I am so excited to introduce you to Tamara. I feel like she is a mirror to myself. Both of us thought photography would get the creative bug out, but it didn't. I am so grateful that we have connected on twitter and have been able to relate on such a level artistically. It's always helpful to know you are not alone and that someone understands you. I really wish I could just call up Tamara and go out for a cup of coffee. The internet has helped connect us despite the distance anyway and that's a major reason I'm doing this interview series in the first place.
Thank you so much Tamara for sharing your thoughts here and for being a support to me and now, to others!
Tamara aka Moongirl
I am an artist. I always have been. For years I had stopped the art making. I have a degree in Fine Art. I am a photographer. But, a business is not in my heart. I don’t want to ‘perform’ for others to make ‘a living’ by making things to please others. I was unknowingly and unintentionally forced into it. I like to shoot for people but I love making my art more.
1. What is your earliest memory you have of creating? My earliest memory of me creating was when I was about four years old, living in Florida and sitting at a round white table with the sun coming through the window. It was quiet, and I had cake decorations I had taken out of a bag and I started drawing a little plastic bunny with just a pencil. For years after I drew this one bunny sniffing a flower.
2. When did you realize you were an artist, writer, creative etc.?
I have always realized I was creative because it's all I ever did - create with my hands whether it was drawing or sculpture or whatnot. Adults would ask me if I wanted to be an artist when I grew up and that confused me because I didn't realize that was something I had to become and that was disappointing because I thought it was something you just were, not something to strive for. So, for me, I never saw myself as an artist until I went to art school and once that was finished and I started a photo biz I no longer felt like an artist. When I finally decided to start creating again, as the energetic flow of creativity came back to me, I realized I should start calling myself an artist because that was what had always fed my soul. Whether others saw me that way or not, I owed it to myself.
3. Why do you create? How would you feel if you could not create anymore?
I create because if I don't I am miserable and I feel like I am being starved of my life force. I went through a couple years of depression and didn't realize that was the case until my doctor told me so. It was crushing. I had to turn my life around and start to take out of my life all the things that kept me busy and away from what really mattered. It's been a long and tough haul and I've only started creating again since Nov 2013 when I decided to sign up for Creative Every Day, an online site where you share your work each day with other creatives. It was amazing and brought me back.
4. Did you create before you had children? After? How has becoming a mother changed or enhanced the way you create?
Once I finished art school I didn't create any longer. I had to make money so I took photography as a major and started a business. Being a mother did not initially take me away from art because it just wasn't there. It was funny because as my boys grew I didn't know of any crafts to do with them for fun. I felt like I had no idea! I had totally taken art out of my life. As they got older and started to become a bit independent, I realized I needed to create again and that I could find bits of time to do so. It was challenging to find the time and at first I just gave up. When I realized the reason I was so so miserable inside was because I wasn't giving myself what I needed, I had to let the guilt go and realize I wasn't giving my all to my boys if I wasn't giving to me too. So, at first, I created once they were in bed and I made myself draw little things that wouldn't take long. I made myself learn to sketch and being a realistic drawer that was a great challenge. But, I had to do quick pieces, because I had to see progression happening right away. I didn't have time for long projects to sit around and take up space on the table. I used small sketch and watercolour books. Something I could work with and easily put away when done and in doing so, those small pieces became little treasures for me. Also, having a family blog has kept me balanced on that side, by sharing what we do together and keeping both aspects as equally important.
5. What is the most challenging thing about being a mother and an artist? How do you handle those challenges?
Getting rid of guilt. I always worked and supported myself since I moved away from home when I was 19 (that was a long time ago!). When I decided to home educate my children I felt I still had to bring in some money to feel worthy and I hate that I felt/feel that way. My husband is very supportive and is working toward a day when I can create and teach the boys and only he will work (and write which is his passion!). So for me, doing art for art sake and not to make money is the toughest part. Finding the time to create for me, making the time and realizing it's just as important as teaching the boys or going to work was and still is tough for me. But, I find, whenever I create, even if it's five minutes of adding masking fluid to a piece and letting it dry to paint on later, feels like a huge accomplishment and makes my day all the better. The days I create flow and my mind is clearer.
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?
There are times when we will all create something together but I haven't made my art their art. They will draw near me or paint, but they like to have their own pieces. I do like that they see me create and they are always interested and very encouraging in my work.
7. What have you sacrificed in order to make art?
I have sacrificed nothing. In not doing art is where all my sacrifice was. I sacrificed myself, made myself miserable by not doing it. Does that make sense?
