Profile - Kristen Carleton - "Connected"
There are certain things we come into this world knowing. For some: its a perception or law that already exists in their mind. For others, its an attraction to something or someone that is undeniable without reason or history. For Kristen Carleton, her calling came at a tender age of four when she started experimenting with various colored highlighters to create strange bright drawings, which eventually led to her reach for a paintbrush. To her delight, she knew in that moment she would paint for the rest of her life.
Nearly 25 years later, Kristen has achieved a BFA at the Alberta College of Art and Design, and is ramping herself up to take on her masters, in a foreign country no less. Following her gut, and some sound advice from a former teacher, Kristen applied to the University of the Arts London, Chelsea College of Art and Design last year and was accepted. Unfortunately due to student loans coming in shy, Kristen had to post pone her education for a year. She currently lives and paints in Calgary, AB waiting patiently for her journey to finally begin. She stays very busy working two jobs to save for her year abroad, but still makes time every day to paint.
Upon asking Kristen how she would describe her style and process, she sent me this quote: "I create what I enjoy viewing and physically doing; play, stimulating thought & the absence of concrete rules. Much of what I create is guided by dreams and humor. Evolving through connection, growth and personal healing is the general intent of process. This practice is free, loose, and rhythmic. My play exists in mastering discovery as a natural automatic flow. Stylistically, I lean toward organic visuals. Current works have been taking on surrealist abstract characteristics."
More and more I've come to appreciate surrounding myself with people who are not only honest, but shamelessly open about who they are. Its as though these kinds of people shout who they are with every fiber of their being. Kristen happens to be this kind of person. I came to know Kristen about 3 years ago, but our connection(s) go back much further than that. In fact, these days we laugh about how many strange connections and coincidences there were between us before we became friends. We attended the same college, graduating the same year, dated the same man (years apart), and at one point her then boyfriend played bass in my band. It wasn't until we ended up working together at the same customer service gig that we finally got the hint. One day at work in particular, she proudly burped my name with such gusto that I realized that her and I were going to get along just fine.
These days I think of her as one of my closest friends, and a key inspiration in my life. She is not only talented, but extremely dedicated to her work. When she's not working for the man, she's busy worshipping a canvas with a brush and tiny pots of paint. Her carefully planned formula's of color theory and technique (not unlike a mad scientist) meet her hyper aware connectivity to freedom and being in the moment to create a vast array of works from 6 inches to 9 feet in size that are more than worth staring at. Each work of art seeming to carry on it a universe within a universe, while each time you meet its gaze it shows you something new. Her attention to detail, and mere patience for her process is unbelievably admirable.
Knowing Kristen and the way she addresses her paintings has opened my eyes to the way a true artist should behave: With an unwavering dedication, a trust for the "knowingness" of what one should create, and a complete and utter surrender to the gifted role of "artist" as a life long journey. She's helped me to learn that it is far more important to focus on the process of a work of art unravelling before your eyes, than the end result. Her patience for creating the art and career she truly wants has encouraged me to do the same.
She has been working on one piece- (seen above: a 3 foot x 9 foot Mars black on frosted semi transparent paper) - for a staggering 5 years, and has no plans on calling it finished for many years to come.
I wanted to photograph Kristen and shine a spotlight on her not only because she is one of my favorite people, but because of how hard she works for the things she wants to achieve. I know no matter what that Kristen will always paint, but I truly believe she deserves the chance to achieve her dream of getting her masters in London!
Please take the time to visit Kristen Carleton's website here: http://kristencarleton.carbonmade.com/
Or visit her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristenEcarleton