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How did you get your start as an artist? 

The visual world always made more sense to me than just about everything else. No matter what's going on in my life, I always make time to paint or draw. It keeps my grounded I think. 

What are your favorite materials / format? 

I studied photography in college which was very precise. Painting was always what I would turn to when I just wanted to be carefree and messy and make art just for fun. Painting still feels that way to me. I love that you can makes a big mess or make a mistake and just paint over it and keep painting until you have something you like. Sometimes that mistake might be more interesting that what you had planned.
What is your art practice and how do you juggle other commitments? 
Honestly, when I feel really inspired to paint, some other things in my life tend to get neglected. I think I've just gotten better at accepting that sometimes it's ok to prioritize art making when I'm feeling it and catch up on the rest later. Similarly, I do a lot of trail running and adventuring outdoors. When the weather is nice or I have a race coming up, I have to accept that I won't be spending as much time painting and just appreciate the natural beauty around me in that moment. 
Who do you paint and why?
I tend to paint the people that I'm the most comfortable with and that I care about. A lot of times a portrait is an excuse to spend time with a person, have a nice conversation and get to know what makes their face their face. I also paint myself fairly regularly since I'm often the only person around when I get the itch to paint. A self portrait is also a really good way to think through a mood or feeling. 
Do you have a favorite portrait at the moment? 
I'm pretty much obsessed with the Helge Pictures by Andrew Wyath. There is a print of Helge laying in bed with a dog hanging in my bedroom and it tugs at my heartstrings every time I look at it. I'm also dying to see the Michelle Obama portrait by Amy Sherland in person. 
What makes a good portrait? 
I'm still figuring that one out. Something I think about is portraying a likeness while also expressing some other sort of feeling or essence of the person. I've never really figured out how to do that on purpose, but when it happens, those paintings really seem to feel more rich and interesting. I'm also, personally, drawn to quietness and simplicity. 
Do you have any tips on appreciating art? 
I think enjoying art is the same as food or wine or music. You have to just trust your gut. Keep your eyes open and just see what resonates with you. Then just appreciate those moments where you feel connected to a piece of art and appreciate the beauty of it. It took me a long time to feel ok with the fact that about 60% of the art museum just doesn't do that much for me. it. But once I realized that, I would find the works that got under my skin and really take time with them and drink them in. 
Any friends or fellow artists you're inspired by lately?
I did an art trade with Portland artist Nicole Williford recently and the beautiful portrait is the highlight of my living room. Also, my old friend Jeremy Miranda has an inspiring daily study practice and seems to have an uncanny ability to capture the exact likeness and feel of a still-life or landscape with a few loose brushstrokes. Jeremy Okai Davis made an incredible series of paintings for a show called "An Education" that just absolutely floored me. 



by Kristen Flemington


Oil paint on board.
10 inches x 8 inches

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