In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • A Conversation with Kirsten Sims
  • Kirsten Sims (bio) and Emily Louise Smith
emily louise smith:

The energetic style and colors of your paintings convey whimsy and humor—I think of those exaggerated, long-limbed characters—and yet some also hint at misfortune. Your work seems both playful and ominous.

kirsten sims:

Playful and ominous, I like that. I approach a painting with the feeling that something exciting is about to happen—either that I’m challenging myself in terms of how far I can push the medium or that I’m getting closer to a new idea. Sometimes if a picture is feeling a bit dull I’ll test it by adding an element of misfortune and see what happens. Often it’s a case of wanting to figure out how to illustrate something seemingly hard to draw, like wind. I ask myself questions: What if the man in the bed is actually a bear? What if I add a few suspicious characters to the scene? What if I introduce a flood of peanut butter? What if the animals take over the circus? The questions always seem to lead to more interesting paintings. For me there is a fine line between a planned picture and an accident. I always allow for a bit of both. I suppose I am constantly looking for that balance.

els:

You describe yourself as an illustrator—do you also think of your paintings as stories?

ks:

I do. It’s often the combination of the picture and the title that pulls the narrative together. People see the picture, read the title, and then fill in the blanks. It also helps that I love watching people and the conversations they have.

els:

Your landscapes are so lush and richly rendered. How does place inform them?

ks:

I often start a painting wondering where the story will unfold, so place is very important. Most of my scenes are imagined, but they’re informed by real places I’ve been. I’m lucky to live in South Africa, so I never have to go far to be surrounded by majestic mountains or breathtaking sea views.

els:

Could you talk about the interactions between animals and humans in your work?

ks:

Since I was young, my family has spent holidays in the bush, where one really learns to respect wild animals. They are in charge; we are only observers of their world. I think that can be seen in An Ungodly Hour. It was fun to give captive circus animals their power back—a chance for them to make their “masters” perform. In the case of Strangers in Paradise it was more a need to illustrate just how different two people can be—so much that sometimes another person can seem like he’s of a totally different species. Animals allow me to show people in another light. [End Page 168]


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an ungodly hour

[End Page 169]


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mustard monday

[End Page 170]


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strangers in paradise

[End Page 171]


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tangerine turmoil

[End Page 172]


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the great peanut butter disaster

[End Page 173]


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weekend friendly

[End Page 174]


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the illustrators

[End Page 175]


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mosstalgia

[End Page 176]

Kirsten Sims

kirsten sims is an illustrator based in Stellenbosch, South Africa. She earned a BA in applied design in 2011 and has since worked as a freelance illustrator and participated in numerous group exhibitions. She is currently working toward an Honours in Visual Arts (Illustration) degree at Stellenbosch University.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2165-2651
Print ISSN
1553-1775
Pages
pp. 168-176
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-30
Open Access
No
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