An Interview With Neslihan Ergül Colley

Inspired by colour, nature and the emotional experience, mother artist Neslihan Ergül Colley creates time for her art in the margins of her day. In this Artist Meets Mother interview she shares with us her practice and the motivations, influences and struggles that under pin her work. 

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Tell me a bit about your art. What inspires you to paint?

Vivid colors are what inspire me most.  I crave color and the mood it defines in a scene.  Often, just meditating and clearing my head leads certain colors to just pop into my mind, which then develop into a vision of the painting I want to create.  Emotion also has a strong effect on creating this vision. Sometimes a piece of music, a photograph, or a natural scene inspires an emotion.  This creates a snowball effect that attracts me to certain colors, which then develop into an image that supports that emotion.  All I have to do then is hold that vision and translate it to the canvas.  

Can you share anything of your journey as a mother with us? How many children do you have?

My husband and I have two children, Aiden and Sahra, who are now 11 and 9 years old, respectively. We were already busy adults, with both of us working full time jobs. When Aiden was born we made the decision to change our work schedules so that we wouldn’t have to send him to childcare. I cut my hours at work and my husband began working nights, while also writing his first novel. At the time I had an easel and canvas, but pursuing my passion for painting just didn’t seem to be an option with all that was going on at that time. Two years later Sahra was born and that definitely kept us busy. At first, I think being a mother limited my opportunity to paint.  Painting is a messy profession, and with two toddlers running amok it can be very difficult to settle into a routine that leaves time to pursue that passion, not to mention finding the energy.  So in the meantime I stuck to drawing.  I worked on concept art for my husband’s novel, but mostly I kept drawing for myself. At that time most of my friends and family didn’t even know I was an artist. I kept it mostly to myself, as a personal intimacy, an inward journey if you will. Once the kids got a little older, they created the “drawing club,” where we would gather in the loft and draw in our sketchbooks.  Now we paint and draw together all the time!

Do you feel that motherhood has changed your experience as an artist?

Absolutely!  I think being a mother has taught to be patient as an artist, to give time to a painting and see how it develops.  I’ve learned to sleep on a painting and come back it to it with fresh eyes the next day.  Probably most importantly, I think my kids have helped to be more optimistic and happy, to have that excitement each day and leave the adult self and all its worries behind.  Since my painting is largely affected by emotion, this makes a big difference in how approach art and how I paint.

Tell me a bit about your process. Do you involve your children in your art at all or is your time spent creating time for yourself?

I like to create from an uninstructed place, where I am free to let my emotions guide my brush.  I usually start with a feeling, or sometimes an image or color that invokes a certain emotion, and work forward from there.  I try to make the colors and scene in the painting match that emotion.  But every once in a while, a painting takes on a life of its own and I just have to step out of the way and let the painting be what it wants to be.  Depending on which direction a work takes, it could take anywhere from a few hours, to days or weeks depending on the number of layers and how long it takes me and the canvas to agree on a final product.  I prefer oil on canvas as a medium, which takes much longer to dry, though I do use acrylic as well at times.  It can be really hard to declare a painting done, too.  Sometimes I try to be a perfectionist and keep tweaking little bits and pieces until I finally have to stop myself.  I’ve dabbled in digital art some, as an illustrator for my husband’s children’s books.  This was quite the challenge, not just because I had to learn to use new software programs and an art tablet, but because the artwork itself starts with an expectation.  It comes with a preconceived notion of what the final product should be, which restricts the creative process some and makes it a bit harder for me.

For me, painting is a little bit of both a family activity and alone time for me, where I can disconnect from the stresses of life and recharge.  I often paint and draw with the kids.  I set them up a spot next to my easel and we all work on our projects together.  We love painting together, particularly watching Bob Ross on Netflix while we create. Especially my daughter; she’s a born artist.  She can draw for hours, meticulously adding detail to her art. But when the kids are off playing, I’m turning up the music, pouring a glass of wine, and finding my happy place somewhere between the brush strokes and the canvas.

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Describe to us your workspace. Where do you create?

Whenever it’s warm enough I paint outside, on our back porch.  We have an amazing view, with fields and open space right behind us all the way to the mountains.  It’s very inspiring, particularly near sunset.  When it gets too cold I move inside to my bedroom where I’ve set up a little art studio.  That way I get to stare at the painting I’m working on and visualize the next steps while I am resting. 

What positives do you feel being a mother brings to your artistic practice?

Art is an awesome activity that I can share with my kids.  It lets us spend quality time together doing something we all enjoy and forms a special bond between us.  On a personal level, being a mother changes a lot of things beyond just having something to do with kids.  It heightens your empathy and strengthens emotions, which is empowering for me since I start from an emotion and create outward from there.  In some cases, their life experiences inspire specific works, such as my son’s unfortunate incident with a stapler. While painful, it inspired a book by husband, who is an author, and subsequently a lot of artwork by me.  Having children expands your horizons and teaches you patience, which can directly translate into practicing art.

What challenges does it bring?

Time is probably the most challenging. Due to my husband’s opposite work schedule, our evening routines only involve one parent. After my day job, activities, homework, and dinner, there’s not much room left in the day for me to paint during the week unless I stay up late. Sometimes I do, if I’m particularly inspired, but it can be exhausting if you have a deadline to meet. Weekends can fill up fast with family time and friends, but I try to make sure I squeeze time into the schedule to paint. Summer is a bit different; that’s my time to bloom. I can usually set aside time to paint a couple of days during the week, and the added daylight inspires me more, and makes me crave certain colors. 

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Being both a mother and an artist can be a difficult balance. How do you try and manage this?

