Meet Dallas Artist Kristi Kennimer

Scarlet Regan gallery owner and artist Kristi Kennimer

For those of us that don’t know you, tell us about yourself…where you’re from, what you do, your background, etc.? 

Well hello! I’m not sure I can condense all that successfully, but here goes… I like to think I’m a creative 42 yo (mom) living my purpose, which is to leave the world better than I found it by inspiring others through my art. I’m an abstract oil painter (specifically, gestural abstraction). I think I’m best known for my color theory. Color and I just get each other. I prefer large scale work (50-200 sf), but I paint all sizes. My work is fun and happy. 
I’m from Rockwall, Texas. The gifted and talented program at Rockwall ISD changed my life in ways I can’t even express. I then studied at the University of North Texas in Denton, and also at the Université de Caen in Normandy, France. I currently live in Plano, and I own an art gallery in (Lakewood) Dallas called Scarlet Reagan Gallery + Events. 
I march to the beat of my own drum. So my gallery is not your typical stuffy gallery. It’s dreamy and relaxed and fun. People have parties here all the time!

When did you start painting and what fueled your passion for it?

I’ve always been super creative, but I stumbled upon my painting talent in college by accident. From there I dove in and taught myself through books, intensive practice, listening and lots of failures. I lose time when I paint, so that’s my way of sitting on the dock of the bay.
I love to laugh and tend to surround myself with funny people- I even waited tables at a comedy club in college. When we would hang out with the comedians after their sets, I realized they were using their gifts to make people feel good. They knew their purpose, and lived it with their whole selves. They were vulnerable on stage, and I admired their courage. That is what armed me to look failure in the eye and appreciate it as a gift to my future self.

One day several years ago I ran into an acquaintance who congratulated me (I had a series of successes and recognition). I found myself insisting I was the same artist whether or not that high-profile client was a collector of my work. That was the day I realized that if my work impresses me, then I am successful. That liberation catapulted my work into another level of me doing what makes me proud. So what fuels me is my need to outdo myself because I know I always have more creativity inside me.

Who are your biggest influences when painting a commissioned piece?

When I paint a commission the people who commission the art are by far the biggest influences on the art. I imagine their mindset and situation, then however I can relate to that tends to spark some kind of curious philosophical question or thought path. After deep contemplation, I give it over to the subconscious. Somehow my brain then translates that sentiment into tangible brush strokes. It just pops in my head or I dream the painting.

Tell us more about the painting you created for Capri’s nursery. At a glance it just looks like a beautiful piece of art, but I know there’s much more to it. Explain to us the deeper meaning behind it for people that would like to purchase this as a print and be able to share the meaning of this piece….

This is a very special piece. When you first contacted me and told me you were expecting your first child and wanted a custom work of art for the nursery, it brought up my own feelings from that time in my life. You and I talked about your interior design vision for the space, but we also found ourselves talking about the incredible transformation that happens when a person becomes a parent.

The painting in Capri’s nursery depicts how a child crashes our already perfect world and somehow makes it even better. The background of this painting symbolizes the life you and Kyle had before children- vibrant, fun and perfect. But then a child (symbolized by the large white brushstrokes) smears their innocent existence all over your perfect life. It’s messy and chaotic and changes everything. And yet, life becomes more colorful and more perfect. How can perfect be more perfect? That is what I have depicted on the canvas.

The painting: “The Expansion of Perfection” | 2020 | 66”h x 57”w | oil on canvas | Kristi Kennimer (b. 1977) | $4,700
Oil on canvas painting details by artist Kristi Kennimer
Limited edition prints: “The Expansion of Perfection” | 2020 | 20”h x 17”w | limited edition print on velvet fine art archival cotton rag 260 gsm 19mil paper | Kristi Kennimer (b. 1977) | edition of 100 | $185 (free shipping in continental U.S.)

*option to frame: print is behind glass, top mounted with about 3” of mat behind it, then framed at 28.5”h x 25.5”w in boho wood or modern white | $425 for either option

I made a special promo code for your followers. They can enter SOSAGE at checkout for $20 off.

