Cascade A&E Presents Artist Kristen Riggle

((L) Busy Bird books. Photo | Courtesy of Kristen Riggle. (R) Winter Landscape artwork. Photo | By Julia Duke)

The one thing that has become more and more important to me as I’ve grown older — while becoming harder and harder to preserve — is keeping that childlike sense of wonder alive. The way I go about creating art and my childrens’ books helps me to continue tapping into that wild curiosity that was rampant as a child.

I’ve always loved making art, but during high school is when I first knew I wanted to be an artist when I “grew up”. I went on to receive my bachelor of arts degree in fine arts at Loyola Marymount University and my master of arts in sculpture at California State University, Northridge. During this time, my curiosity led me to work with a wide range of mediums, including performance, video, photography, creating experiences inside and outside gallery spaces for public participation, resin and found objects.

I had been working full time as a visual stylist through graduate school and continued to do so after graduating. In 2016, I decided to quit the full time job in order to pursue my dream of making art for a living. This is when The Busy Birds was born and brought me back to my first love — painting. I used these long legged bird shapes as playful vessels to help express different parts of myself. These paintings eventually expanded into a variety of passions, places and professions to help encourage others to follow that thing that brings fulfillment or just pure joy.

During this same year, I got married to my main squeeze and we moved from LA to Bend. I know, a couple of Californians moving to Bend? What a surprise! It’s just about impossible not to be inspired by such beautiful surroundings, and we were absolutely in awe. Our excitement was palpable as we made it our mission to explore new places each weekend, and naturally that oozed into my artwork.

Ideas for my first children’s book started bubbling up, and in 2018 I published my first picture book, The Busy Birds Adventures: Little Bird Explores Bend! Since then, I’ve created two more Bend-inspired books — a board book for the baby birds called Hello, Bend!, and a holiday book which will be available in 2022 called Christmas in Bend.

It has been so gratifying to see kids and families enjoying these books. The interactive quality that a book provides has been one of the most fulfilling creative undertakings yet!

I spend most of my time with my two favorite, equally creative, people — my husband and daughter. My work is done during naps, evenings and weekends, and once we put our sweet daughter to bed, my husband and I love to break out whatever project we have going on, bounce ideas off of each other and follow where the creative energy wants to take us!

Although my work has ranged very widely over the years, what keeps me moving forward is following my curiosity where it leads me to continue doing what I love, while empowering others to do the same.

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