Carving Out Time for Art with Jenny Kersting

This week I am featuring the creative and lovely Jenny Kersting. Jenny was my childhood best friend, and I have so many wonderful memories of us painting, creating outlandish stories, and inventing games with our vivid imaginations. It has been so much fun to reconnect again on social media over our shared love of creating, painting, and being mamas to young kids. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Jenny. I’m so proud of all you are doing!

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Artist-Jenny-Kersting-PainterTell us a little about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?

Hi, my name is Jenny Kersting. I’m a painter mainly these days, although I also love knitting and making just about anything. I also work digitally sometimes and I’m super interested in pattern, fabric and wallpaper design, interiors and graphics.

I have two young girls: Gigi who is 2 and Ellie who is 4. I stay home with my girls right now (full-time).

Artist-Jenny-Kersting-PainterHas your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?

Yes! I have always loved making stuff (almost anything), but I have much less time and personal space as a mother of young children. I try to paint and craft as often as possible with them to make the most of the time I have to be creative and to introduce them to something I love to do so much. I’ve also become more open to different mediums that work better in small time frames and with minimal mess, like digital art and watercolor.

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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?

So hard. I’m not great at being super organized, but I realized that if I wanted to find the time to myself to be creative, I HAD to make myself a schedule and get help with childcare AND that it was crucial for me to have an area separate from my kids to work in. I got lucky last year and had a friend offer me a room in her studio to use at my convenience. That was really a turning point for me in realizing how important my art is to my well-being and how worthwhile it is to spend my energy carving out time and resources to continue making it a priority. My advice to anyone else in my situation would definitely be to sit down and look at your schedule really closely and see where you could fit in a few hours here and there. Honestly, I probably only have 5 hours a week or so to paint, but that’s five hours I didn’t have last year, so I’ll take it and hopefully grow with it!Artist-Jenny-Kersting-PainterHow 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?

You kind of already answered for me. I love that my kids get to see me doing something I love and that they see its important for me to have my own interests and space. I want them to always know not to neglect themselves, that its really important to make time for yourself, especially if you are lucky enough to know what you love doing.

Artist-Jenny-Kersting-PainterWhere 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 used to paint with a friend in her studio and I’d really like to be in that type of situation again. It was so awesome to have a really comfortable spot to make things and someone you trust that loves you to bounce ideas off of and get inspiration from. The space itself was a room in an office building. It had big window with natural light and that was definitely helpful. I had two easels set up and I use TV tables to move around for my supplies. I also LOVED having an inspiration board there.

My current space is in a gallery where I hang my art, but the artists can also store their materials and work there. Its really good for now (and affordable), but I do have to put away everything aside from the painting as its. For me, it’s much easier to organize your materials when you can keep them all out in your work area. One day…Artist-Jenny-Kersting-Painter

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 think if you can, it’s so awesome to look at things in your regular day that you really enjoy and that you really DON’T enjoy. I would say to keep as many as the things you do enjoy and try to outsource as much as you can of the rest, considering your priorities of course. I do get a babysitter or my mom at least two mornings a week and one night.

COTFA-Jenny-Kersting-5Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?

I would LOVE to design wallpaper and fabric and get into licensing my art. I’m going to take a class in the fall to learn more about that.


Thanks, Jenny! I’m so excited to see what this next year brings.

Painting Loose & Half-Dead Succulents

I painted these little succulents about a month ago. It was quick, fast, and loose, and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve made this year. I painted it because I wanted to remember my 1st Mother’s Day Succulents I bought for myself (from Henry, of course), before they dry up and die. I should probably re-pot them instead of paint them. Maybe this weekend if I get around to it.

Marissa-Huber-Succulent-1 I have to give credit to my friend Marissa L. Swinghammer for telling me how to use the dirty leftover bits of your watercolor palette to get wonderful neutrals. She’s also taking Yao Cheng’s Creativebug class, and I’m so impressed by what she is making. I would love to take Yao’s class someday when time allows. Not now though.

I made a couple more of these this past weekend. What a fun way to play, limit your colors, and be loose. I am really into neutrals these days and think it’s influenced by all the Minimalist interior spaces I’m coveting on my Pinterest boards. I’m going to take photos and add prints  & originals to my shops soon. I think people will like these.

Marissa-Huber-Succulent-2I don’t like hot press watercolor paper as much as others do. I prefer the cold press and rough press, since they soak up the paint better. I bet I would love the plate finish of hot press for gouache though, so will have to try that soon. But not now (is there a pattern here or what?)

