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0 In Artist Interviews

Interview with Jill Karkella – Visual Artist & Poet

Jill K. Karkella
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OmArtist: What can you tell us about your story/journey and how you came to be in your current creative mindset?

JK: My creative journey began just about 6 yrs. ago right around Christmas. I had been going through some rough times personally and finally had made the decision to separate from my husband. This was difficult primarily because at the time my 3 girls were very young. I also knew that because of financial pressures we would have to still live under the same roof in a small home. Needless to say I made my mind up and opted for the split. Trying to navigate living together was complicated. The girls father did not want to be separated. I gave up my space and had to pretty much share a different room each day and night with a different daughter. I had no little nook to call my own and eventually it became very difficult. A friend suggested I needed and outlet all my own, for me….Jill. I have always listened to the music of The Grateful Dead. Music like art is a complete spiritual release for me and at that time the music was helping me negotiate my way through the ups and downs of my situation. The same friend suggested maybe I try drawing. I thought, ok what do I have to lose!  My motivation was clear…I would try to illustrate the tunes I loved so much…the music of The GD that was bringing me such joy amidst chaos. So there is where I started drawing.

Slowly but surely with the support of a few close friends and some renewed confidence in myself, I started sharing my work with the music community I was involved with on Facebook. Shockingly people really responded to my images. People really like what I was doing!  Over the course of the next few years I gained a large following, my artwork transformed and my growth as an artist was underway. Now 6 yrs. later I am finally able to call myself an artist (well most of the time!). My work has evolved tremendously and in turn I have as well. My newfound ability to express myself creatively gave me the strength I needed to get through some real challenges without harboring anger or resentment. For that alone I am truly grateful. I have a wonderful following and the gift of self confidence in my abilities. Most importantly I can share my gifts with others and bring color and joy into their worlds…to me the best part of it all.

OmArtist: Your visual art carries with it a very clear message, one that inspires growth in the viewer. Is it your intent to communicate a specific message when you start a new piece or does your message unfold or reveal itself as you progress through the process?

JK: Sometimes I have a clear intent when beginning a new piece. For example if I am choosing to illustrate a specific lyric or if I find a quote that speaks to me, then as I draw my hope is to capture the imagery I see in my mind’s eye. I also hope to capture the essence of the feelings and emotions that have come to life when hearing the song or reading the quote. Sometimes I just know I want to draw a specific thing. As I start, the deeper meaning typically begins to flow and the intention behind the piece becomes clearer.

OmArtist: Jill, do you believe that art carries with it a healing or therapeutic energy with it? If so, can you talk little about how you feel your art contributes to the notion that creativity heals both the artist and the viewer?

JK: I believe art in all forms does carry and convey healing and therapeutic energy. Personally just the fact that I felt compelled to even start drawing says a lot about what art can do for someone.  I pushed myself to go out of my comfort zone and try something new…..often a therapeutic step!  As I  began to express my emotions and feelings visually,  my energy began to feel different….perhaps I was feeling more in tune with myself…perhaps I was beginning to live a more authentic life.  Either way I was beginning to heal from many years of frustration and confusion. The Jill I put on hold was now fighting for her place again. My ongoing artistic experiences and growth keep me healthy!  I also have been writing poetry and those expressions coupled with my drawing are perfect supplements to my healthy diet.

For the viewer, well I can say many people who follow my progress and my art have told me how deeply it touches them. Whether it be a particular piece or a collection of works, I often get such gracious and heartfelt responses from so many. If art can bring joy and solace to someone then it is healing and therapeutic!

OmArtist: In your most recent work there is a beautiful sacred feminine energy to the subject matter. Can you talk about how this amazing energy has surfaced for you in your artwork?

JK: Its funny because today at a show, I sold two of those pieces for those reasons. They evoked within the customer (who was a lovely young woman) a recognition and respect of her womanhood. Those pieces contain lines from poems  I have written inspired by femininity. I felt inspired to honor the divine feminine recently. Maybe because I know so many strong and brave, loving and kind women. Maybe because that is who I strive to be daily. Maybe because it is the network of loving sisters I have in my life that have helped keep me afloat. It is an interesting process we go through in life. As a woman who has just turned 50, I have never loved my spirit and my being more than I do now. I have never been more comfortable in my own skin. As a single mother of three teenage girls I want them to see how valuable and worthy they are of self love. I want all my sisters to believe in their value and capabilities! That is where it all begins.

