The job of an artist is to see with all our senses. With our eyes we view the color, light and composition. Feeling the air and the wind or the salt spray. Smelling the air and its fragrance. Most importantly, with our soul we feel the sense of a thing or place. To stop and spend time soaking it all up. Taking in the small and the large in one breath.
Some artists sketch when they find a landscape, plant or subject that they are enchanted by. Others take a mental picture and then return home. They may begin painting right away, or let the subject soak into their being. However it happens, the job of art is to let the viewer capture their own moments at those places. For them to remember how that place, or thing struck their soul. To be captivated in that moment when you look at the piece. Feel the air, see the light, smell the fragrance.
Kristen Olson grew up in a household of musicians. The sounds of music and the sights of museums and culture filled her childhood. She was always interested in art. Drawing and doodling as a young child. Encouraged (ok maybe a bit prodded) to learn an instrument. Because of this background she has a deep personal connection between music and art.
When Kristen begins a painting, she will sometimes hear music in her head. The same tune may play over and over in her head as she paints. The song resonates her souls reaction to the place and as she listens to it the painting takes shape.
Whether we know it or not, we all carry knowledge in our subconscious. This knowledge can contain a place, or information. For an artist it is best to paint from our subconscious and let our inner being take over. Of course when we begin training we must pay attention to each stroke and learn to see. But when the time comes, everything comes together and art begins. While Kristen hears the music in her mind, her subconscious is freed and the music provides the beat and rhythm to her painting as she executes it.
Kristen is one of those rare artists, who is able to create the art she wants and sell it. Her business includes: galleries, workshops, print sales and participation in a variety of events. She has somehow combined the artistic spirit with good old American business ingenuity. It's hard to be an artist and a sales person.
Artists really focus on color, light, mood, and connect deeply to their subjects. Since art is so personal, it can be hard to put your work up for public viewing. To be successful at selling your art not only must you put your work out to be seen by perfect strangers, you must also talk about your art with complete strangers. This takes a rare person. Of course, to be able to have a positive cash flow as an artist, you need to have all of these skills.
Kristen primarily paints impressionist landscapes in oil. Impressionist painting focuses on conveying an idea and not a detailed exact realistic rendering of a landscape or thing. It is the idea of a place and time, say sunset at Monterey Bay, or Pumpkin season in Half Moon Bay. Impressionist painting has an emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time) on common, ordinary subject matter.
Kristen likes to invite you the viewer to place yourself in the landscape, rather then providing a human form within the painting to view the mountain. The landscapes vary from beaches to meadows and some contain houses and farms. Her paintings really capture a mood and light that can transport you to the places featured in her paintings.
It's hard for me to not be moved by Kristen's art. She has a knack for capturing the spirit of a place. I have always felt a close affinity to the ocean and many of her paintings have that as their primary subject. When I see these paintings, I can almost smell the ocean air and hear the waves breaking on the rocks.
Kristen also teaches. One of her students writes: "Kristen Olson is a truly remarkable teacher. Not all great artists are great teachers but Kristen Olson is both. She tailors her teaching to each student by expertly identifying how each student can achieve their best. Her understanding of painting and painting techniques is unparalleled. Kristen's knowledge of contemporary artists is also impressive, she often references this in her teaching."
Speaking from personal experience, it is hard to find a good artist who also makes a good teacher. Too often Artists are only interested in either their own style of work, or on teaching their methods and not encouraging you to find your own. I'm sure this is mostly because they only know what works for them. Finding someone who is willing to encourage you to find your own path and your own voice can be difficult.
On a local note, two prominent art collectors have given Kristen a large commission for their home in our neighborhood. The commission is to create unique iconic California Landscapes. I am sure she will be more than up to the task! We are lucky to have such a unique individual and artist in our neighborhood.