Thursday, September 18, 2014

MICA HENDRICKS







What is your name?

Mica Angela Hendricks


Where are you from? 

I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but didn’t live there long.  I’m an army brat; sort of grew up all over.

Where do you live?

We currently live in central Texas.





When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist? 

I didn’t realize you could be anything else!  It’s just what I always did, what I always loved.  My parents weren’t sure whether to let me pursue it in college, or steer me toward a “career,” but I’m glad they let me grow.



Who influenced you as an artist?

Oh so many things!  My mom and dad both painted a lot, and were always so encouraging of my interest in it, and taught me new things.  I was picky with kids’ books—I remember not liking books with bad illustrations, no matter how good the story.  These days, there are too many artists to name, but a few that have influenced my style greatly are Maurice Sendak, Jim Rugg, Terry Gilliam, Eric White, and my daughter.





What is your favorite medium?

My all-time favorite is ballpoint pen.  Sometimes I paint on top of it, sometimes I just do ink washes, sometimes I used colored pen,but it always starts with ballpoint.



Do you have a studio? Where is it?

I have an art room!  Thankfully, every place we’ve lived, I’ve been able to have an art room.  (Although I now have to share it with our daughter…)



When did you become a mother?

I was 35 when I had her, and I had already been married 7 years.I didn’t ever have children on the mind at ALL.  It just wasn’t part of my thought process in the slightest.  I was too self-focused, and didn’t even consider it, til one day my husband said, “I feel like something’s missing,” and asked me to give it some very serious thought.  I did.  For TWO WEEKS STRAIGHT I didn’t think about anything else. And thankfully, once I came back with an “okay, let’s do this,” it all happened pretty quickly after that.





How many children do you have? 

I only have the one.  She was the best decision we ever made, but I’m 40, and I barely have the energy for this one!  Everyone keeps saying “you can totally do it,” but baby years are not for the faint of heart, and I’m just loving spending my time with her right now.


What are your challenges as a mother artist?

I think, finding the time and the focus and the energy to paint.  For the first three years, my focus was ALL her.  When I did get to paint or sew (which was rare), I made things FOR her.  I was completely consumed with the basics of caring for her.  I mentally couldn’t handle much else.  I used to have hours and hours of uninterrupted time, and now I still had those urges to create, but no time or energy to do it.




What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?

For me, the urge to draw is like an itch; it’s just there, and eventually I have to address it. It wasn’t until she was 4 that she started having her OWN interest in art.  She started drawing like CRAZY, so I began drawing WITH her. I was so amazed and fascinated by her passion for drawing—I could totally relate to it: when the whole world disappears and you just sink into your sketchbook.  I could see that in her, and it was a happy surprise.  I tell the story on my blog about how she asked if she could finish a head I had drawn in a sketchbook, and she added a dinosaur body to it. I found it so fascinating, so I went back later, and painted it up with details.  So there are times we draw and paint together.She’s an only child, so getting her to play on her own is difficult.  These days, I encourage her to either play or do projects or draw while I draw separately in the same room as her, so that she knows that there are times when we can share everything, and times when I create on my own.  She’s very good about that.



When do you spend time making art?

Any time I’m not doing something necessary (like work or everyday things), I draw.  If she watches a show on TV, I draw.  After bedtime, I draw.  Sometimes, she plays legos or sculpts things in clay in the art room while I sew.  Now that she’s older, if I want to sculpt in Sculpey, I give up a little of it to her, so that she can sort of feel like part of what I’m doing.I used to have these hours and hours to paint and draw, and I think the tricky part now is finding time in smaller increments.  While my husband gives her a bath, I grab my sketchbook, or browse other artists on Instagram.  When I wait for her at Gymnastics, I draw.  I’m always looking for tiny bits of time to draw.





Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother?

I don’t know how to “give up” art…it’s just such an integral part of me, like skin.  It’s always there.  Even if no one liked it, if no one saw it, I would still make it.  My focus shifted quite a bit for the first three or four years of her life, and while I didn’t give it up completely, I just didn’t have time for it.  Now that she’s a little older and  in school, I’ve got time, inspiration, and motivation.



Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art?

Most definitely!  My husband has ALWAYS been supportive.  He doesn’t always understand my need to try new projects but he totally supports it, and has always done whatever he could to make sure it stays a priority.  Family and friends have always kept me in mind when they see opportunities, or things that might inspire me.  I’ve always had a great support system that way.  And Instagram has been very supportive!  I mostly only follow artists on there, and they’re often VERY helpful in sharing ideas about their techniques and process. It’s quite encouraging.





Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?

I think getting this recognition for working WITH my daughter has sort of been the key in other peoples’ views to marrying this prior self-focused life as an “artist” with this outwardly-caring life of “mother.” People (myself included) had trouble finding the balance between the two, and have told me seeing our work together has inspired them to do the same.  I take that seriously.I’m  primarily an illustrator, so my freelance work all takes place via phone calls and emails, so my main struggle is trying to conduct a phone call with an art director if my daughter is home and my husband isn’t there to distract her!  But she does come first, and there are times I’ve had to tell someone I’d call them back because I need to take care of some mommy emergency.



Has becoming a mother influenced your art?

VERY much so.  Pre-kid, if you had asked me, I might have told you I had a childlike quality about my work.  Looking back, I completely did not.  I am very literal, and not very spontaneous, so I am usually bound to certain ideas of what things SHOULD look like.  Drawing with my daughter has helped me enjoy the spontaneous process of creating, and not worrying so much about the way things turn out.





Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?

I think (as with most jobs) there’s always that idea that if a mother is focused on her own goals and interests that she can’t POSSIBLY be taking care of her child in a full and healthy way.  I don’t feel that men get that same sort of criticism, unfortunately.I used to tell my husband that if friends came over and the house was a mess, they would most likely assume it was MY shortcoming, as opposed to his, or the shortcomings of both of us.But I also don’t often take myself seriously.  I do what I love.  I don’t really care if people accept it or not.  I would create it if no one ever saw it…But I REALLY appreciate it when people enjoy and say nice things!  Although I work in the art field (graphic artist), I don’t rely on my art as a sole source of income, so perhaps I’d feel differently if that were the case.When the post on the drawings with our daughter went viral, I had the typically nasty comments containing judgmental and completely unsolicited parenting advice.  They sting a little, til you remind yourself that they’re not actually people that have any real effect on your life, and don’t have a clue HOW you parent.



What do you say when someone asks, “what does your husband do for a living?” are you offended by such a question?

Maybe it’s because I don’t have many close friends nearby, or because we’re an army family, but I don’t get asked that very often.  I used to be a soldier, too (my husband and I met in the army), so I do think it’s funny when people “talk army” only to him.  Being a soldier is hard work, but in my experience (mom was also an army wife), the family back home also helps hold them up and keep things together.  We all work hard.  It’s got it’s tough moments, but aren’t there always? I try to assume people are just innocently curious, but you can bet if I hear a hint of maliciousness in asking what my husband does, I would totally call it out.




What is your story?

I am still writing my story! I have been lots of things, though.  I have been depressed and dramatically emotional.  I have been shy and mousy. I have been depressed and introverted.  I have become confident and (politely) confrontational.  I grew up moving around with the military.  I have been a soldier.  I have been a roller derby player. I’m a wife.  I’m a mother.  I used to feel like I had something to prove.  Now I just do what I love.




What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?

That it changes.  When you first have a baby, and your whole focus is that baby, it might seem like you’ll never have time for those passions again.  You have to trust that there will be time again.  It might not be the same as before, but if you love it, life will find a way to make room.In my experience, I am lucky that our daughter happens to share my passion for art and creative things.  I find my balance in teaching her new things and encouraging her.  Then, while she is consumed, I find time to pull out my own sketchbook.  


What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

If you love it, you will find a way.  There will be time.  Don’t beat yourself up on it, and trust that that time will be there again.  I remember when she was little, reading something that said, “the time will come quickly when she won’t want to spend time with you.”  So I am enjoying it now, mixing my art with hers, my TIME with hers. 




