monaco and Maison de l’Europe, Paris. Bonga Castle, an aristocratic building that she has renovated with her husband, Jaakko Seeck, in Loviisa, near Helsinki also houses a permanent exhibition of some three hundred works.

Nelimarkka has received numerous awards and prizes at international biennales and film festivals. In 2016 she was awarded by the Order of France with the distinction of Officier des Arts et Lettres.

Happiness Allowed, 2010 - Wool relief 175 x 235 x 3,5 cm
La Valse, Variation 3/3, 2019 - Photomontage on plexi 90 x 140 x 25 cm
Good Lord, I Still Like Them!, 2016 - Serigraphy 25 x 35 cm
Inventing a Butterfly 1/3, 2019 - Photomontage on aluminum 90 x 140 x 2,5 cm

This review was published by Circle Foundation for the Arts © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist


Contact Riitta Nelimarkka

Inquire About this Artist

Discover More Member Artists

Become A Member Artist


Born in: 1944, Czech Republic

Lives in: France

Media: Painting

Describe your work in 3 words: Magic Fantastic Strange

See More Work: -

Avida Dollar - Oil on canvas 100 x 230 cm

"I like to think that in another life, I was yet living in Prague, as somebody in charge of Rudolf II’s fabulous collection in which you could find, for example, astrological tools, potions to make gold, the philosophical stone, impenetrable manuscripts full of VITRIOL formula."

What themes does your work involve?
My art includes esoteric and erotic subjects, sensuality, poetry and sometimes an anecdote or even black humor. I also love animal art and to pay tribute to people I admire.
Describe your creative process.
Inspiration comes to me fairly easily. I feel as if ideas were stored in a large spiritual library, with an endless number of books and subjects. I just need to take a stroll in my library, stretch out my hand, and let the composition of my painting appear before me, both magically and very naturally. I always work on only one painting. I choose the format of the canvas according to the size of the main elements I will need. I like to draw things in real size.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I am influenced by the Old Masters. I am more especially inspired by themes in the domain of esotericism, poetry, literature, or biblical. I make art because I have the technique and skill for this artistic expression and I love it. I always did it. My father was an artist and I started specialized art school four years before the baccalaureate.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
As I said before, I admire the Old Masters. For me, the technique must be perfectly mastered. It must not be an obstacle to the imagination of the artist but must accompany positively his inspiration. His personal style must be easily recognized by the public.
What is the role of the artist today?
What is the most important to me is to offer paintings in front of which the spectator will take time to sit down, to enter in harmony with the painting, and then have his own walk, as an awaken dream, giving him, even for a short time, a rare and unusual feeling. My dream: that supernatural, strange, sublime and magic, would take more and more space in our lives and that beauty and spirituality would become a life's belief.
Gold Notre Dame, Phoenix Rebirth - Oil on canvas 195 x 130 cm
One Pearl per day for Judith (tribute to Caravaggio) - Oil on canvas 195 x 130 cm
The Lion in Love - Oil on canvas 195 x 130 cm - Tribute to La Fontaine Book IV fable 1
Lohengrin, My Beloved Swan - Oil on canvas - 195 x 130 cm


Lukáš KÁNDL received the 1st Place Award in the CFA Artist of the Year 2019 Contest. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Kathy Loev Putnam

Born in: 1964, United States

Lives in: Philadelphia, United States

Media: Painting

Describe your work in 3 words: Contemplative, playful, nuanced

See More Work:

In Fine Feather - Acrylic, screen print, monotype, mixed media collage on wood panel. 48 x 36 in.

"I am interested in the magic and power of girlhood. My paintings celebrate treasured moments, whether they reveal delight or distress. Often my subjects are alone on a journey of the mind. Each painting is a scene that is conjured by its subject, inseparable from her physical presence."

What themes does your work involve?
My subjects exist in a state of fantasy, inhabiting their own imagined worlds. They are strong, curious, independent, sometimes vulnerable, always brave. Not yet hindered by the restrictions and expectations of their adult futures, they occupy dreamlike spaces, with allusions to fairy tales, enchantment, refuge and threat.
Describe your creative process.
Each painting is a process of trial and error. I usually begin with an image in mind of a child with a specific purpose – hula hooping, inspecting some treasure held between little fingers, or playing dress up. I then attempt to locate or reveal what my subject might be feeling. I use printmaking, paint, and anything else at hand, to create layers. I try something, and if it does not work, I remove it (often after the glue has dried!) or cover it up. Sometimes it feels like I take more off of a surface than I add. The residue left by something removed is often the most interesting thing to work with. I can’t anticipate it, I can only have faith that each move is building toward something. It’s not unusual for me to get resolution by eliminating the very thing I was holding onto the most.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I love all forms of art, but in my own work, I am drawn toward the human figure. I get most excited when I can distort or abstract a figure without losing the individual expressiveness of the subject. I am constantly inspired by other artists who make paintings where various materials coexist in a way that is difficult to differentiate one from another. In graduate school, I discovered that I can make a painting of anything, from anything – that there are no rules. Being an artist is a second career for me, and I know that making good work is cumulative. It comes from work and more work – there are no shortcuts. I am learning every day, and I love that I don’t know what my work will look like in five or ten years.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?

