When I ran into Afton Kern's artwork one day on Shadowness in the 'Newest' folder...I was taken aback. I thought that perhaps I was seeing reproductions of ancient works, but then, the more that I looked, the more I began to see that I was looking at something wholly new. Many of the great artists in the past have been scientists, doctors, veteranarians and some have even been accused of vivisection and consorting with alchemists to get their skill. Afton Kern is no different, being an avid student, both of biology, history and art. I hope that she will help to inspire others to study and bring new influences to the table!
When did you begin creating art, what motivated you to do it and how you are continuing to create with your present projects and study?
I started when I was 3. Ever since then it has been something that I had felt was necessary, something I had to do. It’s no different from playing an instrument or doing a sport, I think if you’re able to do something it just comes to you.
In 6th grade I wanted to be an Ornithologist and study birds, but I also loved fantasy and comics. In 7th grade I entered the Junior duck stamp and joined the Audubon society. These were all important in helping with the art.
I continue to work on art largely because my parents are extremely supportive.
What are your greatest inspirations?
I love the work of John James Audubon, James Gurney, Lorraine Bollinger and Bob Eggleton.
I feel as though it’s possible to draw anything, and now I am working on buildings and various back grounds. There is still so much time to learn new stuff!
What mediums are you fluent in, and which ones have captivated you the most?
I love charcoal, pastel, watercolour, acrylic ink, pencil, pen, silverpoint, and most recently digital, though I feel that digital is nice, but just isn’t the same as using real media.
What cultures, studies, and events have influenced your art the most?
Looking at art from ancient cultures like Mesopotamia, ancient China and Mesoamerica has been influential, as well as looking at sculptures from the Renaissance and the notebooks of Leonardo DaVinci who believed in "unison in everything". This mindset I believe to be true, which is why anything one can see, one can put down on paper.
What do you feel is the most important technical aspect to master concerning artwork and why?
Studying, reading and observing. It is somewhat like a scientific process, or problem solving. Science in itself goes hand in hand with art, each balances the other.
Where did you receive your formal art education, and how has it helped/hindered you?
I am self taught. I took art 3-4 in highschool and now signed up for a sculpture and life drawing class. I still have a lot to learn. Currently my mom is helping me with oil painting, and she takes me to coffee shops to sketch people. I hear again and again that art school is not a good idea, plus it is very expensive. I feel as though I know what I need to do. Art is hard work, it requires as much study as any other subject.
How did you hear about Shadowness and what influenced you to bring your work to share with us?
Meng To ( /7shadows ) had added me on Facebook, and then I decided to look into the site Shadowness and thought it would be a good idea to post work there. I think the site is more mature than other sites like sheezyart and deviantart in quality of work.
What hobbies and interests do you engage in when you are not creating? What music/literature/activities do you spend time with?
I love going outside! There are so many cool creatures to find, right now I am helping Dr. Paula E. Cushing, one of the leading Arachnologists, in studying solfugids. These arachnids are known as the ‘infamous camel spider’ in the Middle East, but despite the horrific rumors circulating about how they devour human beings they are harmless animals that prefer lizards, mice and arthropods. Almost nothing is known about them, and living on the West coast we have several species of solfugid that Dr. Cushing may identify and further research their life history.
There is a ton of German music on my playlist, and I think more people in the US would love some of these bands! I would recommend OOMPH!, which is a Neue Deutsche Harte band (something in between rock n roll, industrial and techno). The lyrics are great, the lead singer’s vocals are captivating and the songs are great! Another great band is Eisbrecher, who recently came out with a great new album entitled Eiszeit (Ice Age). The lead singer Alex Wesselsky states in an interview that if the inspiration to create new music is there, then go with that feeling, never deny it.
Finally, I would recommend Megaherz’s 5 album featuring vocals by Matthias Elsholz. His vocals are unbelievable! Some of the songs sound as if at least three other people are singing, but all the singing is done by him.
Finally, I would like to mention the band D.I.E, and their album Still which also features Matthias Elsholz. I recommend the song Durch den Wind, which is just a fabulous song.
What is your opinion of the way in which technology and online communities influence art?
I think online art communities are a great way to share art, but one must take precaution in what is and isn’t true. On the Internet you can be any person that you want, and you can easily fool many people. I found this out quite frequently on Deviantart, which is just a way to get attention. As the phrase goes ‘not all that glitters is gold.’ It is just human nature.
Do you have anything that you’d like to say to the members of Shadowness?
Excellent read. As always Joe is so perceptive and coordinates artwork so well with the questions and answers. Especially the last bit, with the gold and whatnot ;)
I too agree that art school is (nowadays) not a good idea. I have a good friend, master painter, who did go to art school, way back when, and loved it. On the other hand I have another friend, also an established painter, who says otherwise ;P I think nowadays art schools have become businesses more than places of what I think should be higher learning. And from the way they are priced... the return would come far too slow.
Afton is one of my favourite artists ♥ she gave me a 101 on birds, too! Helped me a lot with my own paintings.