Having been pointed in Kristen Aleida's direction by another plantworker, I immediately loved what I saw. Her work is accessible, inspiring, and has an undeniable lightness to it. I had the chance to ask Kristen about what's behind her botanical prints and inspirational scripts and — great news — there is an awesome message behind these beautiful pieces for us all to take home.
Tell us a little bit about you and your work.
I am a person who wears a few different hats. I have a degree in peace and conflict transformation, and spend my days working at two very cool organizations that work to revitalize communities. I started painting with watercolours three years ago on a trip to Portugal, and I never stopped. These two aspects of my life have aligned themselves together so well — to connect with other artists, to care for myself, and to spread important messages through paint. It has led me to realizing my fascination with plants, which has led me here.
Your work seems to carry with it a theme around healing. What is your intention there?
Art is something that can so easily impact people in a good way, and if I can, I always want to do that. For me, painting in itself is a healing and empowering process, a rare moment where I am putting my energy out onto a paper while receiving something that I need at the same time. It’s kind of a little hiding place from the world where I can process everything and reflect on all the truly beautiful things around me. Sometimes when I’m having a bad day, I just script the words I need — and it’s a ritual that actually gives me the strength to embody them. I want my art to bring that sense of peace and healing to those who engage with it. So, I paint with that intention, and I hope that even when there are no scripted words, the message still comes across.
How has your work with botanicals been healing for you?
When I was growing up, my mom always took me to gardens; she loves to take photos of beautiful flowers. Of course, as a kid, I was always more preoccupied with the butterflies around them or when we were going for ice cream. I think her influence is evident now, because flowers and plants actually take my breath away on a daily basis. People talk about the language of flowers all the time, and I really think they have a mysterious and intentional thing about them. Since my painting became focussed on florals, I started researching the meanings of flowers and painting specific ones depending on the need of the occasion. I think they are healing because they connect me with a natural, fleeting, and meaningful beauty that is completely as much a part of the world as I am. They live beautifully without demanding any attention, you just have to stop and notice them and you’re better for it.
What would be your dream project?
I have so many dreams — this is going to be hard. So, I spend all the time that I’m not painting doing community work. I have worked in some amazing communities over the last several years and I have seen how art can give such incredible meaning to people’s lives, even in the hardest situations. It would be my total dream to open up a drop-in art studio that is focused on building community, removing barriers, and creating a therapeutic space. I imagine loads of natural light, many green plants, and a lot of people getting to find a space to create and heal and learn from each other. Yes, that’s the dream.