Wow – that is a hard question. I think something is good when it surprises me – when I see something unexpected that is inventive and thoughtful. Craft is important to me, and the level of care an artist brings to their use of materials definitely influences how I experience it. What I consider really great art is something that just stops me in my tracks, that I can’t stop looking at and thinking about – it’s both a physical and emotional reaction. When that happens, it sends me back to work!

What is the role of the artist today?
I think the role of an artist today is the same as it has been throughout time. Art provokes thought, discussion and enlightenment. Artists can bridge divides and educate through emotional connections rather than by direct confrontation. That is not to say that art shouldn’t be confrontational; sometimes that is the point of what an artist is trying to achieve – to force an undeniable reckoning about a specific issue. Either way, we are uniquely able to create emotional engagement between people and ideas.
Beautiful Girl - Oil, screenprint, monotype, mixed media collage on wood panel 40 x 30 in.


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Chris Klein

Born in: England, north London

Lives in: Montreal, Canada

Media: Painting

Describe your work in 3 words: Luscious, rich, textural

See More Work: | Instagram @chriskleinart |

The House of Montague - Acrylic on canvas 60 x 72 in.

"My costumes invoke many stories. The people who wear them, the performances played and the stages walked. I have worked in theatre for a large part of my life, and this is my way to capture a part of that. It's difficult to marry painting with performance, acting and dance but this is my attempt to do this. It’s also my homage to all the skilled people involved in creating these garments."

What themes does your work involve?
My paintings try to pay tribute to many fields of art. The designer is at the heart, the creator who imagined the garments. But I also want to bring theatre into people’s homes. Shakespeare, Moliere or perhaps a musical or dance. They can remind people of a specific show they love, or a particular character. My subject attracts me in different ways too. I paint sometimes because I love a show, or a particular designer, or I love the textures of the materials themselves, challenging me in different ways as to how to paint them.
Describe your creative process.
I often simply fall in love with the costumes, or a designer’s work, or a show, and then seek to paint them. I would seek permission first. It’s important as this is another artist’s work and someone always own the copyright. I then need to take photographs, so I can stage the garments as I want to paint them. I then study the shadows, the light, sometimes I rearrange them in Photoshop and adjust the folds and shadows a little more. When I have a final image, I will go to work painting. I used to grid and draw traditionally, but now I project, it save lots of time initially. I prefer acrylics, although I’ve painted with oils. I use lots of glazes and slowly build up the image. This can give the “feel” and richness of an oil painting.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I’ve always wanted to be an artist. It sounds clichéd but it’s true. I use to love drawing when I was very young. My family are all artistic and my brothers and sister helped me with tips and tricks. So for me, I’m inspired with everything I see. I loved to paint nature, but moved on to racing cars, motorcycles, clouds, and eventually, to costumes!
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?

Yes, it is difficult, Lol! But I think great art could encompass many traditions. It doesn’t have to be a realistic depiction of anything. This is just a measure of a person’s skills but there doesn’t have to be emotion in it. But I can’t help being stunned by a Caravaggio or a Rembrandt.

The best artworks should generate emotion in the viewer. That’s why I love some of the work of Damien Hirst, or Marcel Duchamp, they certainly get people emotional! But art doesn’t have to shock, some conceptual artworks can bring people to tears, sadness or joy. Some political pieces by Ai Weiwei or Kara Walker are very powerful.

What is the role of the artist today?
I think art plays many, many roles. Art has always been political and a driver of change. I think that’s great. Many people risk their lives for their art, and some die. So art is a very powerful medium. Many people think art should just fill a hole on the wall and make a home pretty. We need art like that too, but we can never take art for granted. I like art that makes a statement, but I paint more for pleasure, and sometimes it brings joy to others. I don’t think my art gets people angry. There’s a place for all kinds of art in the world.
The House of Capulet - Acrylic on canvas 60 z 72 in.


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist