Friday, February 24, 2012
This year's big life change is that she is adopting a little daughter from Ethiopia. Her 2 boys are so excited to have a sister soon! A lot of her art is centered around adoption, Africa, and art for children of a diverse ethnic background.
Hi Katie, thank you so much for being here today. I am so excited to highlight a watercolor artist today as that's a medium I would like to learn more about. I also love that your art celebrates diversity by capturing many different skin tones and cultural influences. So let's jump into today's questions....
So how did you go from Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and International Relations to art??
As a busy mom to 2 (+ watching a friend’s son 4 days a week) and in the process of adopting a 3rd how do you fit in time to do art and list your art to sell?
As mentioned above, one of the joys of watercolor is that you don’t have to block large amounts of time off in order to be successful. In fact, since you have to let the layers of paint dry before proceeding, breaks are even necessary. I often paint for 5-10 minutes throughout the day, while I wait for a child to nap, or for water to boil for dinner. I usually sketch my paintings in the living room with the kids around me while they are playing happily. My kids (or my friends’ kids) inspire many of my paintings, so in a way, I NEED my kids for my art to succeed. We put the boys to bed at 7pm, and then I usually take about 1.5 hours for my art before I spend the rest of the evening with my husband.
Listing my art on Etsy isn’t that big a deal for me, since I enjoy writing, and I already have watermarked photo files of all my art on hand anyway by the time it’s ready to sell. If a print sells on Etsy, I can just re-list the item with a couple of mouse clicks. I have a pretty good routine down by now of checking my Etsy account at the end of each day, packing up the orders, writing clients a quick note, and then mailing everything out 2-3 times a week after dropping my oldest son off at school. The mail clerks know me by name, and lovingly greet my youngest, who always comes along on my hip in a sling.
What’s your best advice for someone who is just starting to work with watercolors?
First, buy good paper. Arches cold press is by far my favorite. Good paints help a lot, and you will get further with just a few colors by a good brand. There is no need to buy millions of colors – I paint all my illustrations using 10 colors and mix all the in-between shades myself. It is better to buy 1 or 2 good paintbrushes (as thick as your finger, with a very fine point), instead of a whole bunch of mediocre ones. Be patient. Start with the lightest colors, and let each layer dry. Don’t be afraid to experiment – after all it’s just paper! Don’t fight the fluidity of watercolors, but rather work with it: it is ok to let colors run together.
Don’t feel like you have to create masterpieces right away. Don’t be too critical of your work. Just paint. Art is very personal, and when we paint what comes out of ourselves, people will feel a connection with what is created. Some of my favorite paintings are ones that I hated once upon a time.
The library has GREAT resources. I am now taking a watercolor class at the community college, but before this I was self-taught.
I am really interested in how art helps promote health and wellness; can you give us examples of how art does this in your life?
Where do you hope to see yourself and your art in 5 years?
I am already honored and humbled that my art is being welcomed in so many homes in the US and abroad. I would love to have a solo art show in the next few years. I may be interested in illustrating another children’s book, although right now I am enjoying the freedom of painting “whatever I want” most of the time. I enjoy painting commissioned paintings, and plan to continue painting a limited number of these. Most of all, I just want to continue to paint for the joy of painting, and see where things go from there.
Thank you so much Katie!! I love seeing the diversity in your art work and I hope it will inspire other artists, as it has me, to not only try watercolors but also to represent more ethnicities in their artwork.
To learn more about Katie and see more of her work please visit the below sites:
Have a wonderful weekend!!!
Thursday, February 23, 2012
One area that needs some work in my wellness plan is the ability to calm my mind and spirit. So I set out on a quest to learn about meditation. I read some books. I read some articles. I asked some people. Turns out all meditation is is breathing. Oh, and noticing that you are breathing. Really? That's it? The great mystery of enlightenment is all about breathing. Ok, easy enough, right? WRONG. An article I read in the Shambhala Sun that gave meditation instruction said, "Meditation is very simple and extremely down to earth, to the extent that it's irritatingly down to earth."
So, here's how my attempt went....
Monday, February 20, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
Today's Friday Feature Artist is Lisa Ferrante. She is a self-taught mixed media artist, a wife, and a mother.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Tomorrow's Feature Friday artist is another phenomenal artist and I found her interview to be so insightful and inspiring. Please check back tomorrow to learn more about Lisa Ferrante and go get a little sneak peek of her stunning art work.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
Hi Jennifer, thank you so much for participating in my first "Friday Feature" where I will be featuring a different artist weekly and asking them questions about their Art Journey. So let's get started.....
When did you know you were an artist?
I came into this realization slowly....While I knew I wanted to be an artist long ago, I didn't actually claim or give myself permission to realize this until about a year into my first ever art "studies". After the birth of my third child, Jack, I began taking art lesson with my mentor, Deborah Meyer. She opened up this whole world of creative expression that I so desperately was seeking and needing. As a stay at home mom I was needing to nurture myself as much as I was nurturing everyone around me. On the day I hung my first art show in a coffee shop it felt like a dream come true. To see pieces of myself, my creations on display was an incredible feeling...it was on that day that I felt like and called myself an "artist".
