Creative Feature | Chelsey Rahtjen

Chelsey is an inspiring artist from Chicagoland. Her life is marked by boldness, beauty, & grace. Learn the heart behind her art & so much more!

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  • When did you start creating art? Why did you?

Growing up as a kid, I was always pretty artistic. I loved crafting, baking, sewing and writing. Not until my freshman year in college did I find out that I could paint. I took a typical basic painting elective for credits and my art teacher asked me how long I had been painting. When my response was, “since the beginning of your class,” he looked at me and said, “you’re going to do this for the rest of your life.” Little did I know, he was right. I fell in love with paint and changed my major to art that same year. 

  • What has the Lord taught you in particular seasons, and how does that impact your artwork?

Before I devoted my life to Christ, art was an outlet for my sanity. I know that sounds pretty poetic, but it saved me from a lot. I would express myself through my paintings before I even knew how to put my emotions into words. As the Lord grew me and drew me closer to Him, I found my art changing. It wasn’t an act of survival any more, but a clarification of who I was in Him.

As my relationship increased in admiration and submission to the Lord, my art actually became lighter in a sense. It wasn’t as dark and ominous, but airy and bright. Colors exploded on the canvas and I realized that after time, my art wasn’t my ‘unknown feelings,’ but a reflection of His beauty. Once the eyes were taken off myself, my ability to create became more refined. 

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  • As a mom of 4 children, how do you manage to carve space to create?

    Four kids. Wow, yeah. The answer is quite simple without simple execution. I have to be extremely intentional. I have a space carved out for my art in my basement I like to call my studio, and some nights all I want to do is veg on the couch and watch anything Marvel. If I sit, I loose that time to work. So, I have learned to discipline myself in going downstairs and working for an hr. or two at the end of the night once the kids are in bed.
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I feel like the Lord wants us to be disciplined in all things we do, whether it’s reading our Bible, meeting and loving friends, serving, cooking dinner for our husband, etc. In my quest for intentionality and discipline with art, it has taught me more about myself. It's also grown and challenged me to do it even when I don’t ‘feel like it.’ I don’t paint when I’m in the mood, I don’t have that ability currently, but rather paint in discipline. Some of those “I don’t want to paint right now” paintings, have been my best. I believe it to be because He meets me where I’m at, whatever mood that I may be in. In my faithfulness to do the thing He instilled in me, He proves faithful in the creation process.

Even still, if my priority of being full time wife/mom becomes compromised, I retrace my steps. Kyle and those four precious little souls He entrusted me with will always be my first ministry.

In my faithfulness to do the thing He instilled in me, He proves faithful in the creation process.
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  • What does creating art mean to you?

It might sound ridiculous to some, but I intentionally pray over every canvas before I put paint to it. I do that to remind myself that this journey with my art is a thing in my life because He placed it there. My creativity comes from His design. I want to honor that as well as remind myself, personally, to stay humble and open-handed, leaving every painting at His feet. I can so easily get caught up in the “will this sell,” “do people like it,” “am I good enough,” “why is Instagram impossible” mentality and loose sight of the joy He blesses me with in getting messy and reaching the artistic corners of my mind. My goal is to glorify the Lord with all that I do and not make it a fight to ‘fit’ into the world- but instead stand out. Art is my tool to proclaim His majesty. 

My goal is to glorify the Lord with all that I do. Art is my tool to proclaim his majesty. -Chelsey
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  • Is there a particular piece you've recently worked on that you love? What do you love most about it? Are you currently working on commissions?

Within the past 6 months, I have been able to paint more for myself rather than commission pieces. Commissioned art was the norm since I had kids 8 years ago (just to keep up with it, glorify the Lord through it and be blessed with a little extra income) but recently I’ve been able to find my style and thumbprint again. I love working with resin and acrylic and am getting into growing my own business selling pieces. I usually don’t do anything smaller than a 24x30 stretched canvas and someday soon would like to go a lot bigger.

My favorite piece recently was this red layered resin piece I named “bicycle.” There is just something about it that, to me, is whimsical, bright and fun, but at the same time deep and passionate. I think red hues can do that to the eye. What I love most about art, however, is that I can have a painting be a specific, methodical, underlying meaning and the viewer sees that same painting a completely different way. I love knowing how others react and feel about a certain piece because emotion and feeling can be depicted in a multitude of ways. Reminds me how everyone is under the same authority of God, but the Lord creates our personalities and minds so very different from one another. Can’t wait to see where the Lord leads in this next chapter of my painting career as well as meeting and supporting fellow creatives!!

Join us as we pray for Chelsey & her business! 
Follow her journey on Instagram

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