Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Feature: Ona Kingdon

"Baby On Board" by Ona Kingdon Transparent watercolor
Hi Everyone,

Have you ever had one of those days where you knew it was Friday but didn't really realize it was Friday until Friday was over?  Ha Ha!  Well that is my story today:)  School starts soon so I'm sure this will not happen again any time soon.  Anyway, this Friday I have a fabulous feature for you.  Ona Kingdon's work is spectacular.  She paints these wonderful, witty stories in watercolor.  She has accomplished a tremendous amount in a short period of time and is one of Watercolor Magazine's Ones to watch for 2012.   Please enjoy Ona's interview.

To see more of her work visit her website or blog.
"Impersona-Ted" by Ona Kingdon Transparent watercolor

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

When I was very small I would go with my mum to drama festivals. She would give me pencils and a sketch pad to keep me amused. I would get lost in a colourful imaginative world where a simple scribble could become a tree, a few shapes a friendly giant and a triangle a mountain far on the eastern horizon. My mum would tell me three objects and I would use them to create a story in my mind and then illustrate it on the paper.

Things didn’t always go to plan though. Once, when I was about three years old I was with my mum in a very old Victorian theatre with a sloped wooden floor. I dropped my pencils in the middle of a very serious and tragic scene on stage. The pencils rattled noisily on the wooden floor all the way from the back of the theatre where I was sat, to the front of the stage. As they rolled they clattered and everyone bent their heads to see what the noise was. It looked like an inverted Mexican wave  J …I guess I was destined to be noticed as an artist even from a very early age.

I didn’t take up art seriously though until 4 years ago. Having a career, getting married and raising a family and then moving to Canada took up my life but I always knew deep down that something was missing. For me, art is a way to communicate so much that is so hard to put into words… a way to see beyond the outer appearances of the things and people around us and into the soul of the subject whatever that might be.

 My experience working in Special Education helped me to develop a strong understanding of how feelings, emotion and knowledge can be communicated visually.  I draw on this when creating art, painting in essence, the emotions of life.
"Interes-Ted" by Ona Kingdon Transparent watercolor
Where were you born?

I was born in South West of England.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

I love where I live now.  We made our big move 6 years ago when we moved from the UK to Canada. We adore so much about this country, the fabulous scenery, the wildlife, the weather… yes even the snow, and most of all the positive upbeat attitude to life that most Canadians have.

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

I love to paint anything that evokes a feeling.

I think creating a connection:
1) personally to my subject as I paint
and 2) to the viewer as they look at the finished painting 
is the single most important thing to me about art.

 It doesn’t have to be a positive ‘ oh my this is lovely’ response either. I enjoy tapping into all forms of emotion both positive and negative. Art is such a wonderful way to encourage someone to challenge their own views or tackle a controversial subject as well as helping them remember fun happy times. I want to make them laugh, cry, feel comforted, disturbed, sad, happy even angry … not all in the same painting of course but at least one emotion in each. It doesn’t need to be the same emotion as I felt when painting it either. We each have different experiences in this world and it is these that we tap into when viewing art.
A single painting could provoke two very different responses from two viewers. One might laugh, if the experience the painting reminds them of was a funny one, while the other might cry if their memory was sad. Both reactions are very valid to the individual that had them. 

"Intoxi-Ted and Inebria-Ted" by Ona Kingdon Transparent watercolor
Could you talk about your painting techniques? 

People that know me often joke about my 2 haired brushes. I do have some very small brushes but I also love using my ‘mops’ to create smooth washes. I like to capture detail in a subject but I am not thinking about the detail itself but rather the message it might convey. My area’s of interest often have accentuated detail, as well as bolder or contrasting colours and values than say the background. On the other hand, I sometimes include areas of mere suggestion if it helps convey the message. This is what I have in mind rather than rendering all the detail of the texture of the object or person exactly as it really is, so I do accentuate or change some aspects as I paint.

I love to glaze. To me it’s just pure magic when you glaze single colours layer by layer and gradually the object or person appears to become 3D and  leaps out of the paper at you.
"Imagine" by Ona Kingdon Transparent watercolor

A majority of your works seem to have a playful or meaningful story woven into the composition.  Where do these ideas come from? 

My Pixie J She is a munchkin though and never gives me ideas at times when I can act on them or even write them down. She gives me them when I’m driving the car, or in the middle of the night, or even while I’m food shopping in Sobey’s. I have learnt to always keep a notebook and pencil with me to jot down the ideas as soon as I can because if I don’t they disappear almost as fast as they came. Once an idea is written down I can wait until the right time to begin developing it. Sometimes I know exactly what I would like to do with it right away, other times there are months of experimenting to find the right way to convey my story or message.

