Kent Paulette is a self-taught artist who uses uninhibited, energetic brush strokes to create paintings that leap off the canvas, alive with color, texture, and movement. Paulette (a.k.a. Derfla) lives in North Carolina where he paints in a studio overlooking the mountains. He finds inspiration from the natural world that surrounds him and regularly hops into the mountain creek in his backyard to help rejuvenate his spirit and senses.
“The fall colors, especially the reds, at my home studio in Powder Horn Mountain this year were so amazing! On the morning that I started Chroma Thrills on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I waded through Laurel Creek to collect a bucket of creek water, and since it was raining, I also set out a bucket to collect rainwater. I may have been soaking wet after that, but it’s a good way to get connected to nature right before I begin a painting. I mixed the rain water with the acrylic paint for the sky and I used creek water for all the trees.”
“I prepared for my Wild is the Wind painting with about fifteen hours of solo sledding in the woods here at Powder Horn Mountain during the recent snow storm. On the morning that I started the painting, I waded through Laurel Creek barefooted and grabbed handfuls of snow from its banks. I mixed it with the acrylic paint to get those snowy washes that stain the canvas. As the snow outside melted over the next few days, I switched to using creek water and then finished with rain water.”
For Paulette, each painting is a gamble, a leap into the unknown, a wild ride of exploration and experimentation. He paints to figure things out, not to achieve a specific result. Unexpected or unintended outcomes are welcome; they offer openings through which new possibilities can be glimpsed, imagined, and developed. Paulette works to exploit these opportunities, continually pushing himself and his paintings beyond the boundaries of habit and into the realm of chance.
“I try to give control over to a process that allows the painting to come to life organically. The painting is able to occur as an uninterrupted event subject to the whims of chance.”
“I try to apply the paint without hesitation or indecisiveness. These measures help to fend off the frustration and anxiety that may arise from any lingering tendency to control the outcome.”
Paulette strives to insert the present moment into each brushstroke. To make room for this spontaneity and to breathe life into his paintings, he has developed a whole range of special brushstrokes: Ninja Splats, Building Blocks, Scratching Thoughts, Windows, Kisses, Slaps, Screams, Spells, Jellyfish, Leafing, Whispers, and many more.
When Paulette is at work, paint flies everywhere; most of it, however, eventually finds its way onto the surface of the painting. The process is intense and exhilarating and seldom fails to capture the attention of onlookers. Over the past several years, Paulette has regularly painted live in front of spectators, allowing them to share in the fun and transforming his creative process from a private into a public activity.
The conceptual foundation for Paulette’s work can be traced to a number of different sources. For example, he has drawn particular inspiration from the artist Brion Gysin, known for his pioneering work with the “cut-up” method and for his experiments with randomness and repetition. Music – from classic rock and folk to Afrobeat and experimental electronica – has long played a central role in Paulette’s creative process and in his understanding of form, pattern, and perception. He also draws insight and inspiration from a wide-ranging reading list that revolves around topics such as artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, evolutionary biology, theoretical physics, and advertising.
Paulette also emphasizes the important role played by his family. From an early age, his parents encouraged and applauded his artistic efforts and have continued to do so now that he paints full time. Creekside conversations with his brother Tate have also long been a source of inspiration for his art. Paulette’s closest friend throughout his teens and twenties was his little dog named Corky. You can see her little light shining in everything that Paulette creates.
View Kent Paulette’s paintings at Studio 140 located at 140 Azalea Circle in Banner Elk, NC. You can also see his paintings next door at Sorrento’s Bistro as well as at The Banner Elk Winery. Paulette is often at Studio 140 at Sorrento’s painting live on the weekends. His website is www.KentPaulette.com
All images Copyright Kent Paulette 2018