Although the terms “medical school” and “spare time” generally have nothing to do with one another, Kirk Campaña never let this get in the way.
Presently an urgent care physician in Eagle, ID, Campaña is also an artist. Recalling those grueling, grinding med school days, Campaña says that, despite the heavy workload, he recognized he was unhappy if not making art, so he somehow always found the time.
“No matter where my personal life, education, training, or professional career took me, I have found that I need to make art,” Campaña says. “While studying biophysics at UC Berkeley or studying medicine at UCLA, I found time to take art classes or make art on my own.”
An Artist before Becoming a Physician
From a child, Campaña has always liked to paint, draw, and build things, and as an adult his artistic portfolio includes pastel, oil, and watercolor painting, as well as steel sculpture.
“I think art is a universal tool that humans practice in order to process and understand one’s world and self,” Campaña observes. “Although all of us explore this in childhood, most individuals have given up this practice as adults.
“I never did.”
As a physician, Campaña draws upon his knowledge of human anatomy for his figurative painting and sculpture. As a family man involved in his daughters’ livestock 4-H projects — the family is raising its second steer, third generation of St. Croix sheep, and a dozen laying hens — he expresses the beauty and complexity of the world through his landscape art. Nature in all her forms inspires him to spend time creating in his studios — a bonus room above the garage for painting and a shop attached to the house for sculpture.
“I have always found the form and function of the human body fascinating.
“I also find nature and the natural world beautiful, complex, and full of patterns and rhythms — similar to the human body.”
The Inspired Physician
Campaña is presently focusing upon pastels, a medium he describes as forgiving of mistakes and welcoming to experimentation. He enjoys the medium’s encouragement to tactile involvement, describing the joy of smudging and smearing pigment about with his finger and whole hand.
“I like being able to draw, smear, scuff, drag, and erase with graceful strokes or urgent percussion and repetition.”
The land around which he lives provides endless inspiration, and Campaña, never one to be still, discovers secluded copses and remote, quiet streams when he hikes or bikes through the region. Closer in, a series of landscaped gardens he has designed on his property find themselves highlighted in paintings. Sometimes he sketches or paints watercolor plein air, but mostly he prefers creating in his studio, based upon notes, reference photos, and the plein air sketches.
Through the years, Campaña has participated in various group shows and been accepted into juried exhibitions, and the most memorable took place the final year of medical school. Upon the urging of a surgical pathologist who taught at UCLA and was also an artist, Campaña entered his work in the Los Angeles Physician Artist Society annual art show and took Best of Show. Describing himself as “quite amazed and flattered,” Campaña marvels that the judge was a Los Angeles artist, not a physician.
Since moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2012, Campaña has juried into the Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts in Joseph, OR, where he has won awards for pastel and sculpture.
The Artistic Physician
With a “really basic goal” of conveying what seems interesting or meaningful visually, Campaña seeks to express, through his art, how he responds to his world.
“Beauty, complexity, rhythm, mystery, and surprise all make me feel alive and end up in my art (hopefully!).”
Keeping busy — whether it’s at the clinic, in the studio, with the family, or on the property fixing the fences that always need fixing — is its own form of inspiration, and Campaña never finds himself short of ideas for the next artistic project. What he’s always looking to find, as he did in medical school, is a little more time. But then again, he’s well practiced at finding the time he needs to do his art.
“As I spend more time on art, I discover more about myself, who I am meant to be and what I want to express as an artist.”
To purchase Campana’s work online, click here.
Kirk Campaña is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, June 4, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, June 30, 2018.
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.