The combination of painter Kristin Holm Dybvig’s intuitive mark-making, love of color and the inspiration of past memories brings her abstract compositions to life. Living between the Norwegian North Sea and fjords, she is acutely attuned to the evocative power of nature. Yet none of her images, not even those that veer towards realism, are based on actual places. What she conveys to viewers instead are emotional states of mind expressed through vibrant tones that blur together on the paper’s surface. While some works represent stillness and serenity, others that more fully embrace abstraction appear to pulsate with a dynamic energy. Our conversation for Parter Dergi touches upon how she found her way back to fine art, the motivations behind her current work, and what she plans to focus on creatively in the near future.
You worked in the advertising industry then trained in art therapy, which you practiced for a number of years before deciding to pursue art full-time. What led you to pivot your career path and what skills or knowledge from your previous work have you continued to utilize?
I think it’s fair to say that I initially wanted a career as an artist, but life happened and led me down different paths.
My infatuation with color kindled my interest in composition so I found a way to learn this through graphic design, which sparked a hunger for knowledge and deeper understanding that eventually led me on to art therapy. Experiencing the therapeutic power of color up close increased my desire to use it to express my life. Now I’m back on track; the big bonus this time around is the realization that I have nothing to lose and all to gain. I’m still ambitious and in a good place in life where I can dedicate my time to mastering it.
In my opinion, all experience has a transfer value. I’m grateful for the insights life has provided me and the opportunities to grow in step with the acquired experience. Today, I fill my artwork in terms of content from a profound comprehension of myself and my surroundings that would have been impossible only a few years back. The wish to explore these aspects of my life has increased gradually since my teens until it has become imperative to do so. Finally, it has come to fruition through the beautiful and deeply fascinating language of art. It’s truly satisfying to use all the skills acquired through my previous careers to create the best paintings possible.
What would you say has been the most challenging aspect of being a full-time artist? The most rewarding?
The challenge is to be seen and to have my art communicated to a larger audience. I live at the outskirts of the world. This is a fact even today when the world has come together on social media, making it so much smaller.
My day is threefold; First of all, I create works of art, and secondly, I do marketing, mainly by using the social media channels. I find that social media is the fastest solution to communicate with and increase an audience. That it gives me the opportunity to connect with colleagues, art lovers, collectors and curators from around the world is simply awesome. My experience from the advertising industry comes in handy and helps me figure out and understand the importance of this part of my job. The third part is to administer, taking care of all the practical and administrative tasks, like sorting and answering all incoming emails with fantastic opportunities, bad offers and good questions, sales and shipping. This part of my job provides me with ample opportunities to meet people which is a big bonus. The response I get back from my viewers is valuable and a great support but also a huge motivator to get better at communicating what my work is about and how I think about it. This is important for all parts of my job.
All three parts are challenging with redeeming qualities, but the most rewarding aspect is undoubtedly to engage in the creative process. This is my happy place. I have a strong wish to go above and beyond every time, to create a more interesting, more authentic and original work of art is an inspirational challenge that urges me on. Walking ahead into the unknown, developing and adding new aspects to my work is inspiring. When the painting becomes a direct echo of my inner self it starts to sing. Time stops and it becomes independent of me and gets its intrinsic value.
You work intuitively with pastels, creating compositions in between imagined landscapes and memories. What mood do you aim to evoke in your art and what do you hope viewers see in it?
I use elements of nature and the land surrounding me to express emotions and a state of mind. I think it’s important to remember that we and nature have the same origin, it’s just different expressions of life. My hope is that the viewer will sense the reverence for nature, recognise the elemental connection and perceive the emotions of the remembered moment captured in my art.
I perceive much of my environment through color and see in nature an abstract imagery that becomes part of the palette I work from. I live between the sea and the fjords, between majestic mountains and open horizons, the inspiration is close by. In my work, whether I keep it as a pure color mood, where I’m weaving colors, to pulsing abstracts, or I’m using the suggestive landscapes to express my vision, I’m revealing emotions and using the intensity of the pastels to amplify the intention of my art. I want to create art that celebrates life and touches the viewer deeply. Color is imbued with the power to reach from person to person, it’s this incredibly strong, non-verbal language that conveys emotions so precisely. I use it to transmit my visions to the paper so it can connect with the viewer on an emotional level. I hope that the viewer will recognize something in themselves, in the belief that all emotions are universal, our lives are similar, different, but essentially alike, and that the universal language of color has the power to reach all the way and touch another soul.
Does where you live influence your work?
In a way it doesn’t matter where I live – I like to believe that if I lived in a totally different environment I would relate to that place, feel the connection and be as curious about it and the lives lived there as I’m here. The colors, the light and the mood of the land would differ but my perception of it and the need to explore it would be much the same. My artwork would probably look different but as it would be created out of the same inception, I think it would be recognizable.
I wish to stay for a while when I visit new places, to experience a landscape with different qualities and to let it touch me and my art. I think it to be be highly beneficial and interesting. I find much inspiration on my trips, long and short, far or close by, walking, driving or boating. This summer, I visited friends living further north, crossed over highlands and mountains, traveled out to the sea and journeyed along the coast. I collected more light, more sky, more mountains and open horizons and my artwork has benefited from it. I think that every artistic process is a subjective interpretation of an objective reality, and my paintings are no exception. They are built on my subjective impressions of my reality.
What is inspiring you currently? Tell us about what you’ve been focused on recently.
I like to alternate between abstracts and landscapes, and have found that they both benefit from it. There will be more ‘Colour Poetry’ and ‘Lyrical Landscapes’. These series will continue and new ones will emerge.
I’m planning a new series of larger abstract paintings where I use large surfaces of one color to increase the intensity of the color and at the same time keep the playfulness and tension which occurs when putting together a composition of many colors.
In my landscapes, I’m currently concentrating on the wide horizons and big sky. The painting is made as simple as possible to clarify and enhance the mood, as can be seen in the ‘Horizons. Cascades.’ series. This is an idea I am still developing; how many small hints of a landscape are necessary to include for it to be perceived as a landscape and how much can I leave to the viewer to add. Simplifying and breaking down the landscapes until it is almost abstract is still interesting and something I will continue to explore.
See additional artwork by Kristin Holm Dybvig on her website www.kristinholmdybvig.com and find her on Instagram @kristinholmdybvig.