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Thoughts on Humanity

It feels uncomfortable, but maybe we’ve been comfortable for too long. If I’m not sure I want to speak up, and feel uncomfortable, I think of a few things. Will I help or hurt more? Will I regret not speaking up?

I published this on my personal Facebook page on July 6th after the back to back killings of civilians Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas Police Officers Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, and Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens. I had said something after seeing the video of Alton Sterling, and I had to say something following the tragedy in Dallas on Wednesday too.  After more conversations with friends and reflection, it felt right to share here. These are my personal thoughts and words. I’m leaving it here in case it may help anyone feel braver to share their view point – especially when it can be in a way to have more empathy, compassion and unity.

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 I don’t want to necessarily say anything, but I feel I must. I recognize that it’s hard to know how to talk about these things. What do you say? How can you support people you love without potentially also hurting people you love? What if you mess up and say the wrong thing and offend someone. Especially on Facebook where every part of your social system, colleagues, friends, and families with differing beliefs are blended together?

But what if you’re quiet and people on both sides see this as agreement or apathy? What if you don’t add your loving and thoughtfulness to a raw and divided conversation? What if you can help gently, loosely, and carefully sew together the worn edges and hints of doubt around fears and ignorance? To show people you stand with all of them, even if you don’t know what to do? To show a different perspective from the polarizing views blanketing the media.

What if you can help gently, loosely, and carefully sew together the worn edges and hints of doubt around fears and ignorance?

I remember what I felt like when my brother died from a heroin overdose in 2005. Some people I loved didn’t say anything because they didn’t know what to say. Overdose and mental illness has stigma attached, and it’s almost perceived as a less tragic death because they were unfortunate enough to be an addict. But it hurt when it was not acknowledged by someone I loved, even though I understand rationally they cared and were scared to make me more upset or widen the cavern of grief. Or too much time had passed and they were unsure. I understood – it just stung. They were scared to say the wrong thing for fear of hurting me. But I CLUNG to the words of people who said something to acknowledge my brother’s death. I remember every single person who reached out to me, even if they were an acquaintance or it was awkward. I remembered gaining sisters and brothers from the people who had also lost their sibling, and we connected immediately by being in that shitty club nobody wants to be in. Those words were stitches to help mend my heart. Even if it was – “I have no idea what to say or what to do except I’m here for you.”

It feels uncomfortable, but maybe we’ve been comfortable for too long. If I’m not sure I want to speak up, and feel uncomfortable, I think of a few things. Will I help or hurt more? Will I regret not speaking up? Would I have been brave enough to be on the side of history I believe was right in the 1950s if I had been alive? Would I have called 911 during the 1964 Kitty Genovese incident or would I have been an apathetic bystander assuming someone else would have helped while she died in front of an entire building of witnesses? Learning about that made me call 911 anytime something happened outside our house in Philly, just in case. I am aware that this brings us to our brave brothers and sisters in the armed forces who signed up to serve and protect us and were there to respond.

It feels uncomfortable, but maybe we’ve been comfortable for too long. If I’m not sure I want to speak up, and feel uncomfortable, I think of a few things. Will I help or hurt more? Will I regret not speaking up?

What I want to say is that I support our law enforcement and military community who run towards the danger to protect us. I have gratitude, LOVE, and empathy for our brothers and sisters in blue, and their families. I pray for their safety and clear-headedness in making split second decisions which I do not have to worry about as a civilian. I want to think that many officers are doing the best they can. I have not signed up to serve, and I can’t imagine how I would feel in their shoes. People I love are in law enforcement and military, and I can’t fathom how the things they see day after day affect them. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think many officers need our support to help them police our communities the best they can. We want them returned safely to their families after each shift, and we grieve when that is not the case. Like last night.

I support our black community who are not feeling safe and face fears I don’t have to think about on a daily basis as a white woman. We want them treated with dignity, justice, and returned safely to their families – especially after a respectful and compliant encounter with a police officer. How many of our black brothers and sisters have to be scared to be pulled over, of making the wrong move, of moving too fast or too slow, and for their deaths to be seen as a rational explanation for not complying properly, even when there is video footage showing that is not always the case. When you know how the media portrayal and public opinion of a black man versus a white man is going to be vastly different. When there is more public outrage over an animal killed to protect a child over a horrific accident than a black man being killed in a homicide in front of a 4 year old child.