When my kids were born I knew I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible.  They grow up so fast!  I had an easel and some paints that sat in the closet collecting dust for many years.  I knew the day would come when it would be the perfect time to paint again.  Then one day, when my kids were six and four, I sent them out on a play date.  For the first time in years I picked up a brush.  I spent hours out on the back porch, soaking up the view, letting my emotion and passion for color guide me.  The next day I went straight to Michael’s and stocked up on canvas and paints and brushes and all the cool supplies my heart desired.  Since then I haven’t stopped.  It took some time to settle into a schedule where I could make sure I was spending the time I wanted with the kids and yet reserving time for art, too.  Now that they’re older and more independent it’s a lot easier to take that time for myself when I need it.  The best part is the kids love art too, so now we get to work together all the time.  They’re my biggest fans and they get inspired whenever I create a new piece.

Where can we see more of your artwork?

My artwork can be found at Fine Art America and on Instagram.  

Also, some of my original artwork will be on display at the Wasatch County Library, Utah from February 27th to May 7th, 2017.

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For more art by inspiring mother artists follow our Instagram feed @ArtistMeetsMother or scroll through the Artist Meets Mother category here on my blog.

Are you an artist balancing motherhood and art? Join our community and tag your art with the hashtag #artistmeetsmother.

An Interview With Chrissy Foreman Cranitch

The visionary art of artist Chrissy Foreman Cranitch is beautifully inspiring. Created in mixed media - acrylic, inks and collage, each of Chrissy's paintings take the viewer on a spiritual journey of vivid colour and intricate line. Self care, spiritual growth and mindfulness are important parts of Chrissy's practice and she encourages others to walk this path with her. Chrissy shares her process and her experiences as a mother artist in this Artist Meets Mother interview.

Tell me a bit about your art. What inspires you to paint?  

For me, art-making is an incredibly healing experience. I call my style, ‘Creating with Feeling,’ which is a fusion between intuitive art-making, personal therapy, self-care and spiritual enquiry. Using colourful mixed media acrylic paints, inks and collage on paper, canvas or journalling; I hope to share what it's like to live with an open heart and create a meaningful life as a Wife, Mama, Artist + Spiritual Being.

Can you share anything of your journey as a mother with us?

Mothering for me has always been a double edged-sword; full of dichotomy. There are days when I adore being a Mama and nurturing my son and other
days, full of exhaustion and frustration at the lack of time I have for my own personal endeavors (Art making!). After the first 18 months as a stay at home Mama, my husband lost his job and we decided to swap roles; with me being the breadwinner through my Art career + teaching, while he was the stay at home Dad. Initially I was so excited to have supported and allocated time for my Art-making! However, I was still experiencing post-natal depression and acute anxiety, which eventually in 2014 led to a nervous break-down. During this time, everything within me broke apart and I could barely function some days. It was terrifying. Yet during my recovery, I had the rare opportunity to rebuild and mindfully choose how I wanted to recreate myself and my Life. Since then, I’ve incorporated a great deal of self-care, meditation and mindfulness into my daily practice and this healing energy has flowed into all areas of my life; including my art, mothering and teaching. I’m still a work in progress - as we all are - yet I am finding more peace within myself on a more regular basis these days. I believe my son is more understanding, empathetic and connected with his own feelings as a result of our experiences together.

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How many children do you have?

One (and done)!

Do you feel that motherhood has changed your experience as an artist?

Most definitely! Early on as a Mama I realised that with the reduced time I had available for my Art practices, I would really need to make each moment count. Before children, I would sit at one large painting and work on it over one or two days until it was complete. Now, I work on multiple Artworks in snippets, maybe an hour or two at a time, over weeks or months depending on the size of the piece.

I have also grown to be able to recognise that need-to-create-feeling in my body and express it in other ways with my son. For example, when he was a baby we would go on afternoon walks with each other to the beach and I would make nature mandalas in the sand, or take photographs of inspiring
shapes as we went. Now he’s just started school and for the first time since becoming a Mama, I’m experiencing an allocated day or two a week for my Arts practice. I think this is going to be a productive year because of everything I’ve learned about focus and time management these last 5 years!

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Tell me a bit about your process. Do you involve your children in your art at all or is your time spent creating time for yourself?

I have tried but it’s only the odd occasion my son wants to paint with me! Sometimes I’ll ask him to do some expressive finger painting with me in the
first few layers on canvas or I’ll cut up his hand prints and collage them into my work. I’ve shared a couple of videos of Max being involved in painting with
me [an example of which can be found HERE] - he loves being in front of the camera and often asks to create his own videos reviewing his toys! But most of the time, Art-making is my refuge from the demands of Motherhood. It’s a process where I go within and really refill my cup. I come back to the family after an hour of two of painting and I’m a much better Mama and Wife because of it.

Describe to us your workspace. Where do you create?

When we first moved to our home, I created an awesome, fully enclosed studio under the house equipped with cupboards full of resources, proper
lighting, painting storage, my computer desk, art library and my easel was always set up. It was awesome! But you know what …? I found it too difficult
to always negotiate stretches of time with my husband or parents to care for Max while I was shut away downstairs! So now, I’m more opportunistic; with my studio against the wall upstairs in our open plan lounge-dining area. I’ve got my computer-desk-come-art-table with two sets of iIKEA drawers either side, filled to the brim with all my creative essentials. I absolutely adore creating here - my little guy can be in the room right near me watching a movie or playing lego and I jump right in and take advantage of a spare half hour or two this affords me! People often ask me how I’m so prolific and this is how … lots and lots of small, golden moments of opportunity builds up over days, weeks and months into lots of Art!

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What positives do you feel being a mother brings to your artistic practice? What challenges does it bring?

Positives: My increased sense of empathy and capacity for feeling since becoming a Mama. As an Intuitive Artist, experience is all fuel for expression which translates into Artworks that feel much more deep, honest, authentic and real. It’s like Artistic medicine for me.

Negatives: An undercurrent feeling of rushing to get my stuff done, laced with occasions of resentment when I want more time, and guilt when I’m creating
while Max wants me to play with him.

Being both a mother and an artist can be a difficult balance. How do you try and manage this?

