I'm so excited to share artist and mama Marissa Huber with you today! It has been a long time in the making as we both had major moves and life in general to deal with when her and I first connected. I am so glad that Marissa reached out to me, and that she is taking the time out to feature creative parents, especially mothers. We are all in this together if we choose to be. We don't have to go it alone. So the more we get the idea that creativity doesn't have to disappear when you have kids, the better. Thank you Marissa for sharing your insights!
*I, Megan Gray Arts, am also being featured today on her blog Carve Out Time For Art (we planned this ;) ), so don't forget to check it out, but read Marissa's interview first. Thanks! And if you came from her blog thanks for being here too! Enjoy!
My name is Marissa Huber. I am an artist, mother, a writer, and a connector of ideas and people. I love dreaming big and helping people, and am passionate about supporting other women and mothers. I recently moved back to South Florida after 18 years in Indiana and Philly to be near family. I work full time as an Occupancy Planner. In layman’s terms, I use my interior design background and analytical skills to do strategic planning for office space. It’s like playing Tetris with people in buildings.
I like to paint interiors, objects, plants and furniture. My natural style is a sketchy, quick, and slightly messy illustrative style – usually with watercolor and pen & ink. Though I use less ink these days, it is how I’ve drawn since high school. I primarily use watercolor, pen and ink, gouache, and oil paint. I’m a bit of a rule breaker, and like to borrow techniques from other mediums. Recently I’ve been playing with cut-paper and trying to paint from life again. I’m secretly scared to paint from life with oil paints, but want to say this out loud so that I will do it! Monday through Friday, I am gone 60-80 hours a week. I have started using digital apps like Paper by FiftyThree to carve out time for art during the week.
Lately, I’m fascinated by color, marks and abstracted forms. When I make abstract work, I try to tell a story or convey an emotion with shapes, colors and marks. I attempt to listen to my internal gauge to know when to stop, and trust my instinct with color. I think of these painting sessions as a meditation of sorts, and try not to overthink decisions. If I feel stuck, I reference observations of nature and the world around me. I feel like I switch back and forth. I’ve come to embrace this. Art is something that I do for myself for creative fulfillment. I have always had the urge to create, and am most fulfilled and balanced when I have art in my life in some way. I am happiest when I’m creating rather than solely consuming.
Before I thought I had to have a reason to create something, like a commission or someone else’s idea. Looking back, I didn’t think my ideas were good enough and had fear of failure. It shifted a bit when I was 27 and my brother Andrew passed away. I realized that I owed it to myself to pursue my creative dreams because he couldn’t pursue his, and I felt connected to him through art, which is something we both loved. Then when I had my son Henry and realized how little time I had, I realized art was the most important thing I wanted to spend my free time doing. The priority of needing art in my life over other things was pivotal. So thank you, Henry! Now I’m comfortable and prefer to just make what I want. Part of it is having less free time with a toddler, and the other part is having more confidence as an artist to experiment and push myself.
When I was in Philly, I did think of my art as a side business and way to make extra money for my family. In the past I have created what I was asked for, and enjoyed creating pieces that they loved. I’m grateful that it built up my side business and confidence, but I know I need to focus on my own work. Right now, the time spent creating (and away from my son) is too limited and valuable that I have to be selfish with it for my own ideas and sanity. I need the outlet and creative expression the most in my life right now.
My writing is usually for me and I enjoy it. When I did the 100 Day Project in 2015, I returned to creating characters for vignettes I was painting and it made me remember I was a writer again. It was further reinforced when I started baring my soul on Instagram and made a deeper connection with our creative community. I realized last January that I would write a book on artist mothers, and I am excited that the universe decided I should have a creative partner in crime which is Heather Kirtland. Since September 2015, we have been working on a book about Art and Motherhood. We are going to try to get it published. The funny thing is that it doesn’t even seem crazy. I think new mothers and creative people could really use it, so we want to make it for them so that they can have hope and encouragement.
Website / Blog: www.marissahuber.com and www.carveouttimeforart.com
Society 6: https://society6.com/marissahuber
Facebook: Marissa Huber Art
1. What is your earliest memory you have of creating, and when did you realize you were an artist?
I vaguely remember sitting outside under my favorite tree (which I named Kelly) at my little table painting with watercolors. It makes me laugh because I still look the same when I paint. I prop up my head up with one hand and look very serious. I want to have more of the childlike Marissa in my work now. Making marks and not overthinking things too much, and getting into that flow.
