When I began collaborating with my co-leaders for our new (in)courage community group, Art in Your Life, she was one of the first names I thought of when we were dreaming of artists and authors to share with our yet-to-be-formed group.
This past Sunday, I had a chance to Skype with Kris to finally say hello in person; talk about books and art journaling, and what it means to be a creative spirit.
It might surprise you to learn that art journaling is relatively new to her. This summer marks her one-year anniversary of what she calls her journaling adventure. Friend, Christine Heister – who led the art journaling workshop at Refine – created a custom-covered moleskin journal as a birthday gift and gave Kris what she called “the push” to get started. As an already avid journaler, the segue from words to images was a natural one.
As a stay-at-home-homeschooling mom of four, carving out time for art journaling has not been as easy or as natural.
“But it’s become something I share with my kids now,” she said with a smile. “I have this whole space set up with the materials, and if they’re resting, I can have some time alone to do it. If they’re awake, they join me with their own journals. As a busy mom, the spaces fill up so quickly with the things that need to be done – art journaling together allows me to have more time with them and enjoy this outlet."
Our conversation shifted to kids and home, and I found myself telling her about my crazy-long grass and the need to grow something wild and free – in spite of the insanity it seemed to inspire in our neighbors. I asked her how she defined creative, and she spoke of freedom, dancing colors, no rules. I found myself nodding along.
Our group has a basis in faith and Christ, and I asked what she thought God liked best about his creation when we are being creative.
“I think God likes it when we’re willing to ‘go there’ and be creative – whatever our preferred method: music, images, words – he takes pleasure in seeing us express ourselves – no matter what it looks like."
And speaking of what things look like, our group is called Art in Your Life, so of course I had to ask her how she found art in her life. “I find it everywhere,” she laughed. My youngest is very creative – I see her art all over the house. She loves birds (and I get to see one of the more recent creations).” Kris added, “I love photography, so I’m always looking around at the light and how it touches things – I see art everywhere. It’s so easy for us to fail to see it when we put parameters on what art is supposed to look like.”
It was a real pleasure speaking with Kris – what follows are questions from our (in)courage community group and her answers. Thank you Kris for taking the time to share with us!
Q: How did you discover Art Journaling and what difference has it made in your life?
I was introduced to art journaling by a very dear friend of mine, named Christine Hiester (http://www.barebranchblooming.com/) I had admired her many beautiful (BEAUTIFUL!) art journals, and Christine surprised me by making me an art journal for my birthday last year, and invited me to start my own art journaling adventure. That was the last nudge I needed. As to the difference it has made in my life? It is a peaceful, soul-sothing practice for me to work in my art journal. I’ve always been an avid believer in the value of keeping a journal, so it wasn’t too hard for me to make the jump from words to including images.
Q: What suggestions do you have for someone who is very analytically minded to 'turn on' the creative side?
I have many analytically minded friends, which must be a show of God’s sense of humor, as I am the complete opposite … ha! But I encourage them to relax and incorporate things that mean something to them. I believe we are all creative, it’s just a matter of discovering what it is that brings it out in us. Is it reading a certain book, is it seeing a film or observing architecture, it is music or dance, or words that spark our own desire to create something? Spend time getting to know yourself, and make a list of the things that inspire you to want to create something of your own. I should add, that by “create” I do not limit that to simply traditional art, drawing, or painting. You can create in the kitchen, in your home, with your clothing, etc.
Q: How did you realize you needed to launch Refine, and how long did it take to go from vision to reality? The journey to Refine retreat is a long one, but the short version is, God told me to do it. That may sound crazy, but He did. It was His vision, not mine. I was simply asked to carry it. The entire planning and preparation took a year. It was practically all-consuming for me, probably for many reasons, one of which was that I had never ever done anything like that before in my life, and it was a true faith journey, a pilgrimage of sorts, you might say.
Q: What is your Must Have supply - or top 5 anyway?
Top art supplies (besides a quality art journal) Glue (glue sticks, mod lodge, etc), Paint (watercolors/acrylic), magazines (and old books), washi tape , stickers, glitter, tissue paper, scissors, sketching pencils—oh, you said top 5…. Heh.
Q: What is your go-to Color Palette?
Blues and greens. I am a huge fan of teal, and various shades of it.
Q: How do you stay focused in your art journaling?