• 5-10 minutes of Meditation and Mindfulness practice every morning - this focuses my mind, grounds my body and settles my heart

• Taking opportunistic snippets of time when I can to create - this builds into completed Artworks over time

• Allocating special child-free time to paint each week - while partners, family, friends, kindy or school keeps my son safe and happy

• Asking for help - it has to happen, we can’t do everything ourselves without burning-out (so I’ve learned!)

• Writing creative tasks down and ticking them off when they’re done - this takes the overwhelm down a few notches and helps me feel I’m actually finishing something!

• Breathing into the feeling that I’ll never get it all done - and learning to be okay with that

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Self care is important as a mother. Do you feel that being an artist benefits your parenting in any way?

Hmmm … I would say that being an Artist enables me to naturally problem solve and apply this to my self-care needs. As I mentioned, this means being
opportunistic and taking time when I can, but it also means being real and honest with my family about my capacity and needs as a Human Being.
I think that being flexible and modelling good self-care can only help my son as he grows into his Life; understanding that everyone has different needs
and that self-care and refilling our own cups within, makes for a healthier, happier life.

Where can we see more of your artwork?

You can find me on my websiteInstagramFacebook or on Youtube.

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For more art by inspiring mother artists follow our Instagram feed @ArtistMeetsMother or scroll through the Artist Meets Mother category here on my blog.

Are you an artist balancing motherhood and art? Join our community and tag your art with the hashtag #artistmeetsmother.

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An Interview With Tara Flores

Inspired by scientific theory the art of Tara Flores is brilliantly vibrant and filled with a sense of high energy. Each large scale canvas is covered with lines, shapes and dashes visually representing the experience of life and the beauty of science. A mother of two, Tara successfully balances her passion for art and her responsibilities as a parent enriching her life and the life of her children in the process, I find out how she does it in this Artist Meets Mother interview. 

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Tell me a bit about your art. What inspires you to paint?

I paint multi-layered abstract pieces that usually include line work or dashes over top all the layers of washes and brushstrokes. My style has changed a little in the past year or two but I feel like I’m circling and narrowing in on what will be a way of working that holds my interest and feels right. I’ve always been interested in science and since art school I’ve been inspired by the movement of energy as it relates to emotion, communication, and health. I wonder about the microscopic mechanisms that allow us to feel such a crazy range of feelings and let other beings know what we want them to know. I’m also fascinated by the transition from health to illness and back again. In my recent series the dashes often represent photons and are meant to convey this movement of energy. In the past year or so I’ve also met a few wonderful artists online that I’m now collaborating with and that’s really exciting. It’s a fantastic feeling to have a vision and the opportunity to explore it and bring it into existence, but it’s a whole other experience to share that vision with someone else who is equally as excited and inspired. I think this year is going to involve a lot of boundary-pushing work and progress and I can’t wait.

Can you share anything of your journey as a mother with us? How many children do you have?

I have a 7 year old and a 1 year old. It’s a pretty interesting spread. On the one hand, my oldest is a really good helper with his little sister but some days I can’t help but think that if I had my kids closer together I’d be done with diapers by now, both would be in school and I would have the studio time I struggle for. Ultimately, if I’m honest with myself, it’s actually a good thing that it worked out the way that it did because I’m not a multi-tasker in the least. I have gotten to spend individual time with each of them as babies and really take time to bond, which I think is exactly what I needed. When I was pregnant with my first I was laid off from an office job. It was the end of 2008 and I ended up staying home until he went to preschool. I got another office job for a few years before I felt a serious urge to commit to my art career “full time.” Just after that we had our second and I’m still the main caregiver at home. I wouldn’t trade being able to be here for my kids but I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge that it’s a tough position to be in. To feel like you’re doing the most important job in the world, obviously for your family but also in many ways for society, and struggle with issues of earning potential as a woman with not so flexible availability, the price of childcare, not to mention the degree to which the patriarchal expectations of the role of “housewife” affect your relationship. It’s all a lot to deal with.

Do you feel that motherhood has changed your experience as an artist?

I’ve found Motherhood to be hugely motivating in pretty much every area of life. Motherhood is inspiring in so many ways and has helped me become far more self-aware which is invaluable for an artist. I also think coming up against the complications with time, boundaries and finances that being a stay-at-home mom and creative entrepreneur presents has only proven to me how committed I am to nurturing and growing my creative practice and career. If I haven’t quit yet, I can’t think of a situation that would make me want to. I think some people want to grasp onto at least part of their pre-kid identity as an individual, and that’s valid, but I still think that there’s no part of you that Motherhood doesn’t change in some way- your views, your dreams, your depth and capacity to feel- so I can’t see how it wouldn’t affect my artistic views or what I choose to create.

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Tell me a bit about your process. Do you involve your children in your art at all or is your time spent creating time for yourself?

My process usually begins in my head. I get flashes of colors or shapes and recurring thoughts about a specific concept or palette and I know I’m close to a series. Sometimes it takes me a while to get my thoughts straight and actually start but I’m getting better at that. I’m way less self-conscious than I used to be about just getting something on the canvas and messing around until it starts flowing.

Part of that is the fact that I use house paint which isn’t nearly as expensive as artist’s oils or acrylics. Not that I think it’s the best choice health-wise, but I know for sure that my practice really flourished after I made that switch after school and stopped being so stingy and precious with the paint. I also work on several canvases at once. I feel like this helps to create a cohesive series because they can all inform each other in real time. Plus I feel like I’m being more productive, which helps when I’m painting for a show.

For commissions I work with the client, drawing direction from their favorite pieces from my portfolio and the space in their home where they want the work to hang. I always feel a responsibility as an artist to convey not only the value of art but the magic of it too, so to help my clients feel like a part of a process and really be invested in the piece, I offer the option to Document the Process. I sketch, take notes and photograph each stage, and share it with them as either a series of texts or emails as I go or a printed photo book at the end. Even as the artist I kind of want a book for each of my paintings.

