Abstract painter Rachel Kice has led an adventurous path to get to where she is today as an artist. Her work is representative of surreal cubism using geometric shapes to compose diverse offbeat creations. Her ever-changing interests have allowed her to continue moving forward with success on several creative fronts while following her heart. She admits, that for as long as she can remember she never wanted to do just one thing in her career, she wanted to do a lot of things!
Born in Wichita, Kansas, all of Rachel’s family members have creativity in their blood. Her mom worked as a graphic designer and an artist but quit when Rachel was born to embrace motherhood. Her father has recently taken up creative writing and her two younger twin sisters are also artists. One is working as an art consultant in architecture and an artist while the other is a college professor and fiber artist. As kids, her mother encouraged them to be creative and nurtured their interests. Rachel’s focus early on was on painting and creative writing.
“As a kid, I was the one that always messed up the carpet in all the houses that we lived in, I loved painting and I was very messy.” –Rachel Kice
Rachel grew up very shy as a child, around the age of ten, she saw her cousin in a play and thought performing on stage might help her with her shyness. She took theater lessons which led to singing lessons where she grew an interest in writing and performing music. She continued painting while exploring all of her other creative interests in the arts.
When Rachel was in high school she had an art teacher who taught her how to use shapes as a means of drawing the human body. That allowed her to see elements in her art differently, she explains, “In class, we did still life drawings with live models. I started to see and focus on the shapes while drawing. The little triangle of light under the eye and the highlights on the skin. It helped me develop my own way of drawing the human body. I started experimenting to see how I could use different kinds of shapes in my artwork.”
At 19 when a friend expressed how well she thought Rachel would do on camera, she found an interest in acting. She got an agent, started doing auditions for acting gigs, and landed a job as a local cable newscaster for the Family Health Channel in Wichita. She says the morning of her audition, with no experience in tv, she watched Barbara Walters on tv to understand what exactly an interviewer did. “I went in and did my best Barbara Walters and I got my own show called A Breath of Fresh Air. The show required me to interview doctors and health professionals on respiratory ailments,” she acknowledges.
At that time Rachel was a single parent raising her one-year-old daughter Whitney. She believes her family’s encouragement and the confidence she gained by performing gave her the courage to get the fifty-dollar-an-hour newscaster position.
Rachel would later go on to study vocal performance at Berklee College of Music but dropped out before getting her degree, a decision she regrets. She moved to Nashville to take an intern position at Warner Chappell Music in hopes of expanding her music career in writing and performing. Within a year the music publishing company offered her a full-time job but she turned it down, instead, she worked with them through a temp agency doing different odd jobs. She says her primary reason for not accepting a full-time position was that she didn’t want to put her kindergarten daughter in daycare because she wanted to pick her up from school every day.
“I had made a pretty clear commitment when I had my daughter at age 18. It was very important that she see me follow my heart, my dreams, and my art.” –Rachel Kice
Rachel was dedicated to raising her daughter with authenticity and transparency as a parent. She shares how they would spend time together in her loft apartment roller skating the halls, making art, and curling up together at night to openly talk with each other. At the time Whitney had a passion for painting horses and playing the violin and Rachel nurtured her daughter’s creativity just as her mother had done for her.
Rachel reached a point early on where she started second-guessing her decision of moving to Nashville. She was serious about her music but realized that her broadway, avant-garde, rock music style was not likely going to fit the Nashville market. While working with Warner Chappell Music on a temp job hanging awards along the hallways she began feeling apprehensive. She explains, “I was kind of freaking out because I had moved my kindergartner to this town, I didn’t know anyone, I knew I wasn’t going to write anything that would sell any time soon and I had so much I needed to learn. I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
One day while working, songwriter Kenny Lamb suggested she read a book called Being Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh. From the book, she used the practice ”breathe in and smile out” to help with her anxiety. Smiling all the time made her more approachable, the songwriters became more conversational and she started making friends despite her shyness.
Rachel explains how that led her into the next big career path, “One day John Rich started talking to me in the hallway and said, you’re always smiling when I see you. I only know one other person that does that, his name is Big Kenny, and you need to meet him. He took me to a party so that I could meet Kenny and we became friends.” She says Big Kenny became kind of a big brother to her. He’d check in on her and Whitney, play songs and hang out. “I think he could see there was a young single mom and a kindergartner on the loose that maybe needed a friend,” she admits.
When Rachel’s friend Max Abrams, who she met through a neighbor, asked her to help come up with a concept for a jazz improv show, they began working together. They put together a show with performance artist Marvin Posey who painted live on stage. Rachel was Marvibn’s lovely assistant and co-MC, but unfortunately, he passed away of a heart attack after the first show.
