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Artist Spotlight: Erica Kilbourn

Updated: Aug 29, 2021

We sit down with the master of rainbows and creator of magical fairytale worlds: Erica Kilbourn

Let's talk to her a little bit.

Who are your biggest influences?

Happy D. is the artist that I first saw use oil paints in such a colorful, freeing way. She sparked the urge to learn oils. Annie Stegg works in such fine detail, and she has such an ethereal quality to her work. It makes me want to push my skills as far as I can take them.

"It makes me want to push my skills as far as I can take them."

Do you listen to music when you’re painting?

I used to a lot more, but now I like to watch movies or Netflix. Over the years I used to need music to shut everything out, in order to "paint well", but after 12 or so years of painting, I can do it while having some dialogue in the background. I can't hold a conversation though. 

What’s your favorite part about painting? Least favorite part?

Painting calms my mind, and puts me in a very "zen" state. It always has. That's my favorite part, and that's why I keep at it. My least favorite part is fighting through the "ugly" stage in some paintings, when it's about halfway done. The image is there, but it's time to bring the details forward, and when you're doing that all from imagination, it can be daunting. But it's SO worth it when I can pull it off!

How much time does it usually take to create a painting?

It depends on the size, but anywhere from 3 hours for a 5x7", to 40 hours for a 11x14" or larger. The bigger, the longer it takes.

Why do you use the medium you use? Did it take you a while to find the right fit for yourself? Have you tried out a lot of different mediums?

I've worked in just about every medium. I came across Happy D's videos when searching for the pros and cons of oil painting in 2017. I'd painted with acrylics for about 9 years at that point, and I was reaching a point where acrylics were just troublesome to work with. I knew oils were another option, but I was intimidated by the supplies needed, and the drying time. Now that it's almost three years later and I've "self taught" oil painting by watching YouTube or Googling, I can confidently say that I LOVE oils, and it is my medium!

What’s the scariest part about painting for you?

There isn't really a scary part, but there is some pressure when I am working on a commission for someone. I'll take twice as much time as usual, just to make sure I've got the art exactly how they want it.

Do you have an online presence? Is it stressful managing that side of your work? 

I do have a little online presence, and it takes a lot of time to put that together. It only creates stress when I have other things in life that I've got to take care of, and I have to juggle those as well. 

How are you doing with the business side of artwork? (promotions, sales, packaging, shipping, etc) Is that stressful or joyful? 

Well that used to be a lot more intimidating, in the first 18 months or so, but I've grown into it all, and I really love every aspect. I've got my own site that runs exactly how I like, and I can pack & ship anything with confidence. 

How has your work changed over the years? Has it grown with you?

I think my skill level has definitely changed, but as far as subject matter, it has stayed about the same. Although now I like to do still life studies, and non-fantasy paintings sometimes. Working from life or a photo is MUCH more relaxing, and easier than pulling from imagination 24/7.

Do you choose a color palette for each piece/collection that you work off of?

Not exactly. I have colors that I prefer to use for my primaries, but then I choose certain colors for whatever I'm working on and for what colors I need to make. I have about 3 different paint colors for just the primary colors I use.

How much planning goes into each piece/collection or do you go by intuition?

I used to paint a lot by intuition, and it was enjoyable. But it did lead to a lot of unfinished pieces, because I lacked direction for them. I plan a lot more for my larger paintings now, and it takes the edge off starting the painting. 

Do you have a day job? Do you feel like it is helpful or hurtful to your art life?

My day job is being a stay-at-home mom! It's not really helpful or hurtful. They're both important to my life, so I make time for both. I usually work on my art when the kiddos go to bed, or on the weekends. 

Where do you think your artwork is heading in the future?

I'd really love to illustrate a book someday, maybe my own. I think it'd be cool for my kids to have something like that from me. 

Erica Kilbourn is an artist and mother living in Nashville, TN. See more of her art or

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