OmArtist: What mediums are you currently using to create your art work? Are there other mediums that you would like to experiment in?

JK: Currently I work in pencil and art marker such as Copic and Prismacolor. I am interested in the combination of watercolor and pen next!

OmArtist: Aside from your visual art, you are also a writer. Can you tell our audience a little bit about your creative writing? Does this form of creativity surface as inspiration in your visual art as well?

JK: Both my written expression and my drawing are definitely linked. Many times I combine the two. Sometimes I will share a poem and all of the sudden feel compelled to illustrate it in some way. I have often wondered if I could ever put together a book of my poetry and artwork.

OmArtist: Jill, how do you feel mindful practices like living in the moment and/or meditation/prayer (if you practice them) contribute to what you create and your success as an artist?

JK: It is my belief that living in the moment is something many want to do but often have trouble with. I can include myself in there!  I practice moments of gratitude off and on each day. I look for the beauty in small things and unexpected places. They say seek and ye shall find. This could not be more true. So part of my daily routine is a mental and spiritual check in… I doing my best?  Am I present in the here and now?  Am I living and loving through each moment. So yes mindfulness contributes totally to my artistic life. It allows me to uncover beauty and inspiration. It allows my motivations to be based in truth and in those valuable unexpected moments that we can overlook if we get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of life.

OmArtist: Would you share one of your beautiful poems with our Om Artist audience please?

JK:  I’m happy to;

~~Heartbeat beginning~~

Heartbeat like a myriad flowers,
blooming in a field,
rhythyms deep and flowing,
refusing to ever yield.
Constant as a bird takes to flight,
as the river rambles along,
heartbeat like a diamond’s glow,
to you it will belong.
Vibrations strong and pulsing,
supercharge the air,
energize the atmosphere,
become your bodywear.
Heartbeat sure as the sun will rise,
urging us on to fly,
vibrant patterns linked across,
will draw upon dawn’s sky.
Spiral out in motions free,
no beginning and no end,
joining in this coiled dance,
infuse your body’s bend.
Refreshing like a shower of rain,
yielding a rainbow bright,
heartbeat pull us closer,
then guide us through your light.
Traverse across the ocean’s blue,
dive into the deep,
ride the waves of stories told,
images to keep.
Heartbeat spoken like the story, language passes on,
in each of us it is alive,
awaken in its song.
Carried within souls so vast,
protected and loved all ways,
heartbeat is life ablazing,
sear its imprint on your days.

©Jill Karkella

OmArtist: Thank you so much Jill for taking the time to chat with me. We love your vibe and what you put out to this world in the form of your art and poetry is so positive!! Thank you for creating. You are appreciated!

0 In Artist Interviews

Interview with Tourmaline . – Miniature Diorama Photographer

Tourmaline .
Miniature Diorama Photographer
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Purchase Tourmaline’s work at

OmArtist: Your art is such a unique form of creativity. Could you explain to our audience what miniature diorama photography is and how you came to create in this unique way?

Tourmaline . : Miniature diorama photography, also called toy photography is a form of tableau photography, where a stage is set before the camera lens, but in small scale.

I created my first ever photos of miniatures in high school as a response to an English project. I didn’t find myself dabbling with this form of photography again until college when tasked with a narrative photo assignment. All the narratives I envisioned were quite involved and the more I brain-stormed how best to represent them, the more I became focused on miniature objects.

Miniatures are icons of their full scale counterparts and therefore allow me to tell big stories in a minute way. With them, I can fully manipulate the scene before me.

OmArtist: With your art being so multifaceted, there is a need for you to be part painter, part sculptor, and part photographer, amongst other hats I’m sure. Can you describe your over all creative process for our audience?

Tourmaline . : My photos come to represent my worldview and my emotions. So first, I observe and plan and try to fully develop what I aim to depict. Then, if I don’t already have the necessary props I research ones to buy, or consider how to make the backdrops, surrounds, and all things involved.

Often times, when using HO scale figures (2 cm tall train scale figures), I will cut apart and glue their various pieces together to get the pose I’d like as otherwise these figures are molded entirely rigid. Patterned scrapbook paper is a great far off sky or living room wall. I also will paint paper to the same effect if I’m looking for something more specific. All in all though, I keep my sets quite simple, allowing them to be transformed with light and through my camera lens.