As far as my kids and art go, I don’t actually involve my kids in what I create. I mentioned before that I’m a horrible multi-tasker and it’s so true. I’m a better functioning human if I’m able to focus and that means, no noise or interruptions or I’m totally thrown. I’d love to say that I let loose and play and create with my kids all the time but I don’t. We’ll paint and draw every now and then, and I try my best to keep my hands off what they do and my opinions to myself, but it’s tough. I think it would be easier if my studio wasn’t full of stuff they can’t touch and I hope that art is something we can share and talk about more when they’re a little bit older but for now I won’t push it. I like my alone time to process thoughts and create. I’ve also decided not to drag them through another museum or art fair until they’re good and ready. I trust they will be creative in their own ways.

Describe to us your workspace. Where do you create?

I have a space in our walk-out basement that has a few windows where I’ve set up my tables, easel and lights. It’s great because I’m in the house and that makes it easier with a little one. When she was tiny I would paint with her in an ergo but now that she’s bigger and able to climb out of the pack & play and cause general destruction, if she’s not being watched by someone else, I’m really not able to work. One notable thing about my studio space is that it doesn’t have doors that I can shut and lock the world out. It makes practicing boundaries a bit difficult for the family, especially my son, who is in second grade. I think it’s hard for him to recognize that I’m actually working when I’m sitting there playing around with paint in the basement.

What positives do you feel being a mother brings to your artistic practice?

Before I became a mother I didn’t quite understand how much I was capable of. I underestimated my strength and need for conviction and something to really devote myself to. Even though I went to art school, I wasn’t super confident or focused with my art. I took a few years off from painting after graduation (though this wasn’t really my intention) and then became a mother. My son turned one before I painted again but my practice and my faith in myself was renewed. Childbirth is hard and my first experience was not ideal but it changed me for the better. But after becoming a mom my time was suddenly not my own. I switched to acrylics, learned to loosen up and paint faster. I started working on multiple pieces at once and basically learned how to be more efficient. Knowing that I have more to worry about and care for than just myself has certainly strengthened my resolve to make my art business work. I’ve proven to myself, with the help of my children, that I can do hard things and that helps me every day.

What challenges does it bring?

Ha! Well, issues of time, money, energy come to mind. I’ve found myself having to work around my family’s schedule which means running to the studio when my son is in school and we can afford a nanny for my daughter or when my husband isn’t traveling for work and can take both kids out of the house for a while. But there’s always that pull to join them and just spend some family time. Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through the stress of getting my art career off the ground while I still have a toddler. In some ways it seems way more sane to pick it all back up once she’s in preschool in a year and a half, but at my core, I’m a painter. That’s my truth and I know that when I ignore it or prioritize too many things or people ahead of it, it hurts. The stress of it literally causes me physical pain if I let it build up and that’s what I think happens with most of us. People ignore their dreams or don’t say what they need to say and become unhappy and stressed with no authentic outlet and they end up with high blood pressure or anxiety attacks or cancer. Part of bringing a life into this world or choosing to raise and care for another life, is recognizing that life is short and there are no guarantees but that we’re here to give it our best. I think becoming a mother, with all of its challenges, helped to clarify that for me.

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Being both a mother and an artist can be a difficult balance. How do you try and manage this?

In the past year or so I’ve kind of traded in my idea or quest for balance for a respect for the natural cycles in life. We are cyclical beings. Just like the seasons come and go, I think there’s a time for everything. A time for focusing on work, a time for focusing on family, a time to pull back and relax and pay attention to self-care and a time to push harder for what you want to accomplish. You just can’t do it all at once and I don’t think women can “have it all,” at least not all at once. So maybe it ends up being balanced out with respect to the whole of your life, but it’s certainly not balanced day to day.

Self-care is important as a mother. Do you feel that being an artist benefits your parenting in any way?

I’m positive that being an artist benefits my parenting. It benefits me as a human at the most basic level. When I feel accomplished in the studio and that I’ve experienced a sense of flow and at least have attempted to bring my visions to life, I have a sense of fulfillment and positivity that allows me to know that my creativity is being tended to. Without that nagging feeling of being bombarded with ideas that aren’t acted upon, I have the headspace and patience to really be present with my kids or whatever life event presents itself. Hands down it is not like this all the time. I am not always present and 100% fulfilled, but that cause and effect relationship has played out enough times for me to recognize that this is how it works for me. So, I try my best to get in the studio as often as I can.

Where can we see more of your artwork?

My website is www.taraflores.com which has a portfolio page with artist statements for each series that explain a bit about what inspired the work. Available works are listed on Etsy and Saatchi Art and I share current work and works in progress on my Instagram account, @tarafloresart. As far as shows go, I have an upcoming show at Horseshoe in Seattle on view from April through June. 

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 For more art by inspiring mother artists follow our Instagram feed @ArtistMeetsMother.

Are you an artist balancing motherhood and art? Join our community and tag your art with the hashtag #artistmeetsmother.

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An Interview With Sarah Detweiler

The work of artist Sarah Detweiler is enriched with personal, emotive and maternal imagery. I have been drawn to her work since I first discovered her Instagram feed several months ago, perhaps because her paintings remind me of my own emotional experiences of motherhood. Today I am excited to share with you more about Sarah’s practice and her experiences of both art and motherhood.

Tell me a bit about your art. What inspires you to paint?

My style is always in flux, but most recently I have been working in watercolor or gouache on figurative paintings driven by feminine narratives, especially motherhood. My inspiration is drawn from my personal experiences with life and my relationship with others. Art has become a barometer for my quality of life. If I am not being creative in some form, then something is wrong.

Can you share anything of your journey as a mother with us? How many children do you have?

I am a stay-at-home mom to my 2 yr old daughter, Mia. I have often compared raising a young child to a science experiment where the variables change every day. My creative thinking now serves a new purpose when I am trying to figure out how I am going to get my daughter to eat fruit today. Having a creative relationship with my daughter has always been a priority to me, and I had her making art as early as I could. It was a magical moment when I made art with her for the first time.