The same support and empathy goes for all people who feel targeted, discriminated against, and fearful for their safety and lives. This is for ALL colors, races, genders, religions, and sexual orientations. My own mother is from the other side of the world, she came to American on a college scholarship and decided to marry my Dad and become an American citizen. (Thank you, glad to be born guys.) I’m grateful, and being a “little” different has shaped my views on the world, and of other cultures, and people. I think I’m lucky because I look like a blend of whatever people assume I am, whether that’s white, Hispanic or Italian (I’m actually Filipino, German, Irish & Welsh). It’s convenient and helpful when travelling. But I acknowledge that I have the rights and treatment of an upper middle class white woman because of where I come from, how I appear physically, and what society’s stereotypes of me are.

But I acknowledge that I have the rights and treatment of an upper middle class white woman because of where I come from, how I appear physically, and what society’s stereotypes of me are.

I’m conscious that I no longer feel safe going to large public events after running from stampedes unknowingly towards shootings on 4th of July in 2012, hearing too many shootings in my neighborhood in Philly, and not being able to pick up my 2 year old from daycare during a lock-down due to an armed person. As my friend Nicole discussed today, is that truly freedom? Being scared to go to a movie theater, a church, or teach your class? Owning a gun is not the right choice for me personally, but I am respectful of those who feel strongly about their 2nd amendment rights to protect their family and personal safety with their right to bear arms. I’m even more grateful when they own and handle their weapons responsibly and support legislation that can help mitigate some gun violence. Lastly, I acknowledge that all over the world, my fears mentioned above pale to what they are going through in Baghdad, in Syria, in Myanmar, and all over the world.

I’m heartbroken when I see the vitriol in comments of people who so easily resort to the basest of commentary regarding real people and real families who are grieving. This is not a movie, these are human beings. I recognize that the things people say are likely out of ignorance and fear, and the media is a double edged sword of showing while also sensationalizing these fears. So in some ways, I wonder if speaking up is right, or if comments on the internet were the worst thing to happen to our society. If you’re not lucky enough to have a diverse friend group like I am, movies, tv shows and media are all you may know of people different than you.

I’m heartbroken when I see the vitriol in comments of people who so easily resort to the basest of commentary regarding real people and real families who are grieving. This is not a movie, these are human beings

I am devastated at all of these tragic events, and fearful that many think it can ONLY be opposing sides rather than ONE human side working together making our entire community and world better. When things are better for all, we are all safer in my opinion. I recognize that may make me sound naive, but can’t we TRY to do better? There will always be the outliers, but I want to believe that many people want things to be better. When society is so unbalanced, it endangers us all. Desperate people do desperate things, and we all suffer. Just for comparison, I make a good salary and am living with my folks right now since we’ve moved back to Florida. If I feel like I can barely make it some days, how can people making minimum wage or facing socioeconomic disparity and not having family support make it? I acknowledge that things can feel hopeless, and many people have made their situations better through sacrifice and hard work. My point is to have empathy for people who were dealt a different card than I was to have a better understanding of our country. Go out and talk to people who are different than you. Try to remember that someone else’s gains do not have to equal your losses. We can all gain together, or all lose together also.

When I see a human being, I think that we are not one sided. If I’ve learned anything reading Humans of New York, it’s that at the basic levels, we all want the same things. We LOVE our kids. We don’t want to see our kids hurt. We want to see them grow up and have a better life than us. We want our loved ones to be safe. We want their loved ones to be safe. We want to laugh with our loved ones. We want people to be healthy. We want to be fed. We want to be loved. We want to be remembered. We want to feel valued. We want to be better people. We want our lives to mean something. We want to belong. We want to be part of something greater than ourselves. We all want those things. And it matters to to all of us.

We want to be loved. We want to be remembered. We want to feel valued. We want to be better people. We want our lives to mean something. We want to belong. We want to be part of something greater than ourselves. We all want those things. And it matters to to all of us.

Little Dreams. Big Dreams.

Last May, I started an artist mother interview series  “Carve Out Time for Art” which outgrew my personal website. When I realized that I didn’t want to stop the interviews , I bought the domain www.carveouttimeforart.com. Recently, I transferred the interviews over to the new site. I want Carve Out Time for Art to be a site for people who need encouragement, inspiration and tips on finding time to create.

Right now there are 40 interviews with artist mothers and a few artist fathers. When I have time, I want to expand this series and include more variety. On my list are retirees who have started painting later in life, full time artists, grad students, people who have careers non-art related, etc. I love this topic so much because I get so excited to see people living their dreams.

