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Art & Life with Courtney Khail

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Khail.

Courtney, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’ve been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember, but I really started focusing on it after being accepted into a fine arts magnet school when I was ten. I studied visual arts there (at Davidson Fine Arts) for eight years, while also taking private watercolor classes outside of school.

After graduation I was accepted into The University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art, where I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Scientific Illustration. I originally planned to major in painting, but I missed taking science classes so I switched my major to one that combined both. Back then scientific illustration was an interdisciplinary study, so I had the unique opportunity to tailor my course schedule around my specific interests. That allowed me to study everything from horticulture and physiology to graphic design and painting, as well as study watercolors and photography abroad in Cortona, Italy.

Inspired by my love of paper and design, I launched a fine art stationery and design company in 2009, and in 2012 my husband and I moved out west to Denver, Colorado to expand the business. It was while living there- surrounded by all of the grandeur and beauty of the Rocky Mountains- that I started painting again. After we moved back to Atlanta in 2015, I decided to take the plunge and focus on my artwork full time.

A lot has happened since moving back and I’m so grateful for how much Atlanta has opened its arms to me. In 2016, Jezebel Magazine recognized me as “One to Watch,” and in 2017 I had my first solo exhibition, Cultivated, which was on display for five months at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Midtown. Shortly after Cultivated’s opening, I was voted “Atlanta’s Best Emerging Artist” by Creative Loafing Magazine and was featured in The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Most recently, one of my paintings was selected to be included in Kai Lin Art’s juried show “The New South III” which opens June 22nd.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am a contemporary watercolorist- which is just a fancy way of saying I create watercolor paintings that are more contemporary in style than the traditional style most people think of when they hear “watercolor painting.”

I combine traditional subject matter (florals, botanicals, etc.) with contemporary compositions, vibrant colors, and expressive line work, in order to create paintings that are both delicate and fragile, while simultaneously brazen and bold. Influenced by my Southern upbringing, my work explores the complexities of one’s self- specifically what is expected of us vs. who we want to be- as expressed through nature. From afar, my paintings appear to consist simply of vibrantly painted botanicals, but when you examine them closer you can see their intricate detail and depth.

I try not to say exactly what my paintings mean to me because I don’t want to influence the viewer’s experience too much. I want a person’s own histories to influence what they feel about my work and what they see. That said though, I do use my line work and color variations to slow a person’s gaze and then guide them throughout the painting so they can fully experience the nuances and complexities present.

Artists rarely, if ever pursue art for the money. Nonetheless, we all have bills and responsibilities and many aspiring artists are discouraged from pursuing art due to financial reasons. Any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with prospective artists?
Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can. You don’t have to have the fanciest studio or the best supplies to be an artist- just do the best you can with what you have. Also check out organizations like the Georgia Council for the Arts to learn about opportunities, grants, etc. that you might be qualified for.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
You can see a painting from my newest series in the upcoming exhibition “The New South III” at Kai Lin Art. (The show opens on June 22nd and runs until July 27th).

You can also find my work on my website: and on Instagram @courtneykhail As for supporting my work, coming to shows, buying/commissioning artwork, attending my workshops (you can learn more about those here and spreading the word about what I do is always appreciated!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Courtney Khail
Elle Golden Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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