Kristen Afionis -- a Sketchbook Conversation

This week's Sketchbook Conversation is with Kristen Afionis. I'm delighted to have Kristen here giving us yet another example of the fact that there is no right or wrong way to keep a sketchbook. It's inspiring to me (and I hope it's inspiring to you, too), to see so many different styles and media and themes. Whether or not you're encouraged to keep your own sketchbook, my hope is that you're inspired to speak your own story, whatever that may be.

Here's Kristen's story:

Hi! I’m Kristen and I am so excited to be sharing my sketchbooks with you. There is something so beautiful and mysterious about a sketchbook and I find it such a joy to be invited in to share in another’s story.

Sketchbook Conversations, sketchbooks, Kristen Afionis, My Giant Strawberry

I’m a self-taught artist living on the shores of Lake Erie in Western New York. I started painting and drawing about a year and a half ago as a way to fulfill creative longings. Not long after, I picked up sketchbooking as an accessible way to practice my new and evolving skills in a manageable time frame each day. I get up each morning between 4.30-5.00am so that I can work for a few hours before the rest of the house begins to stir. These quiet hours give me the time and space I crave to explore undisturbed. It’s my favorite time of day.   

Sketchbook Conversations, sketchbooks, Kristen Afionis, My Giant Strawberry

My sketchbooks have become my most treasured possessions and I enjoy looking back through them (usually with a large mug of chai tea latte in hand). I have found that new inspiration always pops out from old work, often in exciting and unexpected ways. It truly feels like opening a gift each time I open an old cover.

Sketchbook Conversations, sketchbooks, Kristen Afionis, My Giant Strawberry

Music is a great source of inspiration and whenever I’m feeling stuck a change in station usually helps to get new energy and ideas moving. My current favorite Pandora stations are Bon Iver, Philip Glass (a composer), Coleman Hell, and Lisa Gerrard. 

Sketchbook Conversations, sketchbooks, Kristen Afionis, My Giant Strawberry

I also draw inspiration from nature. My seven year old daughter and I have a practice of hiking and taking photos to draw from later. I keep a nature journal documenting any interesting bits of information I observe. Sometimes I print the photos and tape them in my sketchbook and then break down what I see into parts and pieces. Other times I tape a specimen directly into my book and add details to it later. This tie to nature comes across heavily in my work.

Sketchbook Conversations, sketchbooks, Kristen Afionis, My Giant Strawberry

I have just about every type, style, and size of sketchbook and I am always working in many of them at once. For me, each has a different purpose. Some are for wet or mixed media, some are for drawing and doodling with pen, and some are working sketchbooks that I almost never share. 

Sketchbook Conversations, sketchbooks, Kristen Afionis, My Giant Strawberry

The working books are filled with scratch marks, super quick shapes to get the idea of something, notes to capture ideas, color swatches, and sometimes my daughter’s doodles too. They’re not pretty but they are just as important to the creative process as the pretty ones.My favorite sketchbooks are the small pocket-sized ones because they are so easy to travel with and manageable to finish a spread in a short period of time. This, This, and These are my favorites.

Sketchbook Conversations, sketchbooks, Kristen Afionis, My Giant Strawberry

I love art supplies and I am always trying out something new. My favorites are: watercolors (especially Winsor and Newton), FW acrylic inks, Dr. Ph Martin’s black India Ink, Sakura micron pens (especially sizes 005, 01, 03, 1), and a white gelly roll pen.

Sketchbook Conversations, sketchbooks, Kristen Afionis, My Giant Strawberry

Sitting in front of a new and beautiful sketchbook can be anxiety inducing! Get up and move. Do some yoga, take a short walk, dance around to energetic music and then go back to your book. Make a mark, any mark, and then another, after that it gets easier. Try standing. I find that the ability to move and the idea that I can easily walk away helps my brush flow more freely. Enjoy the process and what comes out.  Not everything I make I love but everything I make has value. Happy Creating!


Thank you, Kristen, for sharing your story with us today.

Dear Reader, you can connect with Kristen:


Missed the other Sketchbook Conversations posts? It's easy to catch up at the series web page.

And for even more inspiration, check out my Artist Interviews



*Photos in this post ©Kristen Afionis. Used with permission.

Comments

  1. The images here are so awe-inspiring from the intricately patterned insects to the pebble houses and babushka type rotund character! It is hard to believe that Kristen has only been painting and drawing for a short while with such accomplished creativity. Thank you Anne once again for opening the door to introducing another creative. You are selfless in your quest to keep your readers engaged and motivated in all forms of creativity. x

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    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed this one, Simone. It is impressive to see that she's been doing this for such a short time.

      Have a creative week!

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  2. I love your Sketchbook Conversations Anne. Kristen's books have inspired me to try some double page spreads this weekend. I love that she discusses her materials and thanks for the links to her sketchbooks on Amazon. I am going to treat myself to some new sizes. Have a great weekend!

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    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoy these conversations, Sharon! I hope you fill up your new sketchbooks with all sorts of goodness!!

      Have a lovely week!

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