Dreams. Yes, lets talk about that oft strewn word.

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I’m a self proclaimed big dreamer. Since childhood, I’ve consistently gone overboard brainstorming new ideas. But I’ve realized that dreams don’t have to be extravagant to be fulfilling. Sometimes the smaller dreams are just as important. And those many small dreams may lead to newly achievable big dreams down the road.

I bet if you think back to dreams you had 10 years ago, many of them that were realized aren’t even impressive to you because you take them for granted now. I do the same thing. But it’s crazy when you think back. Go ahead, think for a minute and I’ll wait.

Did you find one? Me too.

Aren’t you feeling proud of yourself? You should. It’s okay. I am.

The limiting factor of dreams is that they’re not real though. Not yet. Dreams are great because of infinite possibility, and that’s why the scheming at the beginning is intoxicating. It’s all of the fun without any logistics, hard work, and implementation.

But man. If you do the work to get to that fulfillment stage, it feels pretty amazing.

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I still think it’s great to have huge mondo beyondo dreams. I will never stop running wild with an idea. But I know that it’s not realistic that all of those ideas will be implemented. Only the ones that are most important if I work really hard and give up some things that are not as important.

Having a child, what I most want in my life has changed dramatically. It’s not that I’ve given up on what I wanted before, it’s that the priority and meanings of things have shifted. If anything, I was surprised by how much I needed art in my life when analyzing what I most wanted to take up precious drops in my small vessel of precious free time.

What I don’t want is for people to get so deflated when they feel like it’s all or nothing. Like when they see an artist on Instagram showing 2-3 pictures a day and imagining that person is living this dream life and why should they bother?

So you want to be an artist. Great. Go paint. Go create. Make it work, even if it’s not what you think it needs to be. Make it work for you somehow. 5 minutes at a time if need be.

You don’t have enough time? I don’t think anyone does unless they’re willing to sacrifice something. We all have the same 24 hours in the day. And most of those reading this blog are fortunate enough to have enough time and money to have access to wi-fi and clean drinking water.

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So how do you find time?

Stop watching as much TV. Wake up earlier. Change your medium. Lower some expectations. Put a sketchbook in your purse. Ask for help. Get off Facebook. Order takeout. Draw with your kid. Look for beauty and interesting colors while sitting in traffic.

Do you know why I love Instagram? It’s because every day, I see people who are living small and big dreams. They are people who say, I want more in my life. For many of the friends I’ve made on Instagram, that dream is creating art. It’s being able to have some time to do the work. To feel inspired. Or to have no idea what you’re doing and get messy and make something anyway. It’s about continuing and not giving up because you cannot imagine living your life without creating something.

I think it’s worth it. I know you do too.

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Carving Out Time for Art with Danielle Krysa

Life is still really busy right now though – Charlie has lots of activities, I have a day job, I run the blog (and everything that comes along with that) so I’ve had to DECIDE to make time. I set aside chunks of my weekend where I don’t do anything else. Just make collages. I usually give my boys a head’s up that they’re going to have to pick up some take-out because I’m going right through till bedtime! You know… when you get on a roll, you get on a roll!

Happy New Year, friends! As I reflected on 2015, my proudest achievement was taking the steps to cultivate this inkling of an idea, into a weekly series that has far surpassed the 10 people I intended to interview. In fact, my goal for 2016 is to write a book on this topic with my friend Heather Kirtland, because there are so many mothers who could really use it.  So thank you to everyone for your positive feedback on this passion project that keeps me taking one step further. It’s become what I’m most excited about during the work week. It makes me feel like a contributing member or our big dreaming creative community when I’m not able to paint much.

I wanted to kick off the year with someone really special, because she is the first person I think of when it comes to inspiring, encouraging, and empowering other artists. Danielle Krysa (aka The Jealous Curator) shares her own vulnerable stories so candidly, and has helped thousands of people to realize they are not alone with creative blocks, self doubt, or not thinking they are talented enough to be an artist. Her story resonates with me particularly, as I really doubted myself as an artist in college and my twenties, and then discounted my own work for a long time. Thankfully, that has since changed, but thank you to Danielle for sharing her story with so many. That takes a ton of bravery.

