My paintings speak to me, sometimes they take a long time, sometimes they get done quickly. When it happens quickly, there’s a clear idea in my mind, of colors, textures, and shapes. But if it takes longer, I let the painting do the talking. By taking time to just look at a painting, it tells me what it needs, colors, shapes, textures, and eventually it tells me when it’s done. Sometimes I paint to music, a movie, the music in my mind, but mostly I paint from the inside.
How I initially started painting:
When I was in middle school and high school it was a requirement every year that I take a visual and performing art class. I already knew that I enjoyed the performing arts and creating and crafting from when I was younger, but through those classes, I discovered that it was yet another wonderful way to express myself.
Around 2012, I started painting when mom wanted to put art all around the house, so we got some canvas and paint and I just kind of started on my own. Abstract expressionism and impressionism art styles, among many others always appealed to me, partly because I knew any kind of realistic art wasn’t my strong suit across all mediums. So I really just started painting… at first I started with a color I’m drawn to or feeling and I just let the moment and movement take over. Sometimes I have a bit of an idea, whether it be just colors or shape, and I let it evolve from there. And sometimes it turns out like I saw in my head some times it turns out completely different!
Painting started out of a need, and then it became an expression. I’ve painted for a few of my mom’s friends and donated to different fundraising groups out on Kiawah, CATR, Haygood-Grady, etc. and all of my works so far came from somewhere inside my being.
Inspiration comes and goes, sometimes I have an idea, from what I encounter in my life and things I see, sometimes I just don’t. I try not to force inspiration, but if I do need to create something, I reach deep into the mind, and listen to a lot of instrumental music, and pull from colors and textures that I’m drawn to. Sometimes inspiration hits like wildfire and sometimes it’s just very empty and dry, but I always have a few pieces that are partly done or have some paint on them and I always take a look at them to see if they have anything further to say, if so, I add to it, if not I leave it be to come back another day.
It all started with the performances my mom took me to since I was very young. I am definitely one of those people who wants to learn and do everything, and after my first performance that I saw as a child, and every other performance after, that my mom took me to, I said “I want to do that.” So being the good and supportive parents that they are, I was enrolled in dance classes, singing lessons, and piano lessons, among many other things. I ate it all up like a sponge and I loved it. Some people perform for the applause, but I think for most of us performing is something you do for yourself. Performing, whether it be dancing, singing, acting, playing an instrument is just a pure form of expressing yourself.
I was never an outspoken child, all of my report cards came back saying that I needed to participate and talk more in class, but for me, apart from just being shy and introverted, the best way for me to express myself was through performing. Music always spoke to me, singing and dancing at the same time was like the ultimate expression for me. There’s a quote somewhere that went something along the lines that when speaking isn’t expressive enough, we sing, and then when singing fails us in expressing our feelings, we dance. And that called to me. And it became something so important for me to express what I’m feeling that if I didn’t either sing or dance or paint, I would feel off or grumpy. Even now, when I’m not preforming as much, I get that excess energy and emotion out either through physical activity, like yoga, lifting, singing and dancing around the house while I tidy up, singing in the car, or painting while singing. Everyone needs an outlet of some kind, whether it’s performance or physical activity or whatever it is you do to release energy or emotions that are stored up inside, and I am so lucky that I found those things at a young age.
Where yoga is something I enjoy doing for others, performing I truly enjoy for myself. Of course an audience will like or dislike a performance for whatever reasons or preferences, but I’ve given my all, I’ve expressed to the best of my ability in that performance, and that fulfills me. Do I get nervous? Of course, I do hope people like what I do, or are moved, or make them think about something bigger, or just be simply entertained. But they don’t have to like me or my performance, if I am happy with what I do, that’s enough for me. And of course like many artists I’m sure, we’re never quite completely happy with what we do, there’s always something that can be better, or different, but in the moment, it feels good. When we’re in the moment creating something, it’s like something switches off and something bigger switches on. Like a sense of time and “things to do” go away, and it’s just you and your emotions. Like meditation, like mindfulness, you’re in the moment and just doing, not thinking, everything you need is already inside, your lines or technique or your idea, is already inside and just waiting to be expressed in some way, and we just have to let go of every thing holding us back so that we can let whatever we’re feeling go.
Kimi cites a sense of fulfillment and purpose in serving others as her ultimate motivation to teach yoga. She knows that yoga can be much more than just another gym workout – it can be a lifestyle change that you take home with you. She emphasizes some of the moves that students can do at home on a regular basis. “I always just try and give tips,” she says. "’This is something you can do in bed. Just put your feet up against the wall.’ So I'm always trying to encourage them to bring their practice home, and it doesn't have to be a whole practice obviously, but just encouraging them to really listen to their bodies.”
Not only can yoga, as Kimi teaches it, help with pain and stiff necks, spine, hips, and shoulders, but can offer some general improvements that go well beyond the physical. “Yoga helps calm the mind, body and spirit,” she tells us. “It's a great way to learn how to feel good in your own body. It's a great way to open up your heart, I think... I guess apart from just getting physically better with strength, flexibility, and... cardio, apart from those physical benefits, I really think it's a spiritual or a mind practice as well, if you wish it to be so.”
Her ability to serve others comes from her desire to create friendship and connection with everyone who comes to her class. The feedback loop between client and teacher is what informs the direction of her classes. While she may occasionally teach a more vigorous power yoga class, her classes are mostly known for their gentleness and emphasis on meditation and mindfulness.
She includes two meditation sessions in each class, “to bring the mind back into the body and let go of to-do lists or errands and all of that and just be with yourself so that you can truly feel... So it's something that's cumulative, and it is something hard to build unless you're coming regularly to a class or you carve out time to meditate.”