Explorin’ Fiction

When people find out I’m an artist I get asked to do all sorts of different creative things. I have taken on a lot of new work and explored a variety of styles and mediums by doing this. Pushing the limits of what “kind of art” I do makes me a better artist.

On this particular piece I needed to create a concept for a fictional character in a game. A game I didn’t even know existed before this point. Although this genre of art isn’t something I’ve been into it still intrigued me enough to give it a shot!

I’ve been working on this for the last few months. Taking my time to land on something I was happy with and fulfilling the image in the clients mind was my goal. I worked through 6 sketches before decided on a pose and style. I reached out for resources from another artist more versed in creating characters of this sort as well. He was a very crucial aspect in the sucess of this project. 😉 thank you❤

I choose to use graphite, color pencils, pen, with a mix of paint for the final image. Mixed media fit perfectly for the design I had in my mind. On final completion I am pleased with the outcome! My art is usually a non-fictional subject matter that I can scrutinize and perfect.

This piece of art was the opposite. Using different ways of thinking to reach a final product that I love opens my mind to possiblities that I may not have come to! Glad I took on a project that I didn’t know I could successfully accomplish and did so with results I’m proud of!

Being outside my comfort zone made me think in a different way and learn from that. I thrive in this type of environment! I had lots of fun!

Now that this is completed I have jumped into a collaboration with an artist resulting in me eating yummy things! Art & Food…win win for me!!! 😉 I will be telling y’all about it very soon!

Loving An Addict

The hardest and most selfless thing I’ve ever done in my life is loving an addict. I actually love many. I am not a person to claim the role of a victim and the last thing I want is for anyone to feel sorry for me. I keep a positive outlook on life, despite what I’ve been through.

Talking about addiction is not easy, in doing so I hope it will help others in healing and maybe better understand an addict in their own life. Confronting an addict is heart wrenching and will test you in every way imaginable. I’ve been laughed at straight in my face and called a liar. My feelings have been completely disregarded, I’ve been bullied, and torn apart emotionally. I drove myself crazy with worry and finding proof of lies to make a point. In reality I never needed to. I realized if I needed to prove a liar more than once I was the fool. Addiction is all-consuming in its need for attention, by the addict and by the people who love them. I’ve learned what enabling is and how incredibly hard it is to distinguish between it and love. In loving addicts I have learned so much about the kind of person I am but more importantly the kind of person I want to become.

The most giving hearts is the ones who addicts like to surround themselves with. The most vulnerable people are the path of least resistance. They want you to enable them. It’s validating and gives them no reason to stop the destructive behavior. There is so much pain within them that it spreads, it seeps out and into everything they touch.

For loved ones it’s the pain of deceit, the pain of having them take advantage of you, and the pain of feeling like you don’t matter is what hurts the most. There is pain in knowing their selfishness is most important. What has been hardest for me is the realization that I’ve had to push them away. In showing the effects of their actions I needed to be harsh. A stark reflection of how they affected my life. Whether they want to see it or not it hurts. In every single way it hurts to witness the pain. It hurts being disliked and even hated for this when all you wish is for them to heal. I did not let the pain of this take hold on me. I do have times of sorrow, as does everyone but, it does not define me. No matter how hard it is to grasp for air sometimes I don’t let pain caused by others weigh too heavy on my soul.

In confrontation an addict will fight it. They will back you into every corner and make you feel as bad as they do. The pain inside they are trying to numb will exponentially grow in the realizations of hurting loved ones. Love can fight back even harder. Help them in every way you can without being taken advantage of. Help them gain the tools to cope but stay true to your words. If you give an ultimatum stick to it. Buttons get pushed and limits tested but keep standing strong and know that addicts can recover and trust restored. We are all human. We all make mistakes. We live, learn, and grow to become better if we want to.

Forgiveness is key. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Forgive and grow. I do my best to not be pushed around by their demons, or my own, and learn from my own mistakes and frustrations.

Strength comes in knowing that you could save their life. Holding them accountable may nudge them out of the state of denial they put themselves in. It will quite literally feel like going into battle. They will not want to stop. It will hurt them physically and mentally to do so. Everything in them will tell them no. The high they chase is in control and will not want to be diminished. The worst part about addiction is that the body loves responding to pleasurable things and loves dopamine. As the addict gets deeper into addiction the levels of dopamine they need to feel euphoria increases. The urge will always be there to push for more. The need to survive can even come second to the need they feel in fulfilling the addiction. I’m not trying to claim that I fully understand the inner struggle of an addict. This is just my thoughts from what I’ve seen. But, I do know what it feels like to watch someone you love, even more than yourself, struggle with it. It takes a lifetime to conquer addiction.

