Thursday, March 31, 2022

DPW Spotlight Interview: Kirsten Elson

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Kirsten's painting "Prickly Situation" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview. 

From Kirsten's DPW Gallery Page: 

In another lifetime, I was a weather forecaster.

I ended up there by my love of the thunderstorms I grew up watching in Colorado, and the ever-present need to make ends meet in life. But my heart was elsewhere, listening to thunder and drawing everything I see around me. Feeling that "line-to-mind" connection with objects, people, and nature is vital to me. 

I am currently a math tutor for middle and high school students. I love doing it, but after about 10 years, my introvert self aches to be in the paint room at my house, sun splayed across my desk, dog beside me in his cozy cave, planning another painting. It's my heaven on earth and I thank God for letting me feel that.

Along came Carol Marine's daily painting movement and it is exactly what I needed. It has made the difference in getting me to pick up a paintbrush and get going! 

Oh, and I love a good podcast for accompaniment to painting!

Prickly Situation
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing interview

What did you want to be growing up?  

Geez. I can’t remember that, it’s been eons. Early on, I wanted to be Elvis Presley’s girlfriend but time and wisdom have helped me realize I dodged a bullet there! I always loved expression through art though. As a senior in high school, I decided to go to my local Art Institute because I had no idea what to do. I loved that experience; I graduated and started at the bottom in an advertising profession. Lack of confidence and low pay turned me toward college again, and I was driven by my love of a good thunderstorm to get my degree in atmospheric sciences. Art and creativity were always in my heart though.

When did your artistic journey begin?  

Most likely, my artistic journey began in second grade. Mrs. Shively wanted us to make stick puppets for a class performance of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” She would choose the best puppets for the play. She kept saying “make them big; they need to be big.” I made this big fat billy goat. She chose him for the play, and that first sense of “wow, I got chosen” possessed me.

Hayden Flies
(click to view)

Did you have any long periods without creative expression? How did you get back on the horse?

I have had long periods without artistic expression. Being a person who tends toward depression at times, I have to remind myself to get drawing as a way to get out of a hole. I always felt I was not a painter, though, and that has only changed in the past couple of years. Carol Marine’s method and book, Daily Painting have helped me immensely. I wouldn’t be painting if I hadn’t stumbled across it. Primarily, I prayed to God to let me do well at this thing I love. So, for the record, thank you Mrs. Shively, Carol Marine, and God. You all helped bring me to this awesome place of considering myself a painter.

Which mediums and genres do you gravitate toward? Which ones don’t appeal?

I love oil painting. I used acrylics briefly but was drawn back to oils when I discovered the odorless solvents really were odorless! I was on a long stint of drawing with ball-point pens, and I still love the challenge of making something nice from an ordinary medium that is literally pennies to purchase. I dabbled with encaustics too, and will do that again. I can’t do pastels. I love the results they give, but I have some sensory “freak outs”, and I can’t stand the dust on my hands. Genre-wise, I love just about everything. Abstracts usually have to work hard to catch my eye though.

(click to view)

What was the process like of pinpointing your personal style or finding your voice?  

I’m still in that process, so I can’t really say in a definitive way. I’m trying to loosen up but I tend to veer back to more realistic, so that’s always a struggle. I did portraits of my immediate family with close-ups of them making goofy faces. I like a non-conventional approach and want to stick to the fun side of representing people and things, but I also work with what people ask me to paint. I don’t know if I really see a specific style yet, but I ‘m working on it.

Name an artist (or artists), well-known or not, who you admire. Why?

I love Z.Z. Wei’s work. His paintings are magical. He has focused on a geographical area that I adore, the Palouse region of eastern Washington. His paintings are friendly and they go about their business, but somehow…they like you back at the same time that you are liking them. There is so much personality in a Z.Z. painting! I have several framed gallery posters of Wei’s work but have had them up so long, they are fading. I have loved them into the realm of the Velveteen Rabbit!

(click to view)

If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger, creative self — what would that be?  

Do competitions, take the time to paint, give up the cheesy television shows that you will forget in a month! Paint, paint, paint! If you love it, you’ve got to do it always! And don’t be afraid to show people.

Do you utilize any habits or tricks for winning the distraction and procrastination battle?  

My pup, Jasper, wants to be in the sunny, warm studio while I paint. He is pushy and insistent. If I don’t get in there early enough, he comes up beside and me flips my elbow in the air with his nose - repeatedly. It’s incredibly annoying and the only way I can get him to stop is to get painting. On a more practical level, I suppose I compartmentalize. If I don’t feel like standing and painting, maybe I’ll watch a movie while transferring an idea to a board via grid. I try to break painting into more than one task to be done in more than one spot. Don’t want to clean the garage? There might be an unexpected still life just waiting to happen in there. You never know…

(click to view)

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you push forward?

If things just aren’t working for me, I make myself take a break even if I don’t want to. Conversely, if I’m not getting the time to myself to paint, I make some paint time for myself. I guess I’m just kind to myself as needed (and probably too often). I know there are going to be dry days. I can tell you this: I wipe a finished painting at least a couple times a week.

What are some of your long and short term goals for yourself or your art?

Short term goals include moving up in size to 10x10’s and then maybe 16x20’s (joking, but not entirely)! Long term, I would love to actually get some works into a real, storefront gallery. Also, I am relocating to the center of the country soon, and looking forward to trying some sweeping Great Plains landscapes.

Cool Stream
(click to view)

What does success mean to you personally?

Loving what I am doing (really LOVING IT) and being able to make others happy at the same time. It’s fun to surprise people with paintings. I love being alone in the sunny room with the dog, listening to a good podcast and making art that will please someone. 

What is one of your proudest moments in your creative life?

I’m pretty sure that day in Mrs. Shively’s class was right up there! Actually, a good moment for me was when my dad asked me for the URL to my gallery page. He heard rumblings about it in the family and wanted to see it. That made me feel pretty good.

Thanks for the platform for those of us who are late bloomers and introverted about our work. DPW has changed a lot for me, and I appreciate it!

Patio Party 1
(click to view)
Thanks, Kirsten!

© 2022 Maddie Marine


  1. Lovely story, Kirsten! And lovely work!!!

  2. Great art from a wonderful person! So nice that you get to follow your bliss so fully now!


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