A Sacred Space | Behind the Canvas with Jim Klein


All dreams spin out from the same web.  ~ Hopi Proverb

Spontaneity is a fixture in the origin of many a Jim Klein abstract painting

On occasion, this spontaneity endows a painting with a sense of place, as seen in the works Manhattan, The Key West Series, Old Fall River Road, and Home; as if each painting were a glimpse into a location just waiting for you to visit or a place you’ve driven by while on a long road trip.

This familiarity is especially felt in one of Jim’s recent paintings titled Kiva

What is a kiva?

Jim: A kiva is a room used by Pueblo Native Americans for rites and political meetings often associated with the kachina belief system. Among the Hopi and other Pueblo people, kivas are square-walled and underground, used for spiritual ceremonies.

Where was Kiva created?

Jim: Kiva was painted during an Art Walk last fall on Mainstreet in Scottsdale, Arizona. It started out with the light orange, clay color wash as a background and I recall that this particular painting created itself. 

I wish I could, but I’m certain I could never duplicate a piece like this. I really enjoy Kiva and have received many positive responses. In fact, the day the paint finished setting was the same day it found a place on the wall of the art gallery. 

Any specific technique to create this dry-but-washed-out look?

Jim: Thanks to the spontaneity of the piece, this was one paint style that happened without thinking about it. Completely spontaneous. As is often the case, my brush took over and I had the pleasure of basically watching the art paint on its own. 

While Kiva is reminiscent of other “wash” techniques present in Metro Forest, Misty Mountains, and CuO it appears more cracked and dry; further bringing to mind the connection of the rocks in Mesa Verde.

Even watching Kiva dry was a treat. The paint and wash changed and moved as it dried on the canvas in interesting contours and shapes. It all came together perfectly; I was honestly taken aback by how well everything fell into place.

You’d never think watching paint dry would be such a fascinating experience, but I recommend trying it sometime.

How did you find the perfect title for Kiva?

Jim: While painting, this piece brought me back to the cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblans in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. We had visited during a family trip years ago. The background wash and clay paint could only remind me of the unique architecture, the warm color of the rock formations and rough texture of the sandstone.

Kiva is available for purchase on the Online Gallery! Click here to view.

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