8. What have you gained from creating art?
I have gained back my childhood. My happiest times as a kid was when I was alone creating. I can feel that little girl again and she takes me places I never knew I could be and see. I know that since I have been creating I feel more balanced and in turn, my days with my boys are more balanced.
9. Where do you want your art to go over the next few years? Goals?
I don't know where I want my art to go and I don't have any goals for it. I have to remind myself to not put the pressure of goals out there right now because for me, the goal would be to make money and from past experience, as my husband just reminded me tonight, the pressure of making money ruins the fun for me so far. So for now, I create each day or every other day. That is the goal and we shall see where it will lead. Although sometimes I think it would be nice to illustrate a book and somehow that seems more like fun than work!
10. At this time, what could you sacrifice, change, or simplify to help reach your artistic goals?
I would like to be able to go to bed early and wake early, to create first thing. That would be a great start to a day!
11. Do you homeschool? Do the kids go to school? How does this affect your creativity and art making?
I have home schooled since the get go. My days are linked to my boys and I couldn't imagine it any other way. Even my husband works mostly from home. Sometimes I wish that I could have a quiet house and a full day to create but really, I'd probably end up cleaning! I think I need the challenge of finding the time to create, and for me that makes it more worthy, with the effort involved. Twisted maybe but I think it drives me a bit.
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 am so totally a night person! or I used to be. I hate waking early and my deep sleep arrives when the boys wake so of course, that makes me tired at night and oftentimes too tired to create. So I create when we are all awake and it gives me energy for other things. There is no schedule because I found that stresses me. I do, however, make a plan to fit in a certain part of my art before lunch for example or after the boys' theatre program, something like that. I am part of a year long online workshop by the amazingCarla Sonheim, and that keeps me looking ahead to each day and seeing where I can fit in time to create. I don't try to fit in a half hour or hour because I've learned that to be unrealistic and then I get all stressed out when I am not able to do it for that length of time. So I aim for five here and fifteen there. If it turns into a bit more that's icing. I make it happen knowing that if the boys have to 'do their own thing' for a bit, it's beneficial for us all as they learn to find things to do themselves and oftentimes learn new things in the process. That's valuable time spent too.
13. Can you offer any advice or tips to other creative mothers on? Inspiration, wisdom?
Oooh, that's tough. I truly look to other creatives for inspiration. I am huge on using Pinterest and it's been a great way for me to broaden my creative mind by viewing other artists' work.
Seriously, it's been a very tough and years of struggle to finally realize that if I didn't find a way to start creating again, the misery of the lack of it would affect those around me as well. Without art my soul was shriveling and it was only a matter of time before those close to me were hugely affected. But, for a long time I simply couldn't find how I could possibly fit in even five minutes of time when I was used to having hours to create while a child or at art school. I picked up some books about other artists who were mothers such as The Artistic Mother by Shona Cole. I realized that I wasn't the only one feeling the challenge of finding time but only I could make the time for me. No one else could. So, like I said, I started small and didn't expect much of myself, didn't expect greatness which was something in itself being a perfectionist, but I felt sooo good again and that was more important than greatness. It was amazing how soulful even those five minutes of creating became and that made it easier to find another five minutes the next day and the next. I realized for the longest time I was afraid to begin creating again because I felt it had been so long that I feared I may not have it in me any longer and that really freaked me out so I did other things instead that I knew would be easier, like reading, knitting or photography. Realizing I was procrastinating and adding busy-ness to my day in other forms on top of everything else was a huge revelation. Starting a blog and sharing my work with others and finding other artists out there too, such as Megan, was great support and strength along the way and still is. We are not in it alone! :)
14. Finally, name an artistic mother who inspires you. Why and how does she inspire you?
Sally Mann, oh she is amazing. She never let the fact that she was a mother stop her from following her passion and she included her children in her work in amazing, yet sometimes haunting ways. She made her art a part of her life and her families' life, like sitting down to a meal or taking a walk.
Leah from creativeeveryday.com is always making amazing pieces and her little girl is creating alongside.
Of course, creative moms like you, Megan, and reading how you fit it in and how somedays it's super tough, is so inspiring! I could name more but I am afraid I may forget someone and I would feel so awful!
Really, any mother who is a part of her children/s' lives and makes her passion a part of their life too, whether it be writing, knitting, sewing, photographing, painting, crafting, building/creating whatever, they are amazing.
Are you a Creative Mother, or do you know one? Want to be interviewed? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org 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