AN INSIDE LOOK INTO KRISTA SKEHAN'S CREATIVE MIND
How did you get into art?
Through my love of color, shape, texture and emotion. My mom would say from very young it wasn’t about the colors in the rainbow but how they worked together that was my fascination, it wasn’t about the the ending of the story but how the pictures explained the words. To me, art is expressing something intangible and I am always drawn to process of how it reveals itself – it’s like watching magic unfold before your eyes.
When did you start a career as an artist? What inspired you to make this your profession?
I’ve painted practically my whole life on and off but it wasn’t till 2015 while working on some life goals of mine with my coach I figured out painting was a big part of “my dream”. As the words came out of my mouth, it was like a magnet pulling me to dig up my easel and throw some paint on the canvas. At first it was hard to dive in because I had so many strategic thoughts. What should I paint? What will people like? When will I have time? Who will buy them? What if no one buys them? What if they aren’t any good? I quickly learned “Strategy kills the dream.” Once I killed the strategic thinking, I was free and it felt amazing. I became prolific. It was a bit of an obsession the first year.
I decided to have an art show and put it out there to my community – a scary bold move but I couldn’t stop myself, it was all too fun and fell into place just right. I sold 60% of the work I had done in that first year. It was then that I realized I could make a career out of doing something that brings me so much joy. I balance painting with my full time job as a Creative Director of a branding firm owned by my husband and I called Personify. Personify feeds my collaborative, strategic, entrepreneur designer-self and painting allows me to tap into more emotion, working with color in my hands and relishing in the freedom of expression.
How would you describe your style?
Happy. Bold. Colorful and energetic. I am an expressive, not afraid to dance on the table or dive into a deep conversation with a total stranger. I am very thoughtful about my composition, subject matter and color pallet before I begin. Sometimes I wish I could paint without a plan but a lot of my art happens in my mind before I put anything on the canvas.
What do you love about being an artist? Where do you look to for inspiration?
Playfulness. I have a playful spirit and being an artist allows me to tap into that very quickly. A lot of life is very serious – big decisions to make, responsibilities of having children and financial pressures but always within me is the ability to tap into that spirit which brings joy and fills my bucket in return.
One of my favorite things about being an artist is when it motivates or inspires others to tap into their creativity. I’ve had quite a few friends and people approach me saying they started painting again or bought their family member paints because of following my work. Some people think they aren’t creative because they weren’t born artist. But, as Pablo Picasso said, “every child is born an artist, the problem is staying an artist as you grow up.” I believe my playful spirit has kept my artistic senses alive.
How do you get your kids involved in art? Do they love painting alongside you?
Art comes naturally to them because they can access imagination and play almost immediately. Creativity is always a happy time in our home whether it be painting, coloring, listening to music, building with legos or playing pretend – we foster imagination in our home and I think if they have that, they will always feel connected to art. Since I mostly paint at night and on the weekends my girls are very much a part of my process and my work. They often bunk in with me in my small home studio and together we share color and give feedback to each other singing all the way. Sometimes, it’s the four of us – my husband Dan is an amazing artist himself!
What impact do you want to make through your work?
Funny...I haven’t thought of this before. Truthfully, I’m painting for myself. I realize that sounds a bit selfish but for now, my work is very much an expression of something that brings me joy. If my work inspires others to tap into their creativity in any way, that is total bonus!
What advice would you give to young people who want to become artists?
Simple. Don’t want to become an artist, just be one. Live it. Open your heart and let it consume you. Art is very personal so as much as you study the masters or refine your technique, at the end of the day, it’s you that you must get to know.
Which other artists inspire you?
So many for many different ways. I follow a lot of artists that paint but also clothing designers and fabric makers. I gain inspiration from interior space design as well as nature. I’m in awe of artists that can paint in a graphic way using color in solid shapes the way that artist like Matisse and Diebenkorn have done. Since I’m a graphic designer, sometimes I wonder why my art doesn’t look more graphic but I suppose that’s the yin and yang of it all.
Do you think the media aid or hinder an artist’s career and success?
I suppose that depends on what the artist's definition of success is. I’ve found Instagram to be a wonderful part of my process – not sure I can prove it’s ROI, but for me each post and story is moving me forward to the next part of my journey and that has been fun to document.
I believe media has opened doors to finding more artists of all kinds and exposing art in a new way. I love viewing art in and amongst interior design, fashion, food, and moments of fun. I think media has brought art closer to people's view – in their homes, in their hands and I believe our world is becoming more visual because of it.
With the rise of online artists, designers and marketplaces, what do you believe the future of art looks like?
I think art is only going to become more alive and precious. With all the tech, AI and augmented reality, I believe as humans we will want to tap into our unique selves, our humanity and senses from an instinctual level. Living in Silicon Valley has made me very aware of the changing world around us and while technology has cured diseases and solved world problems, I do feel that human connection and attention will become our scarcest resource. I believe art, creativity and imagination will allow us to tap into our hearts and project more love. After all, isn’t that all we need?