When you do a commissioned piece, what is your starting point and how do you make each piece so unique? 

A two-fold answer here: First, my professional past is in advertising, set design and interior design so it’s in my blood to 1. Really listen to the client’s needs, 2. Balance what they feel they want with what my gut says the space needs, and 3. View the interior design of a space as a composition that the art is a part of and must complete. Second, each piece is unique because it’s not about me. It’s about you. Every person, family, brand or business has their own unique story, and I tap into that whether the customer knows it or not. I ask questions and because I’m so curious, I tend to contemplate very deeply the ideas and thoughts that are sparked by the client.

What has been your most touching or amazing moment you’ve experienced as an artist?

Wow I love your questions! I am most fulfilled when a customer really connects to the thought behind my work. One of my customers named Colletta Conner is a leader at a global interior design firm called Forrest Perkins. They design big projects, like the Ritz-Carlton in Dubai. Colletta is so incredibly talented and yet so humble and gracious. One day she asked me to conduct a workshop for some of her designers. She said she liked how everything I create comes from a place of purpose and has a meaningful story that drives the creative. I understood her to want the designers to grow courageous and reach deeper into the meaning behind their own work. So I created a workshop (aka “lab”) that we now call “Storytelling in Art.” After I taught the lab I felt I could have done a better job. Months later one of the designers from the lab told me how meaningful it was for her. Colletta also told me how impactful and transformative she felt it was for her team. I was confounded- as creatives we tend to be hard on ourselves, so to understand the impact it actually had on these incredibly talented designers was beyond rewarding. Think about the joy of knowing you’ve opened up someone’s world- that’s a reward that affects the rest of their life!

Your studio in Dallas is just stunning! What made you venture into the retail space and get a storefront? 

I’ve been doing what I do for 20 years now, so it made sense to have what I call “a bigger office.” But that antiquated art gallery vibe made me yawn. I wanted an anti-gallery. Relaxed and real. Fun, happy and inspiring. But with luxurious meticulous work. My way. And I love it.

Scarlet Regan Gallery Lakewood Dallas, TX
Scarlet Reagan Gallery in Dallas, Texas

How can people inquire about a commissioned piece of art if they want something custom and unique?

I give everyone my personal number (214-755-5370), and tell them to text me to get started. I’m available for site visits world-wide, but I’ve also had many successful remote commissions with no site visit at all- I ask the questions I need and grab points of reference as they’re available such as color inspiration, design boards, fabric samples and sometimes only mere descriptions of what is being built. I find a way of getting the info I need, and my subconscious takes care of the rest.

The commission process is so fun. (More HERE on my website that details the process.) We decide on the dimensions, and I consider the space, light, mood, decor, movement through the space, etc. I ask questions. Then I tend to just know what’s right. For designers and commercial commissions I often spec it out and mock it up. For homeowners I give them as much or as little info about what i’m thinking as they want. Then I paint. In 3-8 weeks the painting is delivered. You’re guaranteed to love it or I’ll paint something else. Payment is half up front and half upon delivery.

If someone is wanting to grow an art collection, where do you recommend starting?

I feel like a lot of people think buying real art is for someone else and not for them. It never registers to them how incredibly rewarding it is to have original art that you love in your environment. So I would say, if you keep going back to one artist’s work, looking at it over and over again, that probably means you should change your mindset and just do it! I promise you, once you get that special first piece, you’ll see that you can be giddy in your space unlike ever before. In one particular case, I got a call from a young gentleman who felt he couldn’t afford the large piece he gravitated toward, so he started looking at settling for something that was too small for the wall in order to fit his budget. I offered to help him get the right piece by paying over time. I’m not a bank, but I could see how much he connected with the work. There are options. I tell my customers no question offends me- just ask! I customize everything, so why not customize how we work together?

Make sure to check out both Kristi’s gallery page @scarletreagan and her art process page @kennimersart for more on her latest work!

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