Flossy-Particles is the showground of all sorts of articles; (watercolour illustration art, prints, cards, etc), eagerly handcrafted by my wee flossy self… Sarah to some, flossy-p to others. Learn more on her webpage.
Tell us about your relationship to your art.
I suppose I can liken it to that of a sibling. At some point during my childhood "art" arrived. At first it was just there to play with, a little later on I started thinking about it more purposefully, then during those emotionally charged teen years it came along with me for the wild ride. As an adult our relationship became more grown up and serious, then we drifted apart for a while, and now we're close again. Once again we grew a little more to get to this point, and probably take it a little more light-heartedly, but that's not to say it's any less important or I depend on it any less. Quite the contrary.
What's a project (yours or another's) that has been exciting you lately?
The most exciting project is always the "next" one! All that excitement and anticipation. That promise of the next big thing always fills me with a surge of energy and enthusiasm. At the moment that next project is a big commission; a portrait of a pet parrot! It's so crazy, I can't wait to start!
Tell us a little of your motherhood journey.
I just turned 36, and about 18 months ago ago we had our first baby, a boy. Although my husband and I have been together since I was 20 years old, it still took me a long time to get to this point, mainly because I was absolutely, paralysingly terrified about being pregnant and giving birth. I can't tell you why, but there were panic attacks involved. It seems strange now... Now that I love my little boy to bits, can't remember life without him, squeal with excitement when I hear that friends are pregnant.
I'm a stay-at-home mum, and while I'm here (during moments of contentment) I work from home too. I work for myself as an artist illustrator.
What are some crucial elements of your process? How has that changed since having children?
Hahaha, surely the answer to that is "time"! The time to create an artwork from beginning to end requires plenty of time. Having a child also requires plenty of time... much more in fact, so finding time has become the first challenge in my creative process.
My space has also changed. My art-making used to occupy half of the studio we have out the back of our house, slowly, as I tried to squeeze small moments of art into the calm moments of each day, I moved my computer inside onto the kitchen table. This made a big difference, I could be a mum, and answer an email on the way to change a nappy. Then I got a commission, so my paper, paints, pencils etc, all moved inside too. Then my scanner and printer, all my fabric... It's made a big difference to me being able to get stuff done. Granted the environment isn't as spacious, organised, or peaceful, but it gets done and that makes me happy.
What are some of the ways your family and your art interact?
Apart from my family living with piles of my art stuff on the kitchen table, there's not too much interaction that I can think of. When I'm making it I go into my own headspace. I show my son what I'm doing, but I'm not sure he's old enough yet to grasp it. Then again, maybe he'll grow up assuming everyone's mums draw pictures of oversized marsupials and merdogs.
I do love spending time doodling with him on the magnadoodle, or building with blocks to create interesting colour patterns.
Do you find your attitude towards your art might be different because of your parenting / has it changed since you became a parent?
I used to get a bit disappointed when people would define my work as children's illustration, wondering why adults couldn't value it too (though I know some do). Now I realise and understand what an honour it is to have someone choose your art to hang in their children's room; as though they have approved you to ultimately influence their growing child, and perhaps remain in their nostalgic memory forevermore. Now I even spend time planning things to make from my art specifically for nursery's and children's bedrooms.
Are your children ever subjects in your art?
No, not yet. I look at my sons face all day long, loving each and every part and wanting to draw it in some way. But then part of me doesn't want to, knowing I could never capture all that you see as a Mum.
I have drawn him in comic form though, for a booklet I made for our mothers group about his potentially fatal peanut allergy. I'm planning on making that into a free download from my site soon for other mums facing the same challenge.
How does travel figure into your art? Do/did your children come along? How has that worked out?
Travel, huh? What's that?!!! ;) I'm lucky if I can make it out of the house to go get milk.
I do seem to have some very faint whispers of wonderful South Pacific, European, and UK travels waaaaay back there in my long term memory banks. These days it's more a case of a weekend away at the in-laws house, where I don't have to cook for 2 nights. Though I'm not sure any of that has anything to do with my art.
What about promoting the arts with your own children--any fun projects to share?
Nope, not yet. I'll have to think about that one.
How do you escape?
I really just try to weave escapes into our week, to keep both me and my little man from becoming too housebound and bored. Sometimes we'll spend the afternoon at the beach. It's Winter here so we don't swim, we just sit together plunging our fingers into the sand, building sand constructions, and doodling. It's marvelous what an hour or two in the fresh air with the sun on your back can do to restore you.
Sometimes we go for a walk to the creek nearby, or just up the hills to see nice views. I guess escape for me is about getting outside and back to nature. It really is a restorative force.
I also try to escape to yoga at least one night a week... on my own.
What advice do you have for expectant mothers in your field?
Not sure how qualified I am to give advice, but there are certainly things I have learnt along the way that makes my day easier...
One is don't expect to be able to do as much as you did before. And don't let yourself feel bad because of this. At the beginning I chose 1 task a week, and if I got that done I felt happy. I'm now up to one or two tasks a day. I still need to remind myself that that's enough, because I'm also trying my best to be a good mum.
Also, if you're working from home, I have found a formula that works really well for us. An intensive 1/2 hour playing with my son will give me 1/2 an hour to do my own thing afterwards while he is content playing on his own. Then when he needs attention again, I have learnt not to stall, drop everything right away and play again, otherwise it just leads to frustration for both of us.
And finally, you need someone supportive to remind you that you're doing a good job... in all your endeavours, even if you feel like there's always a mountain more to do.