Thursday, March 1, 2012

Artist of the Month - Kristen Watts

"Gypsy Girl"
I'm so excited about this month's artist! Kristen Watts is full of enthusiasm and excitement which really comes through in her artwork.  I met Kristen in the Art of Silliness Class we are both taking with Carla Sonheim. I immediately fell in love with her artwork.

Kristen grew up in Burien, which is a suburb of Seattle, Washington.  She now lives in Port Orchard, Washington with her husband and two daughters.  Her daughter's Mylie 13 and Ivy 9 are both creative like their Mom. Kristen feels they have a huge amount of potential in the art world so she tries to nurture that as much as she can.

"I Believe"
Kristen has a diverse background including a Bachelor of Arts in Education, 5 years teaching Physical Education, and a career as a journeyman lineman for the City of Seattle.  Here is her story of how she ended up as the amazing artist that she is...

"I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education, specifically K- 12 Physical Education and Health.  As a child I never considered myself artsy, although I did enjoy art projects in school etcetera.  I was more of a "tinkerer" always getting into things.  I remember as a 4 year old getting into the cupboards of the kitchen and without any supervision making my brother a birthday cake (and a huge mess in the process).  Of course it was awful because I combined all sorts of ingredients (anything I could dump or pour into a bowl) in there, but my Mom baked it anyway, and we all had a bite and a good laugh.  I was an extremely hyper-active kid, so sitting still and doing art wasn't even an option that I was capable of then!  My mom forced me to play soccer to get me out of the house when I was in the 4th grade and had me involved in all sorts of activities and sports growing up. I was a very shy and anxious kid, so my involvement in sports kind of helped me make friends, expend some of my over abundance of energy and gain some self-confidence.  My identity growing up was all wrapped up in Sports, (I was a Varsity athlete in soccer, gymnastic and track in high school and played year-round Select soccer on top of the school sports). I played Varsity Soccer in college and still play indoor soccer today. My involvement in sports left very little time to focus on art (or any other thing) at all.  So, in reality I am a newborn when it comes to art, or thinking of myself as an artist!  

I taught Elementary Physical Education for 5 years before deciding it wasn't for me.  I then went on to a 4 year apprenticeship to become a journeyman lineman for the City of Seattle (climbing poles and towers and building/maintaining power lines.)  I did linework for 8 years until I had Ivy, my youngest.  I've been a stay at home mom ever since!  I really became interested in art when my (now ex) Father in Law started painting.  He was and still is an amazing watercolor artist and I admired his work all the time.  He finally sat me down one day with some paper and paint and helped me complete my first watercolor painting.  It actually turned out pretty good, and I was hooked.  But at that time, I worked long hours and didn't really have the time to do much in the way of art.  I played around with painting every now and then, and did more arsty/craftsy things at that time.  
What really got me started painting and believing in myself as an artist was Kelley Rae Roberts book, "Taking Flight".  When I first picked up that book and thumbed through it, I knew I had to have it.  It was the first book that I had ever seen that actually showed you how to paint in the style I loved and admired.  I bought it right then, went home, read the whole thing and immediately started painting.  I gave everyone in my family a painting for Christmas  a few weeks later, and got such raves and compliments from my friends and family, that I knew I had to keep learning more!  For awhile I was very discouraged because I couldn't for the life of me, draw or paint a face that looked at all decent!  So I went in search online to find out how and discovered this whole incredible online world of art!  I enrolled in my first online workshop, Suzi Blu's "The Goddess and the Poet".  I finally learned how to draw and paint a face that I could live with...AND that was my first introduction to art journaling too! That was 3 years ago and I haven't stopped creating since!  I also learned a lot about creating backgrounds and drawing/painting faces in Monica Zuniga's "Inspire Me" and "Pencil Drawing" classes on her Ning site Hands and Heart."
"Facing the Sun"
Kristen's artwork is so full of life and color.  I asked her about the materials she uses in her mixed media.

"I love to use all sorts of decorative and hand painted papers, vintage book pages and anything with texture to start to build my background.  Golden Fluid Acylics, Caran de' Ach neocolor II, watersoluble crayons and Twinkling H20 watercolors are my favorite painting mediums.  But I also love Pitt Artist pens, the Big chunky kind with a brush tip, they are so "juicy" they last forever and stay wet long enough to use your finger or a paintbrush to blend colors.  I use them all the time for shading my faces.  I've really come to love using a Bic white-out pen for decorative details as well.  Prismacolor colored pencils are a must have for me too. Sketch books, journals and altered books are still my favorite (safe) place to create, so I have a whole stash of them! As a general rule for me....there are no rules!  Nothing is off limits as far as materials to use.  I like to recycle, and find new uses for everyday ordinary things (like used dryer sheets for example! See my youtube video tutorials) I love texture in my paintings, so just to name a few...I've used cheesecloth, buttons, foil, glue, aluminum tape, egg shells, gesso, modeling paste, crackle medium, puzzle pieces...I could go on and on!"

