Archive for the ‘on being an artist’ Category
I was able to head “home” for the weekend for a quick visit with my husband and all my siblings and their spouses to surprise my Dad for his birthday. It was so precious to be all together without our kids, and to reminise being kids ourselves…something that I don’t think has ever happened with all my siblings being adults.
Funny how we as adults can just go back to being kids again when we are all together. My mom bought cold cereal and ice cream like she would have while we were under her roof. It was adorable.
Reflecting on what it felt like to be a child, with all those floods of memories and funny stories, reminded me that kids are kids. And meant to be kids. Not adults-in-training. I grew up in a house full of play….and looking back…hard work and education felt like play to us. Learning how to create an awesome history project was play. Music lessons were play. Learning French was play. Even math practice was play (up to a certain point:). And our creative free time was just as much learning as play.
Being home reminded me that education and learning was such a vital part of my parents’ parenting style.. But it was hidden in a family culture of expecting excellence as well as creative play. I grew up with parents who are truly children at heart and were so curious about the world in a playful way, yet my father has degrees from Cambridge, Oxford, among others. It’s something that I want to achieve as a parent….to let them play. And to not forget that children are children and through playing and fostering curiosity, they will learn and absorb the entire world around them.
Whoever wants to understand much must play much.
- Gottfried Benn
It’s also important for me to let go of that tendency I have to feel those pressures of adult life, and remember to play myself. The mind is full of expansion when we are open and curious, always learning. The world is still my playground, and I hope to never….not ever….loose that sense of wonder.
The past several weeks seem like a blur, as I’ve been attempting to catch up on about every project that got left behind in the swarm of new baby-land. I’m the kind of person that expects a lot of myself (this has it’s pro’s and con’s) and I tend to live in a constant state of possibility. Like, “Oh sure! I can totally whip out that book cover in a week!” Haha. Maybe when I was 25 and childless. I still think I can just create on demand, and I forget that a tired body (this baby still thinks 5:30 am is a great time to start the day!) really limits my creative “on” buttons. I have to laugh at it, really.
Couple that with a body that’s still trying to figure out how to heal from a challenging 16 months of baby making and keeping up with 4 soul-filled children, and I am playing catch-up big time.
I’m learning how to balance my own whimsy and the reality of mothering and I always veer to the side of mothering. Which makes me happy and content. But then there is the work that piles up, and sometimes I think I must look like a really bad circus juggler. It’s all good things….art making, home making, peace making. But it’s knowing for myself when to turn out the lights and just go to SLEEP when I really should be doing this and that and this, that’s hard for me.
Here’s a few clips from Instagram lately. I’m working on some really fun projects that I can’t wait to share (books, new fabric, new products….)
Life is good, oh so sweet, and full to the brim! I long to find that place where I can slow down and still find myself being productive in all the right ways. I’ve been practicing mental gratitude and mental meditation which has been incredibly healing to an overworked mind. Because my passion is my work, and my work is my passion, I’m learning to be more kind to myself, filled with more forgiveness as I strive to be the best mother and still share my creative gifts with others. I’ve always known that God’s gifts to me are for me to share, and that has been so beautiful as I have always strived to put myself in a place of giving. But we all know that the bucket can get empty without constantly filling it. Mothering alone can do that. I’ve been on a journey of learning how to be in a constant place of being filled. It’s a beautiful place to be in, but requires such openness, and rawness which makes it hard to articulate sometimes.
But as I’ve expressed these thoughts in one form or another, I realized that there are many of of creative mothers that just KEEP GOING and feel a relentless need to DO MORE. And to you, I say, “Stop, breathe, follow your bliss and slow down without guilt.” This world is getting more demanding, faster and harder to keep up by the minute. And it’s very easy to fall into that rat race. Simplifying life down to it’s core needs and letting the other pressures go will only make for better joy.
I’m just honestly so grateful that my work, when approached from a place of joy, can be so fulfilling to me. I’m constantly grateful that I have a place to go to that fills my soul.
It’s just so ironic, that when I’m overworked, that very same place can drain me.
Maybe you can relate!
I’m in a place of internal change, as an artist and a creator, and I really look forward to seeing where that change takes me. I know that as we are true to ourselves, and no one else, that we will truly do our life’s best work.
Thanks for listening, and hope someone out there benefits from these possibly random Monday thoughts.
Love to you all, and have a lovely week!
The interesting thing about drawing is that it requires a lot of what I don’t seem to have a lot of right now:
1. Two hands. You only need to draw with one, but the other hand steadies your paper. Something I’d never thought of before I had children.
