1. When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
I have always considered myself creative. I was never quite satisfied with the way things were, and always want to challenge my own and others’ perspectives. But I never took art classes outside of grade school, and had never considered being an artist as a career.Coming to terms with being an artist happened only a few short years ago, in my early 30’s. I’d continued my inner exploration of the multi-faceted ways of seeing and being in the world, but had lost my ways of creatively expressing what I was experiencing. It was only when I lost the ground of certainty and accepted a path of not-knowing that I began to feel comfortable in expressing myself beyond the walls of my home. The more I shared, the more I realized that Expressing my Experience – what I consider to be the job of an artist – was the most fulfilling path I’d ever taken. Ever since then, I haven’t stopped creating and sharing – either through words, photos, acrylic, encaustic, or mixed-media art.
2. When did you become a mother?
I became a mother 9 years ago, in 2004, when our son was born. We were blessed with a second child, our daughter, in 2007, when I learned what being a mother was all over again.
3.What are your challenges as a mother?
There are far too many challenges to name, and many of them are challenges that have no name. There are the traditional games of discipline and time management, of school and un-schooling. And there are the more untraditional dances of finding ways to complete the painting that is calling to me while acknowledging the excited calls of my daughter to come see her new drawing, or the dance of figuring out who stays on top of my son (to make sure that homework gets done!): my husband, who just got home from work, or myself, who just found a bit of time to get that blog post done.Perhaps the biggest challenge is understanding that being a mother is part of my world work, not separate from it. But I embrace this exploration as an adventure, not a fight to be won. Every day, every moment nt, as a mother, an artist, a living being is another chance for meto practice. And if I don’t love the practice, what is left to love?
4. What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?
I have to dance. That is all there is to it. When you are hungry, you feel the pull within to find food. You have physical sensations, but can’t really describe what being hungry “is”. Likewise, when you are falling in love, you feel the pull to be with the other person. There are longings, thoughts pulled seemingly involuntarily towards their being. You can’t really describe what love “is”, but you feel it deep within.Being a mother artist is my hunger, my love. I have tried to be “just” a homemaker and mother – and it felt empty. I have tried to focus just on business and ask my husband to take over many of the nightly homework-routines. But I felt so much missing.I don’t balance any roles in my life; rather, I dance within it all. Sometimes the beat is a fervent one, kids racing around the house and yelling at one another. Sometimes the beat is a low passionate drumming, calling me to the canvas. Regardless, it is my practice to always return to the stillness so that I may hear, may feel the force, and honor the flowing direction in which it takes me in that moment.
5.Do you have a studio? Where is it?
I have an area that I now call my studio. It takes up half of our basement, and is overflowing with my art supplies. I started calling this area my “studio” because it defines a sacred space in which I can create, and becomes an area to which I can retreat if need-be.However, my art flows throughout my life – as do the boundaries of my“studio”. I have a box of paints and brushes up in our living room, and am constantly creating on the table. My camera accompanies me everywhere – so in terms of my photographic art, my studio is the ground on which I walk and the sky that opens my heart. And, as an awareness artist, my contemplations are always part of my practice. So the studio that resides in my mind – where thoughts are created, broken down, torn up, and rebuilt – is one in which I love to play.
Someday, I envision having a large, 2-story, open barn in our backyard that smells of dried lavender and is filled with light. The floors will be draped with canvas tarps and easels of all sizes will be scattered around the room. In the corner, 3 worn, inviting couches surround a hammered-wood table. In this barn, I join with others to wildly splash paint, to delicately paint and scrape beeswax, to drink tea and wine and have long conversations about mindfulness in real life, to stretch through yoga and meditate. I share this because the more that I do, the more real it becomes. That’s part of the fun of being an artist – we get to create and live our dreams.
