Katrina Koltes is more than just an artist, she's a legacy in the making. With a backstory that would be impossible not to leave you inspired, we couldn't wait to spend some time with her to find out more about her life as an artist, how she got to where she is today and her plans for the future.
Prepare to be inspired...
Tell us about the journey that lead you to become a full time artist
I can’t say it was an easy journey. I had been doing a job that had nothing to do with art or creativity for so many years that I was detached from my very essence. It was due to many failures, disappointments and trauma in my teenage years that I closed off that part of me so I wouldn’t risk getting hurt again. Little did I know that years later, it created a deep void that made me have a complete breakdown and fall into depression.
It was only then I realised that instead of protecting myself I was actually denying myself what I loved the most, my creativity and the artist in me. My breakdown made me face all the pain and hurt from the past, and got me really thinking about what I wanted to do with my life - my long forgotten dreams and heart’s desires. I slowly started getting back into art. I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in over 15 years! It was like learning everything all over again, and starting anew. After a while I applied for a part time at my job so I could dedicate more time to my art, and I learned everything I could, as much as I could. I painted in every free minute I had - even if it meant skipping some sleep... after all I still had a job and a small child to care for. I studied about opening a business. I created my own website, even if I am terrible at tech things. I read about everything, I took courses, and learned where I could. I eventually opened up an art school on my website and started teaching classes, selling my art online, and doing some shows.
When I was pregnant with my second son I knew it was time to take the leap and leave my day job, and start dedicating everything into my business. Since then I have dedicated fully my time, efforts, and passion into my art.
Where did your love and interest for art come from?
I come from a family of artists. My mom is an artist and raised us in a creative atmosphere. Due to the full-time relief work of my parents we were always traveling and I can remember always having a paper and pencil with me wherever we went.
We also did many art programs for kids, murals in hospitals, and I sang and performed as a child as well. Out of my seven brothers and sisters many of us are now artists, actors, writers, singers, and chefs. My mom always encouraged me when I was little to look for the magic in everything, to stay strong despite hardships, and that definitely translated into my art career later on.
How do you want people to feel when they look at your artwork?
I believe that every piece of art reflects the soul of the artist. Our paintbrush is our wand, weaving light and magic into the world. Our hands are our hearts, spreading love and healing through our art.
Our eyes are our portals, sharing glimpses of magic. I want people to feel inspired, empowered, and transformed like art has for me. I want to share the incredible magic that art has re-awakened in my soul. I want to ignite beautiful emotions kept hidden, possibly due to fear or shame. I want others to feel inspired by my story, and feel excited to take their own leaps of courage, stepping into their destiny.
You have many strings to your bow, alongside been an artist. Of all of your passions, which one sets you alive the most?
I love each and every one of my creative passions, be it painting, sculpting, teaching, jewellery making, or session work. Painting is a way for me to express my emotions and what I have to say. It’s a way to share a message with the world and inspire others. Teaching art gives me joy as I love to help people find their magic and passion for art, like I did. Sculpting and working with crystals and jewellery is also a passion for me, as it connects me to the magic of the earth. I love to create specific talismans for protection or divination work, using specific stones and crystals and combining them with my art and with clay. And I love to do divination work, because I can help by being a channel for those who need it. I believe I have empowered and helped many people through my art and my sessions, to find their life’s path and journey.
Having had a difficult life journey myself, I feel that I have so much to give. That through many of my life lessons and experiences, I can relate to others in many ways.
Looking back since launching the business, is there anything you would do differently?
I know I shouldn’t have wasted over 15 years of my life because I deviated from my true destiny. I had many reasons to shut out my creativity as it was easier that way, less painful. It was the easy way out. Now looking back, I think on how much more energy I would have had in my twenties and early thirties to dedicate to my art career. How many more years of experience I could have added to business. Yes, sometimes we get lost in life, but the important thing is to find our way back from the dark and know it’s never too late to start anew. And to all you readers out there, if you are hesitating to take the leap and stepping into your dream, don’t wait. Take the leap because you’ll regret it years later down the line when you are dreaming about what you could have done. Life is too short to waste on not living, on not pursuing our dreams, just because it’s less scary. Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear.
Being an artist has many connotations, one being that it can be a struggle to really make it. What advice would you offer to other aspiring artists?
I’ve said this many times to my students, and I can’t say it enough - don’t try to follow the crowd, or fit into the moulds society has framed for artists. There are so many people telling us what won’t sell or what’s not trendy, that we adapt our art to what we think others will like. We see an artist with success and we try to adapt our style and voice to what we think will sell or be successful, and that’s the biggest mistake we can ever make. I’ve made it too, and I learned the hard way. I felt like I wasn’t being authentic with my voice.