If you asked me what I wanted to be as an adult, it was an artist, an architect and a children’s book illustrator. So at an early age, the idea of being an artist was something you became when you were older. I felt that I was an artist in my own way, and this was fostered by my supportive parents.
Through my teens and after college, I thought you could only call yourself an artist if you had a studio or a degree that showed your dedication to your work. It was not for people like me who felt really creative and sometimes painted, but didn’t do it seriously. I was surrounded by friends and a husband - all serious painters with their MFAs and shows in galleries. That was intimidating for sure. Looking back, I would use words to describe what I did that diminished their importance, since I was not taking my self seriously. It was my own hang up, because my friends and husband are incredibly supportive!
As I did more and more and started selling my work, and more people asked for commissions, I took myself more seriously. I had been saying I wanted to try oil painting since I met my husband. In 2010, I received a gift of oil paints from many friends before my wedding. My best friend had told them that I had a ton of stuff already, and they wanted to celebrate me in another way. What an unexpected and lovely gift. Not knowing how to get started, my husband suggested I start a color study project. It was a great suggestion and got me going. People even bought some of that work and it became easier and easier to call myself an artist.
The final straw was when I read Art, Inc by Lisa Congdon. After I read the first chapter, I vowed to call myself an artist from then on. And I have. As have many others, I hope.
I think that the word “artist” has so many stereotypes that society has placed on it. The concept of being a “real artist”, a starving artist, selling out, etc. Do we do that with other titles? To be a mother, you just need to have a child that you are responsible for. What is an artist? Now that I am older, I believe that there is not one way to be an artist. If you are compelled to create and have an inherent desire to paint or write or put unique perspectives into the world, then you are an artist.
2. I love your mantra, "You can do anything, but not everything.” Do you feel you say that to yourself more now that you are a mother, or is it something that always rang true to you? (I know I need to remind myself of this daily).
Before I was a mother, my free time was mine to do whatever I wished with it. As a mother, I have so many more responsibilities on my plate, although I also have a great excuse to get out of some obligations. I want to do things with my husband and son, and go on little adventures. I want to play with him and give him my full attention when I can. I work so much now during the week that I only see him awake for a couple of hours each night. This was really hard at first, but it’s getting easier and I know that he loves being with my husband (www.mikeast.com) who is a stay at home dad right now.
When I realized that I would not have much free time, I wanted to make the most with what I had. I didn’t want to give up my creative dreams because I had a child, but I needed to be realistic. In 2015, I made my word for the year “Focus”. I used aspects of Minimalism to streamline parts of my life such as chores, wardrobe, and errands to find more time for art. I had to deprioritize things I love to do like bake, read, knit, and even see friends sometimes. And it kind of works for me.
I am the type who loves learning new things and getting excited about a new project or process. I want to do everything. I have a natural love of learning, but I also think it is because I was scared. Scared of failing, scared of being an imposter, scared of looking dumb. When you’re doing something new, there is less risk because you have an excuse. If you call yourself an artist and you make crap, it can be embarrassing. But, I’ve never done only what is easy. And you grow by doing what scares you. Once I realized that I was procrastinating or avoiding things because I was scared, I realized I had to do it.
3. How did becoming a mother change the way you view yourself as an artist? What does being an artist mean to you now?
It gives me more purpose and meaning to my life. It makes me feel like I am still Marissa, and not just Henry’s mother. Somehow, becoming a mother made me realize that creating art above all other things was one of the most important things for me to do with my free time. That kind of surprised me, but probably did not surprise my friends.
4. What is the most rewarding thing about being a mother and an artist?
As a mother, seeing that I’m raising a kind little boy is the biggest joy and reward in my life. It is getting to experience the world through his eyes and feel the weight of his tiny body flung at me when I return from work. It is kissing his flushed cheeks while he’s sleeping and smelling him before I leave in the morning and stopping back again for a 2nd kiss sometimes.
It is making sure that he knows without doubt he is most important in my life. I want him to know that he is so loved and treasured. It is getting to have so much fun and make eye contact with my husband over how hilarious or adorable or crazy he is being and just knowing what the other is thinking. It is getting to see my husband be an amazing dad. It’s getting to see the joy he brings to my parents.
It is showing my son that he has a mother who values her own time and passions in life. I hope that my son sees his mother as a strong, independent, nurturing, and fun lady whose life goals and dreams are as important as a man’s.
