Amy McKinnonI am a materials geek, a paint junkie, colored goo makes me tick. For years I thought it made a difference, what kind of goo you pushed around. I thought it defined you. As an artist you often search to define yourself. Your life becomes about self declarations. You must declare yourself: an artist, a painter, a sculptor, a printmaker, a ceramicist, a glass blower. You then declare yourself within a genre: a still life painter, a portraitist, a plein air painter, an abstract expressionist, a PoMo conceptualist. These declarations are important in order for us to present ourselves accurately. When we start to define ourselves specifically by the type of paint we push around we limit ourselves, we become myopically loyal to a binder. No one ever taught any artist to make these declarations. I think we do it because we need to define, distinguish and separate ourselves for the benefit of our audience and ultimately ourselves. The problem with these declarations is that they begin to limit our potential by forcing us to limit our intentions. I was guilty of this myself. While I will define myself as a painter, I have recently learned to stop there. My introduction and immersion into the world of acrylics has taught me a lot about the endless possibilities of polymers and the endless possibilities of people whose creative intentions inform the products that exist and the ones yet to come.

Before coming to Golden Artist Colors I had a long history of pushing around colored goo. I started painting when I was fourteen years old. I received my Bachelors of Fine Arts in painting from Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. For the next eight years I painted, established myself in the art community of New Orleans and began to push my work beyond technical proficiency concentrating more on conceptual ideas. In 2003 I decided to apply to graduate schools. I chose to attend Tulane University and graduated with an MFA in 2005. I was hired for the fall semester of 2005 at Tulane to teach painting and drawing. Two days before classes began Hurricane Katrina made landfall and that particular career path was never the same. When I was able to return home four months later without a job or many of the conveniences of normal life I just painted. Over the next three years I painted, showed my work and continued to look for interesting jobs and opportunities that could take me out of New Orleans. While I loved the city that care forgot, jobs in the arts were few and far between and supporting oneself as an artist alone proved itself as inconsistent as the weather.

My paintings have always taken a more traditional approach in regards to genre. For many years I have painted still life. While this genre is often viewed as scholastic or dated I view it as the ultimate symbol of man. I believe our possessions define us. Our stuff is a symbol of our humanity. It represents what we need, what we desire and what we covet. It defines the “material us” which in turn defines how we spend our time, our money and our efforts. Our preoccupation with accumulation is our distraction of the inevitability of death. I have continued to paint still life since moving to New York. Working in acrylics has allowed me to be less conservative with my paint application. Oil paints like to be and were designed to be applied with a brush or a palette knife while acrylics beg to be pushed, prodded, poured and slathered around. Acrylics are plastic in composition and plastic in nature. They are flexible in form, allowing the artist’s intentions to be just as flexible.

I started my Technical Support position at GOLDEN in December of 2008. My amazement that a position exists in which I talk to artists all day, help solve their dilemmas and am able to constantly research and learn has not abated with time. I did not take this job because I needed a job but because it is a position that I thought had only existed in my head, a dream job, if you will. I had also never been in a position in which my rare and specified skill sets were desired. I automatically felt a kinship and connection to my role and to the people here. There is an excitement that GOLDEN employees have about where our paint ends up. Not just whose hands end up using the paint but an excitement in the paintings and artwork our product comes to inhabit. The ownership of the company by each employee contributes to a sense of pride and personal accountability so rare and attractive in today’s workforce.AmyStudioShot_Web

As I near six months at GOLDEN, I feel more and more a part of this rare community. With this job has also come a wealth of knowledge and view of the art world from a completely different perspective. I value the time I have spent here and look forward to years of providing technical support to artists and helping the Golden Artist Colors’ brand to proliferate by accommodating the artist’s intentions.

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