2. A pencil. Preferably one that doesn’t get stolen from the child you are sitting with.
3. Creativity. Well, yes folks. It takes a wandering mind to go places that create magic. The places where I can put feelings onto paper. My mind wanders plenty….but lately it’s because I’m drifting off to sleep while making pancakes. Not exactly productive.
4. Time. As much as I like to draw stick figures, I just don’t get a thrill out of it. Sketching something doesn’t take hours, but it does take longer than 2 minutes…and if I had that in my day I’d take a shower instead:)
But, all that being said, I don’t feel human without putting to paper how I feel about my children, childhood and what I see in my head. It’s amazing that with all the sleep deprivation right now (yes he’s almost 6 months and yes he’s still making a zombie out of me!) There are still hints of life in my right brain. It’s not where I want it to be, and that’s OK because baby making is #1 on my list of my best creations. But I’ve decided to try and sketch as much as I can. Make myself even. It’s like exercise (which I’m lousy at)…it requires blocking out bits of time and making it happen. At least with 4 kids at home.
And with being in the middle of creative deadlines right now, sketching keeps my brain from thinking there isn’t anything in there. When you are only getting 4-5 hours of sleep in 2-3 intervals, there really isn’t much in there:) It helps me realize that maybe I actually do think about more than just what I’m making (or not making) for dinner.
So, 365 Drawings…I’m ready for you. It might take me 3 years, but I’m determined to put pencil to paper more. It’s my magic time.
PS: You can keep up with my INSTAGRAM drawings here.
Right around this time of year, I get one part sentimental, and another part thoughtful. 6 years ago next month, I launched my little ETSY shop in hopes of “finding” my career in design. It’s a journey I talk about here. Like in this post, this post or this post. But before you go post surfing (sounds like a sport?) stick with me. I am often asked in interviews about what led to what, and how I began designing fabric, or how I broke into book illustration without an agent, etc. etc. etc. And there is, yes, a journey.
But I saw this quote yesterday on the www and it sums up pretty much what I believe in in terms of going where you need to go, and landing what it is you are meant to land. I really can’t say it any better, unless God and divinity was mentioned somewhere in there.
I look back to the timid, shy but naively excited Sarah Jane 6 years ago, who needed to find a way to pay the bills, and I look today at her and see that she still sometimes wonders how it’s all going to work out. With 4 kids now, and with even more of a desire to keep the train going, I often sit there and think “Should I be working harder in this area? Or this area?” or thoughts like “Maybe I should be trying harder to reach out to this contact person, or that contact person.” And often, like anyone who runs a business, it can be at the expense of just making beautiful art!
But I am reminded, like I was at the very beginning, that when you have a calling to make beautiful things, keep making them. Don’t stop so that you can chase up the wrong ladder. Instead, build the ladder, and those opportunities will climb up to you.
Doors will open naturally when you are truly doing your thing.
And that’s what’s happened to me. I’ve had my fair share of blood sweat and tears (literally) and I truly believe that when you keep moving in the direction that you were born to move in, those things in your life that you need to support you, will come.
Have you experienced that?
It’s pretty awesome.
And right now in my life, with that sweet baby taking up most of everything I’ve got, I sometimes feel like time is standing still….or rushing past me fast…I can’t tell. I’ve said no to opportunities that have come that just didn’t work out because I wasn’t ready, and I’ve felt ready for opportunities that just don’t seem to be coming. The answer really lies in naming your priorities and staying true to them. And the right things just work out.
It’s all rather wonderful. Everyone has their own unique story of becoming. I’m glad I get to share mine with you in a little small way.
I’ll be sharing more posts about my journey, and my business this week and next, as I enter into 6 years of being Sarah Jane Studios! Wow. What a trip.
If you have any questions, or topics you’ve always wanted to talk about or find out, comment below and I’ll do my best to integrate it into the conversation. With so many people, especially women, crafting out a career from their art and their motherhood, it’s such an important conversation to be a part of.
Hello! I hope you had a lovely, lovely weekend. 3 Day weekends are bliss. This weekend, my husband took the kids out of the house on a fun Daddy trip so that I could play major catch up on work & art. Like I mentioned before, we’ve always played tag team at home, and since this year so far has been a bit different than most, I have weeks and weeks of art making to catch up on (books, fabric, portraits….and much more!) So this weekend was a welcomed guest. But the kids are coming home in 10 minutes and I’ve better go put the icecream away. Hee Hee.
So, at the beginning of the year, I made the goal to draw every day. Or at least as often as I could. It’s so theraputic for me. It’s what I love. It’s how I think. But like anything, it takes setting aside time. I try to have a sketchbook out when I’m with the kids, but it usually gets overthrown by their drawings. Which, of course, I love seeing monsters and dinosaurs in my sketchbook. But I need time to refine my skills daily. It’s how I come up with ideas. Ideas don’t just HAPPEN. They come when I’m putting pencil to paper. I have to be actively getting things out of my head for anything good to ever come.
