Dan’s Papers Cover Artist Cailey McKenna Paints ‘Octotree’

October 27, 2017 Dan's Papers cover art (detail) by Cailey McKenna
October 27, 2017 Dan's Papers cover art (detail) by Cailey McKenna

Halloween can be a spooky time, what with all the tricks, treats, ghouls and goblins. This week’s cover artist, Cailey McKenna, compounds the matter with her decidedly spooky “Octotree.” We spoke to the young artist recently about her work and drive.

Cailey McKenna
Cailey McKenna

What was the inspiration for this piece?
Much of my inspiration comes from both within myself and the world around me. Really anything that catches my eye. I take these and incorporate them into my weird surrealistic interpretations. “Octotree” came from an actual tree, which I envisioned as an octopus. I go into a painting with a generalized idea, but it often morphs and changes as I progress, as did this piece.

Online, you describe your art as dark, abstract and surrealistic. What draws you to these themes in your art? Have you always created this kind of work?
After completing AP Studio Art in high school, I really wanted to get serious with my work. The class helped me realize my full potential with technique, but I knew I could stretch my creative abilities. As I delved into surrealism by releasing my subconscious through sketches, I took ideas and began painting, which developed a denser, more emotional feel. “Dark art” provides the imagery to feelings that most people don’t want to accept and that is what I admire about it. It opens up people’s souls to look at the beauty of the fears we share.

Who are some artists who excite and inspire you?
Alex Grey for sure is an inspiration. His meticulous visionary art for one, but also the community he has constructed for artists. He has connected and created a movement all over the world with a place to worship the oneness that art, of all forms, provides. Nan Goldin, an American photographer, has captured such raw, eye-catching images from her life, which has also begun to influence me quite a bit. I could list endless artists. The world of social media has really created a network for us to communicate and showcase our work, especially young emerging artists. It’s quite inspiring to be able to witness milestones and progressions and to share the experience alongside them.

How do you juggle the drive to create art with the pressures of young adulthood and college?
Creating is just something I have to do. Life inevitably drains all of us, but if you are passionate about something because of its weight and fulfillment to your wellbeing, you make time for it. Whether it be music, writing, painting, photography etc., it becomes your life. Everywhere you go and everything you do influences what comes out of you and inspires you to keep doing it—for yourself.

Where can our readers see more of your work?
I’ve begun participating in art shows at galleries, which I update to my website as the dates approach. I also have an Instagram account where I share all my work and news to @sumtttinelse.

See more of McKenna’s dark, abstract, surrealistic art at caymckennaart.com.

October 27, 2017 Dan's Papers cover art by Cailey McKenna
October 27, 2017 Dan’s Papers cover art by Cailey McKenna

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