Meet Visual Artist Kym Loc

Growing Art with Kym Loc


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"Once you find out who you truly are, you build on those roots, then the rest of the tree, the branches no matter which direction they go, it gives it character."

Kym Loc's work at the Albuquerque KIMO theater in 2012

Her paintings are full of trees that symbolize people. I asked her, "Why a tree? What is it about a tree that is so compelling in all of your work?"

“It gives you the shelter, the beauty, the shade [and] is rooted. So once you find out who you truly are you build on those roots, then the rest of the tree, the branches no matter which direction they go, it gives it character. You can trim off a branch, and that scar adds that significant beauty on there and no matter what the scar is, no matter what direction that you take, the tree becomes unique within itself.”

She’s right. A tree is always beautiful, and every tree is unique. I’ve never seen an ugly tree. I’ve never looked at a tree and thought, “UGH! Someone should chop that down!”. Kym Loc’s paintings all echo that same unique character and beauty. Each one is some aspect of her journey and her growth. Kym Loc is a mother, a veteran, and a self-taught independent visual artist.

Original Fine Art by Albuquerque based visual artist Kym Loc

We all need a sense of meaning in our lives. Something to keep us going and remind us during hard times that it’s all worth it. Kym Loc has found that mission, and now she shares that path of self-discovery and self-actualization whenever and however she can. “The whole purpose of my work is to have people understand that their journey through life is not easy...and whatever path that you take, even if it’s not the right one for you, it’s ok.”

Loc found inspiration from her mother's hands. She tells me that her mother was a seamstress, “Most people don’t consider that art, but I would sew with her all the time. She came about two years ago and gave me a portfolio that I forgot all about from high school...and I had quotes on that even way back then.”

Quotes are a vital part of Kym Loc’s works of art. Every painting she creates has a quote that goes with it, some words of wisdom or hope that have inspired her and that she hopes will inspire someone else along with the artwork. The artwork makes people stop and look and read the quote, “I didn’t realize why until I went through what I went through and survived it and came up with some support and accepted the path that I was on.”

During her times of tribulation, Kym Loc and her children found themselves homeless. They were in the hands of friends and loved ones to help them start over. During that time, her daughter gave her one canvas for her birthday and said, “Mom, I really miss you creating stuff.” It was about seven years ago; her daughter was about sixteen. “I painted just that one picture and my now husband said, ‘This is amazing you have got to show people.’” She had her doubts, but she created six more paintings and brought them to a small Farmer’s Market to show, “I had people look at this stuff, and they were like, ‘You know what? This really is inspiring, and this is my story...’ and they would tell me the story and the struggles of what they’re going through...if that could inspire someone else then that is why I went through everything that I went through.” Sharing her artwork and the quotes that inspired her gave her a sense of reason after all the chaos.
Original Fine Art by Albuquerque Visual Artist Kym LocSince then she has made over 250 paintings and counting and been in more shows than she can count, most recently at the New Mexico Cancer Center, “It’s my addiction because once I start, I don’t want to stop until a piece is finished.” Her work has driven her to share herself and her creativity with hundreds of people and has made a difference for some. Sometimes all people need is just that little bit of inspiration to remind them of their inner strength, “It’s still self-reflective. I still think about what I went through, whatever the situation was, and all of the support I finally found, and the fact that I look at myself differently. I like thinking and hoping and putting it on the canvas to make whoever sees it understand that it will end and there is gonna be that strength that they find in themselves to get through whatever it is.”

Original Fine Art by Albuquerque Visual Artist Kym LocThe stories people have shared with Loc are a range of experiences. One in particular that stays with her is that of a deaf patron who collected one of her small tree paintings. “About two years after that she found me again, and she gave me a letter about how looking at that every day with the quote got her through the divorce and everything that she had to go through.”

Loc tells me that every painting comes with a quote. Every piece has a story behind it, “It’s such an honor to have people share stuff like that. Who am I? Who am I that people would trust me with their stories?” asks Loc. She’s an artist who inspires. She’s someone who shares the quotes that inspire her by making paintings those quotes inspire her to make, and it resonates with people.