How have you paid your bills while staying committed to the art?
I feel a little ashamed to say this when I know so many people are struggling to both live and create....I am very fortunate to now be able to stay at home full time as a mother and nurture the artist within. My husband is able to support our family and encourages me to nurture my love of art. Happy wife, happy mama, happy life ;) I give myself permission to purchase new supplies when I have made a sale....most recently I purchased an encaustic set after an art sale...that was a splurge.
How do you balance working with family/friends/errands/health?
I wish I had more balance. It is a constant struggle both internally and literally. At this time of my life I realize there are so many demands with raising 4 children. Right now at this time in my life my little ones, my family, always comes first. That is a choice. I want to be present with them when we are together. I have found the best way for me to give myself time to focus on my art is to dedicate a certain day of the week. Right now I have my two youngest children going to childcare all day on Fridays while the older ones are at school. This is my designated day to work and really is the only way to get things accomplished in the art studio with any regularity. I will often find myself going up to the studio during nap time, or when it is quiet at night. There are even times I bring the kids up into the studio (and ignore them) so I can work and they can play (rip up the studio)...often with markers and cardboard boxes. Of' course, the inherent problem with having an art studio in your home is that it is in your home, and constantly requires attention of some sort. At times, I will leave the dishes, the mess, the Legos on the floor and allow myself to escape to my studio.
Last June I had a surgery to repair my ruptured spinal disk. This was painful and all of my art just had to go on hold which was frustrating. It felt great to get back in the studio when I was feeling better. I felt inspired as my body began healing, but it continues to recover and need attention. Focusing on recovering (with yoga, exercises, acupuncture) leaves less time for art. Right now that is where I have to be. Like the airlines always say, "Put on your mask first"....I need to take care of my body first before I am fully present in my life as a wife, mother and artist. I am hopeful that with time I will create more balance within my body and with time as an artist. I Will!!
How do you deal with your inner critic?
The inner critic.....is insecure and doubtful, harsh and disappointed. I try to remind this inner critic that the expression and the process is often the most important journey in creating. That every piece isn't going to be a masterpiece, but still has value. I enjoy taking one of those paintings "that just didn't go anywhere" and covering it with a fresh layer of paint and making it something new. Knowing that there aren't mistakes, that it is all apart of the process makes me feel empowered to continue creating!
Have you had any life challenges that art helped you to get through? If so, how did art help you?
Simply, art has helped me become more of myself. It has helped me to express my joys, the gratitude I feel, my pain, my angst. Art was particularly therapeutic to me as I returned from my journey to AIDS Walk Africa in 2008 for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Coming home from that journey in Swaziland left me with a felling that I need to do more, that I need to share what I had witnessed. From this the art series "Message from Swaziland" was created (works on my website www.jenniferrikkers.com). Each piece was a true expression of a moment or a person I had encountered. While I created these pieces tears flowed as I felt the pain of the circumstances in Swaziland (33% of the population is infected with the AIDS virus.) At the same time I came away from AWA with enormous hope and such inspiration to share the message from this journey.
What is a "typical" daily schedule that includes art?
I wish there were more typical days! I would say on my (Friday) art day, that I carve out a slow morning. A little peace and quiet after the kids are out of the house, some tea and stretching out my back with some yoga poses. Then I head up to my art studio, which we built above our garage. I have a warm cup of tea on hand with my favorite playlist in the background. I often am working on several paintings at once and have those laying around the studio, going from painting to painting and letting things evolve. Usually Bob the Bulldog and Cecil (my 15 yr. old cat) follow me up there and keep me company. I relish in the space, the quiet of just doing what feels good in the moment. On these days I usually "lose time", it goes way too fast and this is the only time I will forget to eat in my excitement to paint.
Where do you hope to see yourself and your art in 5 yrs?
In five years....all of my children will be in school full time and I will have more time for creating. I am hopeful that in 5 years I will have established more daily balance in my schedule and physical health so that I will have a regular practice time for my art. I will have branched into some new mediums (I would like to explore encaustic and pottery). In the next 5 years I hope to have been able to travel to new places and be influenced by their cultural vibes. It is incredibly important to me to find a way to travel to Ethiopia to both share art and create art to benefit the children of my daughter's country, Ethiopia. In 5 years....it is my hope that my art will be even more inspired and inspiring to others.
Deep breath...here is our final question:
What do you know to be true?
"Your live is happening right now and this is the only moment you can control. This is the only minute that really matters. If you are constantly dwelling on something that happened in the past or feeling anxious about the future, you are missing out on YOUR LIFE. Do what makes you happy in this moment and your life will be full."-Jill Costello
Well this has been SO eye opening and you have already been inspiring to me. Thank you again for putting so much time and thought into these questions. By giving us a sneak peek into your life as an artist and mom and wife (and the many other roles we all play) it helps us to feel a sense of community and lets us know that we are not alone in all that we are trying to accomplish in this lifetime.
Thank you Jennifer and thank you readers for following along. Please leave a note in the comments to let us know that you were here!!!
To learn more about Jennifer Rikkers work please visit her websites and blog: