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12 Questions: Kaylee Dalton

Kaylee Dalton lives in Elkhart, Indiana and graduated with a degree in fine art and painting from Ball State University. She went on to study with the late Walter Darby Bannard under a full-scholarship for a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. Her work has been exhibited throughout the country including, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and Miami. Kaylee was chosen from hundreds as one of the 2017 and 2018 Hoosier Women Artists honored by the Indiana Statehouse. Her work is in the nationally and internationally recognized art publications and spotlights, Studio Visit Magazine, CreativPaper, Thalia Magazine, Candy Floss Magazine, The Jealous Curator and the cover of Create! Magazine issue 8. Kaylee Dalton’s award-winning work is in private and public collections, including the Anderson Museum of Art and the Museum of Encaustic Art in Santa Fe, NM.


My process involves making numerous watermedia paintings, paper drawings and encaustic monotypes. All are clipped or torn and assembled as collage creating layered abstractions with a hint of a landscape. Encaustic paint (hot wax) is directly applied onto an anodized aluminum plate heated on an electric griddle. A print is then pulled from it. To me each monotype provides a sense of movement and timeless quality. Simultaneously, layers of watered down acrylic, gouache, ink and watercolors are poured on papers generating depth but also unplanned natural pattern. I strive for strong textural contrasts reflective of the various surfaces found in nature.

My works are a representation of growth or lack thereof. Interpreting the fascinating consistency of botanical growth & diminishment, the expressive characteristics natural forms exude and their relatable qualities. Comparable to people, plants are intriguing and complicated. They’re always shifting; either becoming weaker or stronger. I draw inspiration from that delicate continuous state of flux.

1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life? What are you reading or watching right now?

I have to admit since finishing school and having kids I have been terrible at leisure reading! However, I really enjoyed “Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk” by Danielle Krysa. It was like reading every thought of mine into print.

2. What are you currently working on? Are you able to create during the pandemic?

I just finished work for the Fort Wayne Museum of Art for an exhibit titled: A Sense of Place: Abstract Art in Northern Indiana which opens December 4.

I am starting pieces for Enormous Tiny Art #31 with Nahcotta. It’s an exciting bi-annual exhibit where all pieces are 10x10 inches or smaller. That opens online and in-person in March 2022.

For the first couple of months I could not get in the right head space to create a single thing. I thought it would be the perfect time ‘stuck’ at home to make work but it was the complete opposite! It took a while to wrap my head around things and start up again.

3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?

My favorite failure was getting out of grad school and starting to make watercolor collages for Etsy. At the time, Etsy was new and exciting. I did end up selling most of my grad school work but then I went down the rabbit hole of trying to make everything from coasters to “nursery” style kid-room décor. I quickly learned I cannot be something I am not. The work was not true to me.

4. What is your most unusual habit? It’s a hygienic one, I physically and mentally cannot fall asleep if I haven’t flossed my teeth at night.

5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?

I would love for Yayoi Kusama to cover me in polka dots! Her pattern work is magical.

6.What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office? Share an image of your studio.

My heated griddle and hot plate- I cannot have one without the other. The heated griddle holds my cups of encaustic and I paint directly onto the hot plate to make my monotypes. The encaustic monotypes are the base of my work.

encaustic monotypes and watercolor paintings ready to be cut for collage.

encaustic monotypes and watercolor paintings ready to be cut for collage.

7. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself? I used to try and push through the uninspired times and ‘just paint’ but I would get more overwhelmed…usually end up overworking a piece or be frankly too tired. I had a professor that would look and me strangely and say: JUST PAINT! To this day I can still picture him saying that with him arms up in the air. I have since allowed myself to take a break. It’s usually better for myself and the piece to come back to it with fresh eyes.

8. What do you see as the artist’s role through this difficult time?

I think it’s to provide a good kind of distraction. Even just scrolling on Instagram to see what artists are creating and not reading world news for a moment. For artist’s I think it’s a reminder that life is fragile and short and were only here for a certain amount of time to make with our hands something original and unique that can live on past us.

9. Do you collect anything?

I collect cookbooks and art, also plants (indoor and outdoor) if you count those! It’s a true joy to purchase another artist’s work. I deal with my pieces enough so I prefer to have other people’s work hanging around my home!

10. What words of advice would you give to artists during this time?

Work when you can, don’t overwhelm yourself. You will probably make more quality work you’re happy with even if you only have an hour of studio time. The anxiety isn’t worth it!

11. In the last five years what new belief, or habit has most improved your life or studio practice?

A newer belief/realization is to make work you want to make NOT what you think a collector would like to purchase. My best pieces are the ones where I took risks, I didn’t hold back to my intuition and used the colors I wanted to use.

12. Share an inspiring image.

I took this image in Arizona, it relates so much to my own work. The stems seem to be drying out but has beautiful yellow, plump berries on the ends. My work is about that delicate indifference of flourishment vs diminishment.

For more information about the work above visit ARTSY

James May Gallery Dousman, WI 262-753-3130

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