Photographed by: Rachel Maucieri | Interview of: Christine Olmstead
How did you get started?
My mom got me started. She's a professional graphic designer who studied art history in college. She gave me a set of watercolors when I was 18 months old and I've been painting ever since. I was trained in fine pencil drawing and fine oil painting. My mother really stressed art history and the research of art periods, understanding different techniques, strokes, subjects, and being able to distinguish and recognize artists by their strokes, use of color, and perspective. Being trained so well in the history of art and having a technical understanding of the profession made me want to apply my own techniques and contribute something of my own to the world history of art.
What influences you/ where do you get your inspiration?
Art history influences me a lot, of all artists and genre's though, I'd have to say that the French impressionists influence me the most, namely Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, and Edouard Manet.
They have the technical ability to paint like the Dutch realists, yet they harness the creativity and individuality necessary to transform the unlovely and the ordinary into something breathtaking. I'm also inspired by music, mostly melancholy indie with gorgeous lyrics like Bon Iver or classical romantic pieces, like Schumann or Liszt.
How do you balance your personal time + work/ how do you create separation?
I think the work/life balance is an important one. I've tried to choose a career that I enjoy and one that makes me feel alive instead of one where I'm only working for the weekend. Painting is a part of my life and my husbands life. Painting really isn't work for me because I enjoy it so much. There are many nights that my husband will be reading on the couch and I will be across the room painting. The stuff that does feel like work is estimated, managing the website, building advertisements and networking. And those I simply stop when my husband gets home from work and on the weekends. There's really nothing too it other than saying "no, I'm not going to send this proposal out right now, I'm going to do it in the morning." I think the first step toward having a good work/life balance is to love your work and just say no. It makes it easy since I'm the boss of my own brand.
What keeps you motivated?/ why do you love doing this?
I stay motivated because I know I'm building the life that I want. Sure, it's hard at times, but I know in the long run it will be worth it. I'm motivated to bring light and beauty into others lives, I'm motivated to encourage and support others. I want to bring the glory to God in my work and in the way I live my life. That's what motivates me. And my husband- he's a big motivator. I love doing this because I just do. I've always loved painting, I've always loved studying art, I'm always impressed by creativity.
I guess it's just been a part of the fabric of my life for so long it's an easy and natural love in my life. I also love doing it because I know there have been many times in my life where I've been inspired, or uplifted by a piece of art and I hope that if I can make someone smile, or remember the beauty in life when they glance at one of my pieces, then I've done my job. It motivates me when people smile at my work. Sometimes I wonder why they smile, but I'll never know, I hope they are internally mulling over a sweet memory or something they love that I reminded them of.
Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years? / what’s next for your brand?
In 2-5 years, well I have big goals, but I think it's possible. In two years I think I'll just be a little further down my current road, but in 5 years I'd like to have my own studio/coffee shop. I think it would be really fun to have a space to sell my art, make my art and let people watch the creation and buy a nick-nack. That might be more of a 10 year dream, but I still think about it.
What's next is I'm going to start selling other homegoods, bed spreads, coffee cups, phone cases, tapestries etc... I think it will be fun to diversify the products a bit. So stay tuned!