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


Born in: 1944, Czech Republic

Lives in: France

Media: Painting

Describe your work in 3 words: Magic Fantastic Strange

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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

Holly Wilmeth

Born in: 1977, Guatemala

Lives in: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Media: Photography

Describe your work in 3 words: Nature Iconography Photographs

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Calm in the Storm - Photograph

Holly creates images that embody elements of nature, mysticism, and spirituality. Drawing inspiration from ancient mythologies, symbolism, diverse cultures and a deep spiritual practice, her images are a personal interpretation of her life’s sacred dance. Both wisdom and wonder speak through her images, as they reveal a visual journey of the alchemy of being human and being part of this earth.

What themes does your work involve?
These images are a visual journey and a personal iconography into learning to love myself and unraveling the awakening of my soul. This is my story of going inward, opening the doors of my shadows, returning home.
Describe your creative process.
I allow my curiosity, my interest for the moment to be what is driving and guiding me to slowly start creating a new series of images. I love working in series because it gives me that sense of a beginning and an end. The images selected here are from a show titled "Returning Home". I had been working on these images simultaneously at the same time while working on another series, but it wasn't until I went on a seven-day silent meditation retreat that their meaning was revealed. These images were the first series where I allowed myself to just be guided by my visual curiosity without having a "theme" and discovering how they all came together in the end. This process was a process of surrendering to my mind being in control and allowing nature' to surprise me with curiosities.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I make art because its the way I get to express the way I see the world. Making art for me is like feeding my soul, like playing, like delighting in life's creations. What inspires me is nature, wildlife, music, my spiritual journey. And I have so many people whom I consider influences; Graciela Iturbide, Ruth Asawa, Rembrandt, to name a few.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
For me good art creates the opportunity or door to stir emotions deep within us, that then lead us to discovering something new about the world through someones personal interpretation.
What is the role of the artist today?
I love what I do and when I am creating a piece to photograph time stands still, my essence is at play, and there is a moment where everything so perfectly falls into place and I know I have what I knew and yet did not know I was looking for. There are so many forms of art, we are all artist I believe in the details of life that bring us closest to our hearts. And when artists express themselves, it allows the collective to also experience in a way the joys, sorrows, anger, delights from the piece created.
The Things We Carry - Photograph


Holly Wilmeth was selected for the 2nd Place Award in the CFA Artist of the Month April/May 2020. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist


Born in: 1959, Reykjavik, Iceland

Lives in: Iceland

Media: Painting, Illustration, Watercolor, Mixed media, Collage, Drawing, Artist´s books

Describe your work in 3 words: Abstract, modern, original...

See More Work: Instagram: @sigurborgst

Figures - Acrylic and oil painting on canvas 50 x 60 cm

"I have been interested in art my entire life and I consider myself very privileged to be able to spend most of my time being creative. I am fascinated by the freedom it gives and all the possibilities. I love experimenting with different materials and colours. Sometimes I wish I could sleep less and spend more time being creative."

What themes does your work involve?
My paintings are mostly visual, forms and colours, no special themes. In the Artist´s books on the contrary, there is always a theme. Often something political that involves environmental matters, human rights and such matters.
Describe your creative process.

I work with a variety of media. When I paint, I usually do not have a clear picture of the outcome beforehand. I strive to make colours and forms come together in harmony. Occasionally this is a bit of a struggle.

Sometimes I feel I have a clear idea of the result I want to achieve, but during the process many changes take place and the end result is very often much different than what was originally planned. When painting I usually start out by sketching my ideas in pencil, which I enlarge into a bigger canvas. I alternate between oil and acrylic and am equally comfortable with both.

When I am producing Artist's books, my methods are completely different. Before I start I need to have a clearly defined idea with which to work with.

What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
Life it self, the books I read, music, people, the colour of the country and so on.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
When things are in harmony, and there has to be some tension or even conflict.
What is the role of the artist today?
I cannot imagine myself in any other occupation than that of an artist. It has most likely been my goal since I was a child.. It has indeed been a privilege to be able to combine my interest and profession, and should not be taken for granted even though we pursue an education in the arts. Therefore many artists are employed as teachers and instructors. In our social structure, I regard teaching art as very important not only to create art, but not least to appreciate art.
Mexico - Acrylic painting on board 30 x 30 cm


Sigurborg was selected for the 3rd Place Award in the CFA Artist of the Month April/May 2020. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Imogen Clarke

Born in: 1989, Johannesburg, South Africa

Lives in: Cape Town, South Africa

Media: Illustration, Watercolor, Drawing

Describe your work in 3 words: Subtle. Ancestral. Light.

See More Work:

Call to Prayer - Pen and ink 72.5 x 70 cm

"From that time forth he believed that the wise man is one who never sets himself apart from other living things, whether they have speech or not, and in later years he strove long to learn what can be learned, in silence, from the eyes of animals, the flight of birds, the great slow gesture of trees." - Ursula K. Le Guin

Describe your creative process.
The ancient Greeks made a distinction between two kinds of time - 'Chronos' and 'Kairos'. While Chronos refers to chronological time, where events are mapped out and measured in units, Kairos refers to the ripening of a moment, a distinctly energised opening that taps one on the shoulder and whispers, 'this' and 'now'. This is my creative process - to observe and pay attention, to listen to that whisper as it maps out impressions and collected data in my mind, and informs me of the beginning as much as the moment of completion. The stippled style of mark making is done with a 0.13 Rotring pen which allows for control and precision, while the placement of one dot can alter the trajectory of an entire landscape resulting in a simultaneous surrender to the fluidity of something unknown.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I am inspired by natural law, pattern, and the subtle worlds of plants, animals, minerals, and the stars, and making art feels like the most direct way of communicating these perceptions in a way that can be shared with others. I also love being able to facilitate some kind of positive internal process in others, and if my work adds value to someone else's life then this brings great meaning and motivation to keep creating!
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
This is the beauty of creativity - there is no one right or categorical answer to this. We all resonate with and respond to different pieces of art in different ways, and there are multiple components that contribute to what is ultimately experienced as a great piece of art such as skill, technique, aesthetics, concept, process, intention, the energy that it transmits etc. The way in which the finished work is experienced, and the relevance and meaning of that experience for the viewer, is as much a part of what makes a great piece of art as the aforementioned components that went into its creation.
What is the role of the artist today?
The responsibility of the artist is to remain true to their unique creative impulse, to nurture it and share it. The role of the artist is not to forcibly convert or convince, but to invite the viewer to step beyond internal preconceived limitations and into a remembering that there is so much more to see and feel if we are open to it.


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