Once I realised I didn’t want to paint what I thought others wanted me to paint, I started creating for myself. I wanted to paint what I had inside, no matter what. And once you can do that, you create a masterpiece. When you can shut out all the self doubt, the outside obligations, and the misconceptions, you’re on the road to success. Your art will reflect your soul and your message, and what you have to give to the world. Every brushstroke becomes an emotion, every layer a part of our story. Every finished piece is a picture of our soul and reflects our beauty within. Everyone needs more beauty in the world, and as artists it is our mission to share it.
Talk us through an average day in your life…
I am always busy doing something.
My days are packed with family life, painting, website updates and trying to balance that with exercise and self care. There were times in the past few years where I never stopped till I dropped and I’m still learning to listen to my body and take breaks when needed.
My day will usually start off with taking one of the kids to school and then getting back to the studio and then I start painting, working on classes or shows. I also try to find time in the morning in-between work to train in the gym and brisk walk in the nearby hills with my husband during his lunch break. In the afternoon between picking up my kids from school and doing house errands, cooking, finishing up the website or commission work, taking kids to do sports, there’s really never a dull moment. Sometimes I’ll be working til late at night when I have upcoming events or urgent work to be finished.
Having lost my parents in law a couple years ago from cancer and sickness, and my mom living abroad and also battling with cancer, and most of my family in different parts of the world, I often miss their support and company, and it can feel overwhelming sometimes having to juggle everything. But I count my blessings every day to have a loving and supportive husband who believes in me, especially when times get rough, and a mother who, through her fight with cancer, teaches me strength and to never give up.
I also feel blessed for my two boys of 5 and 12, who keep me on my toes and show me that every challenge is worth it, because they give so much love in return.
What do you do when you are lacking creativity?
One of favourite quotes from Picasso is “Inspiration has to find you working”. Many times when I am tired or lacking inspiration I get to work anyway, because I know that once I start throwing paint around something magical happens and inspiration finds me.
I also love to take long walks in the nature, especially in the forest. I take off my shoes and let me feet connect with the earth, listen to the whispers of the trees and I feel at peace. Being an air sign, I often have my head in the clouds. Taking time to connect with the earth refreshes my perspective and keeps me grounded. I also like to stop and look at the little things, as those are the ones that spark my inspiration most… the sparkling dewdrops on the leaves, the light filtering through the trees, the texture of the tree bark, or the colour of the sunset.
When we can stop and really look at the world around us, we never lack inspiration. It’s also important to cultivate all of our our creative interests. Other than painting, I love to create jewellery, sculpt with clay, and sing. So when I don’t feel like painting, I’ll try doing something else creative that helps me get in the flow again. Taking art courses is also a wonderful way to spark our creativity. Find the artists that inspire you, and take as many classes as you can. The more we feed our creativity, the more we have.
How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?
I believe this is a wonderful time to be an artist. With social media we can reach so many more people than in the past.
Just think if the Old Masters had social media? It would have been amazing! Most of my business is from my connections on social media as it gives me a way to relate to people, to share my personal journey, and to inspire others. It gives me a way to connect to people from a distance, and to share my art and my passion with a wider audience.
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
One of my favourite quotes is from Harriet Tubman - “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.’
Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and to change the world.”
I believe that each of us has what it takes, it’s just up to us to make the sacrifices, to face our fears, and do what it takes to pursue them.
Our readers love to travel, what destination is on your must visit list?
I grew up traveling. My parents were relief volunteers so we were constantly on the move. We didn’t see much of the typical touristic spots – usually we went to help after a natural disaster and wars, especially in third world countries. I learned to see things in a different way when traveling, to really see a place for its essence. To find the beauty in things and keep an open perspective.
I have a deep love for mountains and forests. I’d pick any place that I can hike through the woods, climb up a mountain and see the beauty from the top. The more difficult the climb, the more I’m reminded that even when we struggle in life, the view near the top is always worth it. It also helps me get a better perspective when I’m high up. I’ve always wanted to go to Tibet and Peru because of this, and Canada with it’s vast nature reserves. But there are so many places on my bucket list.
Once of my favourite places in the whole world is the Alps. With only a few hours drive from where I live in Italy, we can arrive in the Dolomiti and the Alps. When I’m in those mountains, I feel a deep sense of homecoming. Their majestic beauty and healing magic soothes my soul and inspires my creativity like no other.
What does self care mean to you?
Being a full time mother and artist doesn’t give me much free time so I often struggle to make the time for self care. But when I can I take long walks in nature, exercise, get a massage, or spend some time alone meditating.
Where do you see the brand in the next 5 years?
My dream is to be an inspiration for many people on a bigger scale. To have my art in big companies where it’s seen and inspiring and can empower people. And I hope to be teaching more in person. This year I launched my first art retreat here in Italy for 2023 and I’m really excited about it... It’s going to be amazing! To connect with like-minded people, and share our creative passion is the most life-changing experience one can have! It paves the way for deep self discovery and transformation.
Where can people find out more?
You can find me on my website at www.katrinakoltes.com, Instagram, Facebook www.facebook.com/creatingmagic and Youtube.