Marissa-Huber-Succulent-3There are so many things I want to do, but I gently remind myself that I cannot do everything, especially if I want to focus on specific things, like painting and growing my art side business (after my day job and family priorities of course). I’ve been thinking about this topic often, especially as I read these amazing interviews from the Carve Out Time for Art series. I will interview myself soon! But not yet.

Carving Out Time for Art with Jaime Derringer

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I am thrilled that the talented and prolific Jaime Derringer is sharing her thoughts on making time for art, and how having her daughter brought on a surge of creativity. As many of you know, she is well-known in the design industry, particularly for showcasing modern design. I was always fascinated with the Designer Dailies column on her online magazine Design Milk, since I love seeing how many ways there are to live a life. I’ve enjoyed watching the progression of Jaime’s art over the past few years, and find her to be a big inspiration. Thank you for sharing with us, Jaime!

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Jaime Derringer - photo credit: Noa Azoulay | featherlove.com

Photo Credit: Noa Azoulay | featherlove.com

Tell us a little about yourself. How old is your daughter? Where we can find you?

My name is Jaime Derringer and I am Founder and Executive Editor of two online magazines called Design Milk and Dog Milk. Design Milk is dedicated to the latest in modern design from art to architecture, fashion to technology. Dog Milk is a fun blog that focuses on modern design for dog lovers. I recently launched an online shop called Adorn Milk that sells architectural jewelry. I am also an artist.

My daughter, Amelia, is 3 and a half. Amelia goes to full-time day care ~8 AM – 5:30 PM M-F. Both my husband and I work full-time. I work from home and he goes into an office.

Instagram @jaimederringer

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Has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?

I pinpoint the moment my daughter was born as one of the most inspirational moments of my life. They say that emotionally draining, difficult or overwhelming moments can spark creativity in a person, and I think that’s exactly what happened to me. I’ve always been creative, secretly, and self-critically. However, when Amelia was born I decided to just roll with it… to own it. I became pretty prolific, mostly because I had little time to create, but also because I never went to art school or anything so I felt like I needed to teach myself so many mediums, techniques, and to learn so much in such a short period of time. I wanted to get into a groove right away.

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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?
Between having a full time job, a household, and a toddler, it’s pretty impossible to find time. But, my husband is supportive, so I make as much time as I can. I turned my garage into a studio and on the weekends and some evenings, I’ll paint or work on some sculpture. Friday afternoons are also a good time to steal an hour or two to paint. However, most of my work is smaller, and I do a lot of drawing, so I often end up on the couch at night watching Netflix, drawing away. I think it’s important to prioritize, but also to schedule time. Compromise with your spouse – one Saturday he gets to go golfing and the following Saturday you get to paint. Incorporate your kids into the mix: Amelia will often sit and draw or paint with me for about an hour. It’s a great opportunity to bond with her, listen to music, and for her to see me being creative, too. It’s very important to me to expose her to creativity at a young age.

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How does being an artist make you a better mother to your child? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you? Do you ever create art with your kid?

As I mentioned, I try and incorporate her into my studio time. If I can’t, then I show her what I’ve made, ask her what she likes about it, talk about colors and shapes with her. Sometimes, we’ll do collaborative art and then we hang it up somewhere in the house to show pride in our work. I recently was coloring with her and she told me what she was making was beautiful. I was so proud and hoped that she never loses that sense of confidence. As an artist, we tend to be overly critical of our own work, primarily because our taste level is so high. We can often never meet our own expectations, and so it’s so refreshing to watch a child beam with pride over something that they created. It reminds me that I need to lay off myself sometimes and just be proud of what I’ve done. Not only does being an artist make me feel like a better mother, but being a mother also makes me feel like a better artist.

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Where do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve?

I have a garage studio space, but tend to draw while sitting on the couch. I spend a lot of time working on my sketchbooks—it’s not a lucrative effort, but it’s calming and I enjoy it. I would prefer a desk, but having a chaise sofa is super comfy! I just use a simple lap desk. I wish that my garage had more wall space, and that the walls were smooth and not textured. However, I can’t complain! It’s something!

Jaime-Derringer-140728Do 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 don’t use our daycare service to help out with my artwork, as I mostly spend those hours working at my day job. My lifestyle went from “How am I going to fill all these hours?” to “When am I going to find the time!?” I have to say, though, daycare is amazing. She’s socializing, learning a lot, making great art and craft projects and making lots of friends. I never feel guilty about her being there, and I value the time we spend together.
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Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?

Dream project? I don’t know… maybe eventually have a solo show of my artwork? I’m a pretty bad artist in that I don’t have aspirations and I’m not incredibly motivated; it’s been primarily a hobby and a personal project. I do sell artwork and prints, so there’s a business side of it, but I don’t really apply to shows or anything. I think I’d like to make some sculptures that incorporate moving parts and/or light.

