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Life and Work with Kristen Abbott

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen Abbott.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m pretty sure I was born with an innate need to create. For as long as I can remember, I have had some sort of art project either brewing in my mind or being fleshed out with my hands. I had wonderful parents who supported my artistic interests and gave me the space to create and explore even though that meant they had to continually step around the ongoing art experiments that typically took over the whole house.

I also had an amazing art mentor, Nina Baker, who let me come over to her studio and paint with her from a very young age, probably 10 or so. I can still picture the slanted gables and smell of oil paint in her studio and the excitement of wondering what I would create while I was with her. She encouraged and honed the natural talent she saw in me in very gentle ways. A true exploration of my creativity that was less prescribed “art lessons” and more just playing with paint. She taught me the art fundamentals, but more than that, she gave me a glimpse of what it looks like to find lifelong joy in creating beauty in the studio. Time with her was never scripted, and always joyful and peaceful. These experiences stirred my love of creating but it wasn’t until after working at a contemporary art gallery post-college that I gained the vision for what it looked like to be a full-time, working artist. I learned so much from that experience and it definitely has set the trajectory for what I consider possible for my career.

In the last five years, I have focused my energy on my art full time, and I have continued to hone my artistic voice and grow into who I am today. The older I get, the more I see how the depth and beauty of life’s joys and heartache add to the meaning and significance of my art. I will always have the desire to turn my experiences into art– into tangible beauty that people can see their own story mirrored in.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’m not going to pretend creating art is this magical, transcendent experience every time I get in the studio. In fact, most days, it isn’t. What it IS, is a lot of continuing to show up and doing the work even when it sucks. Doing the work ESPECIALLY when there is NO magic, NO fireworks, NO rounds of applause. You probably won’t ever see that work posted on social media because it’s hiding in a dark corner of my basement and will likely be painted over five more times before I’m happy with it. That’s part of the process. I love this quote by Austin Kleon: “Ironically, really good work appears to be effortless. People will say, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ They won’t see the years of toil and sweat that went into it.”

For me, it goes in phases of (long) periods of struggle and experimentation. Ideas percolate before I get to a phase of executing them in a way that feels good and whole. Then, it will feel good for a while… I can ride that wave for a season before the next idea hits me and I’m back to the beginning and relearning everything.

When I feel stuck, I remind myself to keep the big goal in mind: I want to be an artist for the rest of my life. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We place so much pressure on ourselves to achieve XYZ by age 25, 30, 35, etc, otherwise, we have “failed.” That’s a lie. I have to consciously reject that pressure and stay in my own lane to grow and push myself without comparing my story to someone else’s.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am an abstract, mixed media painter specializing in large scale abstract pieces for high end residential and commercial spaces. I am known for my love of texture and limited color palettes. I love to create paintings that bring a room to life. I truly believe that original art adds soul to a space that otherwise might be “pretty” but lacks a sense of depth and personality.

The two most recent accomplishments I am proud of as an artist are: 1) creating original paintings for each patient room on a newly remodeled hospital floor and 2) producing an online painting class with Bluprint (www.mybluprint.com). Both of these projects pushed the boundaries of what I knew to be possible for me and I am proud to have executed them with both professionalism and intentional artistry.

What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
Find someone who is doing what you would like to do and learn from them! Take an internship or find a mentor in your field and learn as much as you can. Watch, ask questions, and then start figuring out how to apply it to your career path and aspirations – a.k.a. make it your own. Take the time to find your unique voice. That doesn’t mean that you don’t start putting yourself out there until you have it all figured out because you never will. But, it does mean as you experiment you seek to find what resonates deeply as true to you. Don’t go with the trends of what is “popular” or what you see other people being successful with, but choose to lean into what feels true for you and your work.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bluprint, Kylie Fitts, Brandon Lopez

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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