What do you want to be remembered for as an artist?

I think having the post about sharing artwork with our daughter touch so many people, it’s been so amazing to hear all the positive, inspirational comments from people from all over the world.  I’m so very happy with and very proud of that.  That something I learned from sharing time with our daughter had such a positive effect on so many people.  That’s such a great feeling! I’d love to be remembered as a good mother.  As someone who tried my very best to share my art WITH our daughter; to teach her some of what I have learned (since she has a passion for it), and to help her learn about and explore the world the best I could.But if anyone ever talks about my artwork, I’d like them to say that I was fearless in trying new things: I sew,I embroider, I sculpt, I draw, I paint,I marker, and I play-doh.  I’d secretly love to be described as a “renaissance woman” (I remember the phrase “renaissance man” being used when studying DaVinci, and I always wanted to highlight my similar love for a variety of interests and skills).  I have a fierce curiosity for a great many things.  I am always learning new things.  I am constantly inspired.  Life isn’t long enough for all the things I want to create.(What I hope no one will remember, however, is my complete  lack of domestic skills…) 




For more information please check out the following websites: 

http://society6.com/micaangela

http://www.micaangela.com/file/mica_angela.ht
ml


http://busymockingbird.com



 * ALL photographs were submitted by and belong to the artist. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

DEMARIS GAUNT



 What is your name?

 DeMaris Gaunt

Where are you from? 

 Greenwood, Indiana


Where do you live?

 Fishers, Indiana



When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always wanted to be an artist and a poet, and I’ve always been an artist and a poet.



What are your influences  as an artist?

My mom was my first influence.  She had an incredible talent for drawing anything, and she was (and is) a perfectionist.  This was never something that bothered me, and never something I felt I couldn’t live up to.  I loved that everything she did was perfect!  She cut her coupons perfectly, she iced a cake perfectly, she painted her nails perfectly!  She gave me my appreciation for quality.



What is your favorite medium?

Glass.  But I also love wood  and Prismacolor pencils.  
And poetry!  Poetry is an art as well. 


Do you have a studio? Where is it?

Yes.  My basement.  



When did you become a mother?

On February 6th, 1993.





What are your challenges as a mother artist?

Knowing I need to stop making art and start making dinner!  It’s frustrating when I need to break my flow. 





What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?

The need and the desire are always present to do both.  I need to be the best mother so my kids will be fulfilled, and I need to create my best art so that I’ll be fulfilled.    


When do you spend time making art?

Now that school has started again, I have the days mostly free to make art.  But I admit that my mornings are often lazy, and don’t feel as motivated to work as I do in the afternoon or evening. 



 How many children do you have?  Do you want more?

Three.  No. 



Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother?

No…but being a mother has definitely affected my ability to travel to art fairs during the summer months.  I can’t travel because my husband works in New Hampshire all summer (every summer).



Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art?

This has been my most dreaded question. 
The answer is complex. 
Do I have support?  Yes.  
Do I have encouragement and interest?  Not at all.  
If there is a darkness in my life, this is it.  I know there are people who love my work, and have gone out of their way to express it enthusiastically, but it’s no substitute for the desire to feel approval from those closest to me.  Now is probably the time to say that I’m very happily married - and it isn’t my husband’s choice to not like much of my work, but he doesn’t.   It’s not a requirement of marriage.  With  that said, I have felt a certain uninhibited permission to create and write very experimentally…knowing that no one is going to inquire or read or judge what I’m working on or what I’m writing.  It’s like I’ve been allowed a secret room in which I can go a little bit crazy.  I like it.  




Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist? 

Most of my transactions occur online or at an art festival.  My online Etsy store includes my short bio which states that I have children, but during an art fair, motherhood doesn’t usually come up.  I do think my buyers take my art seriously, and I suppose that’s what matters most.




Has becoming a mother influenced your art?

