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Kristyan Stjerne: Alchemy with Earth Pigments

Kristyan Stjerne: Alchemy with Earth Pigments

Posted by Hayley Hartwig on Oct 12th 2023

Kristyan Stjerne is a surfer and artist based in Indonesia. He uses Earth and Mineral PigmentsNatural Acrylik MediumOrganic Cotton Canvas, and Gum Arabic throughout his work. Thank you to Kristyan, for taking the time to talk about his art and creative journey with natural art materials!

Photo taken by Gerhard Englebrecht 

Where did you grow up and how did this place influence you and your art?

I grew up in Southern California in a little small town close to the border of Mexico called Bonita. There was always so much beautiful culture and art being so close to the border of Mexico.

My mother has always had a beautiful passion for music, opera, theater, and the arts; she was always taking me to museums and galleries as a kid while emphasizing the importance of the arts and music as I grew up. I remember seeing all the vibrant color combinations and incredible artisans from Mexico when she would take me to see my aunts and uncles. Mexico was always such a beautiful contrast to the simple color schemes of America. Mexico was the first place I felt the power of color.

Who were your early influences in your art or creative process?

My grandpa on my father's side was the first person to show me how to paint. I have very fond memories as a kid that I hold very dear to my heart about painting flowers with my Grandpa.

I remember as a kid my mother took me to a Keith Haring art show in Los Angeles and seeing his work in person changed my life. I remember going home after the show and taking butcher paper from my mom’s kitchen and trying to draw what I saw at the show. I knew then I wanted to be an artist.

Did you receive formal training? If not, what was your process to learn painting?

I studied ceramics and printing making at the Art Institute of San Francisco for 3 years and with one semester left to get a bachelor's degree in fine arts I dropped out to study yoga full time. I never went back to college after that. I don't think I was designed for institutions. I always found them constricting and too structured.

Photo taken by Evgenii Ivkov

Do you have a ritual or practice that you do before starting to paint?

For me, the hardest work to do is to clear my space physically, mentally, and energetically to get a clear state of mind. If there is anything on my to-do list, (any kinda life chores or drama) it’s really challenging for the creation energy to come through for me.

Often to raise my vibrational frequency I’ll turn my phone off, light a candle, take a flower bath, turn on my favorite music, and then all I have to do is just go off. Once I’m working it is effortless, the art just comes through. It feels like it comes from somewhere above and down through my physical body.

Photo taken by Evgenii Ivkov

Did a shift to using natural materials change anything in your art-making experience or final results?

Before discovering natural pigments and natural art materials I used a lot of toxic materials in my day. I used to think that it was something that was just standard; art supplies were toxic and I knew no other way. Living in Indonesia I was blessed to discover indigo and the rich natural dye techniques that the Indonesians still use to this day. Once I felt that natural pallet and saw the resonance that illuminated it I was changed forever. It was a living color, alive in all of its glory and I could not go back to using synthetic pigments. After I felt that, I spent about a year researching and learning as much as I could. It often felt like I was starting all over from scratch again but I was so excited to finally see the work I had always dreamt about finally coming to life.      

What is one thing you enjoy about using Natural Earth Paint products? Why is it important to you to use natural art supplies? 

Using Natural Earth Paint pigments has been a dream come true. I feel as if I am some kind of alchemist turning salt into gold when I mix pigments. There is a very ancient element that I love to feel with the pigments. It’s as if I’m part of a rich living tradition passed down from our ancestors. There is this modern primitive energy with it, using these ancient techniques and earth minerals that have been forming in the ground for millions of years but in a modern present-day time just like the old masters.

Photo taken by Evgenii Ivkov

Where can our audience see more of your work and support you?

You can find my work online or on most modern-day Internet channels at Kristyan Stjerne. 

Instagram: @kristyanstjerne