It wouldn’t be fair to call Krista Hasson a painter. It’s too limiting. She’s an autodidact with the barely contained energy of a small star. It gives the impression that at any moment you might be engulfed in a supernova as she reinvents herself in a new medium; consumed in the sound and the fury. Fortunately, as Krista is quick to point out, she’s also a goofball.
Krista has been a lifelong artist, but turned pro as recently as 2008. It was a journey for her; choosing to exhaust every possibly medium along the way before focusing on painting. Her home studio is a testament to that, a treasure trove, single-handedy keeping local art supply stores afloat. “I’ve always been an artist, I just didn’t realise it. I’ve been drawing and creating since I was old enough to walk and hold a pencil. I seriously have tried almost everything going. Before I started painting, I sewed, I did everything crafty, I did everything creative, everything under the sun. I get bored with them easy, so I think I was searching for that one outlet.”
What she has settled on is a fascinating use of watercolour on a Chinese wax paper. Colours are layered repeatedly between coatings of wax, pigments get blended directly on the canvas, bleeds are planned out several steps in advance to produce warm, beautiful glows, and there’s a whole crumpling process that’s difficult to wrap your head around, but is safe to assume it’s something akin to magic. Her landscapes and still-lifes have reached far beyond their subject matter; the art is in what they’ve gained by being conveyed simplistically, in a medium that has become as complex as a mosaic or tapestry. “I’m trying to shift away from the realism. That’s one of my favourite things about them; the simplicity. I think I like the fact that we all as human beings, even with something simple, far away it’ll look like more, but when you get up close it looks like less, but we can all see suggestions of things, our brain fills in the rest. I think that’s amazing how we don’t have to paint the detail.”
“I love them, because they’re truly fun to do. You get to smoosh things, you get to crinkle things, seriously it’s almost like finger painting when you’re a kid; you know how you get to do whatever you want, and make a big mess? It’s almost too fun to be considered work.”
The medium itself lends to her subject matter; each wrinkle, fold, and crease creating a natural synergy as branches, and twigs as though the paper is recalling a past life. It’s something Krista has in common with her work, as she recalls a childhood spent out of doors. For her, the solitude of nature has become an almost religious experience, “My love of nature really goes back to the time I was a child. I just love the country. It feels like home. I go there and I feel how a lot people feel when they go to church. I am in awe of nature. It’s calming, it’s beautiful. You can just sit there and look. You can look and listen to the little birds, the lichen, the stuff sprouting up, the rocks, the animals.”
For Krista, the holy experience of God’s Cathedral is a personal one, but not private. Krista jokes that where the rest of the world has been captured in so many selfies, there’s no Instagram filter for what Krista sees, but for her, it’s still all about sharing, and a deeper connection, “If I’m in the woods, there’s that connection that I think everybody should have: out in the middle of nowhere, without any technology, it just makes you appreciate life. That’s what my paintings are about, so I am sharing it in that sense. That is what I’m sharing with my art, my feelings and my emotions towards nature, and the connection. To me, I am part of all of that. We all are; we’re all something living, on this planet, and it’s amazing. Really I find it amazing that I am sitting on a planet somewhere in these trees and nobody really knows for sure. I’d like to go out and ponder the question in my mind. I find it serene. I find it grounding. If I could, if I wasn’t such a scaredy cat, I would dig a hole in the site of a hill in the middle of nowhere with nothing. Just some paints and some canvases.”
“Sometimes I’ll paint a painting and I’ll look and I’ll be all done and I’ll be like ‘Oh my god, who painted that?’ You know what I mean? How you get in the moment of the whole creativity thing, and time flies and you don’t know even how that happened?”
Krista is continuing to create in her chosen medium, but restless as ever. She’s turning her efforts to exploring both print-making and oils, reveling in large brush strokes and thick paint, at least for the moment. “I’m lucky because I have that eye for drawing, which not everybody does, and it’s a lot easier when you’re born with that ability to see things differently, because that’s what artist do, they see things differently than other people. And other people can learn to see them differently, but if you’re that way automatically it’s so much easier. You have to go through struggle to learn. It’s like any profession; there’s good, there’s mediocre and there’s bad, and that determines where you’re going to go. As long as you get out and drive the bus; if you don’t you’re probably not going far. I will do anything when it comes to art. I really will.”