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The Art of Reflection

Step Inside the World of Artist Kristen Abbott, Where Creativity and Community are All Waypoints to Finding Center

Article by Katherine Owen

Photography by Lindsey Mazzaferro Photo & MBER Creative

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

From artist Kristen Abbott’s home studio in South Boulder, each change of the seasons is a chance to collaborate with nature and cultivate new techniques and mediums. Now, with spring and summer on the way, her explorations with cyanotypes will take center stage once again.

One of the oldest photographic printing processes, cyanotyping relies on a reaction between UV light and an iron salt solution that results in deep blue prints.

“I'm collaborating with nature in a sense that, depending on how bright the sun is that day and the intensity of the rays, or if we get an afternoon rain shower that rains on it while it's still exposing… all of those things I just embrace as part of the process,” explains Kristen. “I’m not able to predict or control the outcome, and in a lot of ways, that is what keeps me coming back.”

Kristen’s cyanotype work showcases nature not just in methodology, but imagery as well, incorporating leaves and twigs and other natural materials. (“My kids started calling me the leaf lady last summer,” she adds with a laugh.) But as the seasons shift, Kristen finds she’ll return to her first medium: painting.

“As I move into the fall and winter, I can totally feel my energy shift and I start craving a more cozy, layered feeling,” Kristen says. “How do I bring this in? I'm in my studio with a cup of tea and a really cozy sweater, and I'm creating this textural, layered, built-up-over-time type of work that doesn't feel quite as immediate. It's a little bit more introspective in that way.”

Introspection is a big theme of Kristen’s work—not just for her, but she hopes for the viewer as well. Kristen explains she wants her art to be “experiential and not just another product to be consumed.”

“I am creating work that for me, feels grounding and reflective because I very easily get caught up in the spin cycle of our busy life. And I know that so many other people do too, and that's our natural default—to keep going and to keep adding and to keep hustling,” Kristen says. “So for me, it's all about creating this sanctuary, this safe haven that I can actually come to rest in.”

And in case it sounds like Kristen has found a path to total calm and clarity—she is most definitely still on the search herself, she clarifies.

“It's not like I'm so zen all the time. It's more about, this is where I want to come to. This is when I'm my best self — in this space,” Kristen says. “We're all craving these anchor points to ground us in the middle of our busy lives, and I want my art to just provide that quiet reflection so that people can pause and become more aware of the beauty that's already around them.”

This search is a big driver behind her community-minded work that’s morphed into two big undertakings: one, an old South Boulder schoolhouse she is transforming into a studio and community space where she and other artists can host everything from workshops to yoga events to women’s circles. And two, a plan to take the idea of creative community abroad via The Creative Soul Retreat, June 21-28 in Great Glemham, England.

”It’s not just for artists, but for women who are wanting big shifts in their life and wanting things to happen that they didn't even know were possible. For me, that came about after I got to do an artist residency in France in the summer of 2022 that was hugely transformative for me. I knew it was going to be awesome, but it was next level,” Kristen explains. “I brought so much of this creative energy and inspiration home with me that now, I want everyone to have this experience of what is possible when we get out of our normal ruts and rhythms…I want more of that. I want more of those big experiences that we get to bring back with us that change the way we do everyday life.”

Learn more about Kristen’s work and the Creative Soul Retreat at