Focused… It depends. Focus is easy when I have a vivid idea in my head already, other times, I get very distracted flipping through old books and magazines looking for things to use. But I don’t worry about it, Art journaling time is wide open space, I let myself enjoy the distractions.
Q: As a busy, work-out-side the home, way-over-committed mom, how can I incorporate simple art journaling into my own life?
Art journaling will definitely not just happen if you don’t set aside time for it. It is low on the totem pole of priorities here, and as such, any time spent at my table must be intentional. That said, if it’s something you want to do, you will make time. Stay up 20 minutes later (or wake up a little earlier) set aside an early Saturday morning for some time making art. It’s like anything else, if you want to do it, you have to make an effort to fit it in to your schedule. Also, if you’re over-committed, take a look at that because that’s another issue entirely. Saying “no” is really okay. I promise. I am a recovering “yes” girl.
Q: How do you incorporate art or art journaling into your everyday life?
I believe we live surrounded by art. I find art when I sit on the back patio and listen to the birds, I find art in my kitchen and in the shadows on the floor. Art and art journaling are different in that, art surrounds me, but art journaling is not a part of my every-day. I am busy, and I have to make time for it, and that simply doesn’t happen every day.
Q: What fun projects are you working on now?
Mmm, should I tell you? I cannot reveal much right now, but I am building something. It will be ready (Lord willing) in October-ish. I’m excited about this new project and the potential it has. That’s my answer-non-answer ;) Sorry to be so coy – I hope you’ll keep up with me so you don’t miss it.
Q: What is your favorite way to make art? (What is your favorite medium?)
My favorite medium for making art is words. I am a writer, and image based art is my second love. Words are my first.
Q: Do you have a room or area that is dedicated to arts and crafts? (If so - can we see it?)
I DO! I have this beautiful, but awkward antique table that was passed down to me from my Grandparents. It’s too low to be a table with chairs, it’s about the height of a typical coffee table, but it’s really long—so I have claimed it as my art table, which means I do most of my art journaling on my knees or or on the floor.
Q: What is something artsy that you want to try, but haven't yet for whatever reason?
I tried calligraphy once as a child and enjoyed it. But never did it after that one trial. I would love to play with that a bit more, because then I could draw beautiful WORDS! ;)
Q: What makes Art Journaling different than journaling? I love the idea, I just don't know what I'd "do" with it once it was done....or is that part of the point, not to have to be practical?
Art journaling is very different from using words, and then it isn’t. Helpful, eh? It’s simply another form of expression. While I love to use words, I am also a very visual person, sometimes only an image will do, as the words just feel noisy. This is a great way to express thoughts and emotions through images, or say, when the words fail … there is nothing inherently practical about art journaling. That is not the point. Art journaling is for you. It is not intended to be practical or for a specific purpose. it’s a form of expression, release, and worship.
Q: How do you decide what subject to focus on in your art journal? I haven't tried art journaling yet, but have seen many beautiful examples. I just don't know where to start - do you start with scripture or is it more of what's on your heart at the time? Or more of a diary of what's going on in your life?
Personally, I often start with scripture. (Not always) I tend to get hung up on a verse and just want to flesh it out more. My art journaling is an act of worship. It is a conversation between me and God.
Q: Also, do you ever have to fight the question in your mind of "what would others [insert specific others] think about this?”
No. I don’t worry about this because my art journal is not for others. If and when I share my work it is because I feel so moved to share it. I don’t care what others think about it. This is a big deal for me, because I am a recovering people pleaser, but I know that my art journal is a personal thing, and yours should be too. Don’t go into it worrying about what others think about it. It’s not about pleasing people – at least it shouldn’t be. The beauty of art journaling is that there are no rules! There is so much freedom in it, that’s what I love. You don’t have to measure up to anything, try new methods, test out various mediums, play in the pages and forget about impressing others or even being understood. Your art journal is your sacred space for expression. Enjoy the breathing room.
Kris also shared with us about MADE - an e-course created by Christian creatives for Christian creatives, exploring what it means to be a person who makes things who believes she or he was, in turn, made by God. Registration will be open: Sunday, June 1st – Friday, August 25th. The 13-week course begins on September 1. This is one worth looking into friends!
I also asked her to share this video that her friend (and MADE leader) Anna Pasquale illustrated for her after Kris shared an exquisite vision with her. This message of redemption and grace is a powerful one. Be blessed.
I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!