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She is also pretty much the nicest person from what I can tell via email and listening to her podcast “Art for Your Ear”. I am so excited to see you bring a little paint back into your lovely and hysterical collages. You cannot look at her recent collages without reading the clever captions. They make me laugh and transport me to a place that feels like the mid-60s with pink bathrooms, tiki bar drinks, and the air of exasperation from a housewife that needs her GD cocktail already, but is still a nice lady. (The one below is my favorite).

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“Ellen was having a wonderful time… now, if Hal would just take the GD photo she could prove it to everyone”

Thank you so much for sharing your insight, Danielle! I’m so excited for your newest book and please let me know when you’re in Miami, won’t you? I’ll buy you a cocktail with an umbrella in it for good measure.


Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?

Let’s see… well, I went to art school (majored in painting and printmaking), and then did a post-grad in graphic design. I have worked as a designer for years, and ended up as a creative director of digital design at an ad agency… and then I left to have my son. He’s nine now. After he was born I never really went back. I started freelancing but was also really wanting to get back into the fine art world. That’s when I launched by my art blog, The Jealous Curator (Charlie was about two and half at the time).

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You can find me here:

Podcast: art for your ear 

Books: Creative Block & Collage 

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Creative Block by Danielle Krysa

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

He was really the reason I started making art again. I had taken a really loooooong break (after a terrible art school experience right before I graduated), and mainly just concentrated on design. When I decided to stay home with him I suddenly started to feel those creative fires start to burn again. Granted, I didn’t have very much time to make anything, but when he napped I would make pieces that focused on what I was experiencing as his mama. I did a series called “Dog Days” because when he was about two or three he would literally spend full days lost in his little imagination… sometimes he was a dog, a sheep, a dinosaur… it ran the gamut really. I also did another series, titled “Type-A Mama”, because I was going through this weird time when i was trying to be the best mom EVER (a left-over from my over achiever, ad agency days)… an at-home-mom workaholic you might say. It was also this moment in time that inspired me to really look at what I wanted to be doing creatively, and before I knew it I had started the blog.

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Dog Days. 2009.

 

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?

Well, it’s getting a lot easier now that he’s nine! It was hard in the beginning, but I did my best to carve out little chunks of time for creativity. I have a very supportive husband who suggested I get studio space out of the house where I could go a couple of times a week… that way I couldn’t be distracted by a toddler that wanted to play, or by a pile of laundry that I believed needed to be done immediately. Life is still really busy right now though – Charlie has lots of activities, I have a day job, I run the blog (and everything that comes along with that) so I’ve had to DECIDE to make time. I set aside chunks of my weekend where I don’t do anything else. Just make collages. I usually give my boys a head’s up that they’re going to have to pick up some take-out because I’m going right through till bedtime! You know… when you get on a roll, you get on a roll! As far as The Jealous Curator goes, it’s very much part of my every day. It takes just as much time as my full-time day job… so I basically have two jobs at the moment.

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“in hindsight, rick wished he’d picked truth instead of dare”

 

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“The first and last time Mary-Jo forgot to pack the sun hats”

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?

My son is very creative and has been since he was really little. I don’t know if that’s just in his DNA (my mom is a very accomplished painter), or if it’s from him seeing how important creativity is to me. He used to paint everything – including himself – but as he’s gotten older he’s become more interested in writing than visual art. I’ve written a few books about art, and the other day he said, “Mommy, you’re an author right? I think I’d like to be an author one day too.” Heart. Melted.

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Little Painted Charlie!

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?

Three years ago we moved into a new house – a new house with an extra room! That space has become my studio. Most of the time it looks like a bomb went off, but it’s great because I can just close the door! I think my favorite thing is the built in shelves that go from floor to ceiling along one small wall. I have supplies there, but also weird little objects and art from other artists I love (including some “early work” by Charlie). I could use a little more natural light in there, but my poodle lamp ($2 at my local thrift shop) is doing it’s best. For my Jealous Curator work, I’m at my computer in my home office – my favorite thing about that room is the view of the lake, and the view of my handsome husband (who also works from home). I used to make art with charlie all the time, but as I said, it’s more about writing for him now. That of course won’t stop me from including this masterpiece he did for me when he was four… this was his “fish phase” – salmon and yellow fin tuna, clearly.

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Fish artwork by her son Charlie. Artwork by Danielle Krysa.
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Sculptures by Amanda Smith. Cake by Martha Rich.

