I met Jema at the meet-up that Bumfuzzle had a few weeks ago. It was so inspiring to meet with her and talk about art. I immediately knew she had to be in the Creative Mothers Series. I love that she knows that art makes her happy, and finds time even while traveling and living in an RV with her family to do it. I also love how open she is about overcoming struggles and taking action to work them out. It's refreshing to know that life isn't perfect, but there are ways you can make it better. All the while finding your true passions in yourself. I do hope she starts writing her book about life before the RV soon because I think it will help many people.
Thank you so much Jema for being a part of the Creative Mothers Series!
I am a recovering control freak, an acrylic painter of texture, and writer of adventures as a full-time traveler. In January of 2011, I sold my Minnesota home and stuffed my husband and four kids, along with various pets, in an RV (we still have the dog). We headed out into the world and we have not looked back as we are finally thriving as a family.
Through this journey, I am finding out who I am. Even more grueling, learning to accept who I find! Through my blogging and painting, I am being stretched and pulled. I am letting my inner self swirl out into the world in all of its messiness.
My newest accomplishment is the publishing of my first eBook "Road Trip Planner: Explore the USA With Kids" to share with other families how to simplify travel with their kids, while saving money on vacation. It was an exciting process for me to write and see the final product selling on Amazon. The whole writing process encourages me to jump into bigger projects. It really wasn't as scary as I had thought! I am also delighted to share all of this information with other families. We must help each other in this parenting village. :)
1. What is your earliest memory you have of creating?
My mom took a photograph of my very first painting session at the age of 1 1/2. I was sitting at my little table painting my first watercolor picture. I just loved painting color from the moment I started!
2. When did you realize you were an artist, writer, creative etc.?
I think I knew I was a creative in high school as I was drawn to the art club, art classes and enrolled as a post-secondary student my senior year to take writing courses. I accepted myself as a professional artist about 8 years ago and just recently as a writer. It feels so freeing to finally embrace my true spirit and passion for creating art with paint and words.
3. Why do you create? How would you feel if you could not create anymore?
I create because it is an integrated part of my very being and if it doesn't come out in painting or words it flows out in other directions. Before I fully embraced the writing and painting I found my creativity would escape through gardening or volunteer work.
Creating releases tension throughout my whole body, when I connect in with my creative spirit I engage in a peaceful place where I am spiritually led and okay with the world. Creating for me is like eating or breathing, it is part of me and without creating, I become disconnected with myself and a real B.
4. Did you create before you had children? After? How has becoming a mother changed or enhanced the way you create?
I became more intentional about creating after I had children. I suffered for years and years with depression and with each of my four children the Baby Blues would send me deeper and deeper into clinical depression. It became very clear after my third child when I became suicidal, I needed to learn to care for myself. The first thing that I desired to do was to learn to paint from a working artist. It has been a part of my therapy ever since!
5. What is the most challenging thing about being a mother and an artist? How do you handle those challenges?
The most challenging thing about being a mother and an artist is the balance of time, energy, and guilt. My first priority is to be an awesome mom and mentor to my children. I deal with old belief systems (laced with guilt) about fulfilling everyone else's needs before my own which leaves me empty and depressed. The challenge now is to care for my needs through organic food, rest, exercise and creating in order to have lots of good energy to care for my hubby and four kiddos! I need to carve out time for me to be creative and fill up my soul! If your cup is empty you have nothing to share.
6. Do you ever involve your children in your art? Do they inspire, help, mimic your projects, ask to learn, or be involved in your art?
I have spent time Roadschooling my kids about art and allowing them to experience painting and various projects. One of my daughters has branched out with this exposure and is exploring portrait drawings in pencil. I hope what I have provided for all of my kids is a platform where it is okay to be creative in whatever area of your life you are passionate about! It is okay to think outside of the the box and share your uniqueness.
7. What have you sacrificed in order to make art?
I am blessed with a hubby who supports me financially which allows me to school the kids and create art. I feel that I have been guilty of the opposite, where I have washed laundry or stocked up on groceries during a moment I was intuitively being led to paint or write.
8. What have you gained from creating art?
I have gained self awareness of who I am, what colors thrill me, what inspires me in this life. I have gained acceptance of my creativeness, and who I am as a woman.
9. Where do you want your art to go over the next few years? Goals?
I desire to do more writing, more specifically write a book about our life before we decided to live in an RV full-time. Our old life was full of distractions, a marriage that was disintegrating and children that were disconnected from me. I would really love to share our story of walking through addiction and let people know they can choose to live differently and heal together. I am very passionate about helping others break through barriers and pain.
