An Interview with Krista Carlberg Litz

Painter and Army spouse Krista Carlberg Litz of KCLStudio teaches us that including art in our daily lives not only maintains creativity, but also boosts the spirit.

MilspoFAN: Tell us a little about yourself, your journey as a military spouse, and where you are today.

Krista: My name is Krista Litz. I was raised in the Midwest with the best family a person could ask for. I met my husband while I was a graduate student in Chicago, IL. He was stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma which happened to be where my best friend from college and her husband were stationed. Many years before I met my husband, my best friend joked that she had found the perfect guy for me. On a visit to see her in Oklahoma many years later, she was proven correct. Three years later, I married that “perfect guy.” We have now been married 9 years and have two children. In those 9 years, we have moved with the military six times. We have lived in Fort Irwin, CA, Fort Sill, OK, Monterey, CA, San Salvador, El Salvador, Washington D.C., and are currently attached the U.S. Embassy in Asunción, Paraguay where my husband serves as the Army Attaché. This lifestyle was nothing like I expected; it has been much harder and even more rewarding than I had anticipated.

MilspoFAN: How did you become a painter?

Krista: I joke that I was born an artist. I come from a family of mathematicians, engineers, and other very practical professions. My love for art and my ambition to pursue it professionally started very young, much to the confusion and fear from those who wanted the best for me. I knew I wanted to be a professional artist when I was 15 years old. I earned my BFA from the University of Cincinnati DAAP program, and started painting, selling and showing my art to anyone who would give me a chance. I spent a few years painting and working and decided to get a graduate degree in nonprofit management to get invested in the art world through the nonprofit sector. After working in the nonprofit world for a handful of years, military moves and the addition of children made continuing on that path very challenging. I stepped away from the office and became a full-time working artist 7 years ago.

MilspoFAN: Describe for us your creative work and the aesthetic of your painting?

Krista: My artwork has changed and progressed a lot over the years. For the last five years, I have been painting floral and botanical art exclusively. I don’t like to think of my florals and botanicals as traditional work, but more an opportunity for the viewer to see these small pieces of natural art up close, their details blown up so that you have to look closer. Many people have told me that when they see my work, they want to touch it, smell it or even lick it. My hope is that they are experiencing these different senses because I am conveying the complexity of these natural pieces of beauty through my paintings.

MilspoFAN: Tell us all about your “100 paintings in 100 days” series and how the pandemic impacted your art making practice? 

Krista: The pandemic, like for many families, brought my work nearly to a halt. I was faced with virtual learning, my children at my feet 24 hours a day, and an international move a few months after the pandemic shut down the United States and the world. When we arrived in Paraguay, we were essentially quarantined for six months (children were not allowed in public), and my kids had a second year of virtual school. My art supplies were stuck on a boat, and it felt like my motivation to create was stuck, too. Finally in February of this year, I committed to paint 100 paintings in 100 days to pull me out of my pandemic funk and to keep my identity in what felt like endless isolation. I succeeded in completing 100 paintings in 100 days, and it was an incredible feat and one of my favorite accomplishments to date. I was able to sell more than half of those 100 paintings, which made up for much of my lost revenue during the pandemic. It also re-enforced to me that I can and need to fit in art every day.

MilspoFAN: How has your role as a military spouse impacted your work as a painter- creatively, logistically, or otherwise?

Krista: My role as a military spouse has made it possible for me to paint full-time. I would have continued to work full-time in the nonprofit sector if the military had not gotten in the way. I am so glad that it did.  Every new place the military takes us provides me with new experiences, colors, flowers, trees, and cities I might not have ever had the chance to see.

Army life has also provided its fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to the logistics of a small business. Shipping and time frame for commissions while moving so often are just a few of them.

MilspoFAN: What’s next for you? 

Krista: I am currently finishing up some commissions, but when I am finished, I plan to try to integrate my botanical art with the beautiful and also crumbling Spanish architecture that is found here in Asunción. It is truly one of the most unique places I have ever had the privilege to experience. I have no idea how this next project will turn out, but that is the best part.

MilspoFAN: What is the most practical piece of advice that you would give to other artists? 

Krista: The most practical piece of advice I would give to other artists is to create something every day even if it is small, even if no one ever sees it. 

You can find more of Krista’s work online at:

Kristalitz.com

Instagram: @kclstudio

Facebook: Kclstudio

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