An Interview with Grace Hart

Perspective is essential in navigating life as a mil-spouse, and illustrator/watercolorist/naturalist Grace Hart discovers beauty in the least likely places. 

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

Grace: Hi! My name is Grace Hart and I’m 33. My husband David, my cat Pixel and my dog
Cooper and I are originally from the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee. He joined
in 2015, three years after we got married. We met as photography majors in college in 2007 and
started dating in 2008. We just celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary! All I’ve ever wanted
to do as a career is work for myself, as an artist. Last year after moving to Okinawa, I was finally able to take the leap. Before this, we were at our first duty station, Holloman AFB in New Mexico.

MilspoFAN: How did you become a painter?

Grace: I have dabbled in every medium you can imagine, but I have always loved painting the
most. I have always been a painter. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t. My grandparents
owned a ceramic shop throughout my childhood, and I learned a lot of techniques from them
before I ever took an art class. I mostly used acrylic through school and into college, but one
weekend while my husband was deployed, I picked up a set of watercolors and never looked
back! During 2020, I was unable to get out for supplies as much, so I got back into digital
illustration with my iPad, something I hadn’t done since my Adobe Illustrator days in college. I’ve
loved adding that back into my repertoire because of its versatility.

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

Grace: My aesthetic is called “goblincore.” It’s centered on the celebration of natural
ecosystems, usually considered less beautiful by mainstream norms: mushrooms, snails, mud,
second-hand items and small, shiny or even rusty objects. I like the misfits, the cracked teacup,
the rusty keys. I feel someone needs to love them, too. My style, even before moving to Japan,
has been what I consider as “wabi sabi” or “perfectly imperfect,” and watercolor lets me achieve
this organic, simple and minimalistic feeling.

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

Grace: Wow, where do I start? Without my husband joining, I’m unsure if I’d even have the
chance to make this a full-time job like I’ve always dreamed. Kadena has been life-changing
with all the support for spouses and their home-based businesses, but our previous base in the
states had me convinced I’d never be able to do this because there was zero opportunity there,
despite my trying. It was also in the middle of the desert and really difficult for me to be in nature
like I like. So, location has definitely mattered. I had better access to supplies and the ability to
sell online in the states, where that’s much more difficult to do here as I’m not able to use USPS
for my business. It’s been a huge help and hindrance all at the same time.

MilspoFAN: How do you cultivate your creativity?

Grace: My favorite way is to be outside, biking, hiking, sketching and taking photos. I also play a
lot of nature themed, cozy type video games like Stardew Valley and Wytchwood. Reading
nature reference books, sci-fi and fantasy novels, and scrolling through A LOT of Pinterest plays
a huge role, too.

MilspoFAN: How do you meet other artists or plug into the local arts scene when you

Grace: Facebook is the most helpful tool I’ve come to know when PCSing in general, but that
bodes true for smaller groups and events like local art/craft shows and meet-ups. I myself have
thrown what I call “ArTea Parties” where we hang out at my place and talk art/small business
stuff while we sip tea and eat finger sandwiches! I’m also really thankful for my current arts and crafts department and community center, as well as the USO. I’m not sure how to make such
direct contact with so many helpful people whenever we leave the military one day.

MilspoFAN: What’s next for you?

Grace: I have a lot of goals since I’m just getting started. On the shortlist, growing my YouTube
channel and social media accounts to have multiple avenues of revenue and interaction is a
must – as it is for most artists today. As far as big-picture stuff goes, I would love to have the
chance to see some of my products in stores one day. I want to design puzzles and stationery,
maybe publish a children’s book or Tarot deck, and I’d be thrilled to teach a class or
two…there’s so much I’d find fulfillment in!

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

Grace: Find YOUR niche, stay consistent and always love the process more than the finished

Find Grace at:

Instagram: @rustythicketstudio


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