We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristal Hoeh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristal, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
As an artist with two part-time teaching jobs, two elementary school-aged children, and a love for sprint triathlons, time and energy are in short supply. Before my children were born, I was a full-time elementary art teacher for Kyrene School District in Chandler, AZ, working about 50 hours a week, with a half-hour commute each way. I had 800 students to prep supplies and instruct on a weekly basis. When my daughter was born 10 years ago, I decided to switch to being a part-time online Art History and Drawing high school teacher for Primavera Online High School. This allowed me to arrange my schedule to have my office hours any time of the day I needed. I was able to have my daughter go to my in-laws house a few hours 2 days a week so I could make phone calls and prepare lessons without interruption. I also would throw in a load of laundry or do a small household cleaning job. It gave me a reason to structure my day and keep a part of my own interests on the front burner in-between changing diapers and going to toddler story time at the library. My husband would assume most household duties on Saturdays, as I worked in an extra bedroom, tying up any loose ends from the work week.
While this seemed to be the perfect solution for the first few years of motherhood, I missed interaction with students in a classroom setting. As soon as my youngest started school, I started teaching two days a week at a small desert K-8 school called Mobile Elementary School. I still teach online high school, but do them on my off-days of teaching in the classroom.
My health and that of my family, both physically and mentally, are my top priority. Making time to exercise is never easy, so I make it one of the first things I do in the morning. I have a 7 year old boxer, named Roxy, who loves to run and lets it be known if she hasn’t gotten her daily “grass-time”. Luckily, my husband is a runner, too, so we alternate the days we take her out. I may not feel great when I start to run, but I am always energized and glad I got out of the house. I find that if I sign up for upcoming triathlons or 5Ks a month or two out, it is enough motivation to keep me in my usual routine of training 3 times a week.
When it comes to producing art, I always have a project in progress. I have an extra bedroom that is deemed “the art room” and retreat to it when I have pockets of extra time. Having a place to leave my supplies, mid-project, and work on it little by little where I left off, has been valuable. I lock the door when I am not in there to keep little kid hands out of the paint. With such a busy schedule, there are days that I feel tired and just need a mid-day nap. I allow myself this luxury so as to not get burned out. I love being able to have a flexible schedule, especially with the Covid pandemic keeping my kids home to do their schooling. I am able to move things around as needed, but still getting the essentials done.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art highlights the beauty of the world around me. I tend to live in either desert or tropical areas such as Florida, Hawaii, Utah, and Arizona. The difference in landscape is striking! The challenge for me is to replicate the textures of nature in watercolor or color pencil. I work loose and like to put detail in the focal point of my work. Currently, I am working on painting a fiberglass wild horse statue for a project for the city of Maricopa. Our community is surrounded by Native American reservation land and wild horses run free through the desert. The city has 10 statues that artists in the city are decorating to be displayed in prominent areas such as the library, city hall, recreation center, and police station. The local chapter for the Daughters of the American Revolution has sponsored me to create a horse representing their objective of Historic Preservation, Education, Patriotism. My goal is to use symbols of America, such as the flag and eagle, in a life-like and realistic way. Painting the ripples in the flag and the fine texture of the feathers of the eagle are what will make the design dynamic.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend were coming to visit, I would take them hiking on South Mountain in Phoenix. I love to see the petroglyphs that Native American carved into the side of the mountain centuries ago. I also like going to Ranch Market for lunch. It is a Mexican-themed grocery store, but it has a deli that has hot tamales, carne asada, and agua frescas to wash it down. The atmosphere is authentic and feels like a fiesta! Another place I love to go is called Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler, AZ. It is a place to create your own canvas painting, throw a clay pot on the wheel, or paint ceramics. Across the street from the art studio is Paletas Betty. It is a “Mexican Popsicle” shop, as me and my fellow gringos refer to it. Each cold treat is make with fresh ingredients like blackberry mint, or blueberry lemonade.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Judith Zaimont and I are co-directors of the Maricopa Arts Council. Judith is a world renowned composer and strong advocate of all forms of art: visual, dramatic, dance, and musical. Here website is https://www.judithzaimont.