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

Right now I’m just trying to make collages as often as I can. Normally I write about other artists, so I’m trying very hard to share my own work. It’s weird. But, I just wrote a new book (due out Fall 2016) all about self-doubt, inner critics, fear of sharing, etc … so I should probably take my own advice and start putting myself out there a little more!

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“frank had always been a bit of a thrill-seeker”
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“no matter how long he sat there, he just couldn’t get his head around the whole ‘minimalism’ thing.”
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“oh yes, gerry would try a little bit of everything before this night was through”
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View from Danielle’s Office

 

Photographs provided by Danielle Krysa.

Website for  Martha Rich

Website for Amanda Smith

P.S. As a lover of minimalism, that is my 2nd favorite because it’s so true!

P.P.S. I wouldn’t quit my dayjob with a view like the one from Danielle’s office. Wow…

Carving Out Time for Art with Lisa Rydin Erickson

“My studio is in the dining room. This works the best. I think someday it would be nice to have a studio somewhere but ideally it would be within my living space, just a huge room. I have tried different rooms in the house. My easel was in a separate room with bad light and nothing got done there. It has been up in my bedroom which worked some. I started drawing on my iPad on the commute to work and this is really where I have gotten momentum. I drew on the way to and from work daily. The iPad was a portable studio and I could work with color and design and line which I really love.”

I’m so excited to share this interview with Lisa Rydin Erickson. This interview gives me a lot of hope and inspiration. She has worked full time, raised 2 wonderful now teenagers, found time to create, and found a way to make use of her commute by using her iPad to create digital art in addition to painting and ink. I just love the paintings that she’s been doing lately in addition to her digital art. How fun to see how varied it is and how she changes her medium to fit where she is! Thank you so much Lisa. You have given me some perspective that I truly needed, and I’m sure others will agree.

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Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?

Hi there, I am an artist and mom now of teenagers. You can find me at lisarydinerickson.com or on Instagram @lisarydinerickson

I’ve been raising kids for the past 19 years with my husband. I’ve been an artist since maybe always and also a dental hygienist for the past 20+ years. While I still think of myself as a traditional canvas painter, since 2011 I have been painting on my iPad. This process makes a digital file and has allowed me to make prints and cards that I can get into local and not so local stores. I’ve done a lot of art projects in various forms but It’s only been in the last couple years that I have pursued an art business.

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

I’ve had a lot of fun with different mediums over the years fitting into whatever medium was appropriate and available at the time. Sometimes my easel was upstairs in my bedroom where I could close the door, sometimes it was downstairs. Really when I set up in the dining room in the middle of everything between the kitchen and living room I ended up getting the most work done. I am always available and centrally located, ha. Lots of interruptions but all for the win. It has always been the act of creating that was what needed to be released or what I needed to do to remain me. Often while the kids were young I did projects at their school, I was an art mom, the mom that could help with painting a labyrinth or a class mural or teach an art lesson.

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One of my biggest goals raising kids was that I didn’t ever want them to say that they were bored. They always had ideas and I always tried to get supplies together and try them. I learned early on that they were most excited about the ideas that THEY had and so we ran with those and I just facilitated getting supplies and trying to make it real. My daughter one time wanted to knit a sleeping bag. I had her do the math and knit a small square time it and measure the size of a sleeping bag and then we bought some cheap yarn and she began her project. Never finished but hey at 10, that counts for ambition. My son loved mechanical things and always wanted to take everything apart so we would get things at thrift stores and he would spend hours taking things apart. So sculpture, knitting, drawing, cooking and baking all fed into a creative day.

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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?

Now it is a bit easier to find time as they are teenagers. They are less demanding but even as teens my studio is still in the dining room in the middle of the house and there are still constant interruptions. I didn’t have the option to not work outside the home or pay for childcare or stay home once they were in school. I couldn’t stay up late doing art because I got up early for work. I’m sure that I could have done more art. I really yearned to be a full time artist and have a studio and stay home. My focus was to have them here with me and know that I cared about their projects and show them that I was happy making things and they could be also. It worked out well, they always had something that they were interested in and now are very self directed and have that love of learning and making instilled. My daughter used to pull the paintbrush out of my hand and tell me that she wanted to use the brush that was working better. So cute. Now I could easily pull the paintbrush out of her hand. She is a good artist. I did get work done somehow, I think working beside them with their projects as we still do.

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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?

