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Meet the Maker Monday | Kirsten Sivyer

What is it that you do artistically?

I specialise in medium scale figurative oil painting and use traditional multi-layered glazing techniques. My subjects are often a bit quirky or surreal but reflect my passion for lighting, allegory and mood.

Why do you do what you do?

Working as an artist is the most challenging thing I have undertaken but it is also the most pure state of being I know. The act of engaging in creative work taps into a deep intuition and sensitivity that makes me feel truly alive. Art gives me the chance to work independently, overcome internal barriers, apply my vision and develop my business acumen. I find working for myself to be very gratifying. It has taken many years to figure out that I am simply not happy doing anything else.

When did you start in your industry?

I gained my BA (Visual Arts) major in painting in 2003. I held my first solo exhibition in 2003 and have been regularly exhibiting since then. I also enjoy teaching others and helping them broaden their skills and achieve artistic goals.

How would you describe your style?

As a figurative painter my style is fairly realistic and my subjects are immediately recognizable. There is often a bit of an ironic twist in my work or a surrealistic bent. Overall though, I love light and atmosphere and these are often a main focus within my work.

Has your style changed over time?

I think that my work has become more refined than it used to be. I worry sometimes that my painting has become too tight and controlled and I often feel a strong urge to loosen up and just chuck some paint around to let the happy accidents happen. Usually though, I end up channeling that looseness and energy into my underpaintings, even though most of it ends up hidden under multiple layers of paint.

What does inspiration mean to you and who inspires you? Inspiration comes in many forms but I am primarily a visual person. I am interested in unusual places and uncommon experiences that bring my mind and senses into focus. It is easy for me to daydream and become visually complacent to the world around me when things become overly-familiar. I enjoy change, a bit of visual drama or even risk in my searches for a subject or idea that I want to engage with and share through my work. I find objects or scenes say the most and work best visually when there is something a little ‘off’. For example, last week I was considering a once beautiful rose in a vase that was past its peak and starting to droop and lose petals. I have no artistic interest in the romantic “rose in full bloom”. I prefer subjects that encompass a more shadowy spectrum of the human condition.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

Handing over a commission and getting heartfelt happy tears from the client is probably the best one.

What have you been working on recently?

Recently I have been working on a series of night paintings with special attention to low-key skies and landscapes together with architecture and compositional use of artificial lighting. I have also been offering more classes

What is your dream project?

To create large scale immersive works, like large murals or theatre backdrops.

How would you describe the Arts & Culture scene in Albany?

The Arts and Culture in Albany has been very supportive of my endeavors and I enjoy seeing the broad range of projects that are being supported, especially music, visual arts and theatre as well more experimental projects. While it can feel a bit isolated sometimes living regionally, I love Albany and really can’t see myself wanting to be anywhere else.

Visit Kirsten's website at


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