2022 Artists In Residence: Leilani Smith and Krista Little

 In Gallery Shows, Interviews, Uncategorized

The Saddleback Visual Arts Residency invites select artists to exemplify transformational creativity through their creative practice. The Residency invests in one to two artists per year as they pour into their art practice amidst the SVA community. Through the program the artists teach workshops, lead the community in collective projects, and are offered individual exhibitions of their personal work. SVA supports these artists with numerous resources to see them thrive in their next steps.


“My work is evidence of creativity winning the battle for my time. When I draw, paint, write, I rediscover the language of my heart, a language often muddled and muffled by mind-clutter and emotional mud. I create because it is life-giving, peace-filling and joy-producing. I create as a process of inquiry. While I work, my priorities and perspectives quietly rearrange; like a slight-of-hand magic trick, suddenly I find myself in a new space more closely aligned with my heart’s desire for Christ-likeness. Making lays a pathway for the Lord to speak to my heart and mind. While the resistance to getting into the studio and doing the work is relentless, I wade through it for myself and also for you. I make abstract drawings and paintings primarily using acrylic paint pens and paint. I reflect on life and write about it. I work to release lines, shapes and imagery to share, because an invitation to reciprocity with art is a worthwhile act of generosity. I desire to offer to the viewer: space to slow down and listen, a path back to beauty and an interest in a life of shalom. This is my offering.”


Krista Little is a visual artist, writer, teacher and gatherer of people for creative projects. She has a BA in Art (Drawing & Painting) from Whitworth University and an MA in Arts Education from Simon Fraser University (Thesis: The Prolific Self – The Fertility of Artistic Expression as a Two-Way Offering). She is a strong teacher with 10 years of classroom experience teaching art to children, high school students, college students and older adults. She especially enjoys working with young adults. She enjoys leading small groups in collaborative visual art adventures. When creating, Krista primarily works with paint pens and acrylic paint. Her work tends toward the abstract with a focus on line, composition and color. In 2020 she completed ten GPS drawings using road biking as her drawing instrument to compose uplifting expressions of words and imagery. In addition to creating, she enjoys road biking, lap swimming, gardening, making and eating great food, and rock climbing. Krista has lived in Illinois, the California Bay Area, eastern and western Washington, Vancouver BC, and now resides in Huntington Beach CA.


— Creating a collection of abstract paint pen line drawings on clear gesso linen with the intent of drawing imagery from the state of my heart. They are a translation of emotion into line.

— Drawings using the GPS lines generated while road biking. Spreading encouragement, creativity, hope and humor through the words and imagery depicted

— Gathered 11 adults, 2 teens and 3 children in transforming Scott Erickson’s 12 Stations of the Cross posters from Lenten contemplation to Easter celebration, drawing inspiration from the simplistic beauty of Pablo Picasso’s dove and olive branch drawings and the color and collage work of Eric Carle, author and illustrator of The Very Hunger Caterpillar.

See more of Krista’s work on Instagram@krista.m.little


“I believe the best art speaks and communicates. As a teenager living in the Greater Los Angeles area during the aftermath of the Vietnam War, I found myself at the tail end of the American Craft and counterculture movements. I was too young to participate but the influences were all around me. There are strong parallels between the times we live in today and those days when Americans, grappled with the realization that their government had lied to them at the cost of millions of lives. I admire the works of artists that sought to speak the truth during these times and those that used their art to heal hearts and our nation. These influences continue to impact my art today.”


Leilani grew up in a creative home with homemade playdoh on the doorknobs and God’s eyes hanging in the trees. No mess was ever discouraged. Her love for creativity grew as she was allowed, even encouraged, to explore. Alongside business and economics classes, she continued with elective coursework in art history, creative thinking, painting, drawing, ceramics and 3D design and worked her way through school at the City of Irvine Fine Arts Center. A successful business career followed college graduation as she worked in the field of marketing, advertising and public relations and rose to the position of senior vice president at a local leading advertising firm. After almost 20 years, Leilani left this position to raise her adopted daughter and started a boutique photography business. She taught photography courses for the City of San Juan Capistrano and worked as a studio and natural light photographer for Jack Randall Photography. As an artist facilitator for Royer Studios, she taught animation courses to teenagers in the Orange County area for TUPE (Tobacco Use Prevention and Education). She later began the Saddleback College Fine Arts bench jeweler certificate program. Today, Leilani is focusing her passions in studio jeweler/metal fabrication focusing in sculptural work.


Lately, Leilani has been interested in secrets, the things we hide from others and their hiding places and how secrets can be either painful or hopeful. Her most recent work is a contemporary look at the “poison” ring. However, inside, instead of poison, it contains dandelion seeds to carry your wishes for a better world. She’s considering a series of hinged containers, working with this idea and fabricated in silver.

See More of Leilani’s Work on Instagram: @leilani_smith_

Leilani and Krista will offer their own unique workshops and experiences for you this year as they work out the next phase of their creative practice. Here’s how to stay updated on these offerings:

TEXTS: Text “SVA” to 474747 and you’ll get 1 invitation per month that we see as essential to staying connected.

EMAIL: Go to Saddleback.com/SVA under the CONNECT section select your location and click “Volunteer.” Select Lake Forest for to receive invites and resources.

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