Hi Kristen, thank you so much for chatting with us about your expressive and joyful creative practice!
You describe yourself on your website as an “expressive art alchemist, author, designer, beading educator, painting facilitator, & certified creativity coach.” Is there one role that resonates most strongly with you, or one that sparked the rest?
If there is one that I feel deep in my soul it’s an expressive art alchemist. That is the seed that all other areas of my creative life grow from. Being an expressive artist means that I use the modality of art making as a way to heal, process emotions and as an inquiry for self discovery. Turning my emotions of stress, anxiety, sadness as well as joy, freedom and curiosity into something of beauty through painting is where the alchemist comes in. The depth at which this process is felt within me feeds my desire to share as a facilitator and creativity coach. It inspires me to encourage others to live a creative life and discover their creative magic.
Tell us a little bit more about your personal background and how you got into creative work!
At a young age, I understood the power artistic expression held for me. I loved to draw, dance, paint and sculpt. I went to art school and got a degree in graphic design.
My creative career began and continues today as a designer within the beading craft industry. This has given me the opportunity to learn the art of jewelry making alongside my graphic design work. This eventually grew into me becoming a beading educator as an offshoot of my design job. In regards to my creative work outside of my career, I have tried so many things! In the past 20 years I have explored designing wedding invitations, painting furniture, selling jewelry, drawing lessons for kids and more. I even designed, co-authored and self-published a beading how-to book titled, Seed Bead Revolution. Throughout all of my creative exploration, I would return time and again to drawing and painting. They are my favorite personal practices and source of my own wellbeing. This year, I am celebrating my 10 year anniversary of showing my art publicly in local restaurants and galleries, which feels like a huge milestone! I began facilitating painting workshops in 2016, became a creatively fit coach in 2017 and for the last few years I have been building a virtual creative community on Facebook called Discover Your Creative Magic. In there, I share creative wellbeing practices, art journaling lessons, paint-a-longs and more. I create because I am curious, I am inspired, I want to celebrate and share. I want to celebrate nature and I want to honor my curiosity by sharing, to both build community and to spark that curiosity and wonder in others.
My inspiration comes from my love of nature and curiosity of the world around me. I love to learn and explore ideas that are intriguing to me.
When did you first try natural pigments, and why? Was it related to health concerns, ethical reasons, or eco-conscious motivations?
I was first introduced to the idea of eco-conscious art supplies about a decade ago when I picked up a book at the library on the subject. My kids were toddlers and I was cleaning up my act in many areas of my life, looking for more eco-conscious and sustainable products. The ideas of foraging and homemade recipes in the book seemed a bit out of my reach at the time. I carried around that desire to be a better steward for the earth through my art for a long time. Many of the things I paint are in reverence to the earth and so it felt right for me to extend that respect to the products I choose to use.
Fast forward to the pandemic and I noticed that I was seeing more natural pigment paint being created and used in art making and my interest in trying it was renewed. When your skill grows, the things you use in your art practice evolve too. My focus shied to wanting to be thoughtful about the products I chose to use in my art and decided to make earth pigments a priority to try. I sought out suppliers and came across Natural Earth Paint. I was so excited to find you! I started reading your blog, following you on social media and checking out the artists you featured to see how they were using your products. I even reached out to a few artists directly to inquire about your pigments and they all shared how much they enjoy working with them.
How has using Natural Earth Paint changed your creative practice?
Making pigment watercolor has become a deeply nourishing, connective practice. The paint making itself became part of the art and got such wonderful feedback when sharing the process with my community. One of the biggest changes I feel will be the colors I create with. I can get pretty bright and bold in my color palette in the past and am somewhat known for those colors. Even though I am a lover of earth tones, the idea of my artwork taking on an earthy color palette felt a little scary at first. Overall, I am excited about the color change and I will say you have a few very bright and bold pigments that I’m looking forward to painting with! The other change is that I mostly work in acrylic and decided to start this journey of pigments and experiment with watercolor, followed by oil and finally try your new acrylic medium before I settle on what medium I decide is best for me. It’s exciting to lean into this as a fresh start!
What art, artists, or art movements inspire you the most?
I’m drawn to intuitive art and artists that enjoy letting the muse take them along for a meditative ride through color, shape and mark making. Intentional art is another favorite as it’s steeped in meaning, mindfulness and symbolism. There is a strong exchange of positive energy felt in these works of art. A few art movements that inspire me are expressionism, post-impressionism, art nouveau, fauvism, folk art and ancient symbol art. An artist and mentor that has been integral in inspiring me to dig deeper in the art that is my life is Whitney Freya, along with all my fellow Creatively Fit Coaches!
One of our (many) favorite parts of your vibrant Instagram account is the natural watercolor tutorials you’ve been sharing! What is it about creating your own natural watercolor paint that fits so well into your creative practice?
Thank you. It’s been such a fun process to share! I think the practice of making paint helps me slow down and become more intimately connected to my materials. You can see all the watercolors I have made so far on my Instagram reels. I used the recipe included in your kit for the watercolor base and it’s been great. I decided to dive into watercolor first and get acquainted with the process. I decided to focus on each color individually and paint a watercolor meditation. This allowed me to get to know each color, all the values within the paint and the consistency of each one too. Plus, they make for some very eye-catching monochromatic art! I am now using these paints in my current 100 Day Project. I am creating “100 Days of Mixed Media Meditations” and combining these earth paints with pen, pencil, gelatos, and collage with quotes to meditate on in my art journal.
Since you are a creativity coach, could you share any tips you have for budding artists leaning into their creativity for the first time? What practices and mindsets help new creatives gain confidence in their work and expression?
I think so much creative work comes down to your mindset. You have everything you need inside of you to be the artist of your life. You can choose to live a life to express and find creative moments in your every day. I believe that we are all worthy of being creative. Follow your curiosity. If you are curious about painting, give it a try. You don’t need to know what you are doing, truly! That skill comes later. For now, allow yourself to be a beginner, make mistakes, focus on the exploration of materials and let go of the end result. In the beginning you may feel clumsy, unsure and your skill level will not be where you want to be, let those expectations go. Art doesn’t have to be “good” to be beneficial. Start where you are, paint for the enjoyment of playing with color, making marks and focus on the feelings of joy, freedom and possibility art brings.
Where can our audience follow your journey, purchase your work, or join your creativity group?
You can find me and my work online at www.kristenfagan.com. I’m on Instagram @kristenfagan, on Facebook at Kristen Fagan Art & Design and on YouTube at Kristen Fagan Art. Join my FREE Discover Your Creative Magic Group on Facebook for art making prompts & inspiration, live painting videos and virtual events focused on living a life of creativity.