This week's Creative Mother is Lisa Clarke of Polka Dot Cottage. I love her work and how diverse, yet at the same time similar it all is. Her use of colors always brings a smile when I see her work. You can tell how much she enjoys creating and how happy it makes her. She makes a very good point about going on a creative retreat, I definitely need to do something like that soon.
Thanks so much Lisa for sharing your creativity insights!
Website/Blog/Shop: Polka Dot Cottage, http://www.lisaclarke.net
About a million other social network connections on my website :-)
1. What is your earliest memory you have of creating?
I remember being in 1st grade, and taking great pains with a Snow White and Cinderella coloring book. I was very careful to color within the lines, and add a little extra pink to the princess cheeks, I remember!
2. When did you realize you were an artist, writer, creative etc.?
Well, I had always enjoyed making things, but I considered it strictly a hobby until I discovered polymer clay. I was about 25 then, and I was so enamored with the stuff, that I started making jewelry and selling it almost right away.
3. Why do you create? How would you feel if you could not create anymore?
I create for many reasons. I do it to make money. I do it because it feels good to be working on something. I do it because I love the finished products. I have gone through dry spells where I am not creating for one reason or another, and they make me feel somewhat antsy. I don't like it.
4. Did you create before you had children? After? How has becoming a mother changed or enhanced the way you create?
I did create before my sons were born, but I became more serious about it once I quit my job to be home with them. I stepped up my selling efforts, started taking classes from well-known polymer artists and really honing my skills.
5. What is the most challenging thing about being a mother and an artist? How do you handle those challenges?
At this point, my kids are 11 and 14, and not underfoot much at all. When they were little, I would spend a lot of time constructing a creative project in my mind. I would go over all of the details within my thoughts, so that by the time I had a free moment to sit down and work, I could get right to it and crank it out super fast.
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?
Both of my kids have sat with me at the clay table over the years, gone on a photo shooting adventure with me, or asked me to show them how to sew, loom knit, crochet, etc. These days, their own creative whims are more directed towards videography, writing, and game-making. They're big into media, but they are definitely producers more than they are consumers.
7. What have you sacrificed in order to make art?
I don't feel like I've sacrificed much, but I suppose I could make a heck of a lot more money if I went back to working in technology. But to be honest, going back to a 9-5 grind would feel like more of a sacrifice to me than what I am doing now. I'm not sure my husband would agree, though...
8. What have you gained from creating art?
About seven years ago, I was going through a particularly sad time. I was having trouble shaking the funk, until one day I bought a sewing machine and a taught myself how to sew a straight line. I made a simple apron and I was hooked. That summer began a creative streak for me, the likes of which I had never seen before. I found myself blogging nearly every day, talking about new things I'd sewn. Within a few years of that, I learned to knit. And then to crochet. And now, I work with yarn and fabric much more than I do polymer. These new skills have enriched my life in so many ways.
9. Where do you want your art to go over the next few years? Goals?
I have spent most of my artistic career making production jewelry and selling it on my website. This has not always been a rousing success, and the times that it *has* been a success, I have felt over-worked and under-compensated. I love the act of creating, but I find it takes a lot out of me to keep a well-stocked shop. I've come to the realization that selling finished goods is not as sustainable for me as it once was, and my focus is shifting to design work. I'm writing up patterns and detailed tutorials, turning them into eBooks, and selling them on my website. I am liking this shift in my work and intend to continue along these lines. I also have plans for a print book soon.
10. At this time, what could you sacrifice, change, or simplify to help reach your artistic goals?
My biggest roadblock is my own distractibility. I find myself falling down rabbit holes from time to time, and then wondering where my day went. More "formal" work hours and a dedicated work space would go a long way towards making me more productive.
11. Do you homeschool? Do the kids go to school? How does this affect your creativity and art making?
My kids are in public school, and they are doing well there. Having a large chunk of time to myself in the middle of the day is a big plus when it comes to my work, especially the writing portion. I can knit and crochet when the kids are around (and I often do!) but the work that takes me into a separate room, like sewing or polymer clay, or requires concentration, like writing, are best done when the family is elsewhere.
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?
I used to be a morning person, but marrying a night owl cured me of that. I roll out of bed with just enough time to make lunches and drop my kids off at school. Once everyone is out of the house, I begin my work day. I brew my morning coffee and have some computer time for an hour or so. After that I do something active, whether it be housework or working on a new design. Then there's lunch followed by writing time, and before I know it, the kids are home again. I try not to do any real work after supper, although that's not always practical.
13. Can you offer any advice or tips to other creative mothers on? Inspiration, wisdom?
When my kids were 3 and 6, I was given an opportunity to attend a polymer clay weekend retreat. I was hesitant to leave my family for something that seemed so frivolous. My husband pretty much handed me my clay supplies and shoved me out the door saying, "we'll be fine; you need this." He was right. If you have a chance to go on a little creative getaway, take it. The whole family will be the better for it!
14. Finally, name an artistic mother who inspires you. Why and how does she inspire you? Can be living or not, famous or not.
I almost left this blank - there's just too much inspiration all over the internet for me to even begin to narrow it down. But then it occurred to me to look a little closer to home... My own mother has been a significant influence on me. She is rarely not working on some creative project or other, and that is just how it has always been. I take after her in a lot of ways :-)
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