Surfing the sound waves
with powell

For Kristen Powell, sound and music are a powerful inspiration to the visual artwork she creates. In this post, learn how Powell combines alcohol inks with circular sound waves to create a very unique style. 

Your style is heavily influenced by sound – why does sound resonate with you?

I am very sensitive to sound and therefore I pay close attention to what I hear around me. My very first piece of sound wave art was a tattoo I designed for myself. The sound wave was made from a recording of my voice saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” My alcohol ink and sound wave art practice started after a trip to Thailand where I took a yoga retreat. I was so inspired by the experience that I used a recording of one of our morning meditations and made a sound wave piece from it. After that, I continued to experiment with using different music and sound with alcohol ink backgrounds.

Can you describe how you incorporate sound into your artwork?

I always get told that my art is something people have never seen before. Resonance Art Studio’s style is unique because I take sound waves, which are normally linear and turn them into circles. The circle represents the way that music sticks in our heads on a loop and also reminds me of how records look. My technique using masking fluid to form the sound waves and applying bright alcohol ink for the backgrounds is also something I have never seen anyone else do before. In addition to using alcohol inks, I also do wood burning of sound waves.

For all of my pieces I take special care to finish them. For the alcohol ink pieces, they are sprayed with UV protective varnish and then finished with a clear, glossy coat of resin. The resin really makes the colours pop and look more vibrant. I love how resin transforms my pieces. All of my pieces get a special sticker on the back, which authenticates the piece and notes the title, size and date of completion. Finally, every piece has hanging hardware attached and a final signature applied to the front. Resonance Art Studio pieces are made in a way that they will last longer than the memories they hold.

What is your most important tool in your studio and why?

The one thing I use for all of my pieces are cradled wood boards. I have found the perfect way to prepare the boards for alcohol ink application. I used to experiment with using canvas and realized that they did not always provide the consistent look I was seeking. 

Another important tool I use for almost all pieces is a straw! I use the straw to blow the alcohol ink around the surface. I like how it adds another dimension of my own breath being incorporated into the piece, almost as if I am breathing the piece to life.


What is one the challenges you’ve faced as an artist and how did you overcome it?

One challenge I face is juggling a full time job and my art practice. I work as a school teacher during the day and try to fit in my art practice in evenings and on weekends. It can be challenging to find the energy after a long day. Building Resonance Art Studio as a business in my spare time has been a lot of work, but very rewarding. I always find that when I do make the time for art it nourishes my soul and gives me renewed energy. One thing I do to overcome the challenge is to try to do just a little bit at a time. If I can do one small task a day I am always surprised at what I am able to accomplish by the end of the week.


What song from the past just makes you so happy and what does it remind you of?

Growing up I listened to the Backstreet Boys on repeat! I used to make up lip sync dances with my sisters and friends and then make the neighbor kids come and watch our performances. Any time a Backstreet Boys song comes on I am taken back to the summer days when we would rehearse our performances in the grass. 

Music is so important to my art practice. I have songs that remind me of special moments in my life and when they come on I am instantly transported to that moment. I have songs that remind me of sad moments, such as the music played at my grandparents’ funerals. Songs that remind me of times of joy such as a concert I attended with someone I love. I know that music is so connect to memory and that is why I love making art for people that can capture these memories in a visual way.

If you couldn’t be an artist what would you like to be and why?

Many people would say I am multi-talented! In addition to being a teacher and practicing artist, I am also a certified yoga teacher and Reiki practitioner! I love helping others connect with themselves through the practice of yoga, meditation and Reiki. I just launched my yoga business and you can find me on social as @followyourchakra . I will be offering outdoor yoga in Baker Park this summer! Would love if you could join me.

Available art by Powell

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