I’m not sure of the definition of “self-taught” these days there are so many available inputs for learning new stuff. Regarding art, with the exception of a couple of quarters of ceramics at UT Knoxville as an undergraduate and one halfway audited drawing class at our local community college a few years back, none of my other art or craft lessons have been in academic sessions. To say I love to learn and expand my skills is an understatement. I’m mostly self-taught and fortunate to have taken many a workshop with incredible teachers. And then there was my mom.
|Embroidery on Quilt Square|
I tell folks that my mother was the biggest influence on me being a creative person. She instilled that curiosity about making “all the things.” She was such a talented craftswoman who could rug hook, knit, sew, quilt, garden, cook, embroider, cross-stitch, crochet, and do virtually anything with her hands. As a child, I knew I could always wheedle a craft project, or book, much more easily than say a doll or other toy. We made our Christmas ornaments and sewed together. Whatever she was doing she taught me to do it, too. I never saw my mother’s hands idle and I’ve adopted that stance. A 30-minute car ride merits a project!
Throughout my 20s, 30s, and early 40s I’d say I was an accidental crafter. The urge to create was there and I pined for time to play. I would bottle it up until it burst out! I remember one day absolutely having to paint and write poetry all over a chair….just because I HAD TO. The odd things called to me and I was intrigued with art that included a ton of bits, baubles, fonts, and old rusty things.
Like many who love Mixed Media, opening up Somerset Studio magazine for the first time was a life-changing experience for me. “What??? There are others in this world oddly attracted to photos of people I don’t know and collages with random meanings?” Flipping to the back I discovered there were even retreats and classes for this art form I had been drawn to for years! I made plans.
My first retreat was in Portland, Oregon for a week. I took classes from instructors like Traci Bautista and Claudine Hellmuth; rock stars in my world. I kept all my projects and notes. I was hooked. For years after that my best friend from high school & college and I used an annual retreat as a way to reconnect over a shared passion for being creative.
With my background in Chamber of Commerce work, and my mother being the consummate “Southern Woman,” the hospitality of the retreat settings was lacking for me. Hotels can be impersonal and large crowds intimidating. Living in a UNESCO Creative City (Paducah, Kentucky) that annually hosts over 35,000 people for QuiltWEEK, the wheels started turning. Could I bring my love of learning art and craft to my home and create an inviting space for people like me to learn?
The prospect of turning 50 was daunting to me. I remember vividly dreading it as I was driving to yet another meeting in my field of Economic Development. I had to get excited about turning 50 and things had to change. That’s when the planning for Ephemera Paducah, my art and craft workshop space began. Now it is over 3 years old and the best 50th birthday present anyone could have “given” me.
I’m all over the place as far as favorite mediums. Mixed Media is a polite way to put it. Art Journaling has been a tremendous outlet for me as a way to push boundaries, learn new techniques, and actively create without worrying about if someone will buy this. It’s art for me. I’m so pleased that the most recent edition of Art Journaling Magazine by Somerset Studio features one of my journals!
Lately I’ve been picking up discarded quilt squares and giving them new life with stencils and embroidery. It’s been nostalgic harkening back to the days when my mother taught me French Knots and Lazy Daisy stitches. These will turn into journal covers.
As one who’s always picked up odd bits in junking adventures, assemblages are also quite intriguing to me. Maybe storytelling is my story as I create tales for the well-loved, hand made quilt squares or old photographs incorporated into collages?
I love being a work-in-progress and learning from the amazing rock star instructors hosted at Ephemera Paducah. It’s also lovely creating a place for those like me who love to learn. The vibe in the room when everyone gets into his/her project is palpable and totally energizing. I guess my art is my art; but also creating a place for people to share and learn is the greatest art I’ve created to date.
This is Week 29 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Kristin’s story today. To see more of her work and connect with her, please visit the following links: