So what do ya say, wanna change the world today?!

Perspective is nothing if not life changing, a fundamental shift in the train of thought that you base your values on. As I get older I am embracing new perspective more and more. I crave it. I want my mind changed. I want to grow. I want to understand more and see the world through eyes that are not mine.

I feel that there is a rising up of new thinking that creates more inclusivity within society. People are not afraid to stand up. The time is always ‘now’ for the forward thinkers. The people that say, “If I’m not the voice then there is no voice. If I don’t make change for the future thinkers of the world then we will never change.”

I want to be part of change. I want to say I made a difference to a better world. A world where more people are letting other perspectives influence their thoughts and actions. Having the openness to not being right all the time. Believing that there is always a way of doing something that has never been thought of.

Supporting those that are brave, especially if what they represent is a perspective that eyes have never seen, is all about opening your heart to others. Vulnerability is always seen as a bad thing. A thing that makes someone weak but, vulnerability is what changes the world. It’s that one person standing up to say “I think, feel, or want things to be different and here’s why. Let’s find ways together to make it so.”

These brave people and those who support them are my heroes. It simply starts with listening. Truly listen to what others have to say. So what do ya say, wanna change the world today?!

Beautiful Mess

Our house is always changing. I never keep something in one place for too awfully long. I would love to say I have it in order…like ever but, I do not. Art is always leaning against the walls. I collect weird things and live in a old house. I have an obsession with mirrors and for things that glow softly.

But…..right in the middle of my crazy mess is my husband. Loving me for my need for change, my haphazard way of acting like I have my shit together and the never ending crazy that is me. He is my constant, calls me his beautiful mess and finds my artistic brain endearing. We grow together and learn more about each other everyday.

Our journey is definitely not perfect but, I find these moments and am proud of this beautiful life we have created. πŸ’›

Bentonville O.G. ;)

Bentonville is a tiny little spot of heaven in the middle of nowhere. Undiscovered in its charm and small town uniqueness, a place I have always been honored to call home. In the last decade or so Bentonville has drastically changed! Northwest Arkansas’s metropolitan area is one of the fasted growing economies in the U.S. and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping!!!

It comes as no surprise to me that other people have noticed and love our beautiful little town. Located in such a lovely part of our country it’s so appealing in rich history and southern charm, what’s there not to love?! We’re so blessed with the benefits provided to our community by the many corporate headquarters located here. They help keep our country’s commerce running and fuel innovation throughout different industries for the future of the world! In turn making our community even more diverse and expansive as we move forward.

I recently had a friend, I’ve known most of my life, tell me she is coming to visit and wants to know what to do when they come! I was so happy to tell her about everything there’s to do here now! With all the growth and excitement I feel like sometimes I can’t even keep up with what all is happening! I got to the end of the conversation and realized I sounded like a travel agent for Northwest Arkansas! I get excited about sharing!!!

Most people leave their hometown wanting to seek bigger and better things. I feel like the bigger and better things have coming to me! I went to art school and then the art came here! How much luckier can I get?!

From the beautiful recently developed walking and biking trails that wind from Bella Vista all the way to Fayetteville to local breweries there is so much to experience in Northwest Arkansas! Pinnacle Hills, in Rogers, Ar has a beautiful sprawling outdoor mall that can keep you shopping until your hearts content…or your pockets empty! πŸ˜‰ Bentonville’s 8th St. Market and the Art District is constantly evolving with innovative new businesses enriching our community with fine art, amazing food, and custom shops. Bentonville isn’t the only amazing little town here either! All of Northwest Arkansas is expanding at an astounding rate! Fayetteville Ar. is one of the top 5 best places in America to live, according to U.S. News & World Report in its annual β€œBest Places to Live” report. Every industry here is seeing a massive boom, adding to our ever growing Arkansas based businesses and communities!

What does that mean to the O.G.’s?! When I say O.G., being that I’m only 31 I can only go back so far, I know there are much more legit O.G’s! If any want to chime in please feel free to add a comment! I’d love to hear your stories! Locals have loved Bentonville before it started to evolve and become “cool”. We’ve watched how beautifully our sleepy little town has become a hub of new culture and interest from people around the world.

Growing up on Main St. and having relatives living all around downtown my entire life I have countless memories that make the Bentonville Square my favorite place! As a kid I remember spending time around the fountian downtown where only a few lawn chairs and a couple good ol’ boys playing folk music on Saturday nights filled the square. The farmers market was only about 10 booths and they only sold vegetables! When the coolest thing to do was walk around the Wal-Mart on Walton Blvd. and see ALL your friends doing the same!

Spending afternoons with my siblings at Bentonville Public Library, which at the time was located in the old Massey Hotel that is now Phat Tires Bike Shop, was my favorite space to pass time. The same place that sparked my love for art. Seeing a 3D model of Crystal Bridges with stars in my eyes. When I was just 11 years old, Crystal Bridges was just a concept living in the lobby of the library. I would see it every week and daydream about what it would be like. How it would open up my eyes to the world of art! I never imagined that I would get to experience it with my children! Literally puts the biggest a smile on my face! My love for Bentonville and the pride I have living here is grandiose! I absolutely love it and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

But, with this excitement and huge growth I also wonder how it will change our identity. There are locals opposed to the growth. They don’t like all the “newness” and change. I do not see change as a bad thing, uncomfortable at times-yes but, always an opportunity to become better in a new direction! That being said I wonder if we will lose our small town charm along the way? What will we become when there are 100’s of thousands of people living here….or even millions?! Will we get that big?! What will Bentonville look like? Will we lose our charm we are so dearly loved for?

All questions I am anxious to see play out. One thing’s for sure change is here and I am one to embrace it! ❀

*all photos are taken and copyrighted by Courtney Kitterman

The Nature of Art

In the past year I’ve had extreme mixed reactions from others about art that I have created and shared. As this does cause a rise in me I enjoy the back and forth. I have received negativity to a specific subject matter and even been asked to destroy and take down art that I have shared. In this kind of response, so strongly against what I have created, I find myself wanting to share it more. I don’t know if it’s because I can’t stand someone telling me what to do with MY art or simply that I arise such strong emotion within them. Creating art that makes someone so repulsed by it they wish to never see it again.

I find it incredibly disrespectful and quite bold to demand an artist to not show or even destroy something they have created. I realize that in sharing it I take on that risk.

Is this not what we want as artists? You share it despite if others like it. Inevitably, even the most mundane and boring art will have critics. Someone tearing it apart just to show how pointless it is. But, in that act of hatred for a simple piece of art the artist still made someone feel something. Despite what emotion they feel it is so significant. How powerful of an idea it is that such great emotion can arise by simply viewing a piece of artwork.

I honestly never thought anyone would find my art offensive. When I share it I never think oh, I’m really going to piss people off with this one. I realize it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. Things look different from opposing perspectives.

Not everyone will see things the way I do. A few years ago, back to college days actually..so quite a few years ago, this thought became almost an ephifany to me. I was having a conversation with family about a piece of artwork I had finished. She loved the piece and told me that when she views something I have created she is just in awe. She said “I can tell that you view the world differently and see things in a way that I never could. Your perspective is beautiful and I’m glad that you share it”. It made me feel as though I truly do have a gift.

This conversation caused me to look back even futher into a discussion I had with a teacher in grade school. The teacher was confused and a bit taken back by my interpretation and rendering of a project in art class. She pulled me aside and said that my art didn’t match hers or anyone else in the class. It didn’t look the way she thought it should and asked me to do it again. In a the way she intended the project to be completed. I hadn’t done this out of rebellion. I never thought I was doing it wrong. I just saw things differently. I did things my own way even back in grade school without knowing. Of all the people, an art teacher should not look down on such an act but, cherish and nurture it. something I wish she would have done. It would have progressed my love of art much sooner. Anyway, enough rambling about grade school….

I now view my world and the way I interpret it as a gift. A gift I proudly share. A gift I love about myself. There is no greater joy than when people love my art. I love being able to make others so happy they are overcome with emotion and tears well up in their eyes. I also love when I evoke a different emotion. I find it interesting and it makes me see my art with new eyes. It creates a conversation about what causes this opposing emotion to come forth. I find nothing wrong with people hating my artwork. I also do not find this as a reason to destroy or feel bad about it. I’ve never been one to back down, especially when it comes to my art.

Art is my religion. My saving grace. It created drive and purpose in my life. It protects and loves me in a way that nothing else can. It’s in my bones and within my heart. It saved me. It pours out my finger tips and from a place within I can’t explain. It heals and is part of my soul. I will never apologize for what I have created and I will not shy away from any negativity that comes from it. Bring on the critics. Help me better understand different perspectives. I love learning more about others and their way of thinking. Plus, I strongly believe getting more people conversing about art is definitely a good thing! πŸ˜‰

Where Does Your True Happiness Lie?

Tell me all the things that make you smile! I mean really smile. The kind that you feel growing from within, finding its way to the corners of your mouth blooming like a flower upon your face. Bringing with it joy and usually, if not always, love.
It’s that in which our happiness lies. And isn’t it what we are all chasing? Happiness is a moment and not a destination. With the understanding of this statement I began to see the importance of these seemingly small moments of finding a smile creep across my face. Not small at all. Huge, grand, beautiful moments that make up a happy life. A life worth living. A life of smiles.

I find myself smiling with the warmth from a sunrise coming through my studio windows. In the thrill of creating something from nothing. With the infectious laugh from my son that fills a room. When the arms of my daughter wrapped around my neck from an unexpected hug while she tells me I’m the best mom ever. I smile from the nourishment of a meal lovingly cooked after a long day. In the excitement of bringing someone joy with an act of kindness. I love making the world a better place just by sharing the talents I am blessed with. Chasing a stunning sunset until all color has left the sky with stars in my eyes. Not a day passes that I do not find something within it that makes me truly smile. And with that I have to say that I have a happy life. Moment by moment is where my happiness lies. not a destination that is one day reached but, instead happiness in moments throughout the journey that make me smile the most.

I’ve found if it doesn’t raise a smile within you leave it. Life is too short. Life is too precious to spend it on things that aren’t meant for you. With that being said I also believe you should never regret things that make you smile, even if it no longer does. If for a blink of your eye you let something touch your soul enough to bring a smile to your face it was worth the thought and energy you put forth.

Chase all those smile things. Follow the sun. Cherish and give to the people you love. Happiness comes with the way you look at life. We all have sorrows that are deep and burdens to bear. We all have regrets and hardships that need dealt with but, in letting it fill your heart and weight you down you’ll never find yourself smiling at the things you love. Let things go and smile a bit more and in these moments you will find happiness.

Bentonville + ART + Waltons = Change

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“You don’t need to go to New York or Europe to see great art! I’ve tried to tell my friends for ages that Bentonville, Arkansas is where a serious art movement is happening! And your art is crazy inspiring!” As I heard this over last weekend I couldn’t help but have the biggest goofy smile plastered on my face! Being considered “inspiring” is the best thing an artist hears! It roots my love for art and is my fuel to continue.

I had the honor of participating in the 2018 Art Market in Downtown Bentonville on June 2nd. It was such an amazing experience! What a great event for our community to host. Letting local artists shine!

I must start by saying, there aren’t many people who love this beautiful little town as much as I do. I am born and raised in the perfect little bubble of NWA. I spent my childhood growing up in downtown Bentonville. Even now, as an adult, I work downtown and love seeing how much things have evolved and grown! What I especially love seeing is the growth of the art community! The increasing interest in our area brings more than 1000 people moving to Northwest Arkansas every month! I couldn’t imagine a better place to call home, along with loads of other people! They must see what I see. πŸ˜‰

Obviously, you can’t talk about how great Bentonville is without giving credit to the Walton Family! The opportunities the Walton’s have given our community has increased our quality of life 10 fold. For me personally, the greatest impact has been in the introduction to fine art. I remember being 11 years old going to the Bentonville Public Library and seeing a model of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I was in complete awe! I just starting to draw and it was such an inspiration. I thought to myself if Bentonville gets an amazing art museum I must become good enough to have my art there! Always Dreaming Big!!!

It was the beginning of my love for art. It fueled my drive to pursue it and always be striving for more. I watched as the museum slowly inserted itself into the stunning landscape of the Ozark Mountains, wrapped in a winding spring feed creek, hidden within the forest of Bentonville. During its construction, I took note of the meticulous care and preservation of the natural surroundings. They showcase all the beauty the Natural State has to offer in the softest and most inviting way.

Now 20 years later, Crystal Bridges is one of my happiest places! I go often for new exhibits, to view the permanent collections, attend special events, and just walk the beautiful trails. I’ve photographed many people within the grounds of the Museum, I never get tired of seeing this beautiful place. I take my kids quite often (giving my daughter Abby, especially, a growing fondness for fine art). When we visit I tell her that one day she will see mommy’s art there! She tried giving a greeter my business card! πŸ˜‰ I don’t have any art hanging there…….yet! πŸ˜‰ …. but, it will most likely be at the efforts of Abby Rain, who has all the confidence in her momma.

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So, my acceptance to take part in the Downtown Bentonville Art Market this year got me super excited! Bentonville + ART = all the love! Being part of both at such an exciting time for art and our community is an honor! I brought various examples of my work, set them up, and I was absolutely amazed at the reactions from people! Like, honestly blown away! The kind words and the look in people’s eyes as they viewed my art was truly heartwarming! Touching people’s hearts and making them feel something, that’s what art is all about. evoking emotion, whether good or bad or indifferent..it still says something about the person viewing it and less about the art. Art is all in the eye of the beholder. Each person has their own experience with it that is unique to them. I enjoyed watching people as they view it and conversing about their thoughts. It gives me insight to what it is that draws people in. What emotions does my art evoke? Is it what I intended? What does my art say about me?

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Recently, being inspired by the Walton family I am drawing a portrait of Sam Walton. I felt that I should honor such a great man who has influenced our community and lives in such a massive way. With this portrait, I wanted to evoke a warm friendliness that I knew he had. Let his kind heart and love for people shine through in my drawing. You can see it in his eyes and that is what I want this drawing to say. I never met Sam Walton. I was 5 when he passed but, I do know people who knew him, meet him, spent time with him and his family, worked for him, and I have never…not even once heard a bad word spoken about him.

I know that there is a divide when it comes to support for Wal-Mart. You either love it or you absolutely hate it!! I thought about this when I started the drawing and it made me want to do it more!! I knew that I would get a lot of support from locals! We have so much love for Sam!!!! We know of his philanthropy and kindness. His drive and charisma. We live it every day. We see and feel the efforts the Walton Family have given our community in such positive ways. I am grateful for having grown up here and to raise my children here. That being said though, not everyone across the world gets to see that side of the Walton family, or choose to see – I guess is more correct. The Walton Family is so much more than a WAL-MART SUPERCENTER.

If just in the small scheme of things, my love for art is forever growing because of the efforts of the Walton Family Foundation. Inspiring a young country girl to dream big! Any goal is reachable and Sam Walton proved just that. I LOVE being inspired by the local life and sharing it with people across the world is a blessing. I love Bentonville. I love creating art. I love Sam Walton. I love what he represents for our community and that it’s something that has changed the world forever. I felt compelled to draw his portrait and am proud to call NWA home.

Northwest Arkansas and the world for that matter would not be what it is without the Walton Family. Still today, even 26 years after Sam’s passing, people maintain their loyalty. Locals especially have a fondness for Sam Walton and what he stood for. What an impact to have!!! what a legacy to leave! What an honor it is being part of something bigger!!! I love being part of this culture that is continuously evolving. In the words of Sam Walton himself “You can’t just keep doing what works one time, everything around you is changing. To succeed, stay out in front of change.”