At what age did you start creating?
My dad was an artist, so creativity and art were always a part of my childhood. I was drawing from the time I was old enough to hold a pencil, and constantly making things with my hands, including quilts and crafts. I’ve always been happiest when I’m making something beautiful. Art was always encouraged by my parents, so it continued to be a big part of my life through high school, into college and beyond.
Tell us what “Art” means to you.
Art is such a loose term. I think we immediately think “painting” when we hear the word art, but so much in this world falls into the art category. Art to me is bringing your inner self out of yourself by creating something from nothing. It’s not being afraid to try new things and make yourself vulnerable by visually expressing yourself. There is no right way to create and there are so many avenues to creating beauty.
What is your medium of choice?
For my illustration work, I work primarily in watercolor. I love the subtle paint textures that are created when the water and paint mix. For my fine art work, I use oil paint. It is what I was trained in and still, every time I start an oil painting, it makes me feel at home. The smell and the shine and the bold colors that can be created with oils are heavenly to me.
Has motherhood altered your creative process? If so, how?
Oh, it definitely has. It wasn’t until I became a mom that I really focused on being an illustrator. I went to school for illustration, but before I had Remy, I mainly focused on my fine art and graphic design work. Oils seemed tricky to have around with a baby crawling through my studio and putting things in her mouth and graphic design just didn’t make me happy, probably because I was mostly working digitally and I missed painting. So, at first, illustration was a solution to a problem: working in the company of a child without a lot of set up or clean up and without the toxic and hazardous materials that go along with painting with oils. I made a switch to watercolors and started to develop a stronger and more distinct illustrative style, which was completely different than my fine art style. And I have fallen in love with illustration. Being a mother and reading all of the beautiful picture books that are available and learning more and more about my illustrator heroes has changed my career path. Well, truthfully, being a mother has changed my entire life. I feel the need to express myself as a mother through my art. It’s who I am now and it’s hard to remember who i was before she joined me. So much of my inspiration for my work comes from my daily life with my daughter. I make mental notes all day about aspects of our life together that affect me in beautiful ways. It’s such a pleasure to do what I love and have it connect with being a mother so well.
Do you involve your child(ren) in your process, or is it a personal experience?
I mainly work while my daughter is sleeping or at preschool, but I love when we can draw and paint together. Creating is such a sacred thing to me and being able to share that with her is such a pleasure. And she actually loves to create things as well! It has surprised me how much that has meant to me so far. It feels like an invisible rope that connects the two of us and I hope to be able to collaborate with her more in the future as she gets older.
What do you do when you encounter a creative block?
Something that has worked miracles for me is just painting when I have absolutely zero motivation. It seems like once I get going on something, my eyes are eventually opened up and ideas start to flow. Sometimes I create ugly, terrible things, but they lead me to new and better ideas that would have never come had I given up at the beginning. Deadlines are also very helpful. If you have one night to create something, then there’s just no room for procrastination. It has to be done, and I’m usually pleasantly surprised with the result. It has taught me to be brave with my work, to trust myself and my abilities.
Is there a particular artist that inspires you?
There definitely isn’t just one. I grew up diving into art history and some of my favorites will always be John Singer Sergeant, John Waterhouse, Mary Cassatt, Gustav Klimt, and Toulousse Lautrec. But going to school in illustration really opened my eyes to some amazing illustrators including Alphonse Mucha, Lizbeth Zwerger, N.C. Wyeth, Beatrix Potter, and the list goes on. Some of my favorite current artists include Oliver Jeffers, Jon Klassen, Richard Schmid, and my mentor, Jeffrey Hein.
If you could say something to creative mothers that are struggling, what would you say?
I am far from perfect at balancing my creative career with my role as a mother, but my advice would be to not put it off. It seems so difficult to do your creative work, while still being an involved mom, but it’s possible. Even if it’s small, do something creative every day. There will never be an easy time to start painting or sewing or sculpting or whatever you love to do, so find a way to integrate it into your life now. The rewards come in unexpected ways. I’m able to share my love of art and making with my daughter and it’s a lovely and special part of our lives that wouldn’t be there if I pushed it aside until later. Also, if it’s in you, let it come out. I know that I’d be letting myself down if I didn’t do something with the gift and drive to be creative that I was born with. It’s in me. And if it’s in you, let it out. It will make your life happier and a happier you equals a happier mother for your children.