Painting with Roses- One Canistota artist’s drive for community creativity.
By Julia Johnson
“So this is my mess” artist Kristine Reiner says, showing off her pile of various work-in-progress canvases, scattered paint bottles and paints.
Reiner is a Sioux Falls artist who tries to create community through her art, but she was raised in Canistota—you can even see her artwork in a local hotel.
Growing up in a small town like Canistota, a person can go and walk around for hours alone. Spending time in the wilderness while also remaining close to home is where Reiner first began to explore her creativity. Reiner says that there’s a “freedom of being able to connect with that creative side and to be alone, but also to have so much support around me was really helpful.”
Unfortunately, in many small towns the arts are not usually a priority, which forced Reiner to teach herself in highschool after the art program got cut freshman year. But she never stopped producing art, often doodling during class—occasionally upsetting her teachers with her wandering mind—and learning basic techniques through YouTube videos.
Over the years, she says her art has gotten brighter. As she gained experience at the University of Sioux Falls and learned to truly explore her creativity, she found that her art became more balanced. While she loved using black in highschool, she now uses a whole spectrum of colors in her art depending on her mood— especially blue. “I’ve been stuck in a blue faze for a few years, I like to call it,” laughed Reiner.
She feels most comfortable with abstract art because, as a perfectionist, she knew that realistic art would cause her to never feel like a painting is complete. Abstract art also allows for individualised interpretations of paintings. Reiner says that at times it has allowed her to rethink the way she sees her own art. “I love when people explain my paintings to me but they see something completely different than what I had envisioned.” She never plans out the paintings before she’s done, letting the painting talk to her, turning off her brain and letting her hands take over.
Although her art has changed in many ways, roses have played a role in her abstract style for many years. It began with unrequited affection. “A guy I was seeing (but not really seeing) gave me a lot of unwanted roses,” Reiner says. Her senior thesis in college combined the undesired roses—typically a symbol of love— with exploration of the abuse and trauma she’s experienced throughout her life. She says roses are freeing as a medium, because they help to release the desired perfectionism in her art.
Some of her art has made its way to big magazine companies. Living as a small-town South Dakotan, she at first thought British Vogue and Vanity Fair were scamming her when they asked if they could use her art in their magazines. Now, Reiner feels validated in her art, but bemusedly wonders to herself what she can do to top that. Still, she jokes that, “if it’s good enough for British Vogue it’s good enough for me.”
In the meantime, she’s creating a variety of different creative outlets for Sioux Falls residents. One example she began with a friend is “Elemental Artwork”—combining the movement of yoga and painting. She says that it feels powerful to “go to a yoga class and feel that release, but not only feel it, but to capture it on a canvas with your feet.” She also will partner with Salas and Salsas to create a partner taco dinner and painting Valentine date event.
Reiner says that for many years she focused on herself and her art. Now, she wants to give her experiences and skills to the community at an affordable price, with the goal of allowing everyone to be inspired by creating. Although being an artist has its difficult moments, she said, “there’s never a day when I doubt what I’m doing is worth it.” She encourages everyone struggling with fueling their passions to “make your weird art”, because we can’t survive in a world without art.