Ok. Really??? A pixie I hear you say????  I haven’t a clue where the ideas come from really. They just pop into my head at the oddest of times. It’s more fun to blame it on my pixie though J She doesn’t seem to mind :)
"Spinning  A Tale" by Ona Kingdon Transparent watercolor

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

I have about 36 colours that I wouldn’t want to be without but I never use more than about 8 or 9 in one painting. Colour to me is emotion and combinations of colours help to convey my message so I spend a lot of time choosing my palette for each painting.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Life is my inspiration :)

What have been some of your crowning achievements?

I am amazed at how much I have achieved in so little time. .. 3 big signature memberships CSPWC, PWS and NWWS in only 2 and a half years. WOW!! I have also won several big awards including the John Singer Sargent Award at the TWSA exhibition this year and the Jade Fon Memorial Award at the CWA last year and have just been selected as  one of watercolor Magazine’s ‘Ones to watch’ for 2012. Oh My Goodness!

All these are so wonderful to receive but my favorite crowning achievements are when I receive a Peoples choice Award or a painting sells or a member of the public comes up to me and tells me their story related to my painting. The fact that my paintings can make a meaningful impact on a total strangers life….this, to me, is what it’s REALLY about.

"Time Warp" by Ona Kingdon Transparent watercolor
What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

Ok, you asked for it J

  1. I would like the medical world to recognize chronic lyme disease and for politics not to be an issue in its treatment. Then …
  2. I could tour the world teaching both children and adults the joys of watercolour and creativity.
  3. I could banish the opinion that watercolour is the poor relation of the art world and give it equal standing among oils and acrylics.
  4. I would teach teachers how to teach art to children in a fun way especially art history so they don’t kill it!
  5. I could create a ‘day 8’ in each week that is ‘World Arts Day’. On this day no-one has to work, wash-up , vaccum, go to school etc and can just paint or create in whatever medium they choose. I think the world would be a much happier place.

Did I dream big enough ? :)

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Be yourself and paint with your heart as well as your brushes.

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

Go and experiment and find the way of creating an effect that works for you because we are all different. (my art teacher at High school)

"Bookworm Breakfast" by Ona Kingdon Transparent Watercolor
Chocolate or vanilla?

Neither cos I’m a strawberry kinda girl J:)

Your dream vacation spot?

A land where paint colours can be found in puddles on the ground and you can pluck the softest feathers from friendly birds to use as your brushes. You can then create your dream vacation spot for that moment in time in the air in front of you and ‘live’ that life for the rest of the day. As the sun sets the rain begins and washes your dream away so the next morning you have a blank canvas ready to create once again.

Book or movie?

Book because then I can imagine :)
Favorite artist?

Dali. I could look at his paintings for hours and still see something new.

Favorite Famous painting?

It changes every day depending on how I am feeling

Favorite author?

J.R. R. Tolkein

Favorite movie?

I haven’t got one

Romance or comedy?

A romantic feel good comedy J

Favorite dessert?

Fruit salad with clotted cream … Yum!!!!

Night owl or morning person?

I’m definitely a morning person. I LOVE the time just before dawn when all is quiet. It’s like when you are holding a new book and just about to open the front cover.

Thank you so much Ona for sharing your thoughts and works, it was an honor to have you on my blog.



  1. Brilliant works. Thanks for the interview Carrie.

  2. Thank you for inviting me Carrie :)

  3. Thank you so much for this interview. I was already a fan of Ona's works, now I really like the artist as well. (OK, so that was inevitable, anyone who paints with such empathy has to be a wonderful person!)

  4. I've not seen Ona's work before ao I must thank you for choosing to show her work on your blog. Ona's paintings are wonderful.

  5. Mornin' Carrie, what a fabulous interview with Ona...I just love her painting.

  6. Well - I think it was always obvious that I was going to love this work - I mean, look at the furry subjects, lol! Absolutely fantastic work!!! I'm off to visit the blog :0)

  7. Hmm... does Ona have a blog?? I can't find it...

  8. Thanks everyone. Sandra, my blog is

  9. Oh Carrie!! An incredible interview with an amazing artist...Beautiful work !!! I will be visiting Ona right now!!

  10. She really is a brilliant and meticulous painter.

  11. Carrie,
    Wow, I love her witty, so detailed and so full of life.

  12. Ona has an amazing talent - so realistic! Hope your week is off to a great start, Carrie. xx