Artist/Yogi/mil-spouse Katie Meuse encourages us to make and find joy through art. Keep our eyes and minds open to the who, what and where because, through those mediums, we can discover our passions.
MilspoFAN: Tell us a little about yourself, your journey as a military spouse, and where you are today.
Katie: Hi MilSpoFAN community! My journey as a military spouse started when I agreed to go on a date with my best friend from college’s brother. I was fresh out of art school and working my first job in an office cubicle. After a year and a half of dating, I left that cold, New England cubicle, and joined him at his first duty station in Key West, Florida. My art soul jumped for joy. Talk about a duty station teeming with art and life! Another year and a half later, we were married.
Taking a quick 5 minutes to restore during PCS season (or anytime you need) can combat stress.
Over the years, the challenge of being a military spouse brought me in a handful of directions career-wise: curator of museum education, K-12 art teacher, yoga & meditation teacher, freelance artist. And when deployments and child-rearing took a front seat, work became part-time as I spent more time at home with my son, volunteering in the community, and teaching yoga when time allowed. It has now been almost 26 years since that first date and 11 PCS moves in the Coast Guard (New Orleans, LA and Cape May, NJ are a couple of my favorites). We are now stationed in Connecticut for the second time – our son was born here 16 years ago! We also have a cat named Shadeaux that we adopted when stationed in NOLA. I absolutely miss the south, but there’s just something about spring in New England.
MilspoFAN: How did you become a painter and what drew you to yoga?
Katie: When I was a little girl, my grandmother lived across the street from a local artist and great friend named Franny. Franny would take me to her art studio, plop me on top of one of her sawhorses, and give me free reign with paint and canvas. I’m sure that was my first step into how I became an artist. My high school art teacher was also instrumental in this, and actually drove me to college interviews. Through her help I received a partial scholarship and earned a BFA in Painting and Printmaking. But formal training or not, fostering the desire to create, doing the work, and putting myself out there are how I strive to become the artist I want to be.
It hasn’t dawned on me until this very moment, that “what drew me to yoga” was actually a “who”, and the very same “who” that sent me to her neighbor’s house to paint. My first memory of yoga was when I attended a class with my grandmother; I must’ve been around 4 years old. It’s a fuzzy memory of practicing wheel pose. But as an adult, what drew me to yoga was the feeling I got after my first class – complete relaxation and full of energy at the same time! I was hooked. And now I find I need the lessons in yoga to create authentic art, and that physically creating art is also yoga. Anything that brings you to a place of stillness, focus, bliss, and connects you to your inner inspiration and wisdom is where it’s at. For me that may be painting, but it’s beautifully different for everyone.
MilspoFAN: Describe for us your creative work and the aesthetic and concepts behind it.
Katie: My work is ever-changing in the realm of medium and subject matter; yet you could call my aesthetic “yoga inspired”. I have never been someone who likes routine in general, so when I get an idea or am inspired by someone or something around me, I want to try it even if it’s brand new to me. Recently I explored acrylic pour painting on tiny canvases, and now I’m really enjoying the meditative zone of mandala painting. What appeals to me as I have gotten older is the freedom to play, to listen when inspiration hits, and practice no expectations and non-attachment while I’m working. These are lessons from yoga for sure. Sometimes I struggle with not having a niche, but then I remind myself those thoughts come from a place of doubt. There’s no reason why I can’t do a watercolor/pen and ink of a home one day, and intricate patterns on a mandala the next. Whatever the subject matter, I believe the concept I am trying to convey is joy…encouraging others to be more joyful, whether they are appreciating art, making it, or both.
MilspoFAN: We love the idea of your oracle card deck. How did that project come into being?
Katie: This project really started moving forward during the pandemic, although the roots of it began years before. Anytime I would receive an inspired thought (usually during meditation), I would jot it down. When Covid hit, I obviously had more time at home, and there was a freedom to do more things that I didn’t allow myself to do normally – like painting regularly. I told myself I would be more present and embrace “letting go” in my art; to create art just for the sake of creating, to not be attached to “how it was going to turn out”. Removing the fear and that attachment transported me back to that sawhorse, as I dove into the flow of watercolors and was having fun. I was creating because it felt joyful. I was having so much fun experimenting with color in abstract watercolors that I soon had about 70 paintings. Then came the idea for an oracle card deck. I would meld the paintings with those notes of wisdom I had been jotting down for 3 years. After scanning and preparing 44 paintings and a guidebook for printing, it was then a process of researching online card printers and deciding on which prototype to use. I have the decks shipped to me, I package them, bless them with reiki energy, and off they go. Because the wisdom in the deck is personal to me, I believe the cards address many challenges military spouses face.
MilspoFAN: How has your role as a military spouse impacted your work as a maker- creatively, logistically, or otherwise?
Katie: One of the positive ways being a military spouse has impacted my work has been the travel aspect. Where people find inspiration is subjective, and for me, each new city or town is inspirational in its own right. The sights, smells, sounds, nature, culture and vibe of every location definitely affected my work. Although I may gravitate toward a certain medium or style, different unique cities encouraged me to play with new techniques, subject matter, and ideas; from oil paintings of Smather’s beach and underwater fish in Key West, to Mardi Gras bead mosaic in New Orleans, and fall leaf printmaking in Connecticut.
MilspoFAN: What is the most practical piece of advice that you would give to other artists?
Kaite: Tap into your art community! Physically being around art and artists is inspiring in itself, not to mention a good way to network and simply get to know the people in your community. Veteran locals will have the inside scoop (and this goes for the online art community as well #MilSpoFAN!). While I believe wholeheartedly in spending time alone listening to your inner guidance and inspiration, we all need help outside ourselves sometimes. And with that comes some of the lessons of being a military spouse – embracing the community around you, fostering friendships, and asking for help. And don’t forget about all those people who will be blessed with getting to know you. I love the anonymous quote, “Opportunity dances with those on the dance floor.” So, get out there!
Connect with Katie online at:
Instagram: @yoga.meuse https://www.instagram.com/yoga.meuse/