12 Questions: Martin Kahnle

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1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life?

[1] A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney by Martin Gayford, [2] The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X, and [3] Crazy from the Heat by David Lee Roth.


2. What are you currently working on?

Later this year I plan to continue my landscape work but on a much bigger scale. This summer I am testing and playing with a quick series of potted plants and some stylized figurative work.


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

I embrace failure as part of the success equation, we have to test ourselves and limits to learn and improve. The “failure” I’ve learned most from had me looking at addiction squarely through recovery; the painting is an output of that healing therapy.


4. What is your most unusual habit?

 I work too hard at appearing normal to answer this one.


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

The name Picasso could easily be followed by a litany of god-like painters, but I’d chose him.


6.     What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office? What is your studio like?

I painted in tiny NYC apartments for many years and continue to keep a tight, orderly space despite the size of my work. I keep 4-5 paintings in rotation on two easels and paint under intense ‘medical’ lighting from my home studio. I require a bit of noise whether it’s Motown or a documentary playing in the background.


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?

When I feel overwhelmed I paint, it’s a place where there is no stress and unlimited time and complete control. To get out of a funk let me recommend funk: You cannot feel bummed listening to Parliament or Sly and the Family Stone; I defy anyone to try. What questions do I ask myself: hundreds an hour but the one that weighs on me daily is, how many quality paintings can I produce in the life I have, because I am on a mission from God.


8.   Who/What influences your work?

I live in a beautiful part of lower Appalachia, outside of Nashville off the Harpeth River, and my hope is to share a bit of my view. Artistically I am inspired by a great many, but particularly by the landscape work of David Hockney, Alex Katz and Lawren Harris.


9. Do you collect anything?

 A case could be made that I have a problem with books, but I aim to not get hung-up on material stuff.


10.  What words of advice would you give to your younger self?

I would try to convince myself to put the drink down sooner and I would share a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that has reshaped my thinking: “Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.”


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

Every year I seem to care less and less what anyone thinks about my work and especially the professional’s opinion, and it’s been liberating.


12. Share an inspiring image.


Martin's paintings are a part of BIOSPHERE at James May Gallery. The exhibition runs through September 2nd. Martin's work can be found on ARSTY