Featured Artist Heather KinkadeThis post was originally published on this site
Artist Heather Kinkade’s intricately detailed handcarved gourds are inspired by the natural world. Visit her website to learn more.
I have always felt at one with nature, from playing outside in the environment during my childhood in Wyoming, to focusing on Landscape Architecture and Sustainability for my higher education studies in Arizona.
I have been an environmental designer throughout my entire professional life, peaking when I became a manager overseeing the design process. When the economy dropped to the point that indicated there would be no future land development, I realized I needed to reinvent myself. That’s when I decided to bring designing back into my own hands.
It wasn’t until I discovered gourds as a medium, did I fully understand my design ability and how it could be applied to the art world. I would have never thought I would be doing art with once-living plant materials. In addition, it is especially fun for me to note my continued connection to Mother Nature as she creates the gourd shapes for my art.
My designs come from nature and focus on flora and fauna. My work is also influenced by Native American art, especially noted in the background textures I create on the gourd shell. I am known for my faux basket patterns and faux leather tooling.
All my design lines are wood burned into the gourd shell, and all my textures are created by carving into the shell. My color is added to the wood burned patterns with acrylic paint and colored pencil. The colored pencil allows the lights and darks in the gourd shell to show through, adding an antique look to the piece.
I use very warm, earthy colors with minimal embellishments. I create all my adornments for the stem and typically incorporate some of these adornments into the design.
The feather embellishments on my gourd masks are handmade from a very heavy watercolor paper, which means the feathers will have a longer life than a natural feather. To tie all the design elements together, I have found that geometric paths, or ribbons, help the viewer’s eye move around my creations.
Being a designer has allowed me to easily take my rough concept from paper and apply it to the three-dimensional gourd surface. For me, the larger the gourd the better; it gives me a bigger canvas to work my designs and tell my story.
I love creating mini stories as they give the designs more appeal. One of the stories is about two ravens that see the footprints of a bear and try to tell the rabbit to beware of the danger. All of these elements are on the gourd as you turn it around.
Another story is about the one that got away. Two eagles have animals inside their bellies, but the lizard got away. Simple stories, but they give meaning to the design. My botanical gourds are intended to be more of a celebration of the plant versus a story.
The western and contemporary gourds showcase a celebration of leather tooling and geometric patterns.
At this time, I feel the need to try to recreate my art similar to how a two-dimensional artist creates a giclée of their work so I can make multiples of the same design. I have started to achieve this by carving a gourd, making a mold of it, and casting a glass gourd. This has given me a wonderful alternative in a completely different medium—all based off the gourd. I am having so much fun, who knows where the world of art will lead me next?
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