Do you feel that motherhood has changed your experience as an artist?

Without question. When I was pregnant, I made less art than I thought I would. I expected it to be a very creative time, but didn’t realize how much energy the gestation process would take out of me. I did not have high hopes for finding that creative energy in early motherhood, but I surprised myself by picking up the paints again when my daughter was only 6 weeks old. My medium changed out of necessity. I don’t remember it being a conscious decision, but I found myself painting with watercolors in place of oils. I think the watercolors offered the opportunity of having a finished piece by the end of the evening so I could feel a sense of accomplishment. I also noticed that bright colors replaced the muted tones that I used to paint with. There is no denying the color that my daughter has added to my life. Motherhood has also become the forefront of the subject matter in my art.

Tell me a bit about your process. Do you involve your children in your art at all or is your time spent creating time for yourself?

I have always been most creative at night, which has its benefits and disadvantages as a mother. Right now it works because that is really the only time I can find to work on my art anyway, but it is extremely difficult to find the motivation after a full day of mothering. Often I will spend the day daydreaming about what I am going to work on that night. In the morning, my daughter loves to see what I worked on while she was sleeping.

I have to say that posting my art and images of my process onto social media has also become a part of my process in itself. Being a stay-at-home mom can be very isolating at times, and social media has offered an entirely new way of being seen or feeling relevant even if you are not exhibiting your work in galleries.

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Describe to us your workspace. Where do you create?

I feel very blessed to have a room in my home as my studio. I lived in New York for many years and was accustomed to painting on my bedroom floor in tiny apartments, so this feels like a dream. Despite having a studio, I still spend many evenings painting with my watercolors on the couch in front of the TV.

I also created a corner in my studio for my daughter to work on her art. I look forward to the day where our art making can be a more parallel process, but for now, when she is working in the studio, I am assisting her or collaborating with her.

What positives do you feel being a mother brings to your artistic practice?

My artistic practice has gained even more value in my life since becoming a mother. It gives me an identity outside of being a mother, which is incredibly important to my sense of self. The inspiration that motherhood has provided for my art has been endless. One of the first paintings that I made after I had my daughter turned into an illustrated book that I am working on that was entirely conceived while nursing my daughter to sleep at night. Also, time has more value to me now, so the moments that I get to work on my art feel more precious.

What challenges does it bring?

There is never enough time or energy, but you do it anyway. I recently gave myself the personal challenge of making art every day for 100 days. I really benefited from the self-discipline it took to commit to making art every day, and posting it on my Instagram account made me accountable. It also proved to me that I could manage a regular art practice as a mother. Because time is a constant challenge, I recently made the difficult decision to take a hiatus from commission work because with the little time that I do have to make art, I need to use it focusing on my personal practice.

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Being both a mother and an artist can be a difficult balance. How do you try and manage this?

Balance. That has become a magical word to me in motherhood. I don’t feel like I have it managed at all, but I “manage” by never giving up on the belief that balance is something that can be achieved.

Self care is important as a mother. Do you feel that being an artist benefits your parenting in any way?

 I find being a mother and an artist to be mutually rewarding experiences. It is the days after I have had a good night of art making that I feel I am able to be most present with my daughter. My experiences as a mother then provide inspiration for my art, and it becomes a cycle where they keep giving back to each other. That is when I feel most complete.

Where can we see more of your artwork?

Website: www.sarahdetweiler.com.  Etsy store: www.etsy.com/shop/SDArtifacts. Instagram: @SD_Artifacts

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For more art by inspiring mother artists follow our Instagram feed @ArtistMeetsMother.

Are you an artist balancing motherhood and art? Join our community and tag your art with the hashtag #artistmeetsmother.

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An Interview With Michaela Jean

The timeless art of Michaela Jean is visually beautiful and filled with history and nostalgia. A regular contributor to our Artist Meets Mother feed, Michaela frequently inspires me with her images of her work in progresses and her 9 month old son. I am delighted today to be able to share with you more about her creative processes and her life in this Artist Meets Mother interview.

Tell me a bit about your art. What inspires you to paint?

I was an Art History major in college and come from a line of antique dealers, so I would say that my foremost inspiration comes from the aged. Old buildings, vintage objects, sections of cities that are seemingly unchanged, and now even people that have been so lucky as to enter into their “Golden Years”. Perhaps I idealize times passed a little too much, but with contemporary society constantly simplifying (especially in the digital age) I can’t help but yearn for eras when details were emphasized in design. Where everyday objects and spaces all highlighted the artist’s hand. Thus, through bright colors and an illustrative touch I hope to exaggerate those details and bring the more seasoned bits of our present into the spotlight!

Can you share anything of your journey as a mother with us? How many children do you have?

Well of course! I have one 9 month old son, and a 2 year old pug. Haha! I include my dog because I often tell people he is the hardest part of having an infant. I mean, he is currently doing laps around the house with my chapstick in his mouth. Pick your battles right?

Motherhood is something you can never properly prepare yourself for. It’s the most difficult and amazing thing I have ever done. I like to describe it as loving someone more than anyone and anything you have ever loved before, and it is your job to keep them alive and well. Basically, motherhood, for me, has been learning to embrace vulnerability.

Do you feel that motherhood has changed your experience as an artist?

Absolutely. But in the best way possible. Having an infant allows you to re-experience the wonder of the world all over again. There is so much beauty and magic out there that as adults we often ignore. This allows me to embrace colors I once overlooked, and consider subjects I would have found to be insignificant.

Tell me a bit about your process. Do you involve your children in your art at all or is your time spent creating time for yourself?

My little man is still only 9 months, so we are not quite ready for our own set of paints. However, he is in the studio with me fairly often. I have a set of toys for him on the ground and he is more than content sitting there while mommy paints.


Describe to us your workspace. Where do you create?

I am currently using our spare room as a studio in our home. We do not own the house so the walls are not white, but the light is great!

