Every week, I will be profiling an extraordinary human being who lives in our community. If you know someone who is doing something interesting with their life, I want to hear about it. Send me an email at [email protected]ppleronline.ca.
Skilled mason by day, abstract artist by night.
Oh, and don’t forget a writer, too.
Jason Kuehnen is a mix of talent. The 35-year-old graduated from Algonquin College’s masonry program and owns and operates his own business in Huntsville. As a writer of fiction, he has self-published a series of books and poetry. He also studied journalism for a year and a half at Humber College, dabbled in photography and film, and even spent three months in Greece using the landscape, people and culture as a source of inspiration.
He’s an intelligent guy and he’s always looking for a way to express his creative side. So five years ago when he picked up a paintbrush, he found out something interesting about himself. He could paint. And he really liked to do it.
Ninety-five per cent of the time when the painting’s finished, I’m done with it. There’s no emotional ties any more. I’m just thinking about the next painting.
“It seemed like the next natural extension of creation,” Kuehnen says, adding that high school art classes never really appealed to him. (Surprising, considering he’s sold some of his current work.) “With writing you can go back and keep making changes. But once you put paint on the canvas, it’s there. You can’t edit it.”
His style is abstract expressionism. He paints everything and anything in his own abstract way. His work mirrors what is going on inside him, and people, places and events are all his subjects. It’s a reflection of what he perceives.
One step inside his art studio downstairs in his Huntsville home and there’s no denying painting large abstract canvasses is what he loves to do. In fact, he says, it’s even easy to tell when he hasn’t done it in a while.
“Ask my wife. I become a grumpy bear.”
Hundreds of paintings are all over the place; piled in every corner and leaning against walls. He’s got paintbrushes and paint everywhere and even the low-rise ceiling has been painted on. Some of his paintings are proudly displayed in the perfect eye-catching spots in his home. Wherever you look there is something interesting and abstract that he has created.
As long as there are random, everyday things to keep him inspired, Kuehnen will keep putting his brush to canvas. Music – loud and on old vinyl records these days – is essential. It helps him zone out on the piece he’s creating.
“Definitely it’s about the process not the product,” he says. “Ninety-five per cent of the time when the painting’s finished, I’m done with it. There’s no emotional ties any more. I’m just thinking about the next painting. For me, it’s about the release. Painting comes from inside of you.”
In March 2012, he and two of his long-time friends Jared Pratt and Benyamin James, all of whom are Huntsville High School graduates, teamed up to host an art show. It was called Prequel, and the show featured Kuehnen and Pratt’s work with interpretive writings by James. Four months later, Quill happened – an obvious sign of the opening show’s success.
“The shows were constant questioning,” Kuehnen explains. “From the pieces themselves, but also would a single person walk through that door or would a single painting be bought? Putting the paint on the canvas is far more enjoyable than putting the canvas on a wall with a price tag on it.”
As long as there continues to be “randomness” and good music, Kuehnen will keep painting. He needs to. It’s an important release. Of course, he’ll keep writing, too. One day he hopes to branch off and have his own art show. And he could easily do it with all the beautiful art that is simply taking up storage space downstairs in his house.
Check out some of Kuehnen’s best work on Facebook by searching MalPractice Press. For other inquiries email [email protected]