Truth Honor Respect Integrity by Kym LocAfter her time in service, Kym Loc joined a Karate group in South Carolina, “In that group, I never questioned if anybody had my back or not. I always knew if there were any issue, anything that I needed, they would be there. I think that was the beginning of my realization that I was worth more than what I was receiving. Just that slight little glimpse because they treated me with more respect than I was receiving at home.” It was an experience that gave her strength before she lost everything and landed in the hands of those willing to pick her back up again, “When you bow into a group session...we would say walk in truth, act with honor, show respect, and be known for your integrity.” Her instructor, Gary Owens, taught her that she was capable of so much more than she had ever before realized. “Having a father figure like that that would push you, knowing that you have the ability, having that faith in you, having rewards, I was halfway to black belt by the time I left South Carolina.”

Her training came in handy when she moved to New Mexico. “It’s really not that big of a deal,” she tells me as she begins recalling that one time she had to use her karate, “My friend and I were at a bar and there was this drunk skin head looking guy just being absolutely obnoxious. He absolutely would not leave me alone, so there are a few pressure points that you can use, and I took him and sat him down in his seat because he had absolutely no control, I sat him down in his seat, and I said, ‘I told you, leave me alone. I’m here with my friend, and we’re just hanging out.’ and all of a sudden I got an applause from the entire bar! So that guy must have been annoying to everybody!” I grinned from ear to ear hearing her story! It wasn’t my story, but her experience as a woman being harassed in a bar and being able to cope with it made me feel strong. Like her paintings, Kym Loc continues to share strength, beauty, and empowerment with her viewers.

Original Fine Art by Albuquerque Visual Artist Kym LocTimes have taken a turn for Kym Loc since she started painting. She’s happily married and still the proud mother of two. “My husband has so much faith in me, and encourages me, and critiques me when I need it.” Like anybody else who has experienced any amount of success, she is not alone, “I remember the day that I fell in love with him,” she tells me, “was the day that we got into a fight. We went to a wake, of all places. I went to get a drink, and I separated from him and somebody hit on me. I walked away, and I didn’t say anything, and he saw the whole thing. He was mad, and I didn’t understand why. It took me twelve hours to get the reason, and this was when I looked at myself through his eyes. I didn’t stand up for myself and go, ‘Yo! I’m not a piece of meat knock it off!’ I didn’t stand up for him and go, ‘No, I’m with him now, go away.’ I didn’t say anything about us as a relationship; I didn’t show any respect for that.” His response made her realize what the relationship meant to him and that he expected more from her, and she loved him for that. He’s seen and respected her as an independent visual artist and supported her professional practice.

Original Fine Art by Albuquerque Visual Artist Kym LocKym Loc’s husband has changed her life and allowed her and her work to affect the lives of so many others. She’s embraced her work as an opportunity for self-discovery, healing, and communication. “I named my very first series ‘Self Awakening’ because when I started hearing other people’s stories it made me—it wasn’t like I was all of a sudden cured of my history, I’m still insecure and stuff —but when I realized how other people saw me in a positive way, that’s when I started seeing myself in a positive way.”

In the future she hopes to have a haven to share with others, a place where people can go to relax and heal and have a cup of tea or coffee. “If someone ever needs to tell their story, and just get it off their chest or something, and I could be there and just listen —I look back, and I think if I would have had someone to listen without judgment and offer encouragement—I guess I think I would have been healed a lot faster than I was.” Kym Loc is still painting and waiting to listen.

We end our interview with words of encouragement, “Pull up your big girl panties and just go and be your true self.” says Kym Loc, “Accept yourself. Accept the stuff that you went through because you wouldn’t be who you are now if you didn’t.” It can be hard advice to take, but as Kym knows, “Whenever someone shares a story with me I don’t say, ‘Oh well, here’s my story.’ It's understanding and empathy, and there’s a difference between empathy and sympathy. Sympathy is when someone gives you pity. Empathy is when someone understands with encouragement. You might want sympathy, but you don’t need sympathy, you need someone to understand and be encouraging.”

You can learn more about Kym Loc and see more of her artwork by visiting her website at