What positives do you feel being a mother brings to your artistic practice?

I suggested this before, but primarily seeing the world as extraordinary and thus painting it this way. My son might find a silver spoon to be beautiful and fascinating, and it is! Art so often responds to hardships, and that is important, but when envisioning the world through a child’s eyes and then using that view point in painting, suddenly the work is joyful, it is magic.


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What challenges does it bring?

Time! I never have enough of it! And then it can get even more complicated as a creative, because that moment of inspiration might not strike when you have the freedom to work. When you do find a moment to paint, it can then feel more like an exercise, less like an expression. But I suppose that is good too.

Being both a mother and an artist can be a difficult balance. How do you try and manage this?

My husband is to thank for this question. He is the biggest proponent of this balance. He encourages me to paint on weekends when he is home and is constantly coming up with ways for me to work and mom at the same time. With that said, this is still very much an ongoing challenge.

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What challenges does it bring?

Time! I never have enough of it! And then it can get even more complicated as a creative, because that moment of inspiration might not strike when you have the freedom to work. When you do find a moment to paint, it can then feel more like an exercise, less like an expression. But I suppose that is good too.

Being both a mother and an artist can be a difficult balance. How do you try and manage this?

My husband is to thank for this question. He is the biggest proponent of this balance. He encourages me to paint on weekends when he is home and is constantly coming up with ways for me to work and mom at the same time. With that said, this is still very much an ongoing challenge.

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For more art by inspiring mother artists follow our Instagram feed @ArtistMeetsMother.

Are you an artist balancing motherhood and art? Join our community and tag your art with the hashtag #artistmeetsmother.

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An Interview With Stephanie Hock

Stephanie Hock’s colourful paintings tell the stories of the people and the communities around her. Her work always brings a smile to my face, as a mother of four children, Stephanie’s paintings are filled with the magic of childhood – a vibrant reflection of family life in the USA.  I am keen to learn how she manages to balance motherhood and her art – the two careers she loves the most in this Artist Meets Mother interview.

Tell me a bit about your art. What inspires you to paint?

I am fascinated by humanity, from youth all the way up to old age. I love to paint lifescapes and capture the stories of humanity wherever I find them. I like bright, happy colors and impressionist shapes. My training began in graphic design, so I’m always pretty mindful of the lines, composition and design elements of a painting. Childhood, especially, fascinates me because there’s so much innocence and energy. I love to capture the wonder of it. Cities and urban scenes are also a favorite of mine because they’re always bursting with so much life. I love standing on a busy corner and listening to snippets of all the stories that are passing me by. I majored in art, but I minored in sociology and I think there’s an influence in my art of these sociological snapshots of what life looks like.

Can you share anything of your journey as a mother with us? How many children do you have?

I had four children in four years, twin girls and then two boys that came very close together. You get the family that comes to you, and it’s been a fun adventure to embrace the chaos that is ours. My biggest dream when I grew up was to be a mother and I feel so grateful that it came true and I get to be the one raising these four beautiful souls everyday. I’m definitely not as patient as I should be and I sometimes let Netflix run a little too long for them so I can get stuff done, but we also make a lot of great memories together and sincerely enjoy each other’s company. I think that’s one of the funnest things about having kids is all of the new, close friendships I’ve gained. They’re hilarious and creative and wise and they make my life so much better.

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Do you feel that motherhood has changed your experience as an artist?

Absolutely! For one, it’s given me millions of reference photos. I was pregnant with my fourth baby when I really felt strongly that I needed to pursue my art professionally. I questioned myself, it seemed like such a crazy time to really launch a business. But I did it anyway and I’ve been amazed at how the two have grown together. There are some beautiful things about nurturing a career and nurturing a family side by side. They both force me to stop and slow down and roll with the punches and be flexible. When my kids interrupt me it sometimes stops me from overworking a painting. When I disappear to paint for a few hours, I come back to my family energized, refreshed and much more patient. I need the breaks. They love to be in my studio with me and work on their own projects and I love encouraging their creativity. It’s important to me that all of my children, but especially my daughters, believe that they can grow up to be what they want to be. I love that my example has given them permission to dream. Being a mother has also helped me see stories to paint that I probably would’ve missed otherwise. I feel maternal about all kinds of souls in my paintings and want to pull out the good in them the way a mother would. I often paint children but from a parents’ perspective and it speaks to the many emotions you have from that vantage point watching a child grow. Whenever I talk about my art, I can’t help but bring up motherhood because I feel that my two careers are very intertwined in a beautiful way.

Tell me a bit about your process. Do you involve your children in your art at all or is your time spent creating time for yourself?

I’ve learned as I’ve gone that there are parts of the business my children can be involved in and parts I need to shut them out of and work alone. It’s a nice idea that they can always be next to you, sweetly creating, but when they’re whining or too underfoot or I have major deadlines, I need to be professional and “go to work” (aka shut and lock the door). Lucky for us, my kids are used to the ebb and flow and it works out. I love to let them help with parts they can’t mess up too much, like gessoing my boards. Sometimes I’ll work on things in the family space and they love to see what I’m doing or sit by me to do their homework while I work. I make copies of my drawings that I give to my kids as coloring pages. One of my favorite things is having special “Mother/Daughter Art Club” nights where I take my two oldest to shows with me and we talk about what we like and don’t like. I hope to do the same thing when my sons get a little older. Sometimes we all go to a show together and they get really excited if I’ve won a ribbon. It works out when the next night we go to their reflections show and I can celebrate the ribbon they’ve won. I want our family to have opportunities to cheer every member of the family on, including the mom. Moms are so self-sacrificing for the good of the family, but I think it’s healthy for kids to see them display their talents as well.

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Describe to us your workspace. Where do you create?

