This week's creative mama is Erin Wetzel. I love how becoming a mother opened up her creativity even more, and how it all just seems to fit and flow for her. Her art connects her not only to herself, but to others around her. The life of a parent isn't always perfect, but I think Erin's artwork and writing show how much love flows through her work and life.
Thank you Erin for sharing your art and insights!
1. What is your earliest memory you have of creating, and when did you realize you were an artist/writer?
I never thought of myself as an artist until I was much older, but I knew I was a poet from a very young age. When I was 5 years old, I started journaling in my first diary, and I wrote my first poems on those pink little pages.
2. Could you share one of your recent poems and talk a little about it?
This is so hard to do. In recent years, I have not written much poetry. I wrote prolifically until ten years ago, when I was so depressed that I wanted to kill myself. At the time, I felt like my writing was perpetuating the bad lifestyle choices that I was making, so I gave it up. I “let the field lay fallow,” so to speak, so that I could figure out how to live and find happiness.
Now, I feel like a new person…but I also feel like I’m not trying to be something I’m not anymore. I feel like I’ve learned how to accept myself and love myself, and I feel like God’s grace and love for me is what has granted me this freedom.
Here is one of the last poems I wrote before I stepped away from poetry:
What could you tell me that I
could not read in your eyes?
That I could not read on
your arms; that I could not
hear in your footsteps on the beach
or your sighs as you sleep
on my couch? I need no poem
to remind me why I love you.
If you were never to speak again,
I would know the sound
of your voice, of your laugh.
You are poem enough for all the
words we never need to say, for all the
poems we will never need to read.
3. How did becoming a mother change the way you view yourself as an artist? What does being an artist now mean to you?
When I became a mother, I completely re-examined the way I was living my life. In a way, figuring out how to make the best decisions for my daughter and establish healthy attachments with her, it inspired me to make better decisions for myself and carry those heathy attachments over to every other area of my life.
I never thought of myself as an artist before I was a mother, but becoming a mother gave me the confidence to try and make a better life for myself, and to be more true to my own hopes and dreams. And with each day that went by, I realized more and more: I wanted to create art! So I did.
Now, a few years later, I realize how the conventional path of standard education was never able to give me the fulfillment that creative outlets do. I am meant to imagine, create, and dream with my work. Knowing that this is the way I ought to be gives me peace about who I am…but I also think it makes me a better parent. If I can help my little Phoebe find the right path so that she can be trained up in the way she ought to go, this will have lasting benefits for her entire life. There is no one homogenized path to success in life.
4. What is the most challenging thing about being a mother and an artist? How do you handle those challenges?
Time. It’s impossible to multitask painting and mothering. I literally need Phoebe out of the house when I’m working. When I’m painting, if I’m going to get into it and give the painting everything I’ve got, I have to be able to zone out and lose myself in my work. And that’s impossible while juggling parenting duties.
5. What is the most rewarding thing about being a mother and an artist?
I love it that Phoebe loves my work. She thinks I’m so cool and never gets enough of my paintings. Having my daughter as my number one fan is the most rewarding thing ever.
6. Can you talk about your journey from a writer running away, to an artist creating a new way to see the world as it is?
Oh…that’s such a good question.
When I used to write a decade ago, I knew how to use words to say things beautifully…but I had nothing of substance to say. I worried so much about pleasing others with my life that I didn’t know who I was. So I had a revolution, abandoned my old ways and started figuring out how I wanted to live.
Now, a decade later, I have a mountain of life experience and I have returned to writing (mostly in blog posts, now). But my biggest creative outlet has become my painting. I think: if I can take someone’s everyday moment and paint it, but contextualize it with bright colors, imaginative lines, and heartfelt whimsy, perhaps that illustration will help them see their everyday life in a new light. I believe that, when we open up our hearts to one instance of beauty, it makes us more willing and ready to accept that perhaps there are more moments of beauty waiting for us to discover. Art reminds us to look for them. That experience gives me purpose.
7. I connected so much with your guest post on Penelope Trunk's blog, Homeschooling Is Not Just For Rich People. Your honesty and openness are refreshing and enlightening within this culture that focuses on what we have and do in terms of money and stuff. With that attitude in mind, what are your thoughts on the art world and the trend of bigger is better, charge more, have more, do more, etc.?
Honestly: I don’t really follow trends in the art world. I don’t consider myself a fine art artist, and I don’t care if other people do, either. If my art can touch people and be accessible to them, that’s what matters to me.
:) Maybe that’s not the answer you were hoping for, but it’s all I’ve got.
8. I know you have a new project coming out called Maker Mentors. Can you tell us about it?
Maker Mentors is an online community that connects creative professionals with the tools they need to take their business to the next level. We are hosting an online creative business conference this May (if you use the code IAMAMAKER you can get $50 off the ticket price). In addition, we will be offering FREE access to online content year-round, including weekly newsletters, webinars every Monday night, and interactive forums. You can find out more on our website: makermentors.org.
9. What are some of your artistic goals for over the next few years?
I am still a very green artist. I really want to experiment more with my craft and push the boundaries of my skill and imagination. I want to develop a recognizable style that touches people in a real and intimate way.
It’s my dream to make art my entire life, but these days I feel like I’m in a period of transition. I’ve been doing portrait commissions pretty steadily for the past couple years, and I’m stepping back from that right now to pursue some more personal projects. The one that is closest to my heart is a story about a little girl and her robot friend who loves her.
10. Finally, name an artistic mother who inspires you. Why and how does she inspire you?
My friend, Joy Prouty, inspires me more than just about any creative person I know. She is always challenging me to be the best version of myself, and she supports me in my dreams. She is an amazing photographer, for sure, but her artistry blossoms out of a deep and abiding wellspring of life experience that make her authentically and genuinely magical. Her love for me and for my work is like the rays of sun in the spring, pulling jonquils up out of dark soil and into the new world. Her website: http://wildflowersphotos.com/
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.
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