It's been quiet around here as the count down for Missional Women Conference has begun and I'm trying to finish so many last minute details. (You can still register to attend here or join the webcast here.) Unless you're new around here you know I've been thinking and writing about art for a while now. This post is the first in a series of interviews with artists that I hope will inspire you to discover and pursue your own art.
Kris Wood is a hope distributor wherever she goes as a friend, retreat speaker, card designer or devotional writer. She and her husband Sam live in Oshkosh WI and they have two married sons that live in the area. Her greeting card business, Hope Cafe Originals, was founded when she was laid off last year and she needed a way to stay focused and productive. Find her daily encouragements on Facebook here or connect with her on Twitter here. (Kris is also a sponsor of the Missional women conference and we're so thankful for her!)
Tell us about your art.
I've always enjoyed beautiful things, especially in nature. I started with poetry and photography and have now moved toward collage and mixed media and art journaling. It's a treasure hunt to see what God will show me of Himself through art!
What do you love about your art?
Collage art is so diverse! I love that every card or art piece can be as varying as the seasons and as personal as a whispered love note. Joy and hope go hand in hand as I do my work in making handcrafted cards and frameable art. It is functional as decoration and it is hopeful in declaration. Every piece is prayed over while I work on it...both for the person who buys it and for the person who will receive it. (Kris even prayed over every piece going in the goodie bags for the Missional Women Conference. Amazing!)
How does your art help you connect with the Ultimate Creator?
O the joyful inspiration of color, shadow and texture! God uses art creation to help me slow down and consider before creating and making. I take to heart all he impresses on me within a season, a scripture, a song so that I can see what he sees. While in a fruitful time with him, come poetic words or classic photos or creative collages. I love that God allows me to be an ally with him in at least three ways: in capturing and expressing beauty, communicating core truths and in encouraging people to hold on to Christ as they take steps to follow Him, moment by moment. I am a simple conduit of the grace and beauty of Jesus in how I serve and love others with art. It's not about creating perfection, but offering all as worship and letting him adapt it to the receivers. Since God often speaks to me in word pictures, I cling to His approval and pleasure as we work together to build up the body of Christ.
How do you implement creativity into your daily life?
I use art as a spiritual discipline and gifts of encouragement.Since I'm a morning person, I get up while the house is quiet and read scriptures while I sip my first cup of coffee. God usually highlights a phrase or a word in the passage and I create a quick piece in collage or photography to share on Facebook or my blog. Now that I've been doing it for a while, I tend to have other morning people watch for the thoughts and picture. It keeps me accountable and focused in seasons where I tend to be flighty. I recently started learning more about art journaling and have joined an online class where I can learn new techniques from others and try different types of supplies. It really takes me out of my comfort zone, but helpful to mix with others who are learners, too.
What advice can you give to other artists about dealing with fear and criticism?
There will always be people who are better at certain techniques than we are. If I focus on that, though, I'll never get started and only feel inferior and insecure. Instead of defining myself by what I can't do (i.e. sketch or paint), I have learned to appreciate the gifts God has given me (encouraging collage). Our culture applauds "knowing", but God affirms learning and growth. So, my advice? Allow yourself to be a learner. If you don't have the pressure to already "know stuff", you're free to explore, building on your strengths and defining your style as you go. The bravest people are often insecure, afraid AND are willing try again or try to do things another way. This is true whether in relationships, work...or art
What else should we know about you or your art?
I love custom orders, as I get to enter into real life milestones. One client knew her son would be proposing to his girlfriend soon. She wrote a poem and asked me to create a card based on this special day and welcome her future daughter-in-law into the family. What an honor! Another client in Alaska had an inside joke she wanted to use for a themed birthday card for her brother in law. Such a joy to be part of such happiness and thoughtful bonding! Even making "general" cards is special because so few people receive "real mail" these days!