6. When do you spend time making art?
I spend time making art whenever the tools are at my fingertips and I am not being called to another path. I have found that trying to schedule “studio-time” simply doesn’t work for me. I end up fighting my kids, my husband, and my own thoughts of what I “should” be doing. So I make sure I have pens, pencils, journals, note cards, paints, brushes, papers, a computer, and my camera within a few leisurely steps at all times. When the kids are at school or engaged with their homework or play, while the water comes to a boil on the stove, while my husband and I lounge in front of the t.v., as we drive from one location to the next…. I am writing, doodling, painting, or snapping photos. I definitely make sure to have time that I create – even when the kids are home and other things are calling to be done. Making my studio time a priority is vitally important, lest it fall behind the millions of other things to be done.As an Awareness Artist, I define art as, “expression of experience”. I am always trying to be mindful of my experience, whatever that may be at the moment. The prints and paintings and photos and posts – the expressions - all happen as I dance around other experiences. In many ways, I am always making art. In a very mundane way, I make art during the times I intentionally carve out a midst my other responsibilities.
7. What is your favorite medium?
I don’t have one favorite medium – my interests change quite frequently. I love working with digital photography, encaustic painting (beeswax+pigment), and acrylic paints. Natural materials, such as leaves, and a variety of mixed media, such as clay, papers from old books, and fabrics, often make their way into my creative expressions.
8. How many children do you have?
I have two beautiful children – a 9-yr old son and a 6-yr old daughter.
9. Have you ever considered giving up being an artist in order to be a mother?
When I became a mother, the title became as much a part of me as my breath. Even if – God forbid – I lost my children, I would still be a mother.It is the same with being an artist. When I accepted that title, it became who I was. I cannot give that up any more than I can give up being a mother, or give up my breath.10.What is your advice for a new artist mom?Just breathe. Again and again. There is so much advice I could offer, so much I want to say to help a new artist mom avoid some of the obstacles I had to face. But those challenges are part of the path, part of making an artist mom who she is.There will be struggles – those will never end. But as a mom, she already knows this. She also knows that the rewards – the breath of her child as he rests in her arms, the smile after a boo-boo is kissed away, the unspoken gratitude as she cries to you after a rough day at school – are always more moving than any words can define.As an artist, you know those struggles and rewards are mirrored in your artistic practice. No matter what your medium, there are times when all you want to do is run away from your art – and times when hours sweep by unnoticed as you passionately create.Through it all, we breathe. We smile when we can and cry when we must. We paint and prepare dinners, sculpt in the studio and shape the precious minds of our children. We are blessed to experience it all. Just Breathe
11. Do you have support from family and friends while making art?
I am so blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who are kind-hearted and open-minded. I am uplifted daily by their support.That being said, I also know that many family and friends are unclear on exactly what it is that I “do”. There is a traditional way of living into which my life does not fit. I don’t have a 9-to-5 job, nor do I spend most of my day at my children’s schools and driving them back and forth to practices and lessons. It is difficult to support something that you do not understand. So while they have the best of intentions, I often feel a bit lonely in my endeavors, and sometimes, misunderstood.I do feel unbelievably fortunate to have, in addition, many online friends – some whom I’ve met in person, others just via words or video chats – who do understand this nontraditional path. Many of us find one another through social media or online sites, and connect because of our commonalties in wanting to live a life based off of our passions. Between the support I find in these circles and the kindness of those in my offline life, I feel truly blessed.
12. Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?
There is a part of me that shrugs when I read this question because honestly, I don’t care. It has taken quite a while to reach this point, butwhether or not someone else considers me a proper artist or mother nolonger concerns me. I’ve realized the fight to try and be taken “seriously” has wasted so much of my valuable time. Trying to fit into another’s definition of a successful artist or good mother is pointless – there are so many definitions that I could never fit them all.We have a sign above our back door that reads, “Life is too short to be serious all the time” (and I’ve even crossed out the “all the time”).So do I feel like I am taken seriously as a mother artist? I don’t know. What is more important is whether I value myself as a mother artist. And that, I do.
13. Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?
I think it is a challenge for anyone in our society to create a life out side of a traditional career path. Even motherhood, which is the most “traditional” of paths one could have, has lost much of its value. The focus on financial success or fame has defined much of what our society considers to be a valuable path.
Mother artists do not work for the money, nor for the fame. Our lives still have to fit within the confines of our society – we still need to makemoney to pay the bills, still need to have conversations with friends in social circles and feel at least somewhat understood. And yet, we are driven by something deeper that cannot be adequately described in words. This drive leads us into a life that seems chaotic to those looking in. We live a life based on a deeper calling than just having a job or a title. To take such a life “seriously” is to miss the point.