Yes, you have to be yourself and if you are an artist you need to find some time whether they are sitting on your lap while you are sewing or drawing or you are staying up late or early or one evening a week of un interrupted time. I sometimes thought that even one evening a week outside for a few hours on a regular schedule would have been great. It’s a good question to ask, what makes me happy, what do I need, am I fulfilled doing a small project of drawing or do I really need to work on a 40 hour mural even just once a year.

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Actually I did yearly paint a 55’x15’ mural for a small dance school which was so much fun. I really looked forward to that time of year for almost 10 years. My daughter really loved coming and helping with that. When she was three she stood at the edge just shaking with excitement holding a brush and I mostly gave her a large area to paint with one color. She was excited to be part and later was skilled enough to help. Other times I just filled notebooks full of small colored pencil drawings or watercolors or pastels, little bits of time when the kids could color on their own works at the same time as we sat together. I would see that with the teachers at their preschool just sitting and doodling while the kids worked on their own drawings. What you can’t learn from those amazing preschool teachers.

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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?

My studio is in the dining room. This works the best. I think someday it would be nice to have a studio somewhere but ideally it would be within my living space, just a huge room. I have tried different rooms in the house. My easel was in a separate room with bad light and nothing got done there. It has been up in my bedroom which worked some. I started drawing on my iPad on the commute to work and this is really where I have gotten momentum. I drew on the way to and from work daily. The iPad was a portable studio and I could work with color and design and line which I really love.

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I always created when the kids were around. I still do. I used to share the dining room table with my daughter when she was age 8-12. All rooms are up for art grabs in our house. If someone has a project, my son with computers, my husband building a guitar, my daughter making any number of sewing or art projects we just spread out and work. Again that letting go of the perfect house has worked for us.

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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?

When the kids have activities carpools can give you some time and even when kids are busy with the activity you can have some time to draw. There are definitely stages of kids and stages for the amount of care that you need for kids. I never really stopped just going for it and trying to make things. Luckily I wasn’t a perfectionist so I just kept making. Because of that I think that people notice who you are and it builds from there, just jump in the river as a friend said and it will carry you. I did feel the pull so often that I wasn’t doing all that I was meant to do and would have loved to not have to have an outside of the home job, art became third. Things are a bit different now with more exposure online. I think that you can share what you are doing and have that relationship with other people who know and appreciate what you are doing with social media. Household care? I didn’t outsource any of it, most of it got done, nobody starved, everyone had some clean clothes to wear and we had a lot of fun. If you can afford to have someone come in and clean or cook or watch kids part time by all means do it.

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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 projects.. well I would love to explore licensing and still figure out pattern making which I assume is related to licensing, that is my next goal and a trade show. I feel that it is always good to reassess where you are and what is next. I’m all about that and it is so helpful to keep you on track. I think also my dream it to feel fulfilled by the process of art making and feeling that I have made something that I am proud of and that someone can enjoy. I still love painting above all and always want to do more of that. Of course I would also love to show art in other countries, a way to travel.

Lisa-Rydin-Erickson-Artist

Carving Out Time for Art with Emily Jamison

“For me, being an artist feeds a part of my soul that wasn’t fulfilled before. I believe that I am more wholly myself when my drive to create is being met. I hope that my children will see that being an artist can exist apart from a career, and that being creative can be expressed in a variety of ways, but that everyone is creative in their own right. I also hope that my children will take away the idea that self-fulfillment is not selfish, but that it is a necessary part of self-care that makes you a better parent, sibling, and friend.”

Emily Jamison inspires me since she  using her art as a way to help fund an adoption to complete their family. She has a video on her website that talks about the project, and you cannot help but feel your heart swell when you see Emily, her husband and adorable little girl share their story. You can watch the video here on www.emilyjamison.com. I wish them so many good wishes on their journey throughout this process.

Emily manages to find time to paint in addition to her job as a therapist and raising a little girl. She offers great advice on her Instagram, and recently mentioned that the balance of it all is unattainable, no matter what the self help books may say, but it can be better by saying yes and no to certain things. How smart and logical is that? I agree. When we are more realistic with our time and efforts, we are less likely to be disappointed. Thank you Emily for reminding me of that as well. Keep us posted on your adoption and I’m so excited for your family.

Emily-Jamison-Artist


Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?

I’m Emily Jamison, an artist and therapist (but not an art therapist!) living in Asheville, North Carolina. I have one son, North, who will be two in January, and my husband and I are in the process of adopting our second child.

