Featured Artist: Kristine Van Raden

I am very honored to introduce our featured artist this week, Kristine Van Raden. I found her work through my Instagram network....I love social media for this reason....you can find, be inspired by people all over the world. It turns out however, Kristine lives only a few miles from our studio....across the river in Portland, Oregon. I asked Kristine to be our featured artist and when she sent her story and photos.....I was captivated! I think you will be too. You might want to have a tissue at the ready. Kristine creates art that she loves. We can all learn from her wisdom "At 65, I have finally learned that pleasing myself is way more than enough." 

Please welcome Kristine

My mother passed away in 2015.  It was an extraordinary experience to share her last few days. I became aware of how important it was for her to look into the eyes of each visitor (including doctors and nurses) and tell them how much she loved them or what was so special about them, and what she would miss most. Her affirmations encouraged others to express similar sentiments. I started writing down words and phrases that I knew I would want to remember. 


After my mom died, I took a beginning ceramics class. I wanted to figure out how to capture her words in a meaningful way...one that I could share with family and friends. I always picked the most undesirable table so that I was alone at the back of the room. The first couple of classes I attended, while everyone else hopped right onto a potter’s wheel, I rolled out balls of clay with a rolling pin and using rubber stamps, put into clay, what she had said those last days.


Shortly after that, I starting getting requests to make “sacred” pieces for others. There was the mom whose daughter was killed in the Aurora Co. theater shooting. On her daughter’s door was the quotes, “every minute of every day is a gift”. The request was that I make 10 pieces with that quote to be gifted to their family and friends. I have worked with Gold Star moms, published authors and poets and countless others…celebration of life and loss seemed to be my calling.


I have always made art. So I’ve managed to have a place to work for as long as I can remember. In the past, that has been the kitchen counter, dining room table, living room floor or driveway. With my husbands blessing I turned his garage and shop into a clay studio for myself. All of his stuff now resides in our basement, and never once has he complained. I bought a used wheel and kiln off Craig's List and learned as I went.


Then I started making pottery for me. I love organic shapes and colors. Simple styling and appearance makes me swoon. I am inspired by the wabi-sabi imperfections of Japanese ceramics. Every time I get the new Kinfolk or Cereal magazine, I hide away for hours, just absorbing colors, textures and design.


At 65, I have finally learned that pleasing myself is way more than enough. Not worrying too much about what others might think, or that I am far from achieving perfection, is my motto. At this age I care more about learning then about a specific result. I won’t compete with anyone. I won’t say I’m sorry for the imperfections. I create what I want, when I want...and if someone else finds pleasure in it or it makes them happy, I am thrilled.


So, every morning I take my first cup of coffee, walk 10 feet to my studio, put 70’s records on my vintage record player (try not to be inspired by “Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme!)  and give thanks for another perfect day. 

To see more of Kristine's beautiful work, visit her website, beanpolepottery.com, and her Instagram page, @beanpole_pottery. Her studio is open upon request through her website.