Meet the Maker: Yagmur Kuzay on climbing and art

The final maker for the 2022 Mappy Hour Maker Series is Yagmur Kuzay. After an inspiring night painting with Yagmur in Seattle last month, we asked her to create a custom piece that bridged both outdoors and indoors as we head into colder weather. She painted this beautiful plant pot and was generous enough to spend extra time sharing insight into her process and art.

How did you start painting?

I have been painting since my childhood. I remember how I used to paint everything that surrounded me, and I never missed an opportunity to create something beautiful. However, I would say that about two years ago is when I started painting more consciously, thoughtfully, and with greater intention.

How do you decide which medium to use for each project?

Sometimes the medium that I’m painting on (such as a plant pot) makes the decision for me, since only certain types of paint will even work. But if I am doing a standard painting on paper/canvas, then the medium is usually determined by what I want the experience to be. For instance, sometimes I want to see the colors move around, so I’ll use watercolors. Or perhaps I am feeling illustrative and want to challenge myself, so I’ll use something more outside of my comfort zone, like acrylic or gauche.

What draws you specifically to watercolor?

First, I love the challenge of using them. Watercolors are dynamic and can be unpredictable, especially if you are painting in a chaotic environment. Watercolors don’t give you much time to work because they dry quickly, so it forces me to accept imperfection and work on instinct. Lastly, they are so portable, both the supplies and the finished product, that you can take them anywhere. Much of what I feel is my best work was done on-location in the mountains, where inspiration is all around me. It has been such a gift to find something that fits so well.

How do you decide what to paint next?

Honestly, for me, I never know when inspiration will strike. I have a huge album of inspiration photos that sometimes I suddenly feel the need to bring to life, but there are other sources of inspiration. Sometimes it’s things that are obviously inspiring, like the night sky over Mt. Baker while camping in the snow. But it can also be little things, like walking down the paint aisle at an art store and seeing a color that I absolutely love. Inspiration comes in mysterious ways.

Tell us about your love for climbing? How did it start? 

The first time I climbed was actually on a first date. After that I quickly fell in love. I love that climbing makes me feel strong, mentally and physically. The thing that kept me coming back was the challenge. Climbing is a sport that requires you to be, mentally in control, patient and accepting of failure. The challenge to my mind and body and finding their limitations then working/pushing through them. The amazing experiences I’ve shared and friendships I’ve developed as a result. 

It looks like your pieces are mostly of mountains, do you ever plan to do paintings of crags?

Yes! I’m actually planning to live on the road for a couple of months next year mainly focused on climbing and creating art. I would love to challenge myself with a new environment and different landscapes.

What’s the climbing community like in Seattle?

The climbing community in Seattle is amazing. There are so many strong, inspiring, friendly, and welcoming people. I have made so many close friends through climbing which has been a blessing.

The community is super supportive. People who are total strangers will cheer you on when they see you are trying hard on a climb. Regardless of what level you are at, people love to have fun, try hard, and get better together. 

About the Mappy Hour Maker Series

Throughout our Mappy Hour community are incredibly talented makers. Many of whom do this work as a side project to full time jobs. We wanted to share their passions and skills with the broader community, which is why we’re launching the Mappy Hour Maker Series. Every month, we’ll feature a different maker from one of our chapters and give them the floor to share how they started, how the outdoors influences their creative processes and how you can win one of their custom pieces.

This entire series is presented by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – so grab a cold brew, relax and come join in!

Header photo by Andrew Kearns

New on the Blog