How about you? How do you make time to do those things that truly make you feel like YOU? It’s seriously something that takes conscious working out. But so worth it.
We have 2 days left until school is OVER! I can’t wait. I really love summer time with the kids home. Summer period.
PS: I will be posting daily sketches to INSTAGRAM, but I’ll be sure to upload batches of them at a time here on the blog from time to time. Instagram is a mother’s helper! So easy to keep up with you all. Are you doing #365drawings? There are a lot of you on instagram now. Hope to see more of you! xoxo
Taking some time off from this space for the holidays felt just right. How are you? Hope you didn’t come by too much, cause I was laying low and enjoying some well deserved home-body time. All of us (except the husband-turned-nurse) got sick over the holiday, which meant that instead of formal feasts, we stayed in our PJ’s and had chicken soup on Christmas. It was a bit of a downer, but we were all together, snowed in under a foot and a half of snow, and it turned out to be just the pace we needed.
Taking time off from the computer and internet completely felt very well deserved as well. Maybe it’s part of being creative but every so often, I get completely burned out of doing anything social, or creative, and December was one of those months for me. I have had these lulls long enough to know that I need to just go with the flow and let myself unplug. And it was good that I did. I’m ready to get back into creating again.
2013: I’m really interested to see what this year brings! I’m a goal person, and I consider myself pretty driven. But this year, I’m feeling the need to be a little unattached to my goals, and instead be more focussed on the daily moment. To be a little less pushy of myself, and to allow growth and blossoming to happen in their own time.
There is a lot of stuff I have scheduled, and plenty to keep me busy. But for whatever reason, I’m feeling less go-go-go and more “listen and pay attention.” Does that make sense? I won’t be doing any less, but I intend to have my mind more open, and less filled with lists and pressures. I think last year, I had intentions of letting go of the clutter tasks, and focussing on the creative. But I wasn’t as successful at it, because I still tried to push myself to get there. This year, I’m opening up, staying quiet in my mind, and being more intentionally aware and allowing myself to grow where I need to. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes. My mother-brain gets in the way of letting me just “play” sometimes. I’m sure there are a few of you that can relate. It’s all for good reasons, but I am letting go of the “musts” and “shoulds” a little more, and letting myself make more room for expression. Good for the soul.
I’m excited to share it with you.
Here’s to a new year!
PS: The above illustration is the portrait of my kids I made for my parent’s this year. I’ll be sharing more of the Portrait Project as they come in!
*illustration by my Addie, age 7*
I often get asked, in interviews, or just casual conversation, where I get my inspiration from.
There are a lot of things to address in that answer, but always….and seriously always….I answer with “Children.”
Children have an incredible need to express what they are feeling in the moment, and art is one of the most natural ways they can do that.
My own children inspire me every day. They get an idea, and do something about it. Right then. No thinking, no editing, no questioning. Totally from the heart.
And not afraid to mess up, make messes and get dirty.
Easier said than done, right?
Creativity has been on my mind. And specifically that balance between letting go, hitting the moon….and making sure you gave a net to catch it in:)
It’s a balance for sure. But I can bet You’ll hear me talking about this a lot more. It’s been on my mind, and I have a lot of new exploring to do.
How do you get inspired? I’d love to hear.
Today is a long post. But stick with me.
I’ve been considering a really big decision for the past year or so, and have finally come to a grand conclusion. And wow, has it been a journey of faith, patience, trust, sweat and tears. It’s hard to make decisions about your business, especially when they are founded upon deep and lifelong dreams, your personal family income and your creative needs as a person. But these past few months, as I’ve battled anxiety, stress, indecision and fear, I’ve learned to listen to God, my heart and my instincts, and I’m moving onward, ready to enter into a new phase for Sarah Jane.
Gosh. Writing that down so simply doesn’t really seem to be a big deal. Maybe it does. But to me, it’s a conclusion I’ve considered for a long time, but wasn’t ready to try until now.
Let me back up.
5 years ago this month, I sat on my bed, wondering where I was going to get work with 2 babies under 2, no family in town, 1 car and a husband who was working full time and going to graduate school at night. In tears, I finally got my answer: Start selling my art work on ETSY. I had a very strong goal of becoming a children’s book illustrator and a textile designer, but without any art schooling I had no resume, networks or resources. So starting an online shop made sense for 2 reasons: it would bring in a little cash to offset the demands of my husbands graduate schooling, and it would build a portfolio that I desperately needed to start putting myself “out there” as an artist.