I’ve dealt with other people’s addiction my entire life. It took my childhood. It forced me to overcome. It taught me to push myself in the need to thrive as an individual, as a leader, and as a caring human being. It showed me what to avoid and what to question.

The key to truly loving someone is honesty. So many people fail in this. Honesty is the way of happiness. To do this I had to look inward. What was I doing in response to the addict that contributed in perpetuating the behavior? I became brutally honest with myself about my actions. When you’re in a relationship with an addict, your behaviors become just as important as theirs in addiction and in recovery. I changed my habits. I had to change the way I live and the person that I am to love an addict. If you trust someone nothing stands in the way of that relationship. It leads to feeling good about yourself and the only way to truly live your best life.

In having this knowledge and understanding I believe that loving an addict is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There is a fine line between being there for someone and knowing when to say that’s enough. In this there are many times I have failed. Many times I have had to pick myself back up and literally say out loud, “yes, it is worth it.” Loving someone isn’t always butterflies and rainbows. It’s a war zone, and you have to treat it as such. You have to protect what is worth fighting for and stand your ground.

In loving an addict you have to understand their limits and see if they’re willing to do the right things to save themself. You have to continue being selfless. I will spend my entire life trying to fully understand this. To recover from the selfishness of addiction, it takes selfishness of an opposite kind to overcome it. Loving an addict and being okay with this fact without resentment takes a special kind of love. In the pain of addiction, the beauty of recovery is so rare. Witnessing an addict who recovers and stays true to themself is inspiring. The transformation of a person learning to love who they are every day is beautiful. It takes extreme inner strength and perseverance.

So much of the person I am is because of addiction. My outlook on life is molded by my decision to not let an addict take me down that dark path. My need to create something positive in my life is from seeing all the negative self destruction of people I love. The way I have learned to love is because of addiction. Not a day passes that I do not feel its effects. I will always have hope in human beings to overcome. In these realizations the meaning of what it takes to love has changed for me. Loving someone isn’t just saying I love you over and over. It’s in every action you take. Its need is deeper and more intentional than I ever thought. After losing trust in someone they have to give back to you 10 fold before expecting you to give anymore of yourself to them. To regain that level of love within a relationship is rare but, achievable.

As a mother, I worry in a very real way, if my children or grandchildren will struggle with it. Addiction is due 50 percent to genetic predisposition and 50 percent to poor coping skills. I can’t help the genetic aspect of this. It is an major issue on both sides of my children’s genetic pool but, I can prepare them in understanding the dangers. I hope I can help in recognizing the signs if it becomes an issue they are faced with. I have faith I have learned enough and can provide them with the right tools to avoid it. It is a very real thought I have in raising them. My childhood and most of adulthood was impacted with the real effects addiction can have on a life. I will do everything in my power to not let my children live with the negative effects of this disease. Strength in honesty and truly connecting with one another.

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! 😉 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 “Best 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! 😉

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.

A Life Lesson Still Being Learned

My sensitive and introverted soul falls into a trap at times. My momma always told me, from a young age, that I am too tenderhearted.

I come across as quiet, easy going, caring, or too “soft.” Seemingly easy targets for those who feel empowered by belittling others. Relishing in the fact that their words can have power over me.

And because I internalize negativity more often than not, those demeaning comments can sink in deeply. If not careful, I can easily turn someone’s degrading remarks into manifested truths.

In the past, my intuition would tell me not to trust the words I heard, but I allowed these remarks to affect my self worth anyway. My soul would ache with shame and insecurity. Without consciously realizing, I’d eventually accept the words I heard as true. Making me feel unworthy of being happy. And what you accept as true, you live out.

After so many experiences of being put down and letting it fill my heart, I realized that this was unacceptable. My self-esteem is worth fighting for. I have the power to choose the words in which I live in. I will not allow it to change my soft heart or the way I show my love. I will still be one that cares too deeply and loves with all I have. Some people will say anything to feel less insecure about themselves. Always try your best to take something positive from it. Let it help you grow.

You know how damaging those words are if you’ve ever fallen prey to those who belittle and have allowed their harsh words to penetrate the vulnerable parts of your mind and heart. The next time you’re on the receiving end just know people project their insecurites onto you. It is not a reflection of who you are. And remember when you throw out harsh words it should be a moment of an inward contemplation. Why are you lashing out?? Are the hurtful things you say going to make you or them feel any better?

Besides, ain’t no body got time for negativity! 😉 onward and upward is the way I will always go.