I’ve been a mother since I was 19, and I’m 41 now, so it’s hard for me to remember what it’s like to not have children in my life.  I can’t say that it has influenced me one way or another. 



Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?

I hope so.  I think so.  I want to believe they are. 






What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” are you offended by such a question?

I tell them he’s an artist too: a caricature artist.  He is amazing, and I’m happy to brag about his talent!  I’m not offended, and I think if someone asks, it’s either because they’re truly interested, or they just need to make conversation. 
(And that’s okay!)

  



What is your story?

I love beauty.  Whether it’s nature, art, music, literature, film, faces, human decency, human dignity, human love or longing…  I just like to experience it.  I like to feel moved to tears by it.  My story is that I’m part of it…that I can create it, acknowledge it, be broken and saved by it.  On a less dramatic note, here are some random tidbits about me: I’ve been an atheist for four years.  My favorite color is green.   My favorite poet is Stephen Dunn.  My favorite band is The Cure.  I prefer chocolate to vanilla.  I wrote a novel, but fear rejection, so I don’t pursue publication.  I’ve never been to the west coast, and sometimes I daydream about abandoning everything and driving to northern California to visit a place I wrote about in my novel (a place called Patrick’s Point).  I’m happiest when I’m hiking in the woods.   I’d love to have an afternoon to ask cognitive scientist Steven Pinker a bunch of questions.  I hate it that I hate to cook.  I have a real and serious aversion to Jazz.  I have a real and serious aversion to the telephone.  I am grateful every day that I am alive.  I think I had the best parents ever.  I am a very poor manager of my time.  I am severely introverted and solitary, though I don’t believe anyone would assume this after meeting me.  



What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?

It’s challenging.  It’s frustrating.  It’s necessary.  It’s rewarding.  It’s not a choice….It must be done!



What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

I’ve been a single mother, and I’ve been a married mother.  No matter what your circumstances, you must make time to create your art.  Even if it’s just making a journal entry of an idea that you want to bring to fruition in the future - when you’re in a better position financially or geographically.  I’m always jotting down ideas for future projects! 


What do you want to be remembered for as an artist?

For my visual art: Craftsmaship.  It goes back to my mom, and her being my inspiration for perfection.  You might not like my designs, or my color choices, but if I put my signature on a piece of art, then it’s going to be done right! For my poetry: familiarity.  I try to say what we all feel, but can’t, don’t or won’t say. I hope my poetry is a pinprick in the ho-hum of your day.  I hope my poetry punches you in the gut if it doesn’t make you cry.   



Yesterday Afternoon  

You weren’t sure 
what was happening to you
so you came to me 
embarrassed
your small hands 
pressed to your eyes
to make them stop watering 
the slope of your tender cheeks 
because the song your father sang
as he sat at the piano
had a message in it
even you could understand.
Five years is all it took
to teach you about despair
and how it rises out of loss
and sometimes 
takes the form of music,
which presses,like your hands,
against that vulnerable hollow 
you will spend the rest of your life 
trying to fill.


Shoebox

Since you’d be gone
on business that weekend

I decided to clean out our closet
and organize the shelves.

It was in a large plastic bin
with your year books

and old newspaper clippings 
yellowed with the sorrow of time.

I’m glad I didn’t find it in our first 
or second year 

or I might have thrown it out 
behind your back

or made you burn it like
the clothes of a leper.

Inside it were faces and bodies
so beautiful and young,

captured in time 
and waiting in photographs for you to remember.

I’m sorry, but I took my
time and read their letters—

so sincere I had to wipe
their tears from my own eyes.

I found it easy to smile
at your smile next to their smiles

and I was relieved
that I hadn’t tossed my own secret shoebox

like I’d considered
more than once

because I didn’t want to explain
how much these tokens meant to me 

or lie, and tell you how easily 
I could throw it away 

if only just to prove
our love means more than all of the others.

But the truth is that 
we just loved these people differently

and maybe even more—
or so we thought back then

when there was no test, 
like this one 

to prove otherwise.





* All photographs were submitted and belong to the artist.
  Black & White portrait taken by Deanna Morae