Please settle in for a colorful, inspiring, melt-your-insides account of a day-in-the-life of an artist, runner, wife, and mom. I really think you’re going to fall in love with this one. Welcome, Kirsten! We can’t wait to follow along your day!
The minute I woke up today, I put the running clothes on. I’m out the door by 6:00 am for my morning run. I do this at least five times a week. Running is something that keeps me sane.
My husband Ian is also always up early. He wakes me so I’m extremely lucky because I don’t ever need an alarm clock!
My 15-year-old son Alexander came for a run with me this morning. He comes with me at least twice a week. It’s quality time that I really value. We ran the bayside trail in Melbourne and saw the most beautiful pink sunrise as we ran this morning.
My 18-year-old daughter Taylor was still at home fast asleep as she usually is at that time of the morning! She’s just finished high school, so she’s allowed a bit of sleep in time.
My mornings are always rushed. I made it back from my run by 7.10 am to get my children’s breakfast and lunch ready. I sometimes can’t believe I’m still getting their breakfast for them! It’s a Mum thing, but I feel better when I know they have had a healthy start to the day.
I’m a creature of habit, so after I dropped my son Alexander at the train station to catch the train to school, I had breakfast at the same café I do every morning. I always take our dog Canny, a West Highland Terrier, with me and I have my usual: scrambled eggs on gluten-free toast and a coffee. After breakfast, I took Canny for a half-an-hour walk along the beach.
I live in a bayside suburb of Melbourne called Hampton. It’s a fantastic area to live, with lots of fabulous clothes shops, cafes, and galleries. It’s a short walk for me to get to the beach.
Melbourne is known for our love of art, theatre, markets, and an ability to make amazing coffee. There is also lots of sporting activities and running tracks. Melbournians love good food, and there are so many amazing restaurants to go to but also lots of options for healthy organic food.
Eating good food is a massive part of reaching my running goals, but also helps to create a healthy mindset. Being in a good frame of mind is something that I put effort into every day, and food is a really important part of that. My diet is gluten-free but includes lots of natural organic foods, vegetables, fruits, salad, grass-fed meats, eggs, plenty of protein, and good quality carbs.
Once I’ve got the kids organized for the morning, made sure they have whatever sports equipment for after-school activities, I’ve been for a run and had a healthy breakfast, my thoughts turn to what’s in store for the day. Sometimes I have client meetings, but most days I go home after breakfast and get straight into the studio.
I structure my day into two parts. The first half of my day I dedicate to my artwork, and the second half for the business side. After breakfast I start working on my paintings in my home studio, usually between 9:30 am and 1:30 pm. I organize any meetings for after 2:00 pm or use that time to answer emails, compile invoices, organize studio visits, or visit client’s houses.
I see the business side as a necessary part of selling my artwork but when I’m in the studio painting, it’s me time. I get completely immersed in the painting I’m working on. I don’t play music or have any other distractions; it’s about what I’m working on that moment.
All my paintings are based on happy summer colors and are inspired by gratitude and possibility. If one of my paintings brings some happiness, color and possibility into a person’s life and home, then I have achieved what I set out to.
I started painting because I saw a friend’s painting that I loved, and she wouldn’t sell it to me so I thought, I’ll paint myself one, then!
When I first started painting 15 years ago, I would put my paintings into exhibitions and nothing would sell. I have exhibited at the Canterbury Art Show for years, but the first year I was in, nothing sold, and the next year nothing sold again. I was devastated, and my husband gently suggested I try another career as he could see the effect it was having on me.
So I took my paintings to a local gallery and the guy who ran it told me he wouldn’t take my work but there was one 20cm of the painting that he thought worked. I went home and started again, and I went back five times before he accepted one of my paintings. My success has not happened overnight; I persevered through a lot of rejection, but I never gave up.
I get lots of positive feedback about my art. Last year I did 150 commissions and every single person was happy with them. I have truly fabulous clients and really believe you get what you put out. I want to create something that puts a positive, fun happy energy into some-one’s home. I had someone buy a painting recently because due to circumstances there was a lot of sadness in her home and she wanted to put some happy energy into their environment. I feel so lucky and grateful to be able contribute to other people’s lives in that way.
However, I never give my paintings away for free because if I did I wouldn’t be valuing myself and the energy I put into creating them. If I don’t value my work, then others won’t either.
I have lunch at home while I’m working and it’s the same thing every day! Did mention I’m a creature of habit? I have a smoothie made of spinach, mango, banana, and coconut water.
If there is anything going on that I need to debrief about, I always speak to my husband. We are both very lucky to own our businesses and can make time for each other when we need to. We have been married for 20 years and still talk to each other several times a day!
After picking my son up from the station at 4:00 pm, I go shopping every afternoon. I never pre-plan meals but decide on the day what I feel like and head to the shops. I admire how the French plan their meals this way.
I cook three times a week. My favorite foods to cook are Vietnamese, lots of fish and chicken, I like healthy light meals. Twice a week I also get pre-planned meals from an organic shop called the Food Smith, and twice a week we go out for dinner as a family.
I don’t feel I need to carve out separate personal time to recharge as my painting and running energizes me. I’ve worked hard to create a lifestyle that I don’t need to escape from. I run and paint by myself so I enjoy spending time around my family outside of that. Three times a week, I will go for a quick 40 minute run at 6:00 pm for a recharge.
When I was three my father died, and when I was 14 my mother died. It was not an easy childhood, and growing up I spent a lot of time alone. Moving into my own creative headspace was a survival tool for me, and so I learnt from an early age how to motivate and recharge myself independently. Painting is something that gives me that.
We always eat dinner as a family usually around 7 or 7:30 pm. My life as an artist ends as we reconvene around the dinner table. Tuesday and Thursdays dinners are a bit later as I have training with my running squad and running coach at the Tan track in Melbourne. Family dinnertime discussion centers around what the children have done at school that day, how everyone is, and future plans like holidays or just what’s happening on the weekend.
Our special family ritual is sitting around together in the sitting room of our house after dinner. We don’t watch a lot of television in our family so we sit around with a cup of tea, reading, chatting, and relaxing. It’s a great way to end the day all together with no distractions. Having lost my parents at an early age, I know there is nothing more important to me than my family. I don’t want to sit around and ignore each other. I want to connect and engage with those I love, every day.
My husband and I have lots of different interests, but the same values. Family is a major part of that, and we always make time for each other. I spend a lot of time with my son Alexander because he is also into running and although my daughter Taylor is 18 years old and has her own life, we are still close and I’m still the first person she calls if she needs a chat.
How far I am running the next day is always on my mind as I go to sleep. What time I’m getting up, what time my running session is, and whether it’s a particularly hard run.
I’m not a big worrier and instead tend to go over all the things that have happened that I’m grateful and thankful for. My stress levels are pretty low! I’m thankful for being able to paint and all the fantastic feedback I have had from clients after they have received their paintings. I feel grateful that my children are living a protected and happy life. I feel very blessed for my life and I don’t take that for granted for a second.
Kirsten, I love your life! If I could pack up your studio — and all those paintings! — I totally would. Thank you so much for energizing us all to make the most of our days. I especially loved this: “I don’t want to sit around and ignore each other. I want to connect and engage with those I love, every day.” It’s a wonderful goal.
Don’t you love how Kirsten began her art career? A friend wouldn’t sell her a painting, so she became a painter! I love it. It makes me wonder if there’s an unexpected career just waiting for us all to become frustrated and think “Hey. I’ll do it myself.” What’s yours, do you imagine? I kind of wish I could become a builder so I could tackle our master bedroom project myself! Ha!