“Max kept saying, you paint all the time, you could do what Marvin did. Why don’t you just try it? Rachel explains, and a month after Marvin’s death she agreed to paint her very first painting live on stage. While Rachel didn’t know Marvin well, she admired him and wanted to honor his memory. She says the pressure of painting in front of people with a time limit to complete the painting forced her to paint in a new way. That experience shifted her career path back toward painting.
The event called Circus took place in Franklin, Tennessee, at the Sapphire each week. Her new buddies John, and Kenny, along with others started coming down to do spoken word and different styles of music improv while she painted live. When John and Kenny got signed by Warner Brothers as the duo Big & Rich they started the MuzikMafia and took everyone on the road with them.
Rachel toured nationally with the duo through 2009 painting live on stage in front of large audiences. Her paintings were selling and she received a lot of press while working with the group. That exposure helped Rachel’s work get noticed by art collectors and others knowledgeable in art. She learned about abstract expressionism and action painting which was what she was actually doing on stage as a painter.
“I really became educated by doing hundreds of live paintings during those music events. I continued to change and get better at it. That was really my education and exploration as a painter. I didn’t really know what I was doing or how it fits into history, I was focused on breathing in, smiling out, and being myself through self-expression. I kept thinking… who do I want my daughter to be? I want her to be herself, so I’m going to be myself. “ –Rachel Kice
The years that followed led to Rachel painting in hundreds of concerts. Her artwork has been featured in media outlets including ABC, CNN, CMT, TNT, GMAC, 60 Minutes, Fuse Network, People, GQ, USA Today, and Country Weekly among others.
Rachel considers herself unsophisticated as an artist compared to others who are formally degree educated. She uses her intuition more than her mind when she is painting. She moved out to Los Angeles, California in 2011 to paint and do consulting work, and admits she enjoys being around a larger market of artists. She has established a strong studio practice with an internal orientation to her work as opposed to the external live performance shows of her past.
“There’s so many different ways we think about art or about ourselves, our relationship to art, our identity. I think the times when I’ve been more successful and happier were when I was thinking about what I was creating. Am I inspired by this? Do I want to make this? Am I connected to it? What’s my relationship to it? Those are more productive questions than the counterintuitive counterpart of, how can I get to this point?” –Rachel Kice
While in lockdown from COVID last year she went through hypnotherapy school for certification. She has a deep interest in learning energy work and hypnosis right now for healing purposes. She shares, “The pandemic landed in my life at a point in time when I was actually able to push a reset button on what I was doing and really get clear and get with myself on it.”
Rachel’s interest in the mind isn’t new, when she was 19, she says she was given a set of cassette tapes about positive thinking. That offered a new mindful way of thinking that she says helped her have the courage to be an artist. Years later she started realizing the power of the subconscious mind and how those early experiences and patterns of thoughts affected her life. She began a healing journey that grew her interest in the physiological realm of alternative modalities, psychotherapy, trauma therapy, and hypnotherapy. In her daily life, she wanted to find a way to help others by fusing hypnosis with art.
Rachel is working to combine her art with hypnotherapy. She has created a series of sixty-three paintings that she has turned into an Oracle guidance deck of cards similar to tarot or angel cards. She says the difference is that she created hers with lateral thinking prompts, using an indirect thought process to stimulate creative thinking.
“I took these sixty-three paintings, I brought myself into hypnosis, painted them in hypnosis, and each one is an abstraction of an inspirational word. I then reinterpreted each word by looking at the painting without knowing what word I used to create the descriptions. The intent is to stimulate your thinking in a new way.” –Rachel Kice
Despite Rachel growing up as a shy child in the small town of Wichita, in her adult life she is bold, vibrant, and fearless. As she moves ahead with her new endeavor of combining hypnosis with art, she looks forward to many more turns ahead with excitement.
“To survive in life and business, we have to have a goal. There is a delicate balance between having a goal and reaching the finish line. COVID took away the stress of feeling like I had to continue to complete something for the sake of business. I got to just paint because I wanted to paint. I didn’t feel guilty or self-blame because I was in the same boat as a lot of other people. So I didn’t feel bad, which was new.” –Rachel Kice
Rachel’s paintings can be found in private, corporate, and museum collections. You learn more about Rachel, her art, and her new oracle cards on her website. Rachel shares more about her path in The Creative Push interview below.
The Creative Push Artist Interview Vlog On YouTube
Watch my live zoom interview with abstract painter Rachel Kice on YouTube.
The Creative Push Podcast
Listen to the podcast version and take it with you!
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