"Bird with a view and Loitering at the Cafe Necklace"

 Kristen also creates beautiful jewelry with her art. Here is a little about how she goes about her creative process for her jewelry.

"As far as my jewelry creations go, I started out experimenting with soldering prints from my artwork between two pieces of slide glass.  Soldering is (at least for me) NOT as easy as it looks!  I'm not very good at it at all, but it's fun and I plan on continuing to learn and practice. Just as in my mixed media projects, I love to find a way to use found and recyclable objects in my jewelry.  For example, I love beach rocks (I can spend hours sifting through beach rocks, I LOVE them!) and I have loads of them from collecting over the years!  I wanted to find a way to use them in jewelry pieces, so I began experimenting with resin and all sorts of other things to make interesting pendants.  My latest thing is using spent brass bullet casings in my jewelry.  Originally I just wanted to saw off the ends and use the round part to glue on to other elements for an interesting effect, but I've tried all sorts of saws, dremels etc...and couldn't find a way to cut through them!  This has led me to using the whole casing and wire wrapping and beads, a whole new world of possibilities!  I'm really excited about some of my bullet pendants I've created so far( a far better use for bullets, don't you think?)!  Now I really want to learn more about metal working and jewelry.  So as you can see, one things keeps leading to another and I have SO much to learn!"

"Brass bullet jewelry"

I asked Kristen what her favorite and least favorite parts of creating her art are.  Here's what she had to say.

"My favorite part of the artistic process is coming up with ideas, techniques and new ways of creating whatever effect or end result I'm after.  I love seeing and "feeling" a piece come together out of thin air!  I also love to watch the effect my art has on other people.  I love getting feedback on my work, because it inspires me to do more.  I guess you could say I'm an "idea factory" and I love when I can take an idea and find ways to make it come to life!  

My least favorite part of the process is when it DOESN"T (come to life).  I often get stuck and have a multitude of unfinished pieces laying around.  I can't stand it when I can't finish something, and it's usually because I get to a point that I like, and am afraid to proceed because I'm afraid I'll ruin it!  Sometimes I'll have an idea of how I want something to look and then realize I don't have the skill to achieve it (or don't have the confidence...) so the piece remains limbo."

"Silence leads us to the truth"
Kristen just received some exciting news, 7 of her art pieces were just accepted to The Blue Water Artworks Gallery in Poulsbo, Washington.  Her artwork will be exhibited some time near the end of March or the beginning of April.  

"Lady Bugs Leaf"

"The Very Hungry Caterpillar"
While reading about Kristen and admiring all of her artwork, I came across a few of her Zentangle designs.  I love them! She is making me want to get out the Zentangle journal again.  

"29 Faces Challenge: Face #13"
Kristen is participating in an art challenge called 29 Faces Challenge.  You can read about it in her blog post here.  The idea of the challenge was created by Ayala Art.  It's really fun to look at all of Kristen's faces that she has created so far.  Her challenge to herself is to create 100 faces, so this challenge will get her off to a great start.

"We Three"

Kristen has a few special artist's that have inspired her.

"I thought I'd mention some of the artists I admire and who inspire me as well:  Kelly Rae Roberts, Suzi Blu, Monica Zuniga, Pam Carriker, Flora Bowley and Jesse Reno.  I see myself leaning more toward an abstract style in the future and would really like to learn how to paint more like the last two I mentioned, while still using inspiration from the others and incorporating my own unique spin on it all! I am so excited and in love with making art!"

I hope that you have enjoyed getting to know Kristen and her incredible artwork.  If you'd like to discover more about Kristen and her art, here are her links:


Art Play Today said...

Stacie, thank you so much for featuring me as your artist of the month. I am so honored!=]

Kim said...

another wonderful interview- I love reading them! Kristen is a wonderful artist- I love her work! I am off to look at her websites- thank you so much for doing these interviews, I really look forward to them :)

stacie said...

Thanks so much for your kind comments Kristen & Kim! I love writing these posts too :) Fills me with inspiration!

Just got back from vacation & shared the post. Take care!