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Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy life to share with us, Jaime.

If you love peeking into people’s studio spaces as much as I do, definitely check out this recent interview with Jaime in Domino Magazine. She also gave a great interview for Design*Sponge’s “Life & Business” Series that fellow creative owners / bloggers will enjoy.

*All photos courtesy of Jaime Derringer

The 100 Day Project: 39 Days In

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Remember when I was hemming and hawing over committing to The 100 Day Project? I am so glad that I followed my gut, and decided to do it. This project is 39/100 days in, and it has truly energized me. I love thinking up something each day, and seeing what fellow participants are up to.

Here are a few of these projects I’m enjoying:

#100DaysofNotestoNana – Gina Irie

#pantone2u Salli Swindell /They Draw & Cook

#100DaysofMiniatureIllustrations – Josefina Schargorodsky

#100DaysofAbstracts – Holland Loop

#100DaysofCollage –  Amanda Hawkins

#100DaysofMyLifeinIcons – Melanie Graham

#100DaysofAbandon – Hannah Betzel

Here are the first 37 days of my project, #100DaysofMHVignettes. I’m enjoying writing the stories as much as painting the watercolors. It surprised me how much I like writing these stories, since I haven’t written creatively in years. A common thread emerged, and they all feature women, many of whom are in the middle of a big life change, or have braved the odds to follow a dream. You can read all the stories with the projects on Instagram @marissahuber, or on a Tumblr Page I created just for this project here.

Carving Out Time for Art with Sonia Brittain

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I started noticing Sonia Brittain’s gouache paintings on Instagram when I was trying to do a daily painting project last Fall. I was amazed that she found time each day to paint, especially when I learned she has 3 sons. I look forward to seeing what she paints each day, as well as living vicariously through her family’s adventures in their new home in Switzerland. Sonia was the first artist I asked to participate in this series, as I think she captures the spirit of this idea for me. All around the world, there are busy people who still find time to paint a little here and there, whether they are jumping into a daily project, forging a new path, or have been doing it for years. Thank you for sharing with us today, Sonia, and for making me smile daily when I see your paintings.

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Sonia Brittain ArtistTell us a little about yourself, how old your children are, and where we can find you.

My name is Sonia, I am a full time mother of three boys. Last year we moved from London to Basel, Switzerland. I am currently in the midst of a drawing a day project for a year.

My eldest son is 6 and a half years old, the middle one is 5 years old, and my youngest is 15 months old. At the moment I am home with my youngest all day, the older two are now at school. My husband does have to travel abroad for work fairly regularly, so being left alone with three young boys in a new country, away from friends and family has been quite challenging!

Sonia Brittain Art LavenderHas your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children? 

I think having children has definitely made me more inspired! Since being at home with the children I have painted and drawn more than I ever did when working full time in my previous career (I was a psychiatrist). I also feel I’m much more open to new ideas, and able to appreciate the small things, as drawing makes me look more closely at the world around me.Sonia Brittain Art SwitzerlandI have learnt to adapt my approach and process to being at home with young children. I will often think about subjects and themes while I’m cooking or doing chores and I do try to jot ideas down in my journal for future use. This means once I do get some free time, (i.e when my toddler naps or all the children are asleep) I can pretty much get on with drawing and painting straight away, and I don’t procrastinate about what to draw. Having children has made me more organised and flexible, as obviously how much time is available for me to make art is variable, and is affected by how long the youngest naps for, school holidays, if one of them is sick, or if relatives come and stay.

Since moving to Switzerland, and with my drawing a day project, I have sketched using a variety of art materials. I use pencils, pens, inks, neocolor crayons and felt tips as well as painting in my sketchbooks with watercolour and gouache. The biggest discovery for me is my love of gouache. I really like the opaque and vivid colours you can achieve, and that it is a lot more forgiving than watercolour. I do try and come up with a theme for the week’s drawings, I find this helpful in planning a series of sketches, and it makes it more fun. I definitely find setting myself some limitations helps actually to make me more creative.Sonia Brittain Art ShoesIs 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 can be hard to make time to create. When I was a full time mum to two toddlers under 3 years old and in a smaller place back in London, I definitely struggled. The most art I achieved then was quick pen sketches of the boys napping, but that’s OK with me as I was new to motherhood, and that’s what I felt able to do back then. Then, when the boys were older, and started sleeping through, I would set up on the dining room table and paint for a couple of hours in the evenings.

