Contemporary Abstract Paintings: An Interview With Laurie Kwo

Laurie Kwo is a Hawaiian-born artist based in Chicago, Illinois who is building a following as an abstract painter. Her creative journey, which began at age six, has taken her through the fashion industry and high-end interior design and sharply attuned to her passion for capturing the essence of the world around her. She has produced works for featured display and for sale in galleries and executed commissioned pieces that are part of private art collections. Her original abstract artwork, sourced from personal experience, is an exploration of classic feminine themes and delves deep into human vulnerability.

Through the years, Laurie has honed her signature painting style. She studied interior design at Indiana University and expanded her learning at the Harrington College of Design. Chief among her influences is Nicholas Wilton, whom she cites as having the greatest impact on her creative process. He taught her to paint from her soul, not from a picture, to trust her intuition, and let the expression take its own course. In late 2019, as an extension of his Creative Visionary Path Program (CVP) in Sayulita, Mexico, she met and worked alongside Wilton and his coaches. Since this life-changing experience, her work has become a true reflection of herself as an artist.

Join us in the conversation with the artist Laurie Kwo where she shares her journey from being an Interior Designer to a Fine Art artist now, her younger self is her muse and is the inspiration for her artwork and how she intuitively works in her studio. Read on to explore more about the interview.

1. Laurie, you have always been an artist, from Fashion to Interiors, and now Fine Arts. Can you share more about your journey?

My interest in art started as a child. I taught myself to draw and found a lot of joy in creating but never considered art as a career. I fell into fashion and worked in retail management for J.Crew. My career shifted to Interior Design when I was approached to manage a showroom for a German company specializing in Kitchen Design. I returned to art, specifically painting when my husband encouraged me to find a career that would make me feel fulfilled.

Stepping into the studio is like arriving in a new place. I’m filled with curiosity and delight. There is never an agenda because it’s more fun to explore and figure things out as I go.

2. Have there been any major life events that have influenced your art practice?

Yes, upon meeting my husband, getting married, and moving to the suburbs of Chicago, I left the corporate world and returned to making art.

3. Laurie, I love the bright color palette in your work. What draws you to using such bright hues in your work?

I choose colors intuitively and have come to understand that my work is about joy. It’s about being grateful that I finally can be myself and do what I love. While my home furnishings and my own wardrobe are more neutral in color, my art comes from within and my intuition is to choose colors that make me feel happy.

My art is like an invisible friend. We’ve been through a lot together and I’m so excited to see what the future holds for us!”

4. What would you say is your biggest source of inspiration?

When I’m creating, I work intuitively and I return to being a child in the studio. I love discovering new color combinations, new art supplies, or new techniques for mark-making. I work fast and carefree. I’ve learned there are no mistakes and my best work comes when I’m fearless. My muse is my younger self.

5. What excites you the most about creating your work?

Discovery and wonder are always present in the art-making process. I love letting go, following my intuition, and watching what happens.

Read more about Laurie Kwo on her Website and Instagram.

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