Kris Grover, aka Luna Fiber was born in New York but puts her roots down in Iowa. She received double-major BAA in Communication and Interior Design from Central Michigan University in 1996. Kris’ art work focuses on vibrant and often whimsical expressions of everyday life–people, creatures, and nature. Her strong background in textiles and fiber arts provide intriguing mediums for composition and creativity. Woven material such as fabric, pulp product such as paper, as well as found objects and other ephemera–offer a palette of endless opportunities to express her sense of the beautiful world around her. Kris lives with her wonderful husband of 25 years and sweet dog in Elkader, Iowa, USA.
Carrie: Welcome to Artist Strong! When did you first realize your love of art?
Thank you! I’m delighted to be here! I loved art from the time I was very young. At age 4, my mother made me a picnic basket full of art supplies and paper, as well as unusual found objects (such as a panty hose egg container!) I never grew tired of opening the lid of that basket and art has been a major focus in my life ever since.
Carrie: How did you come to realize paper fiber and textile work were your media of choice? Well, by accident, quite frankly. I had done other art such as painting, drawing, stained glass, sculpture and graphic design. I visited Penland Art School (Penland, NC) during the summer of 2003 on a whim–my mother wanted to take a two week quilting course there. It was her birthday and wanting to accommodate her, I said, sure, I’ll go. I didn’t have the first clue about creating fiber art, handling fabric, running a sewing machine. I had a great time, though, and came home on fire to start working with earnest on my new passion–textile and fiber art!
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
Oh, dear. Do you mean “before” or “after”? Haha. I cleaned my office late last month and took pictures because I thought, this is the last time I’ll actually SEE the surfaces in my space. Here’s a ‘before’ picture. It’s now in chaos, of course. It’s a large room with 3-4 work surface stations. Once I’m into a project, I find I work in just the tiny space immediately in front of me given every other surface is piled with art materials! LOL!
Carrie: Can you walk us through your process? What steps do you take to create a work? What kind of skills does it require?
That’s a great question! My process often starts when I’m NOT thinking about the project I want to do. I’ll be walking the local trail or driving some back road and see a particularly beautiful scene–perhaps the manner in which a bent tree limb receives birds, or undulating rural landscapes, or even something more personal, like an intriguing person at a local store. Even the layers of peeling paint on a fire hydrant catch my eye. Whenever possible, I’ll try and snap a picture of the scene or event. This past year, I’ve been inundated by beautiful birds flocking to my yard…I see them in a whimsical light, almost if they’re eagerly saying “paint me next!” My recent bird series in torn paper collages are example of this inspiration to completion process.
The skills required in actually creating a piece involve lightly drafting the idea out, identifying the difference between light and shadow (and for monochromatic subjects, such as a brown wren, I might make a B&W photocopy to help me define spaces). Next, I think through carefully how the paper or fiber I’m applying to represent the colors and shading of the subject will be read by the viewer. For example, in an all-red Cardinal, it would be pretty simple to lay down one large red piece of paper. But looking closely at the wings, chest and other areas, there are variations of hue which can be interpreted by a slightly different colored paper, or, for example, a more intensely patterned piece will read as “darker” once placed in the composition, even by itself it isn’t necessarily.
Carrie: How do you know when a piece is finished?
I know when a piece is finished when I sit back and ask, where do I need one more element to elevate the piece ever so slightly more? If there’s no answer in return, the piece is done. With the torn paper collages, I’ve done birds and dogs as themes. I always do the eye area last. It’s the hardest part. When I’m satisfied with the eyes, the piece is done.
Carrie: How do you get ideas for your work?
I get ideas walking the trails, especially near rivers or streams. This is especially true of the landscape pieces. I get my ideas looking at nature, looking out the window at birds dancing at the feeder. I get ideas from funny ways in which a dog might look at you. And, at this point, people who recognize me and my work will come up and ask, ‘why don’t you do a …..?’ This is wonderful affirmation that what I’m doing is speaking to the viewer and they want more! And sometimes I go ahead and do what they suggest!
Carrie: How do your interests outside of art fuel your artwork?
I’m interested in nearly EVERYTHING–so I’d have to say innate curiosity supplies MAJOR fuel. Beyond that, I love religious art–any religion–and am often drawn to the colorful examples of beautiful works in churches. I love hiking and am supplied with endless inspiration in nature. I work on alternate projects with other artists and this is important as it feeds the need for connection between artists, often a struggle since we tend to work in isolation in our own studios.
Carrie: How often do you make art? What does your creative routine look like?
In one form or another I usually do a little art work nearly everyday. I might not ALWAYS be working directly on one specific piece, however. For the torn paper collages, I’ll do 5-6 background boards at once. Another time, I’ll create painted/stamped/altered papers that will be used later for the torn paper collage. I’ll sort and compile the textiles and ephemera for the fabric-based pieces. Each of these exercises take several hours and this time allows me to meditatively think about how I want to approach the artwork I have in mind. That alone I think is critical to the creative routine. Then, I sit down and dig in. I usually work on pieces for 3-4 days, but some take as long as 3-4 weeks.
Carrie: What do you do when you feel creatively stuck? In some form, I work on art nearly every day, and not every day is creative bliss. One way to get ‘unstuck’ is to get out of yourself and do something for someone else. For example, recently a friend who works with disadvantaged youth asked me to do a large artist trading card (8×10) for a youngster who needed a little encouragement. I completed a journal-esque page on front, included a meaningful poem on the back, and wrote the young lady an encouraging letter. I’ve done similar pieces for people who are very depressed and the same as a special project for a group of parents whose late children were victims of gun violence. In this latter example, artists such as myself from all over the country created small art pages reflecting encouraging sentiments. Then, collectively our pages were bound in journal-type books which were given to the parents on the anniversary of the terrible event which took their children. This type of effort always shakes up my creative juices sufficiently–gets me out of my own head–in order to get me back into focus on my own art expression.
Carrie: Name one creative resource you can’t live without.
I hate to admit it out loud but I’d have to say my laptop is crucial. If I’m sketching a bird or shading a landscape and I ask myself, how would that bird look with a tilted head, or how does a field look when the sun is setting versus rising, I check out one of the bazillion images that the internet has to offer to help me complete the vision. Looking at multiple pictures helps convince me I’m going the right direction…or in some cases, not. Beyond that, just the quiet space my art office offers. It doesn’t have to be a big space, just quiet.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
For me, Creativity is Prayer. It’s a communication between your creative ‘self’ and the Creator that formed you. It’s a means to connect with the host of other creatives all around us–other people, animals, the universe, and focus it into the self. From there, my voice opens up and I express MY creativity–informed by the creation all around me.
Thank you for having me here today on Creative Spirit! This is a delightful way to meet artists and other creatives from around the world and I’m grateful and humbled to be featured on your page. Kris Grover, a/k/a, Luna Fiber.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Has spending time in nature aided your creativity? How? I want to know! Tell me about it in the comments below.
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Kris Grover AKA Luna Fiber is on Facebook