“On a painting day I skip breakfast and lunch. It’s not intentional—I just lose all sense of space and time while creating.” – Kim Leutwyler Share this quote on Twitter

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Kim Leutwyler

What is your morning routine?

I usually wake up at 7:43am, although that can vary based on how late I went to bed the night prior. I cannot set my alarm for times that end in 5 or 0 (not sure why exactly). I remain in bed to read news, check emails, and answer direct messages on social media.

After 5-10 minutes my pup realizes I am awake and swats my iPhone out of my hand so that I will give her a morning cuddle. When we get out of bed, I let her outside and start boiling water in a kettle on the stove to make a pour-over coffee. If it feels like a painting day, I skip the shower and brekky, wandering straight into the studio (aka spare bedroom in the house) to stare at whatever painting I am working on. I begin painting almost immediately, and this lasts for 6-10 uninterrupted hours until I am absolutely starving or desperately need to pee.

What time do you go to sleep?

I go to bed around 2:00am, give or take an hour.

Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?

I wouldn’t say that my nighttime routine makes my day easier, but it certainly makes my dreams more entertaining, which may in turn cause my imagination to take a surprising turn the following day. Right before bed I browse new works by other artists. I find them on my favorite blogs, articles, social media feeds, etc. Then I set my alarm to wake up at the end of my sleep cycle to coincide with my REM sleep. This gives me the best chance of remembering my dreams in the morning.

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My dreams are filled with monsters and imaginary creatures, and there is usually a basement that serves as a portal to another place, concept, or state of being. Most people would probably classify them as nightmares, but as a horror fan I find them quite entertaining! Many years ago I would write down my dreams in the morning in an effort to remember them. Later I moved on to sketching scenes from my dreams, and now I simply spend some time fondly reminiscing over them.

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?

I do indeed set an alarm on my iPhone, and I never hit snooze. Once that alarm goes off my brain is wide awake and active, so trying to go back to sleep would be futile.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

On a painting day I skip breakfast and lunch. It’s not intentional—I just lose all sense of space and time while creating. Eventually, I am pulled out of the zone by a grumbling tummy, so I run to the kitchen and eat the fastest, easiest thing I can get my hands on before going back into the studio. On days when I am not in the mood to paint, I spend time cooking a breakfast sandwich or making a veggie/fruit smoothie.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

Coffee. I’m obsessed with Allpress Espresso! It’s a small company that started out as a single coffee cart in New Zealand and now has locations around the world. They use hot air roasting so that the unique character of the beans can shine through, replacing the smoky burnt taste that traditional drum roasting causes. My wife used to work at Allpress as a roaster, so we have a personal connection to the coffee as well. They have a great track record of supporting artists, myself included!

How does your partner fit into your morning routine?

My partner and I are exact opposites when it comes to most things in life, and our morning routines are no exception. She snoozes at least six times, using a silent vibration so as not to wake me. She sleeps for 1-2 hours after I wake up, checking in on me in the studio after she’s had a shower.

Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

I am a professional artist who also works a full time job, so weekends, don’t exist :)

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

When I am traveling or staying in a different environment, my morning routine changes dramatically. I sleep as late as 10:00 or 11:00am, and rarely look at my technology, focusing instead on being present and exploring my surroundings with my partner and pup.

What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

If I do not follow my morning routine, the whole day is lost. Or perhaps the day just feels off when I wake up, and as a result I end up not following my morning routine. It’s a “chicken or egg” situation. I can tell the day is lost when I delay getting out of bed, when I can walk past my studio door without peeking in, or when I actively seek out random tasks to complete that could easily be deferred.

Anything else you would like to add?

Those interested in seeing my artwork can do so via my website (NSFW). I also post time lapses of my paintings in progress on Instagram (NSFW). I create paintings of LGBTQ+ identified and allied women, trans, and gender-nonconforming people, most recently focusing on those who have impacted my life in some way.

My work toys with the concepts of glorification, objectification, and modification, touching on the mutability of identity, gender, and beauty. Although I enjoy working in a variety of mediums, I have come to focus on painting because of its primarily masculine history in the western art canon. Dedicated to my studio practice, I intend to continue making art throughout the course of my life, no matter what path my career may take. In the future, I see my artwork stimulating dialogue in both the feminist and mainstream art worlds.


You can view Kim’s artwork at the Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco, California, between September 15 and October 6, 2018.

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