14. What do you say when someone asks you “what does your husband do for a living?”
I say he is a pharmacist. And I leave it at that.It is a sore spot, of course, to know that I am dependent upon another for my most basic of needs. And it can be salt on a wound for someone to raise their eyebrows after asking that question, or follow up with those biting words of, “must be nice….”.But it is not my job to prove to another that my life has value. We are all supported by hundreds of people that we may have not even met. (Thank heavens for the farmer who grew the food and the truck driver who got it to the grocery so we could purchase it and eat this evening.)When we try to do it all on our own – to prove that we can, or that we are not reliant upon someone else – we ultimately fail. The most successful of business owners rely on countless people to keep their lives running the way they are.To acknowledge that I am dependent upon another – countless others –is humbling indeed. But it is a lesson we could all stand to absorb. I love my husband, and am grateful for what he contributes to my and our children’s lives (not to mention the countless people he helps at work). Likewise, he loves me for the practical chores I do every day and the invaluable lessons, support, and inspiration I provide for him and for our children through living my life as a mother artist.
15. What is your Story?
My journey is a long one, and I have no idea how to best sum it up. I feel as though I have lived many different lifetimes over the years I have been on this earth.My middle- and high-school years certainly left their mark. Social insecurities (I was definitely the unpopular nerd) and the desires to please were etched into my being. And my years in college definitely molded many of my views. Honestly, I feel as though I view those years of my life as an intimate friend looking from the outside – not someone who lived them. And the years after, when my husband and Iwere married, journeyed to Tennessee for a year and then back to Indiana as he returned to school, were another lifetime in and of itself.Motherhood began a new chapter in my life’s book. But even the birth of my son seems like a fairytale that I lived in some distant land. He was the first grandchild on either side, and for his birth we surrounded by loving family and friends. My husband continued in school, I gradually left my job to transition into stay-at-home motherhood. Shortly after that, we made one of the biggest transitions of our life thus far: We moved cities, purchased our first house, and my husband started his career as I officially left mine.One month after we moved in, the ground disappeared and the life I now know began. My father, an otherwise healthy and seemingly well man, took his own life.That was the end and the beginning. I became a mother again less than a year later. At home alone with a newborn, a 3 year old, and only my thoughts, I broke down repeatedly. Because I no longer understood, I had no choice but to just experience.Within that experience, I became an artist. I felt, reflected, lost control,strengthened, and became too weak to contain it all. (That is not a typo. We all spend a great deal of energy keeping things within.) I hadto let it out. I started with a small blog.From there, I wrote, took art classes, picked up my camera again (something I’d always done with my father, so was extremely hard to do), and started living not in spite of my discomforts, but alongside them. I remained groundless. (Growing children have a way of teaching you how to do that.) It has been many years of learning how to navigate life – a mundane day – knowing that I don’t know. The learning, practice, and expression continues through this day.
16. What advice can you give to other artist moms about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?
Know that- some artist moms do give up making art and often times this creates a path of resentment and heartache.I can’t tell you what path is best for you. I can tell you that every action, every thought, every choice taken – and not taken – has consequences. Living in such a way that we are aware of the consequences of our actions and inactions is living awake.Passions are often inner alarm clocks. Those creative ideas that keep us awake at night or the fire-y joy we feel when doing something that aligns with our passions are the experiential signs that long to call us out of our sleep. Life doesn’t have to be one or the other. Life can be changing diapers, checking homework, painting, taking photos, cooking dinner, play dates and artist dates. There’s no need to feel confined to one role. All of these paths have consequences for our own lives and the lives of our children. So my advice is to just be aware of the consequences of your choices – both for yourself, your children, and for those in the world who you don’t even know you are affecting. No judgments, no rights nor wrongs – just awareness of what you are creating with your hands and through your actions (and inactions).I will share this: my daughter has a huge art space in her room. She often walks out with markers all over her face, and we have quite the collection of her creations. My son, though less artistically inclined anddespite being in the treacherous social years of a 9-yr old, still comes home excited about new paths of learning. I’ve received so many comments from others – many of whom I’ve not met – who tell me howI have positively influenced their day, or week, or outlook on life through an art piece, blog post, or course I’ve created. (I am humbled and honored.) Making time for my passions – my art – influences others far beyond myself. I am not only creating my art, but helping create a world in which I want to live.
Lisa lives with her family in
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