A Patchwork Fall

A Patchwork Fall
"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art." ~Paul Cezanne~

June 5, 2015

FRIDAY FEATURE: Featured Artist - Kristi Grussendorf

Kristi Grussendorf ~ An eager and lifelong student!

After spending the last year on the board of the Utah Watercolor Society with Kristi Grussendorf at the helm as UWS President, I am honored to say that I know this amazing woman. She is a nationally-known, award-winning artist and instructor with incredible talent for drawing the viewer to the main focal point in her paintings, and a master of working with value. 

Dogs at Millcreek  ©Kristi Grussendorf

You probably see a theme of water media artists in my features so far. There are several reasons for this. First, because most of the artists I know specialize in water media. Second, because watercolor is one of the most challenging and unforgiving mediums to work with (ask any artist you know), and I think each of these featured artists are among the most skillful in the world. Third, because I love watercolor! I have worked with many mediums myself and have enjoyed many different methods of working in art (2D and 3D). But, I am constantly drawn to watercolor and have made it my medium of choice. So, it stands to reason, that many of the artists I admire are excellent watercolorists!

That being said, Kristi actually started out her career working with oils and enjoys painting in oil, but has focused on watercolor for the past several years - when she finally got bit by challenge and joy of the "watercolor bug" (as so many of us have)! It is thanks to watercolor that I know this very talented artist, and am so lucky she agreed to be interviewed for my blog!

London Mass Transit  ©Kristi Grussendorf

Kristi's work has been featured in numerous publications online and in print, including the February 2014 issue of Watercolor Artist Magazine ("Lessons of a Lifetime"), the February 2013 issue of Watercolor Artist Magazine ("The Best of the Best"), and the February 2012 issue of Watercolor Artist Magazine ("The Year's Best Paintings").

Photo Op in Central Park © Kristi Grussendorf

Beyond her artistic merit, Kristi is also one of the kindest people I have ever met. Her sweet and caring manner are admirable and her smile is infectious. She is always so excited to support and compliment other artists. While she is happy about her own accomplishments, she does not seek to be the focus of any public attention. She is generous with her time and her praise. Kristi loves to take workshops, but is also an excellent instructor, and she is equally skilled at plein air and studio painting. If ever you have a chance to meet Kristi in person or take a workshop from her, I highly recommend it. Your life will be enlightened and improved for knowing her!

Bike  ©Kristi Grussendorf

Here are Kristi's answers to my blog feature questions.

Q: What are your favorite materials and tools...the ones you just can't live without?

A: With watercolor, it's a collaboration/relationship with the water, paint, brush and paper.  Although, I always advocate for professional materials, I think the paper is most important.  If you have to skimp, skimp with the paint and brushes, not the paper!

Q: Who are your artistic influences?

A: Of course, the masters...all the famous names we've studied in art history (there's a reason they're called "master" artists).  Since I'm a "workshop junkie," I've had the privilege of studying with SO many fabulous watercolorists and have taken something away from all of them (Carl Purcell, Ian Ramsay, Christopher Schink, Carla O'Connor, Richard Stephens, John SalminenAlvaro Castagnet, Robert Burridge, Stephen Quiller, Brenda Swenson, Linda Kemp... too many more to mention!)

Carolyn's Porch  ©Kristi Grussendorf

Q: What is your favorite subject matter and why?

A: I actually don't have favorite subject matter.  I'm more attracted to shapes and value patterns.  I do focus on my figure drawing skills.  I think if you can draw the figure, you can draw just about anything!

Q: What advice would you give to emerging artists?

A: I think being too critical of yourself can be deadly especially as a beginning watercolorist. Watercolor is a challenging medium and I don't know of many artists (myself included) who can critique while painting.  

I've seen students second guessing themselves and trying to "fix" a color or edge or drip before the paint is even dry.  This is what kills the freshness and purity of watercolor.  

We need to get out of the way and allow the paint (water, paper) do what it does best.  Paint today and leave the critique for another day!

Southern Desert Hike  ©Kristi Grussendorf

Q: What are your favorite quotes?

A: There are SO many fantastic quotes relating to art and I find myself sharing them all the time. And, I try to make a habit of giving the appropriate credit. One that I quite often share is from one of my professors from the University of Utah, George Dibble. He told us to always give a color another color to "play with" on the paper and stressed painting with as few strokes of the brush as possible. He was one of my first and best influences along with my other instructors, Paul Davis, Tony Smith, Dave Dornan, Doug Snow, Ed Maryon and Diana Gardiner.

Q: What would you most like to be remembered for in life?

A: Professionally, I would love for my artwork to be remembered more than me but I guess if it would be one of my character traits, probably that I was an eager and life long student.

Buskin' Blues  ©Kristi Grussendorf

Kristi graduated with a BFA from the University of Utah with an emphasis on painting and drawing. She holds Signature status in the Utah Watercolor Society, the Wyoming Watercolor Society, the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies, and the National Watercolor Society. She is a Past President of the Utah Watercolor Society (serving as President for the 2014-2015 year).

"My passionate relationship with watercolor continues to grow and change. If I'm lucky, this challenging and rich medium will continue to surprise, delight (and frustrate) me for a very long time!"   ~Kristi Grussendorf

Visit Kristi's website at Kristi Grussendorf Fine Art

Her work is represented by Worthington Gallery in Springdale, UT.

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog!

I hope you enjoyed this Featured Artist post. Please leave a comment with your thoughts and feedback. I would love to hear from you!