Emily-Jamison-Artist

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

I did not start pursuing art as a profession until my son was about 4 months old. Although I had dabbled in small projects here and there prior to his birth (mostly for gifts to family members), it wasn’t until after he was born that I found the courage to publicize my work and begin the process of running a business as an artist. When I first opened my shop, I created digital prints with hand drawn illustrations. The work always happened during nap-time or after bedtime. However, I also work as a therapist during the day and often have work to finish on the computer at night. Over time, I began to get an itch to get away from the technological part of art, and around April 2015 I completely re-branded, created a new website, and began to dive into painting.

Emily-Jamison-Artist

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?

Having a job outside of art (in addition to full-time mothering) certainly makes it difficult to find time to create, but I have gotten into a great routine of making time over the last several months. Thankfully we have a good sleeper for a child! We have also always been pretty regimented on his bedtime, for a number of reasons – I recognized early on that I needed significant time alone at night to get things done. Since he is still young and doesn’t play independently for long periods of time, I do not do any actual art (painting) while he is awake. I do, however, try to do as much logistical or prep work done during the daytime as I can. This can include anything from packaging, to cleaning the studio, to going to the post office. It is my goal to get as much non-painting work done during the day so that I maximize my time at night. Sometimes I will even lay out paints and materials so I can get right to work once he goes to bed.

Emily-Jamison-Artist

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? 

For me, being an artist feeds a part of my soul that wasn’t fulfilled before. I believe that I am more wholly myself when my drive to create is being met. I hope that my children will see that being an artist can exist apart from a career, and that being creative can be expressed in a variety of ways, but that everyone is creative in their own right. I also hope that my children will take away the idea that self-fulfillment is not selfish, but that it is a necessary part of self-care that makes you a better parent, sibling, and friend.

Emily-Jamison-Artist

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 am lucky enough to have part of our unfinished basement for my studio. It doesn’t offer much natural light, but is spacious and comfortable. There are several nails on the wall for vertical painting and a large table next to the only window, where I do most of the painting. The table overlooks the wooded area behind our house, providing a quiet, peaceful setting. I love having a space dedicated to making art, and I feel like it has given me more motivation to create. I love being able to leave materials out, having them at the ready for the next painting session. Since my time is so limited, I feel like this is super important in making my time efficient. The studio portion of the basement is adjacent to a large laundry room that has many of our son’s toys in it, and I dream of the day when I can paint during the daytime, while he plays independently, right in my sight. We have included several art materials in our son’s playroom, and I love to practice “drawing,” coloring, and playing Play-dough with him. I also dream of the day when he is painting on his easel right next to me.

Emily-Jamison-Artist

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?

Some of the tips that I have found that work for me are:

  • Get as much of the non-art work done during the day, with your child. This includes the cleaning, laundry, and other house chores. Make it into something they can do with you – teaching them along the way. This is a dual-purpose tip: it allows you to connect with your children AND it lets you get things done so that you can have time for your own pursuits later on.
  • Create a separate time for art. This may require earlier bedtimes for your children, or working something out with your partner so that he/she watches the children, but I think it is so important to have a focused time to be able to work/create.
  • Prepare in advance for creating. This may mean getting your space ready, getting your materials out, or just jotting down ideas during the day so that when you sit down and have hands-free/kid-free time, you can get right to it.

Having a small business on top of a job and motherhood has certainly forced me to be more efficient with my time, both personal and professional. Because all three of those things are important to me, I have made it my goal to be fully present while working (either as a therapist or artist), and then be able to leave it behind when I move to the next role (knowing, of course, that motherhood never stops!).

Emily-Jamison-Artist

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

At this time, all of our dreaming and scheming is going towards our pending adoption. We are directly using all of the funds from art sales for our adoption, and so much of my time and heart has been solely focused on that over the past few weeks. It is my goal, however, that once we are able to fund our own adoption, my art would be able to help give support to other families raising money for adoption. I’d love to partner with one family per month or quarter to create a specific print that they can sell for their fundraising efforts, with all of the proceeds going straight to them. I also dream of being able to use my paintings for a much wider variety of products, such as fabric, pillows, bags, stationery, and more! I have so many ideas in my head that I have to hold myself back sometimes and take it one day at a time, one painting at a time.

Emily-Jamison-Artist


I put this last picture as the interview graphic because I want to do this soon —  create a ton of wood surfaces to paint on! Thanks, Emily!