Sonia Brittain Art ChairThe last year and a half there have been some big life events that have resulted in my desire to make more time for art. I had my third son early after experiencing acute pre-eclampsia, resulting in a week in hospital afterwards, and then again had to return to hospital for a few days with him after he had an episode where he stopped breathing briefly.  They were pretty scary times, and I had quite a bit of time in hospital with just my baby to think about what ifs, and to be thankful for family and friends. Around the same time we found out that my husband had got a new job in Basel, Switzerland! I think these events have made me determined to be more open to new experiences (i.e living abroad for the first time), and wanting to start pursuing my interests more seriously, I guess I get the whole ‘living without regrets’ sentiment now. Once we were settled I decided to commit to a drawing a day project for a year to help get me into the habit of daily sketching or painting. I had seen online lots of other fabulous artists and illustrators carrying out really inspiring daily art projects and thought why not have a go too?

In terms of have I had to give anything up to make time for art, yes, yes, yes ! In London I was way more socially active and there was always a toddler group or rhyme time to go to! I now read far less, and I also don’t spend as much time trying out new recipes and baking (maybe not so bad for the waistline!). I probably also watch a lot less rubbish TV. It is definitely a much quieter, outdoorsy lifestyle here and that suits us well at the moment. Luckily Basel also has some great museums and art galleries, which has also made the move from London a little easier to bear.

Thus, what works for me is trying to have a fairly regular routine, planning what to sketch before I sit down to start, and just trying to keep it fun. My main focus at the moment is looking after my young family and trying to make sure they feel more settled, as moving country has been a big transition for them, but I’m starting to dedicate more time taking a long term hobby more seriously.Sonia Brittain Art Painting with ChildrenHow 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?

Personally, I think being an artist as well as a mother has helped me deal with demands of having a young family, and the fact that I need to let the older boys separate and become more independent. I know I am a lot happier for making the time to pursue something I love, and it stops me worrying too much about the children and their issues, and things I can’t control. I also hope that their seeing me make time for something I love will inspire them to make time for the things they really want to do in life.

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 love my current workspace, basically, because in London I didn’t have one. It is fantastic to be able to have all my supplies out, and leave things ready for when I next get to do some art. I am also very lucky as the house we are renting has a large master bedroom with two parts, so setting up my desk next to the french windows works well, and the light during the day is great (plus my toddler happily naps on the bed). The house is pretty old and has a lovely atmosphere, so it has not been hard to make my workspace a place I love to spend time at. In terms of improving it, I would like a cork board above it, so I can pin stuff up, and I also want to find a bookcase for all the art books and paper pads that are stacked messily under the desk.

I do try and create art with my kids, with the older ones it tends to be in the holidays on the kitchen table while the youngest naps. They enjoy short periods of art activities, but in the main they are pretty boisterous and spirited, so they mostly like to be outdoors hitting or kicking balls, and looking for wildlife.Sonia Brittain Art Studio SpaceDo 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?

Oh dear, I’m not sure I have any great tips for streamlining household chores. Like you Marissa, I’m on a mission to organise and declutter (in fact sometimes getting rid of, or giving away redundant/unnecessary items is a good source of quick subjects to sketch, plus you have a fun record of your belongings). However, with 2 young boys I’m constantly inundated with recycled craft objects from school, drawings, and ‘precious’  bits and bobs they’ve  found (we have a number of ‘dinosaur teeth ‘ pebbles ) so it is an ongoing project. I try to keep on top of daily chores, and I also do as many tasks as I can with toddler J, so that when he naps I can use that time to do art.

We do have a cleaner to come once a week, and my husband would agree I have always had a pretty high tolerance for mess, so you can tell immediately ours is a family home. I try and remind myself that the children will eventually grow tidier (?) and try not to over nag the boys regarding their ability to make a mess in a minute, or lack of bathroom etiquette. My husband is also really supportive, though, I think he also wants me to be happy with the move abroad.Sonia Brittain Art Painting with ChildrenDo you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?

It has been a long-held goal of mine to maintain a daily drawing practice, so I really want to remain committed to this project, and hopeful ly complete it. I am really enjoying having the freedom to go where I want with this personal challenge, and my major goal is to try and continue exploring the subjects I want to sketch, and also look at finding ways of loosening up a bit. I think I have got much faster sketching and painting, but I would like to speed up even more, as my toddler will gradually nap less, and I also want to start producing some more finished works on paper. I would also like to sell my work in future as it would be great to contribute to the family income doing something I love.


Thank you, Sonia! You are such a fabulous mother and artist. I wish I could hang out in Basel for the day and paint with you. When you do start selling your work, we will update everyone and I will be the first in line to purchase something!