I have a small room in my house that’s right next door to our playroom. When I don’t need to focus too intensely, I leave the door open and can listen to them all play while I work. They wander in and out and I’ll often ask them to critique what I’m working on (kids are great for blunt honesty). I listen to music a lot while I work and I have one daughter that loves to come dance in my studio while I paint. There’s a great creative energy flowing through our two rooms as they imagine all kinds of worlds in their play and I create worlds in my paintings. I soak up that energy and I think it finds its way into my work.

What positives do you feel being a mother brings to your artistic practice?

Having a family life to juggle with my work life has pushed me to really be organized. I don’t have the luxury of sitting around for hours waiting for inspiration to strike. I show up every day for the two or three hours I can carve out, I work hard, get as much done as I can, let go of what I can’t, and then go back to my busy family life. When I was pregnant with my last baby, I took a workshop with several other artists for five days. I was by far the youngest in the class and they kept marveling at how and why I was there when I was pregnant and had three other little kids at home. I looked at them and thought, well, what’s the other option? I put this off for years and only paint when my family’s grown and I’m retired? These years will be chaotic either way, but the painting might just save my soul. Now that I’m a few years into it, I can see the wisdom of starting right then. It takes a long time to grow an art career and I’m grateful to do it while I’m still young with plenty of energy. It’s wonderful to contribute to my family’s financial health and to take us all on vacations while my kids are small and still living with me. And then on those vacations, I get so many reference photos and can come home and paint from that for years. Motherhood and art feed each other, and I am fed by both

What challenges does it bring?

My children are still all under the age of seven, so they always need supervision. I have a wonderful husband who’s a wonderful dad and he carries so much of the family load when I’m working, but it’s tricky to always navigate who can take care of them when I have work things. It’s been liberating to have daytime hours now that my oldest two are in school all day and I look forward to more freedom as they all get to that stage. Sometimes it’s hard to get interrupted so much when I’m trying to work or have their needs thwart my plans. I do 90% of my business out of my home, but there are times when I’m gone at night for events and my kids miss being kissed goodnight.

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Being both a mother and an artist can be a difficult balance. How do you try and manage this?

I think it’s going to look different for every single family, and I’ve learned that even in my same family it looks different every season. When we have kids in t-ball every night, I have to be flexible about how I fit my art hours into the day. When my kids are all home all summer, I have to readjust when I work and when I focus on doing things with them. I am mindful of my relationship with my husband. We make great business partners and we can hand off parenting reigns smoothly to one another, but we also really prioritize time when we can be alone and talk and stay connected. I love when he comes and sits in my studio and talks to me while I work. I lean on him so much and value his opinion above all others. I would never be able to pull off motherhood and art if it weren’t for his partnership.

Self care is important as a mother. Do you feel that being an artist benefits your parenting in any way?

Being connected to a world outside my home regularly has surprisingly helped me relate to my kids as we discuss situations they face. I can empathize with rejection when I’ve just dealt with it too in the last week. A few days ago, we shared similar experiences of peers who were unkind and arrogant to us and how we handled it. I also have a really strong network of artist friends, several of whom are also mothers. We meet regularly to support each other and talk through issues both in our families and our careers. It is so good for my soul and helps broaden my perspective as I raise my children and grow my business.

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Where can we see more of your artwork?

I am grateful to have work throughout the year in two galleries in Salt Lake City: David Ericson Fine Art and Evergreen Art Gallery. I participate in a lot of local shows and markets and also always have work available on my website, http://www.stephaniehock.com/.For more art by inspiring mother artists follow our Instagram feed @ArtistMeetsMother.

Are you an artist balancing motherhood and art? Join our community and tag your art with the hashtag #artistmeetsmother.

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An Interview With Katrina Berg

Katrina Berg is a mother of five, balancing art and motherhood in such an inspiring fashion. Often combining the natural world and the domestic home in her work, Katrina’s creamy, candy coloured still life paintings are enriched with interesting textures and bold shapes. I am excited today to find out how she manages to find time for her art whilst raising her large family in this Artist Meets Mother interview.

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Tell me a bit about your art. What inspires you to paint?

I’ve always been a big fan of art and design.  When I was younger I planned on being an architect, later studying landscape architecture.  We learned to create outdoor rooms, plan on a big and small scale, and consider the environment.  I began painting as a way to create without boundaries, codes, and to fulfill my soul.  Soon it was all I wanted to do.  In the beginning I painted everything I adored: architecture, nature, and things that had memories or meaning.  It really hasn’t changed much.  Preserving memories and inspiring the creation of more, is still what fills my soul.  Cake, bees, birds, mountains, barns…still life and landscapes in oil pretty much cover the topics for which I’m drawn.

Can you share anything of your journey as a mother with us? How many children do you have?

We have 5 children: 4 sons ages 11, 8, and twin 2 year-olds (I know, right?!), and we have a daughter who is 10 (thank goodness)!  The eldest 3 came quickly and the twins came after 6 miscarriages…we feel very blessed.  Being a mother has meant lots of projects, creating together, exploring our mountain village by bike or hiking, skiing together and cooking…lots of cooking.  Not long after the twins arrived we realized that life was too crazy, and have homeschooled the older 3 to make time for family and extracurricular activities.   So now motherhood takes on another hat…it’s not easy, but so far, so good!


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Do you feel that motherhood has changed your experience as an artist?

For sure!  I remember preparing for a big show and not having much time to paint (pre-twins, no less).  I would mull around potential paintings, solve problems, plan out what I’d accomplish that day in the back of my mind, while doing our morning routine or washing dishes, diapering, etc.  Once it was naptime I knew I had a couple precious hours and took those moments accordingly (no email or other distractions during my studio time).  8 years later: I think it’s harder to make time, and there are more distractions but I’m always trying to evolve…be present for my kids, and still keep my studio time sacred.  I love that my two passions of art and motherhood intersect and know that they influence and enrich each other daily.  It’s a beautiful place to be!

Tell me a bit about your process. Do you involve your children in your art at all or is your time spent creating time for yourself?

