A creative force to be reckoned with, Kayce Hughes was able to transition from clothing design to painting while raising seven kids. With simple lines and a sophisticated palette, her work complements a variety of interiors by the country’s most famous designers.
What inspired you to start your art business?
I was a studio art major in college and thought that I would be an art teacher. I ended up in New York, working for Ralph Lauren in women’s design for six years. I later moved to Nashville and created a women’s and children’s clothing line. Eighteen years later, I started to paint more, and last year, I had the opportunity to sell the company and pursue painting full time.
What are your favorite sources for design inspiration?
I love and spend my share of time on both Instagram and Pinterest for design inspiration. But I still prefer to sit down and enjoy a glossy magazine or coffee table book. And the best is actually walking into a beautiful home.
What other designers/artists do you admire?
In the last year, I have had so much fun working with so many extremely talented designers. So I feel like it would be too hard to just pick a few…like picking your favorite child. I am very thankful that two of my all-time favorite designers live in Nashville. And that I am fortunate to call them very close friends. Both Sarah from Sarah Bartholomew Design and Gen from Pencil +Paper Co. are as kind and generous as they are talented at creating beautiful spaces. I admire so many artists. Christina Baker is someone whose work I admired from afar many years ago, and I wrote about her work on my blog (which I no longer write). We ended up becoming Instagram friends, and her wisdom and encouragement when I transitioned from a clothing line to painting meant so much. I really admire the artists who are just starting out, like Lee Brewster. She is so talented at figuring out how to do what she loves.
What are some of your favorite emerging art trends?
I am not sure that I even know what art trends are emerging. But I do think that this is a wonderful time in history to be an artist. I marvel daily that I can paint something and photograph it on my phone and post it on Instagram for thousands of people to see. It still feels like magic. As an art consumer, I love that I have found so many small and emerging artists on Instagram.
What is your personal approach to painting?
My approach to painting is similar to my approach to life. I love to have a very firm idea of what I want to see happen. Usually somewhere along in the process, things don’t turn out the way I plan, and at that key point, I try to keep my eyes open to where I see beauty, and then I head in that direction and enjoy the plan B.
How has your artistic style evolved?
In school, I preferred realism. So many of my professors were more modern, and in school that was a stretch for me. It wasn’t until many years later that I fell in love with it.
Which is your most favorite piece in your collection and why?
If I had to pick, it would be the large blue circle. The 36×36 blue paintings are always something that I paint for our kitchen/family room, which is where we all live. This was the first time that I tried this technique, and I was really happy with how it turned out, and I am excited to explore this idea in new ways going forward.
What is your most valued possession as far as art?
Besides the many framed works that my children have created and pieces by my husband, who is a talented photographer and painter, my favorite piece is a small pear painting by Robert Kulicke. It was a gift from my parents when I was in my 20s, and I am still as obsessed with its timeless beauty as I was back then.
What’s the best piece of advice you would you give someone who wants to start selling their own work?
I love that we live in a time when there are many ways to sell as an artist. And you need to know yourself to know what will work best for you. I love working with designers and clients and creating something for a specific space, as well as creating work to sell online or through Instagram, so having work in galleries is a small part of what I do. I have talented friends who would rather just paint and leave the social media, selling, and emailing to someone else, so working with wonderful galleries is 98% of what they do. I do think that Instagram is an amazing place for anyone to start.
How do you balance running your businesses and family life?
I have given up the goal of the “perfect family” or “perfect balance”. I try to take each day at a time and resist the temptation to compare myself to others. If I get to the point of having a totally clean and organized house with 100% happy kids as I effortlessly paint away, I will let you know. For now, I am happy to see the beauty in my messy attempt to do both.