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The Shortest Hike of My Life

Attending a conference in Golden, Colorado, I spent three days surrounded by other professional artists learning about our other craft: business. You get asked, “What kind of art do you make?” at a conference like this. Then you get asked another 80 times by people who haven’t met you yet. You get a lot of practice explaining what you do and why you do it. I discovered I can explain my art practice in three words. Ready? I paint hikes. This super short explanation is usually followed by longer one. What does this mean? Do you paint your hikes (yes) or someone else’s (yes, too)? Do you work from photos (almost always)? Would you like to paint on location (sure, how do I get a 2 year old to sit still that long?)? After this amazing conference was over, and I had spent several days with a gorgeous view of the mountains around Golden, I figured I better take a hike, right? (Like the art police are going to show up and get me if I go all the way to Golden and don’t hike…) I found the nearest trailhead and walked over to it late Saturday. I reached the top of the town and the middle of the mountain during that beautiful golden hour where the sun light is perfect. I started my hike. Did I mention I am terrified of snakes? Like, throw up my hands and do an awkward dance while shrieking, scared? Did I mention that I am ten times more scared of rattlesnakes than any other kind? I stopped to take a photo. I walked...

How long did it take to paint that?

The most common question I hear at a gallery opening or a festival show is “how long did it take you to paint that?” It is a fair question. It is also an easy and safe question. People ask this when they are interested in my work and my process. They may possibly be asking in relation to my price (is it really worth $800?). I want to have an answer for you. But I don’t. Not because I haven’t tracked my hours spent at my easel (because I have). Not because I lost track of how many hours went to that particular painting (I may have, but could rough out an answer because I know my process). The truth lies in the fact that the question is too small for my answer. Let’s pretend I spent 20 hours on it, in front of the easel time. That is probably the answer I should give, but it is an incomplete answer. I spent 5 minutes mixing the gray for the rock. I spent 15 minutes mixing an EXACT copy of that color when I realized I wanted to change the way the edge of that color interacted the next day and no longer had the color mixed on palette. I spent 20 minutes on clean up (brush cleaning, palette scraping, general clean up tasks) every time I was interrupted for more than a few minutes, or at the end of each painting session. Or when the baby decided she really wasn’t going to take that nap. I spent a lot more time just looking at it. There is a great...

Picky, Cheap … Determined!

A few years back I wanted a website. Everywhere I looked I saw websites for artists that could be set up but required a monthly fee. No monthly fee for me, I’m cheap! (cheap, broke, and frugal all have my photo next to them in the dictionary). Even Dave Ramsey once made fun of how cheap my wedding ring is ($70). So there I am, wanting a website but not a bill. I got a “HTML for dummies” book (from the library!) and coded myself a simple five page website. It took two weeks. I started with no clue on what I was doing. It was exciting when it worked and super frustrating when it didn’t. My brother called one day while I was sitting in front of my computer coding. I told him that my problem was that I was picky and cheap. Everything I liked always was the expensive way and that was why I was sitting there struggling with HTML. He laughed and said, “Its okay to be picky and cheap when you add in determined.” Aha! I didn’t have to change myself. I didn’t have to stop being these things, I just had to add in determination. I could do that! I had that silly art website for three years. I was so proud of it. However, I finally realized that I needed it to do more than I was capable of doing. Sure, I could learn it, but the time it would take was needed for other things. This time being cheap was to pay for some initial help, this time through the Abundant Artist,...