Welcome to part II of my conversation with artist Krista Lynn Brown, in which she shares deeply about her artistic practice and creative life.
Aja: Your creative process sounds so rich! I love how you describe finding balance between two distinctly different approaches. Could you talk a little about the depiction of women in your work? For example, Mother Power is such striking and indeed powerful image that really resonates for me. Also the piece Fathoming - which reminds me of a women diving deep for a great pearl of wisdom. Do you have clear intentions when painting these images or do they work their way onto the canvas?
Krista: Well, just like so many artists throughout the centuries, I find the female form to be a joy to paint…so much variety and beauty in its curvaceous. And so strong and capable in ability! But beyond aesthetics, painting women is just a natural expression of my life as a female in this modern world. The narratives that so often emerge in my work are symbolic, metaphorical explorations of human soulfulness. I am relating the experience of the human/spirit connection but from a uniquely feminine perspective. So, I suppose in this way my work is about unveiling the feminine face of the divine.
These beings that so often people my paintings, though seemingly female, are not always what I would identify as women necessarily. Perhaps they are aspects of our deeper selves, active inside both men and women. Many of them are magical mythical creatures,otherworldly beings, shape shifters, angels, witches, daemons, elementals and guardians appearing in a painted story, usually inside completely natural environment with only the most fundamental of human-made things appearing (a vessel, an instrument or tool,simple clothing for example) so the expression is very pure and essential. Some may have a fishes tail or a body made of water or fire, most have unusual powers and can breath under the ocean or grasp a lightning bolt with one hand! So, I see these beings as beyond gender. They embody the deepest connected aspects of being human. Knowing our place in the interdependent web of the natural world or just feeling our hook up to the life force itself, that connectedness is something I see as an archetypal feminine quality, which needs to be reawakened in the world.
Siren's Lament: A Call for the Soul of Man
I often have clear intention when I begin a piece but that’s no guarantee that I know what the end result will be! Sometimes I find that something else other than what I conceived is trying to push in and the whole piece might change. The muse can be a bit bossy! I began Siren’s Lament as a piece in a new series about the darker aspects of the feminine.I wanted to explore how the mermaid has long been depicted as a beautiful but dangerous lure, an irresistible force of seduction that is ultimately deadly. I was working on this inthe Spring of 2011 just as the Deep water Horizon oil rig exploded and began gushingendlessly into the Gulf of Mexico. This epic event was affecting me terribly but it took awhile to realize that the dark mermaid I was painting, with her throat transformed into a grimacing eel fish and her song full of fishhooks was becoming a cry for the conscience of humanity to awaken and right a terrible wrong. With that epiphany, I finished it outwith thick black paint, a pile of decaying human bones beneath her tail and fat protective heart/plants swaying with her, each holding a precious drop of clean water (or perhaps a pearl) inside. And so it became the lament of a creature of the sea, subtitled A Call For The Soul Of Man. So sometimes my original vision gets waylaid and transformed in this way when I’m painting.
Aja: Aside from pushy muses, are there any challenges you face in your practice as an artist?How do you work through them?
Krista: Well, as I mentioned before, working through fallow times is pretty trying. Those weeks when I’m freaking out because nothing’s coming and I’m questioning whether I really am an artist after all because, hey, I’m not making any art! I’ve got my nose in the computer instead! Experience has taught me to just relax and allow for the dry times.When the juice hits, I know it and things start moving. Sometimes getting myself bodily into the studio even if it’s just to putz or play guitar can encourage the juice. Going through the motions tends to prime the pump. But these days I have a deep knowing and respect for the process. I understand that it can’t be forced. It’s an ebb and flow.Not letting my inner critic have free reign is also a big one. Being okay and even welcoming spontaneous impulses and gestures regardless of how awkward or strange they look and feel. Really playing with the paint. That’s a bit hard to go with sometimes.
I like having control and I like a clean line, a golden mean spiral, a pleasing composition but when my painting process gets wonky and wild, that’s when things get quite interesting. I start to see how I’m breaking into new territory and it’s good. New shapes and objects show up in the shadows or sprout out the edges. Oftentimes some of these “seed images” take hold and really grow into something substantial in my work.
Certainly one of the primary challenges for me as an artist is having my creative process tied to making a living. The practical matters of making money can really put a damper on the inspirational fire at times. And since I feel that painting is for me an intentional act of envisioning and magic, it rankles some to put a price on what I do. Once in a while I even catch myself judging or editing what’s coming through because a little part of me is assessing whether it’s salable or too far out or something. This can interrupt the flow and bog me down. I am challenged again and again to find a way of seeing remuneration as a natural part of the energy exchange of art. I like to remember that I am infusing a canvas surface with a story, a spell, a presence, an energy and it feels like a gift but it is perfectly okay to ask for a return in kind. It’s about gratitude and appreciation. What do we savor and value? That’s where we gift our energy. And money is just energy. It’s gratitude. I love expressing my gratefulness for others’ fine work with my dollars and cents so I remind myself it’s okay to let others do the same for me! Still, I do often long to be free of commercial considerations and it has provoked me into considering making art for trade or on an offering basis. That would be a particular kind of freedom that I can’t help believing would really un hinder the creative pulse for me but so far that remains an ideal. Commerce is still kicking me in the behind!
Aja: Is there anything else you would like to share with Moon Woman readers?
Krista: I’d just like to finish by saying something I think is a truth, though a lot of people would not believe me. Everyone is an artist by nature. Some people may have more skill with a pen, paint brush or instrument than some others but everyone has their own way of seeing the world that is absolutely unique and valid. Every perspective is, in my view, valuable and worth expressing, even if it’s just for the one who is creating. The world needs more unbound, brave and creative people so I encourage anyone and everyone to free the impulse and play!
Krista Lynn Brown
To view more of Krista's wonderful portfolio of work, please visit her website at www.devaluna.com or email Krista at devaluna (at) sbcglobal.net