OmArtist: Aside from the skill and creativity it takes to build the scenes themselves, your work speaks to the skillful macro techniques, the beautifully precise depth of field (DOF) and composition in your photography. What came first, the miniatures or the photography? Did one lead to the other?

Tourmaline . : Thank you very much. I suppose the photography came first, at least as far as my artistic journey is concerned. I decided in high school that I wanted to be a photographer. At the time however, I was only interested in black and white landscapes developed in the dark room. That said, since 3 or 4 years old, if not sooner I have always been fascinated with miniatures, the smaller the better. Coveting my grandmother’s shadow box shelf, I would gently pick up and observe the tiny intricacies that lied within it. It seems only inevitable that these two passions would end up combined. It simply took me awhile to get there. Since I have though, I haven’t looked back.

OmArtist: Being an artist requires one to experiment in this day and age. It seems to me that your style of creating would require you to be highly experimental. Can you talk a little about that part of your work for us?

Tourmaline . : My work, for me, is definitely experimental. While I remain focused on miniature scenes in my art, I believe this type of photography can span all genres of the medium in its own way – from portraiture to architecture, surreal and documentary. And in this, I like to dabble in each possibility. On top of that, for each photo, I’m discovering how best to lay out the scene, how much of which to remain mysteriously hidden in darkness or fog, how to make everything stay precisely in it’s place and so on. I’m constantly finding a balance between obscuring scale to create realistic images, and leaving hints of the miniature world within. It’s a fascinating process, of which I’m not sure I’ll ever be done evolving.

OmArtist: What is the most common materials/mediums you’ve used and what is the most unusual materials/mediums you have used in creating these amazing miniatures?

Tourmaline . : Paper and plastic figures are found over and over in my photographs. Almost as common are clay, glue and cardboard. Maybe not entirely uncommon, but for me, I’ve found myself using play sand and a fog machine more and more. And most recently I’m experimenting with mirror chrome paint.

OmArtist: Tourmaline ., why did you choose this style of creative expression? What is it about this type of art that drives your passion and speaks to you?

Tourmaline . : It may sound too simplistic, but I’ve always been obsessed with the tiniest objects. I also like the idea of photography as transformative. As magic. That with the right angle and lighting the smallest things can be brought to life. I like being able to fully manipulate the scene before me to create precisely what is in my head, and I also like toys as icons, both present and unattainable.

OmArtist: You’ve created book covers and album art for clients, to some extent interpreting their book or music into art that encompasses their body of work. When and how did this type of work present itself to you? Do you find this type of work enjoyable?

Tourmaline . : I am very passionate about print medium. While I don’t read as often as I’d like, I would much prefer paper to a screen. And I believe a cover speaks volumes about its contents. My style of photography is very illustrative and therefore lends itself well to interpretations of stories. While work with clients has its ups and downs, overall I very much enjoy visually bringing to life an authors work. My first foray into this type of creation was for my father’s book back in 2012 – Working Would be Great if it Weren’t for Managers.

OmArtist: As someone who identifies yourself as an Empath, how do you think feeling/absorbing others energies affects your art work? Or your ability to create?

Tourmaline . :I like to think that all of my art work is emotive. Each piece represents an emotion – and often those emotions are that of loneliness, anxiety, depression and the like. I absorb what others are feeling around me almost instantaneously. I watch a movie and put myself in each characters shoes, which can make scenes of pain whether mental or physical very difficult for me.

While my deeply emotional nature can get in the way of creating as I can experience debilitating anxiety, when I do get into my studio, or when I simply sit down to brainstorm, the ideas flow like waterfalls. And those ideas are always based around portraying these emotions. I can’t say they’re always good ideas – but part of the joy of creating is figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

OmArtist: Tourmaline . , how do you feel mindful practices like living in the moment and/or meditation/prayer (if you practice them) contribute to what you create and your success as an artist?

Tourmaline . : I’m not very good at living in the moment. But I find when I let myself be and stop putting so much immense pressure on myself I can create much more eloquent art.

OmArtist: We believe that art carries with it the energy of the artist. What are your thoughts on this statement with regard to your work?

Tourmaline . : Every single creative act is a personal one. I don’t believe art can be created without the artist fully immersed within it.

OmArtist: Tourmaline . , thank you so much for the opportunity to interview you. We are blown away by the skills you have and the work it takes to create your amazing images. We wish you continued success! You are appreciated!