While I try to recharge and be productive in my studio time, I’m always looking for ways to create together.  Over the past month, I was painting ornaments to sell, but I bought small wooden stars for all of us to paint together.  And not all studio time is painting.  I invite them to help me gesso my boards (the twins love this right now) and they all like to hold paintings while I photograph them.  My daughter helped me name the latest group of paintings and loves to help me tag items before a show/market.  My eldest son is my videographer, helping me with instagram stories, etc.  I love sharing my business with each of them.  We talk about what series I should do next, they come to shows with my husband and I, and give their opinions…lots of opinions haha!

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Describe to us your workspace. Where do you create?

We built our modern-concrete home a few years ago.  Half of our master bedroom is my studio space.  Hospital-like curtains hang and are closed between the two areas when I paint late at night (a common infraction).  I love waking, checking on the latest piece in the morning light, and getting excited for a new day.  For a long time, I shared the space with the twins or painted in the dining room.  As long as the wet paintings are up on the wall or a shelf for the night all is well!

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What positives do you feel being a mother brings to your artistic practice?

Being able to create, teach, and mother in our home is such a bonus.  And I love sharing a bit more of who I am deep inside with our children.

What challenges does it bring?

The house is never clean for long!  There is so much work when it comes to children.  Sometimes it feels undaunting…like everything is unfinished.  Deadlines can’t be put off when someone is sick or has a recital.  Thank goodness for the night! (Getting more sleep in 2017 is my number one resolution!  I’ll let you know how that goes.)

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Being both a mother and an artist can be a difficult balance. How do you try and manage this?  

Before the twins were born, the older 3 were doing their own laundry and chores.  With the arrival of the twins we all had to step it up even more.  The more my husband and I teach them, the more we can all accomplish.  They are ever a bit more independent and self-sufficient.  We take turns doing the dishes and making meals — it’s helped all of us, for sure.  It takes time to teach them, but the rewards now, and in the future are invaluable.  “Time” seems to always be the challenge.  I just keep reminding myself to 1. be wise with my time and theirs, 2. love them, and 3. take it day by day.  None of us are perfect, and I’ve learned more from my children about the person I want to be, than any book or course could teach me.  We’re in this journey together…it’s a lifetime pursuit of love, happiness and joy…and I’m so glad!

Where can we see more of your artwork?

Website: www.katrinaberg.com –  Instagram: @katrina.berg – Fashion line: katrina berg for Vida – Gallery: www.evergreengallery.com

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An Interview With Kayla Gale

Using Creamy textures, simple line and neutral tones the work of artist Kayla Gale is beautifully minimal.  As a regular contributor to Artist Meets Mother through her account @slow.season, Kayla’s eye for simplicity inspires me every time her work appears on my feed. I am excited to feature her work here today for our first Artist Meets Mother interview. Kayla is currently balancing raising a toddler with being a practicing artist and I am interested to see how she manages this and if her experience of motherhood affects her daily practice.

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Tell us a bit about your art. What inspires you to create?

Lately my painting has been really gestural; I try to work intuitively and freely. I’m feeling comfortable with that and learning so much about myself in the process. Little, often-missed things inspire me to create. Going for a walk with my daughter I might see a color in the trees, or some shapes along the horizon line. It might not be visual at all but a mood that drives me to create. I love the translations of felt things to seen things. My daughter inspires me a lot.

Has motherhood changed your experience as an artist?

I have to admit, before my daughter came along it had been almost a decade before I did any art at all. Motherhood has taught me to slow down and embrace the simple things. Watching my daughter learn and grow has given me a renewed zest for life. Seeing her become the person she is going to be, so beautifully apologetically, has given me the courage to be who I am, too. Really, my daughter is the true artist, I am just learning from her.

Tell us a bit about your process. Do you involve your children with your art at all or is your time spent creating time for yourself?

Most of my real art time is done in my studio by myself. I’ll sneak upstairs after my daughter falls asleep, turn on some quiet music and begin. I used to have a bit of guilt over my private art time but once I started to realize the emotional benefits of it and how it enriches the rest of my day, I stopped feeling that guilt. It’s my battery recharge.

I love to create art with my daughter too; I think its wonderful quality time with her. I love seeing her appreciation for color and her desire to get messy and enjoy it without worrying about any specific outcome. I just remind myself that at her age, any and all art created around her will quickly become a collaboration, and not to take it too seriously. It’s all fun and discovery

Describe to us your workspace. Where do you create?

I work in our attic. It’s a beautiful, finished, loft-like space with a generous window and lot of character, and allows me to leave everything open and all of my supplies available. It works perfectly for me. I usually sit on the floor to paint; it allows me to spread out and move freely.

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What positives does being a mother bring to your artistic practice?

Being a mother has done almost everything for me in the way of art. It has taught me how to be forgiving with my work, which I never was before. It has taught me to take things slower and do them for the pure enjoyment of doing them. It has taught me not to try to build Rome in a day, and not to take things too seriously. It has made me happy and content as a person and I think that’s really beautiful when it shows itself in art.

In turn what challenges does it bring?

A challenge of being both a mom and an artist is time. I sometimes wish I had a little more time for art, but laundry and housework calls too.

Being both a mother and an artist can be a difficult balance. How do you try and manage this?

I think keeping my priorities straight is essential. My daughter and family always comes first. Art is important to me and is a method of self-care, so I do try not to neglect it. But I will have my whole life to create; my daughter will only be this small, this innocent, this dependent on her mama during this time. Tomorrow she is already bigger. I remind myself that every day. How could I create fulfilling art if it was made during a feeling of deep guilt? When I know what is most important, and I take care of that first, other things seem to fall into place much easier.

Where can we see more of your artwork?

A website is in the works, but until then most of my work and process and a bit of the mess behind the scenes can be viewed on my Instagram, @slow.season

For more art by inspiring mother artists follow out instagram feed @artistmeetsmother.

Are you an artist balancing motherhood and art? Join our community and tag your art with the hashtag 
#artistmeetsmother