As an artist, it is most rewarding to be able to take an idea and turn it into something tangible. To create rather than solely consume. To create art just to create! To go into the flow state and feel bliss. To be so engaged in the process that you forget time and space. To leave your mark on the world in some small way, even if it’s temporary.
5. What inspires you and your art the most?
The world around me. Colors in nature, or buildings. Dull marks on the highway in the Pennsylvania winters. Bright colors in Miami. Marks on walls, on sidewalks. Patterns in leaves. My son’s toys. Illustrations in books we read to him. Other artists experimenting and going outside of their comfort zone.
6. I love your positive outlook on life. What is some advice you would give other creative mothers, especially when they feel their creativity is just a hobby, or that they have too much on their plate?
Don’t worry so much about making your hobby real or calling yourself something you’re not comfortable with. It only matters that you are doing the work. It’s not about a label that you or others place on you. And what is wrong with hobbies anyway? I think they are wonderful. Most people in our society eat, shop, consume, and repeat. Maybe they work out. We need more people that are reading, writing, enjoying time outdoors, focusing on their hobbies. Because otherwise, life is just an endless circle of buying, eating and sleeping. It makes me so sad.
For creative mothers with too much on their plate, my advice is to really think about what is most meaningful to you. Is that knitting, is it painting, is it writing? If you pick the one that is most important to be your main focus when you carve out that time, you will accomplish much more than switching around too much. Also, sometimes it’s a fear thing to always want to keep learning new things. Because as a newbie learning, there is less risk involved. Once you’re honing a skill, there is more risk and fear that you won’t be good enough. Well, you’re already good enough because you’re a person trying. And if you enjoy it (at least most of the time), then keep at it! Don’t believe that everyone on the internet’s life is perfect. They all struggle just the same, myself included. You don’t have to share everything. If the work sucks, crop out and share the one part you’re happy with!
Also, what can you give up in order to find more time. Do you ask your kids to do their own laundry? Do you do delivery or takeout 2 nights a week so you can find time for your craft. Is it asking your partner (if you have one) or a loved one for help? Is it letting go of the Pinterest worthy party planning that has somehow become not an above and beyond thing, but the new standard for a kid’s birthday party. Is it letting your kid play by themselves while you sit in the same room and draw? Is it watching less TV. Is it waking up earlier. All over the world through the history of time, books have been written, art has been made, quilts have been sewn, all by people who had 24 hours in the day and were busy as hell. So let that inspire you, not make you scared. 5 minutes a day or 20 minutes every other day is way better than nothing at all. Be the tortoise. We can’t all be the hare.
7. What are some of your artistic goals for over the next few years?
There are so many. Again, I love big ideas, but I have to constantly be realistic and scale it back so I do not spread myself too thin. I will (not want to) self publish a book on my 100 Day Project with the watercolors and stories. I have started writing (with Heather Kirtland) a non-fiction book around on Art + Motherhood which is inspired by my interview series, “Carve Out Time for Art." I want to paint larger abstract paintings with oil paint. I’d like to do cut paper collages. Maybe I’d like to do some watercolor illustrations of interiors for a magazine or book. I’d like to learn how to take better photos of my work or scan in digitally so that I can take my side business to the next level to publish or sell my work. I want to collaborate with friends on paintings or series.
8. Finally, name an artistic mother who inspires you. Why and how does she inspire you?
There are so many artist mothers that I’m inspired by creatively and for their willingness to support other women. I can’t name them all, but am so grateful to them all and for being part of this incredible community we have. Since I’ve started interviewing so many artist mothers, I’ve enjoyed connecting via email at a deeper level, and am blown away by the honesty they share since it is really hard sometimes!
You inspire me Megan because you’re living a life that is different than others but is authentic for your family. I’m so glad I found your beautiful series early on thanks to the lovely Beth Allen.
Heather Chontos is a single mother, citizen of the world and one of my favorite abstract painters. Her bold marks and use of color blow me away. I haven’t shared her interview yet, but her art and her life are so intertwined, it’s fascinating.
Monika Forsberg is one of my favorite illustrators. I just think she is amazing and I love the way she interprets the world through her work.
Yumi Phillips is so talented and shares the good and the bad. She shares her doubts and fears and makes us all feel normal.
I’m inspired by my friend Margaret Ayer who is in her 80s, raised a son, and has travelled the world and painted her entire life.
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