I met Kristine earlier this year and loved the bright palette she was using for her work (then known as Olive Twig Studio). It has been fun to watch her work grow this year as she’s switching gears a bit. I’m amazed at how she manages to paint at all while caring for her twin toddlers and an older daughter. Some days I struggle with one toddler, but I love her wording below about how this is a busy season of life but it’s a short one ! Thank you for sharing a sneak peak into your life, Kristine, and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish this year and in years to come!
Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?
I’m Kristine Brookshire and I live in Southern California with my husband, my four year old daughter and my 20 month old boy/girl twins. I am at home with my three kids full time and I squeeze in time to paint when I can.
Has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?
I definitely feel more inspired since becoming a mom. The creative side of my brain is always working. I keep a little sketch book in almost every room of the house to jot down an idea when it comes to me. When I started my business a little over 8 months ago (my twins were not even a year old then!) I was painting nursery art on wood. The more I got in the groove of painting again, the more it became about what I was interested in an less about kid stuff.
I’ve also found that watercolor suits my life a lot more than acrylics. It’s so much easier to start and stop in little spurts throughout the day, less mess, and more portable. In the past my art was much more drawing based, but since having my twins I have been suffering from “mommy thumb” – which is like Carpal tunnel, but a different nerve that is being aggravated. Watercolor is easier on my hand than drawing too.
Is it easy or difficult for you to find/make time to create? Did you have to give anything up? Do you have advice on what works for you?
It’s hard to find time to create, but because taking care of my three young children is so physical, I’m exhausted at the end of the day. Sometimes I think I’m too tired to paint, but if make myself start, I always get a surge of creative energy and I’m able to put in a few hours. My husband travels abroad for work quite a bit, so it’s a lot of work taking care of all the little guys on my own, but once they go to bed I have the house to myself. Painting is such a more productive way to spend the evening than watching tv, and it even adds to the family income!
How does being an artist make you a better mother to your children? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you?
I think it makes me a better mom, because my children can see me finding time to do something that I love, that makes me happy. I’m using my talent to make beautiful things, contribute to our family financially, and bring other people joy.
Art is just a part of our daily life. My daughter knew all of her colors before she could count to 10 or say her ABCs. She roll-plays running an art business more than being a princess or fairy and I love it! She tells me she will sell me her art for “26” or that she needs to take her art to the post office.
Where do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve? Do you ever create art with your kids?
I have a little studio space in our laundry room. There is actually quite a bit of storage in there, and a sliding glass door, so there is fresh air and light. I can leave my art mess out and it doesn’t get in the way of our meals, and the kids won’t get into it (usually). I’ll often bring my watercolors downstairs to paint on the kitchen table though. My daughter has her own set pan watercolors, and she paints in a cookie sheet (less mess!). It’s so cute when she encourages me on what I’m working on. I wish the space was a bit bigger to be able to work large scale and work on the floor. It’s a very narrow room. At least San Clemente has nice weather year round, so I’m able to work outside sometimes.
Do you have any tips to streamline / delegate / outsource household and childcare activities so that you can focus more time on your art? Has your lifestyle changed in any major ways?
I hire housecleaners once a month to do a deep clean of the house, because I need to save all my hand strength for my babies and my art! I’d much rather be painting than cleaning house, so a portion of my profits go to that and it’s so worth it.
Every time I think I have a schedule down with the kids, they change! My twins just switched from two naps a day to one nap a day, so I’ve been readjusting. My oldest daughter will start preschool two days a week this fall so, that will be a new schedule that will hopefully give me a little more time to do art. It is just a busy season of life, but it so short, and it is a blessing be able to stay at home with my children.
Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?
I’m planning on joining the my city’s local artist guild soon. I think it will be nice to meet some local artists and put my work in some local shows. I’d love to do large scale art again like I did while getting my BFA. Small scale art is just easier to do with my current season of life. Also, the instant gratification of painting small is good motivation while I’m trying to find my artistic voice again after a long dry spell. But I have big dreams for some big art!