Born and raised in Topanga Canyon and primarily using the blind contouring technique – drawing the shape of a subject without looking at the paper by exploring the boundaries of form, identity, play and body language, ultimately transforming the images into something new and fresh – the artist and author, whose work has been featured in, among other publications, Forbes Magazine and Architectural Digest, plumbs her own psychological depths only to discover what makes her love work and life.
What historical art figure would you like to have lunch with and why? There are so many artists, alive and dead, who I would love to have lunch with? I have some favorites, like Picasso – because his work gives me a visceral reaction when I look at it almost every time. When I walk into a museum and am actually pulled across the room, so often it’s Picasso even before I know it’s his work.
What did you purchase with the proceeds from your first sale? Probably more art supplies!
What words or phrases do you overuse? Why? and What Do You Think?
How do you know when a work is finished? When it feels right. Sometimes something just feels off, so I will work on it over and over until that feeling hits me that it’s done. I never really know when that will be or how long that will take, but so long as I keep showing up, I’ll get there.
When and where were you happiest? I think when I’m in the moment. Painting puts me in the moment, as it requires me to be present. It cuts the world out from around me so I can get lost in another and when I’m in that focused state, it’s all encompassing and engaging.
What is your most treasured possession? I cherish my signed photographs of Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash and Woodstock taken by my dear late friend, Baron Wolman – the first chief photographer of Rolling Stone Magazine with whom I collaborated on a project reinterpreting his iconic images (which was also wonderfully documented in a short film by my cousin Alexandria Jackson called Sophie and the Baron). He inspired me so much, creatively and personally, and I feel so lucky to have a bit of him with me in my home to see every day.
Where is your ideal escape destination? Somewhere that feels far away and comfortably unfamiliar.
What’s the worst survival job you’ve ever had? I have had so many jobs over the years – from washing people’s hair at my local hair salon, being a camp counselor looking after 17 sugar-laden three year-olds, selling gemstones in the diamond district to bartending at a literary salon and so many more in between – and somehow I loved all of them because I think I always tried to use them as a character study on the worst of days.
What TV series from your youth best describes your approach to life? My So-Called Life, Absolutely Fabulous and Golden Girls!
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My time management.
What is your most treasured memory? Eating canned pears with cream in the English countryside with my grandpa as a little girl, and also, many years later, having vodka tonics with my nana while she rubbed my feet on the couch and we talked about love.
What makes you smile? Being around my family, taking long walks (stopping along the way for coffees and cocktails make it even better), unexpected coincidences, beans on toast, and randomly witnessing people be kind to each other.
What is your go-to drink when you toast to a sale? A French 75, or a glass of Champagne. I also love a nice, strong vodka tonic.
After an all-nighter, what’s your breakfast of champions? I love a wrap. Give me a burrito and I’m happy.
Who inspires you? The people around me, especially my family as they are all creative – mostly in music, but the creative process is similar, so we share that and help each other brainstorm.
What’s your best quality? I’d say my curiosity, and my optimism.
What’s your biggest flaw? My impatience and disorganization.
What is your current state of mind? Hopeful, grateful, scared, excited, anxious and inspired.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Today, my greatest achievement is like my current solo exhibition at Arushi Gallery in Los Angeles, but I know it’s only because of all the little wins and failures that happened before it.
Triptych, photo by Alexandria Jackson
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be? Maybe a violin, passed through many hands through many places, to be an instrument through which others find joy, make music, feel alive, tell story and express emotion. Maybe that’s how we live many lives.
Cover image by Saori Wall; photos of Kipner’s art by Mara Friedman.
Sophie Kipner’s exhibition, Wish You Were Here is on view at Arushi Gallery through July 11, by appointment only.
Visit the artist at her website and on Instagram.