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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!