Written in HerStory | Krystee Craig
Whether you are living the creative dream, or simply just thinking about pursuing a dream in your heart, you can learn a thing or two from Krystee Craig, a visual artist, mum and wife, about staying grateful in every season, and balancing work and life.
Hey Krystee! Thank you so much for popping by here at Her Progress. To kick things off, tell us more about yourself.
Currently I am a stay-at-home Mum to Louis, 4, and Lachlan, 1. My days are spent at home with my boys and creating when I get the time between Lachlan sleeping, kindy and running a home. I learnt from a young age that the balance of having a creative practice while working and general life can be difficult. I have therefore tried to cultivate a creative lifestyle that enables me to be creative everyday in different ways, when I can’t be painting in a studio all day everyday.
What makes me…is creativity. I am inherently creative and I seek to live my life creatively while raising my boys. Each day may be different, life with two boys certainly throws many curve balls! But I choose to be creative EVERYDAY in whatever way I can, that could be changing the house around (I do this often), driving a new route to get somewhere, trying a new recipe, presenting meals differently, or creating and painting with my boys.
You finished a Diploma in Christian Ministry with a major in Contemporary Visual Arts at School of Creative Arts in Sydney. Tell us about your journey from being that woman who just finished university to the visual artist that you are now.
When I finished my study in Sydney, I worked for Freedom furniture for two years as a Visual Merchandiser. During this time, my own art practice went on the back burner due to life balances, but it was in those moments that I realized that I had a deep desire to teach. That became my turning point. For me to pursue my passion to be an Art Teacher, it would require for me to go back to uni and complete a Bachelor in Arts, followed by a Postgraduate Diploma in Visual arts. So I left my job and enrolled in a Bachelor of Media Arts for three years to help setup my future.
During my time at art school, I had the freedom to create all day everyday. What a dream! My skills and ideas were refined which set a great platform for me to build my confidence. I was fortunate to land some teaching jobs here and there, but I needed to ‘carve new ground for my future’.
I began to look beyond the four walls of a classroom and look for new opportunities. I started teaching at The Learning Connexion (TLC) as an Online Arts Mentor working with students that were learning art online. I was introduced to the whole new world of creativity through this job and gained a different perspective to what my life could be as a creative and my practice could look like. I was surrounded by other professional artists living the dream - creating, working and exhibiting. During my time at TLC, I held my first solo exhibition in Wellington...and in that same week, I found out I was pregnant with our first son!
The journey into motherhood has had its wonderful challenges. I needed to create for my own sanity and mental health. For me creativity was a way of life that I couldn’t live without. So I went back to nurturing my practice and skills while balancing the life as a new mum. Instead of BIG canvas’s and acrylic paints, I dove into a new media that was affordable, easy to clean up, and could quickly work on while the babies were asleep. In the pursuit of learning more, I enrolled myself into a night class for beginner in watercolour and from that moment, watercolour has been my primary medium for my creativity to date.
What were the early challenges as a visual artist?
For me, time has always been an issue - the feeling of never been able to fully devote enough time and effort for my practice. I have always been working, studying, and involved in church ministry, so I’ve learned that time will never be my friend. I have to be intentional to carve out time to be creative.
Changing my craft to watercolours has also meant that my creative practice is also more affordable and storage is not an issue. Resolving some of these issues gave me greater freedom and less restrictions when I create.
How did these challenges shape who you are now and your faith? Was there a verse of scripture that you held onto during these times?
My pathway has always been one where I need to be in a place of trust. The road has never been simple so in every new role and step that I made I needed to trust that God is working all things out for good, and to trust him with my eternal purpose and future.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
What was the greatest lesson that you have learnt in this creative journey and/or your personal life?
To be open to the journey and the process. Allow yourself to be fully engaged in it.
I have to be open to adjust my practice and try new ideas and media to make my practice work for me in every season of life.
This generation is a creative one. We see young people starting up new businesses, clothing lines and blogs. What are your top three pieces of advice for women who want to be designers, artists, or pursue their creative dreams?
1. The road will never be clear. Be innovative and open to create your own future and pioneer new ground to see your vision come to pass.
2. Keep creating and setting out a time in your day to create. When I paint, I feel inspired to do my day-to-day life.
3. Build a creative community around you to help, support, and keep you accountable. We all need encouragement - someone to believe in us in the times of growth, and celebrate with us in our victories.
With all the hats that you wear - a mother, a wife, a girlfriend to your gals and a visual artist - how do manage your time to make some room just for you?
I know and recognise within myself that I need some me time/soul time to help keep me fresh and happy! The only way of doing this to be intentional on how I use my time and knowing how much is needed.
I use planners and make time in my week for me - that being journaling, painting, or walking by the water. I see this as my daily vitamin dose to keep me well. Even a long trip home around the bays with the boys in the car can give me the view of the water that helps refresh my soul. I also have an incredibly supportive husband that helps give myself some 'me' time and space when I need some. He knows when I need an hour in my studio to paint, so he looks after the boys and gives me that.
Here at Her Progress, we strongly encourage our community is to practice self-celebration where we celebrate ourselves and our all-kinds-of-sizes victories. Why is it important for you to celebrate ourselves and have some me time? How do you celebrate you and your victories?
I try to practice a daily lifestyle of gratitude through a journal from Kikki.k. Life always throws curve balls and being thankful for the small things helps me keep life in perspective, and celebrate all that is happening in the NOW.
As a family we do a ‘weekly wins.’ On the kitchen cupboard throughout the week, we write down ‘wins’ from our day. This has really helped us as a family shift our outlook to go looking for the positive things in the everyday instead of focusing on the negative.
I love to believe in others and their own dreams. This is one of the greatest things I believe we can do for people is be the greatest champion for others. There is something pretty special about seeing others succeed as you encourage them and their own craft. I make it my mandate to always be a believer in others creative dreams. Knowing that encouragement could be all they need to help then pursue their dreams.
Along with pursuing our dreams are victories and failures, and learning and being a work in progress. What does it mean to be a work in progress to you?
To me being a ‘work in progress’ is actually accepting that life is all about making small and large steps to gain any progress. It’s about knowing that to “get there” is a journey…and actually being ok with that! The destination is not always clear or concise, so being open to the process and remaining teachable throughout is really important.
I have always been a believer that if I’m on a set path, I want to get everything I can in each season so that I can learn and grow. Having this perspective helps me gain strength and trust in times of growth and makes me even more thankful in times of victories.
We always want to stay connected and support the women around us with their pursuits and endeavours. So where to from here for you?
Yes, I am a great lover of communities and people championing each other. It a vital for woman to gather and unite to encourage and support each other. We all need a community and those that believe in us… also those that can help keep us accountable in our own creative dreams!
Last year, I launched my website to sell my watercolour originals. This has always been a dream of mine and from here, I am looking forward to making some good steps for my practice. I have more watercolour workshops planned for the rest of the year.
Thanks Krystee for being sharing your story with us, inspiring us to keep pursuing our dreams, and reminding us to always champion each other!
For more information, head to my website at www.krysteeiris.com.