Kristen, where did your creative spark begin, and can you trace your path to where you are today?
I always loved drawing and found myself in every available art class in junior high and high school.
Despite my doubts that I could make art a career, I received my BFA from USU and fell in love with painting.
I finished college with a lot of neat skills but very little direction. After starting my family, I took several short breaks from art but always came back to painting.
During those stints when art took the back seat, I always found out how much I needed that creative outlet in my life.
This past year I’ve really pushed to make painting and my art business a priority, and in return, I’ve experienced so much growth in my creative life and personal life.
I’m currently drawn to painting loose, contemporary landscapes, with trees and clouds specifically, but I’m also enjoying watching my work constantly evolve.
What’s your favorite drink/snack while you work?
Most painting days, I can’t wait to get to work, but on the days when it’s a little harder to get started, I find motivation in dark chocolate and extra salty pretzels!
After that, it doesn’t take long to get the creative juices flowing.
What materials do you use?
I paint on hardboard panels because I love the sleek surface.
Oils used to be my paint of choice, but when kids came along, it made sense to switch to acrylics.
They are incredibly practical when it comes to drying time and clean up without harsh chemicals.
My husband helps as well; he handcrafts custom pinewood floater frames for each painting.
Where do you create?
My studio is a spare bedroom. I love this little space of mine.
I can work at home while kiddos sleep, and when they wake, I can leave the mess behind a closed door!
A big window lets in lots of natural light, and an eight-foot table provides a lot of surfaces to work on several small pieces at one time.
What did you overcome to get to where you are now?
One year ago, I was still adjusting to life with two kids, and couldn’t imagine where I’d be today: consistently growing as an artist and successfully selling my work at shows and fairs.
It seemed like there could never be enough time to be a good mom and an artist, and I didn’t know how to achieve balance. One comment from a fellow parent/creative changed me forever: Balance is like the circus performer balancing several spinning plates on sticks simultaneously.
They aren’t actively spinning every plate all the time; they only spin the plate that is about to fall.
At that point, I began to take one day at a time, let go of the overwhelm, and not beat myself up when I dropped a plate!
How would you describe your creative process?
All of my paintings are inspired by Utah and surrounding areas.
I like to paint on-site, but most often I paint in my studio with my photos for reference. I begin with a loose white chalk sketch on a dark underpainting to lay in the composition.
Then I like to block in the colors quickly with intuitive brushstrokes.
I add just a few finishing details while still trying to keep it looking fresh and not overworked.
All this happens in an hour or less! If I like what I see, it gets varnished, and if I don’t (which happens!), it gets a badge of honor for being a learning experience.
You can find Kristen on Instagram.