Today I am excited to share with you the work of watercolor artist and surface pattern designer, Kris Loya. Kris has been on my radar since I discovered her bright and cheerful florals on Facebook. The energy and excitement that comes through in her work just makes me smile. I love the freedom of her brushstrokes and the feminine quality of her patterns.
Read below to learn more about Kris, her process, and how you too can find meditation in your creative process.
Hi Kris! Please tell us a little bit about your background as an artist and how you got into surface pattern design.
I think I held a paintbrush before I held a pencil. I’ve tried a variety of paint mediums, but feel most comfortable and happy with watercolor. When I started high school (kids start high school at 11 in Trinidad and Tobago) I got serious about watercolor and have been painting ever since.
I admire patterns, especially whimsical and floral watercolor ones. For a long time wanted to design them, but had no idea how to turn it into an actual career. I wish I had looked into it earlier in life but everything in its own time, right? I started searching for information on how to design products and found the term ‘surface pattern designer.’ It just clicked. That was what I wanted to do.
Any artist or creator will tell you that they encounter resistance when they create. The resistance for me was strong, not to mention that I had a day job that stretched from 7am to 7pm and beyond. Eventually I found Skillshare, and was able to take one of Bonnie Christine’s surface pattern design courses. Thank heavens for her! She is incredibly talented, knowledgeable and shares what she knows freely. I started creating patterns using vector images and eventually learned how to incorporate watercolors into my patterns! I have not tried to license my patterns yet, but I’m looking into creating fabric for a pop-up shop I’m part of this spring. It is a huge leap for me to foray into pattern design full-time, but I’m taking the baby steps that will lead to the big jump.
How would you describe your style and how do you gather inspiration for your work?
My style is imaginative. Most of it is made-up and comes from whatever my paintbrush wants to do. I take photos of flowers, trees, leaves and branches that grab my attention. They find their way into my pieces from my imagination and not much from the actual photos I’ve taken.
Recently I cleaned up my photos from the past 6 years and have a loose plan to embark on a year-long project of creating studies from those photos. I feel like I paint the same imaginary flowers over and over because they come so easily to me now. They didn’t always! I’m hoping to start adding new shapes and colors to my designs. They will eventually come easily too, but provide an extra challenge right now.
You’ve said that creating art is a meditative experience for you. Can you explain?
I call my paintings paintbrush meditations. If I haven’t painted in a while I feel restless and crave that outlet. Whenever I need to work something out I turn to my art. I begin painting and the painting almost creates itself. Sometimes I make very few conscious decisions and those are the paintings that I usually end up liking the best. I get into a very deep concentration to the point where, if I’m listening to music, I don’t really hear it. All I’m focused on is the painting. This doesn’t happen every time I paint, but it does happen most of the time. I suggest finding an art form or medium that works for you. When you find it the peace will come and it will become a meditative practice.
Any other tips for how people can find peace and meditation in their creative process?
Resistance is probably the biggest challenge I’ve faced and continue to face. Danny Gregory refers to this resistance as the Monkey. It’s that inner voice that stops you from creating by telling you little stories. You have to control it or work with it in order to create work. It’s a constant battle but I’m getting increasingly better at shushing my monkey and everyone can do it. The more you work the less the monkey can bother you.
The biggest piece of advice that I can give to anyone starting out is to just do it! Just create and take it seriously. If you treat it like a hobby (which is totally fine) it will stay a hobby. If you want it to be your career, treat it like a business, like your job and that’s what it will become. Have a plan and allow that plan to be fluid and organic but have a plan.
Want to see more of Kris’s work? You can find her:
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