I met Suze Ford through the thriving creative community on social media and was instantly drawn to her kindness, love of bright colors, and enthusiasm. I enjoy her insight on life as a full time artist and how she runs her business to make it work for her. She did a great job participating in The 100 Day Project
and I was inspired by her dedication and ability to complete her 100 paintings in those 100 days (especially since I still have 8 left!) You can read about Suze’s journey on her 100 Day Project on her blog here
. Recently, she has been flourishing on Periscope
, having fun and posting live videos of herself painting in the studio.
Thank you Suze for being a fantastic role model to your children and to other creative people looking to find time to pursue their own passions. I’m glad to have you as part of this series!
Tell us a little about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?
My name is Suze Ford. I paint colorful, inspiring, oil paintings with a flair of whimsy and abstract expressionism. I have a 16 month old and a 5 year old. Both Girls. I am a full time working artist. I do have my studio and office in my home so I can work as efficiently as possible. My children are at home with me, and my mom helps be through out the day juggle their needs and work.
Has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?
My work has always been about finding serenity with in the chaos that happens in our day to day world. Each painting is a story that I feel needs to be told to connect with viewers. My stories have been told from a woman’s perspective. Now I have an added dimension of the viewpoint of a mother of two girls. Since having children my work has continued to grow along with my business. I create work just as much, if not more than I did before. My kids are “my why”. I create work to show them that they can pursue their dreams just like I am. I want them to believe in themselves and be inspired to create the life they want to live.
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?
Life as a parent is not easy, whether you are working a traditional job, entrepreneur or taking care of your kids and household full time. I think all parents can agree on this. I feel like every person has to find what works for them and their families to function and feel happiness. Create your business so it works with the life you want to live.
Being a creative entrepreneur adds in an extra element. The tasks of running a business are all there. But the importance of creating relevant fulfilling work is so important. After all, that is why most of us are artists. Right?
For me I have become an incredible “multi-tasker”. I carve out time every day to make work. Even if it is for 30 minutes. When you have limited time you learn to make the most of it. My time is as productive as it can possibly be. I feel like you have to take yourself seriously enough as an artist to dedicate your time. I don’t want to personally wake up one day and feel like I wasted the gifts I have been given.
My advice is to make your creative process a priority. I personally choose to get in my studio in the morning time. This is when I feel the most energized, with a cup of coffee in hand! If life get in the way of my schedule through out the day, at the very least I have dedicated time to my craft. If you want to do something with your art and grow it into a business, give it the respect and time that it takes the very best you can. If you take it seriously like you would any job you will see the benefits. You will begin to respect yourself more as an artist, and others will too.
We all can make excuses for reasons not to create work. But, you have to tell yourself that any mood is a good one to make work. It will feed you to make honest work, that I think connects with people the most. So, create if you are having a bad day. Create if you are having an amazing day. Just create something.
One other tip I will give is, make a space dedicated to your work. Have an area that if you go and paint, you can leave things out, where you can come back to it. It also will help that you have a separate area you can call your own. As a mother I know I put myself at the bottom of the list a lot. But, having my space to get away and work makes a huge difference for me. And, you don’t have to spend valuable time picking up, and setting up before and after every creative block of time you have.
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 recently build my studio and office space in my house. I love it! I can’t see working any other way. I am able to be the most productive at home while still managing a household and enjoying my kiddos! I get hugs, kisses, and giggles through out the day. So, I don’t feel the “mommy” guilt as bad. It isn’t easy though. Sometimes work has to get put on hold because of my children’s needs. It is not easy to balance all of these things while I work at home. But, it is worth it. And, I thank God that I have a mother that helps make it possible.
I love to create with my kids. My 5 year old loves crafts and coloring. She is quite talented really. I even let her paint with my oils with my assistance! I have even created pieces with her that I see almost as a collaboration. Her freeness of mark making and inhibition inspires me. If I could bottle it up and drink it I would. She makes me a better person, and artist.
Every day feels like chaos. But, I like to say its an organized chaos. Some days I feel overwhelmed and might shed some tears. I wish for a life where I could clone myself! Ha! But, I know that my life has so much more meaning with my family. And, I know that I am pursuing the life that I am supposed to live
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 am hoping that my kids see that they can make a living doing something they love. Being an artist is a legitimate way to build a business and lively hood. In fact I will be as bold to say that successful artists out there making it in the world are some of the hardest working people I know. I want my girls to see that if you work hard and you have a passion you can achieve your dreams. I want them to know the importance of being yourself, and listening to your heart. Don’t let opinions of others or fears get in the way of your vision. To be successful in life you don’t have to go about it in the traditional manner, and down the stereotypical path. Blaze your own trail!
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?
My best tip is to try to find a family member that is willing to help. I know we all don’t have that luxury. My oldest child went to half day Pre-K school.This little bit of time was not only great for me, but awesome for her to learn and grow as well.
I also, outsource things that are not my core expertise. For example I have all of my canvas made by a company. There is no way I have time for that, and my time is better utilized creating work, which in turn makes me money. I also have a marketing person, and web designer that helps me do things that it would take me hours to learn on my own.
My lifestyle has changed drastically. But, in the best way possible. I have weeded out the things in my life that are not important and don’t contribute to the joy of my family or the success of my business. I have wonderful friends that I make quality time for, but don’t pursue relationships that are not healthy for me. I feel an entire new purpose in my lifestyle. I have important core values that faith that guide me along the way.
Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?
I have a huge long list of goals! But, my most immediate project that I am working on is a show with another mother artist, and friend of mine Jenny McCall. We are collaborating on a big show at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center here in Kansas City. The show itself is about celebrating and finding humor in life being an artist and a parent. Completing a show of this magnitude I hope inspires other artists to pursue a large goal they have set for themselves and not let anything get in their way.