With my painting I hope to create a body of work to sell at art fairs around the United States. It seems like the perfect fit for a traveling artist! I am working on facing my own resistance with public selling this year, so I hope my baby steps lead me there. I also want to create commissioned work for people, embedding meaningful objects into acrylic paintings. For example, I love working on big pieces for clients such as this Acadia National Park painting (below). http://www.studiojema.com/acadia/
10. At this time, what could you sacrifice, change, or simplify to help reach your artistic goals?
I need to sit my butt down at my desk every morning and start writing my novel, simply one scene at a time. When I look at such a project in a big chunk, it becomes overwhelming. (Funny how answering this question made me realize, so that's what I need to do!!!)
11. Do you homeschool? Do the kids go to school? How does this affect your creativity and art making?
I like to call it Roadschooling as the kids are learning about culture, nature, and real life as travelers. I find having the kids with me daily is inspiring and enriching. I am basically an Unschooler, so we focus on finding them opportunities to explore their passions as I explore mine. Unschooling the kids affects my art making by leaving me with less time to create in between every day life and excursions. Unfortunately, I still have a toilet to clean.
12. What does a typical day/week look like? Are you a morning or night person? Do you stick to a schedule or create whenever you can?
The only thing that stays consistent with a schedule in my life is that it is inconsistent! With traveling so much, we are always in a state of flux which is beautiful in so many aspects. I can flow with the day and intuitively know when I need to paint or write. It can also be extremely maddening! I can not say "I paint on Thursdays" because I might be driving all day, at a national park site seeing or plugging my nose as we empty at the dump station. I. Never. Know. All that seems to stay the same is I have consistently been a morning person, and so I write in the mornings and paint in the afternoons when it is warm.
13. Knowing that you live in an RV, even though a larger one, how does that kind of space affect your art making? Were do you usually create? Any insight for creatives who live in smaller spaces and feel they don't have enough room?
There have been times I have taken over my little bedroom for the afternoon to paint, but mostly I like the freedom to nest and pull out all of my creative junk! I find a picnic table for this or set up my folding banquet table to paint outside. The challenge is to make sure the weather is cooperating. I learned very early on you want to stick headphones in your ears even if you aren't listening to music so your art time doesn't get used up by someone stopping by to say "that's interesting".
If you have a small space like I do, I suggest limiting yourself to the amount of supplies you think you need. I have three stacking storage boxes which limits the amount of supplies I can acquire. Instead of becoming distracted by all of the newest paints, sparkles, and papers, use that time and energy to make some amazing art with the supplies you have!
Sidenote Pep Talk I Need to Remember:
Working in a small space is more challenging than when I had a room dedicated as my studio space. Yes, it is more work lugging everything out and packing it all away, but aren't you worth the effort? Your creative time is so important to your spirit. Don't let the resistance win. Resistance is sneaking in trying to convince you that you can not make art because you don't have the right space. Of course you can still create art in a small space. You are creative, so get creative about your art space. You deserve time to fill up your spirit!
14. Can you offer any advice or tips to other creative mothers on? Inspiration, wisdom?
I wish some wise woman would have told me the truth about being a mother, it is the HARDEST job on the planet. It is messy, time sucking, frustrating, and beautiful all at once. If I could convince you of anything, it would be to make time for yourself.
When my kids were younger I had rest time for 40 minutes to an hour, even for the older ones who no longer napped. I would set timers, write down on paper the time they could be done (ex. 2:10) and everyone had their own spot to have alone time. This became my respite and time to paint. This is when I took back my sanity! Realize you are human. Get up earlier than the kids to soak in what you need for the day. Listen to your intuition, trust it to lead you to what you need. Believe you are truly an amazing woman.
I also want every mother to know we all have our baggage, we have just been taught to keep it secret and put on a happy face. I don't want to live that way anymore and I want to be there for any woman who is bravely choosing to live an authentic life.
15. Finally, name an artistic mother who inspires you. Why and how does she inspire you?
There is this beautiful woman named Maureen who I met a few years ago. She is artistically gifted in counseling as a mother herself. She inspires me because she looks at the world with compassion. Maureen has taught me that who I am is enough, beautifully enough. She has brought me from a place of darkness to a place of freedom where I can share my creativity with the world and voice the essence of my soul in words. I am ever so grateful for Maureen.
Are you a Creative Mother, or do you know one? Want to be interviewed? Send me an email at email@example.com and I will send you the interview questions and info that I need.
I'm no longer doing Creative Mothers interview, but this will remain as an archive. Thank you for all of the love!
About the Series
Let's face it, being a mother can be the most challenging, and the most rewarding thing. Being a mother who needs to be creative can be even more challenging, it can even feel lonely at times.
So let's dig deeper into the lives of creative mothers, share their amazing work, and get some insight into creating while parenting. Hopefully, inspiring other artistic, creative mothers, and women who may one day be mothers themselves, along the way.
Explore Past Interviews
Suzi Banks Baum
Shelli Bond Pabis
Elizabeth B. Borowsky
Kellee Wynne Conrad
Kisco Print Shop
Art by Megan