Interview with Artist Kristen Federchuk, ASA, SCA

An interest in art might be an indication that your child would like to learn more about pursuing a career in art. In addition to art skills, it is also important to develop other skills and qualities such as perseverance, faith, communication, time management, and math as these will all be required in a work setting or in having one’s own business. 

Taking the time to learn more about what jobs entail can be found by reading what others share about their career. The interview below is with Kristen, an artist in Alberta, who shares her path to a career in art and her perspective on the joys and challenges of her training and work. 

TCS: Did you have a strong interest in art throughout your childhood or was art something that you mainly pursued as an adult?

Kristen: I have been interested in art for as long as I can remember. My artistic ability is a God-given talent, and I have been drawing since I was a little girl. I would draw on anything I could find; to my mom’s dismay that was sometimes the hallway walls (haha). My notes in school were so messy because they were covered in doodles on any surface I could find. I couldn’t stop drawing. Growing up, I was inspired by high realism artists such as Robert Bateman, Carl Brenders, and Brent Townsend. I used to come home after school and put on my bird call cassette tapes and practice drawing by studying Robert Bateman’s books. I mainly sketched until after university, then because I love bright vibrant colours gave acrylic painting a try and haven’t looked back. It is such a versatile, forgiving medium to work with, and there are so many colours available.

TCS: Was being an artist your first choice as a career?

Kristen: My first career choice was to be a wife/stay-at-home mom. Art and horses have always been my two main interests so being an artist was always a close 2nd for career choices. When artists I admired would be at local galleries, I used to go and have them sign my sketchbooks and look at their artwork and want to be like them. I am so blessed to be able to be living out my dream and doing what God created me for.

TCS: How do you organize your day when working from home as an artist and homeschooling your children?

Kristen: That can sometimes be tricky because I need long periods of quiet alone time to be able to concentrate on painting. Early mornings are my best time for me so I often get up very early to get in my painting time. If I can’t get in an early morning, I will stay up very late at night after everyone has gone to bed and paint. Either of those times work well for homeschooling my son though because he is definitely not a morning person (haha) so his best school time is either afternoons or early evening. That is one of the beautiful things about homeschool; it is so flexible and can be adapted to the schedule that works for you and your children.

TCS: What are the skills and qualities needed to run a home-based art business and work as an artist?

Kristen: Resilience. Faith. Persistence. Optimism. Thick skin. Organization – for the business side of things. Being personable is definitely an asset as well since a lot of people like to get to know the artist and it is a helpful quality in being an art teacher.

There are a lot of opportunities out there for artists. Calls for entry into art shows (locally and internationally), galleries, commissions, in-person art shows/events. But it can be tough to get started, and there are a lot of talented artists out there so competition is tough. Being able to pick yourself back up after having your work rejected/criticized, weather lean periods, be humble and not get a big head when people admire your work, finding your niche, and what art is in your heart and let that flow. Having faith and knowing God has created me/called me to be an artist has made a huge difference in being able to do those things.

TCS: You graduated from post-secondary with a BSc. in Environmental and Conservation Science. What are ways in which science and art complement each other and overlap?

Kristen: They are very complementary. Both art and science reveal the harmony and different facets of God’s character. Science is problem solving. Trying to understand the environment around you through hypothesis, observation, and experimentation. Learning how parts of a whole work and fit together. I have always thought art as visual problem solving; it uses all the same skills as science but in a visual manner. For example, you need to understand and continually examine your reference photos when you are drawing to make sure the proportions and colours are correct and be willing to experiment again if it doesn’t fit together as you first hypothesised. Art focuses on what is beautiful and/or creates an emotional response, whereas science focuses more on the facts around you. The two together create a more beautiful complementary picture than one on its own. It also gives a more full understanding of our Creator and His creation since He is the original master artist and scientist.

TCS: What are the benefits to learning art, for both children and parents alike?

Kristen: There are tremendous benefits to learning art no matter the age. It is relaxing, therapeutic, healing, confidence building, and improves your skill level in hand and eye coordination, observation, and many other areas. As well when done in a class or group setting it can help build, strengthen, and inspire relationships, friendships, and local community.

TCS: How can homeschool families best include art as part of their studies?

Kristen: There are numerous options for homeschool families since their schedules are more flexible. They can take in-person art classes at local art studios or art stores, homeschool art classes, private tutoring from local artists, homeschool art curriculum textbooks, being mentored/apprenticed by a local artist, online classes, or Youtube instruction videos. I did not take art classes growing up and learned just by practicing as well as studying the works of other artists and mimicking them; I think this is an excellent way to learn. The way I have learnt most is simply by praying as I paint and asking the Holy Spirit to guide me and give me skill and wisdom, and He has always answered. From showing me what and when to paint to how to mix certain colours together to achieve a desired result, He is the best teacher and my number one recommendation.

TCS: Do you have any advice for those interested in pursuing a career as an artist?

Kristen: Do not be afraid. If that is a passion/dream in your heart, do not be afraid to pursue it. There are many art groups/societies/communities out there, and they are an excellent way to learn and be encouraged as an artist and in your art business. As well as the professional designation, some of these societies offer help to give accreditation to your work. It connects you with other like-minded individuals and will help you grow as an artist and offers you opportunities to participate in art shows that are open to members only. It is also helpful to find out what kind of art inspires you and study the works of those artists, go to galleries and see the work in person if possible, check out artist websites to find out what shows they participate in, etc. Don’t be shy to reach out and contact artists you admire; most are happy to share their experience with other artists.

I would also highly recommend Adeline Halvorson’s book Not All Artists Aren’t Starving. It is an excellent little book, available on Amazon, that covers all the topics an artist needs to know to become professional. As well, I recommend FASO as a website provider. They provide very professional templates and excellent support for artists. A website is very necessary when an artist is ready to go professional.

My last advice would be, don’t get overwhelmed and try to do everything all at once. Don’t try to be like someone else. Your artwork will flourish when you are yourself and find your own individual style and niche. Each artist’s story and path will be as unique as they are.

About Kristen

Kristen Federchuk, ASA, SCA, is a talented self-taught artist that paints in a realistic style and in her artist statement she states: “For me, painting is not just about art; it is about Glorifying God through my work and being a blessing to others with the talent He gave me. I am so thankful for all that He has done for me and the opportunity to spread the joy in my artwork with my clients.”

From as early as she could remember, Kristen loved art. She could always be found with a pencil or paintbrush in her hand, drawing on walls and anything else she could find. Over the years, she would practice drawing by copying the works of artists she admired, most notably the Canadian Robert Bateman. She has always been passionate about the environment and the outdoors and laid down her pencils and sketchbooks to obtain a BSc. in Environmental & Conservation Science from the University of Alberta. After university finished, she couldn't forget how full of joy creating artwork made her feel. She followed her heart and started painting the beauty around her. She adds, "It is truly something I was created to do, and it fills me with joy and excitement to watch each painting unfold. I paint what I find beautiful or interesting, not wanting to be limited in my work. I prefer to be free to explore and paint whatever makes me happy." 

You can see Kristen’s Portfolio of work on her website.

This article has been written by homeschooling staff writers of The Canadian Schoolhouse (TCS). Enjoy more of our content from TCS contributors and staff writers by visiting our themes page that has a new theme topic added every month!

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).