In the back of my mind, I also dreamed of branding an online shop with all my creations…a high quality children’s brand with decor and soft goods for children’s spaces. And so as my shop grew, I made that the natural direction of Sarah Jane. I wanted to have a place where people could come and find products for their home that would inspire simple childhood.
But, as my shop grew, it became too much for me to handle. So I got help. And more help, and the business finally grew to the point where we couldn’t handle the orders in my own home, and we decided to fulfill our orders outside of my studio. It was a big move, but I knew what I needed to stay happy and balanced, and running a business this size at home wasn’t one of them.
But something else happened that I didn’t expect. There is a gap between LITTLE creative business and BIG creative business that I got stuck in. By taking the leap into bigger business, I was forced to be making huge decisions that weighed on my mind far more than I wanted them to. This business isn’t a hobby…it is a necessary part of our family’s income, but going from small to big took decisions and planning that were far more than I wanted to handle, and I found myself more stressed than I had ever been. I had turned into a business guru and a marketing expert….and I wasn’t spending my time getting lost in creative pleasures and projects like I needed to. I wasn’t able to tap into that place all artists go to when they need to get inspired. The best part of me…the part of me that is an artist…was getting squashed by the demands of growing a business. I knew I was losing the joy and the charm, and I didn’t know how to get it back.
But I’m a hard worker. I’m a “figure it out-er.” A dreamer, believer, and I don’t quit. I had some really great things going, and opportunities with promise, and I knew that I could figure this out. After all, it was what I always wanted, right?
But I started to see that maybe the dream I had of the charming children’s boutique filled to the brim wasn’t creating the lifestyle that I craved. I was building something that I had dreamed of, but as I got closer to that dream, I realized I didn’t want it after all. Which is a hard fact to face. Because you believe that with JUST a little more hard work, you’ll figure it out. Someday it will balance out, ease up, get easier, sail more smoothly. But I wasn’t seeing the horizon. And I was thinking that running a printer out of my bedroom was actually when I was happiest and most creative. Ouch. That was a harsh reality. Was all this growth for nothing?
How do you climb down a ladder you thought was getting you to where you wanted to go?
I realized that by answering the question: How do I wan to feel every day? How do I want to feel in 10 years? And what daily choices will achieve that? stopped the train and made me take a serious look at what I wanted out of all this. Logic was telling me I needed to keep trying harder, find clarity through experience, learning and research, get more business experience, etc. etc. But after all that, I still felt like I was missing something really important and I came to realize the answer was inside me all a long: I need to provide an income for my family, but I’m going to do it in a way that brings me the greatest sense of purpose and power. And accept that in my head, a full shop with pretty things was what I thought would get me there. But it wasn’t.
So this change is ultimately putting myself in a position to make fewer business decisions, and more artistic ones. And as much as I fear what will be in store, I actually have faith that because I’ve made the right decision (as hard as it was!) I will be far better off in every aspect of my life. Since coming to this decision last week, I’ve been more inspired, more creative, more free and much much lighter. I can’t wait to see what comes of all this. And hey…I’ve earned an honorary business degree, learned how to balance and manage a lot of things at once, figured out the difference between when to push and when to let go…and most importantly…I’ve come to realize what I really want out of it all.
Looking back, I started my shop to open up freelance jobs in publishing and fabric. I guess I figured I could run a growing business, mother 3 children, keep house, serve in the community AND illustrate books and fabric too. I felt compelled to try it, and for me the answer was to stick to what I do best & am most passionate about.
And so that brings me to now.
I’ve made the choice to let go of everything in the shop except for art prints and downloads.
No more paper embroidery patterns, cards, holiday calendars, gifts tags, bookplates, or journals.
We are going to sell out, and when they are gone, they are gone! I will sell through the holidays what is currently in stock, and after Jan. 1 the shop will only be shipping prints, and emailing PDF’s.
What that does mean however, is more books, fabric, downloads, art prints, tutorials and creative sharing.
I’m really excited for this new change. It’s a little scary, but I love the idea that I’ll be able to illustrate more books and design more fabric, and take more artistic liberties.
For all of you who have been with me since the beginning…I love you! Thank you for being on this journey with me! I share it, in hopes that if there are others out there who are in that battle ground of figuring out how and what they want out of their creative business, that you will find the support and encouragement you need. Cause changing course can be hard to do, especially when it requires looking deep into your heart and examining closely.
But for now, this is where I am. This is where I’ve arrived in order to shape this next phase for me.
Love to you all, and excited for this new chapter!
PS: the above quote is for you too.
and PPS: I have a brand new collection of prints launching tomorrow. Nautical prints and new sizes to play with. I can’t wait to show you!