I was inspired to write about creative mothers after following a project a high school friend of mine Marissa was working on. Marissa and her friend Heather, started a blog called Carve Out Time For Art. It’s mission has been to share stories of artists they were inspired by who were able to find time to stay creative, even after life started to become hectic.
I’ve been wanting to publish another Support Your Local Mama Gang article as soon as I finished with the first one. It’s taken a few months to publish this but I am hoping to have it be a regular thing for sure. Punky Mom’s ethos has always been about supporting other moms and help them so that they can have the confidence to kick motherhood in the ass.
I love meeting other creative mothers who are doing brilliant things. Being able to share about them on Punky Moms is the least I can do to show these mamas that I hear them loud and clear. I am thankful that I have a platform to be able to share this on.
I know for myself, after the birth of my son, it became very hard for me to have the mental capacity to get creative. Some people can take that lack of sleep and make it into something amazing, but I was failing miserably in that department. I let other things become a priority for my free time and it is only now, 19 months later that I am allowing myself dedicated time to do some DIY and crafts again.
I asked Marissa and the 19 other creative mothers to answer us this question.
Where do you draw your creative juices and inspiration from these days, especially under the emotionally taxing task of raising kids.
It can be so hard to find the energy to do what I want creatively, especially when I have a sweet toddler jumping on my lap, stealing a paint brush, or throwing a temper tantrum. However, I’ve found though that having a child has taught me to be more efficient, focused, and fearless when it comes to art making.
I’m so inspired by how my son Henry sees the world. His pace allows me to pause and notice smaller things. I notice the color of a leaf handed to me on a “treasure hunt” that I use for a digital painting later. I’ll let my mind wander while pushing Henry on the swings, and will admire the golden setting sun striking an orange house juxtaposed with magenta bougainvillea and poppy red flowers.
The more I look for inspiration, the more I find. This is not to say I can always translate it into my artwork. But this exercise builds up my inspiration bank for later when I hit creative valleys. It also makes me feel like I’m being creative on days where I don’t do anything but go to work, eat, and sleep. I recommend this to anyone needing inspiration.
I’m also a big fan of playing, and “play” is my word for 2016. You never know what creative exercise THAT you do for fun may lead to something new!
I want to share one final thought. I struggle at times like many of us do. Being a mother is the most fulfilling and most important role I will ever have. Yet I still have that yearning to create and do things that connect me with the part that is just me. I still have dreams of my own. Once I had my son, it seemed people (society) thought that should be replaced by just motherhood. That’s not how I want to live my life, and I want to ensure that other new mothers don’t feel like they have to give up everything to become a mother. As a feminist, I don’t want my son to think that about women and mothers either! I loved that my own mother had her interests outside of us, and I want to follow suit. It may be a juggle and sacrifice at times, and a combination of lowered expectations, but you can still find a little time for yourself. Even if it’s 5-10 minutes on an especially chaotic day. I want mothers to know it is normal and okay to want that. Also, I think we are all fantastic mothers doing our best.
Medium: Felt, yarn, cotton
Website: facebook.com/Birdheartsbeardolls and etsy.com/uk/shop/BirdheartsBear
I’ve been making cloth dolls since I was a kid, but only recently started to think about listing them for sale. It’s challenging to find the time to work on dolls and other creative ventures when I also have a 3-year-old and an 8-month-old to look after. Before I had kids, I would work on a project from start to finish, and now I really have to break the process down into steps that I can walk away from if the kids need immediate attention. So, I’ll cut patterns out one day, do piecework another day, sit with the kids and work on knitting tiny cardigans another day. It makes it difficult to keep track of how many hours I put into a doll. I’m working on setting up an area for my sewing machine so I can put the dolls together faster; hand sewing everything really drives prices up!
My daughter inspires a lot of the ideas I have for the dolls and their accessories. I watch how she plays with her toys and what sort of things she makes them do, what kind of scenarios she imagines for them. It’s helpful to have an in-house toy tester, too, to see how various doll-making techniques stand up to vigorous toddler play, and she definitely influences my prototyping process. I love to miniaturize things, and figuring out a creative way to make tiny accessories (vintage Pyrex casseroles made from plastic snack containers, for example) is part of the appeal. I do find myself in creative slumps more often now than before I had kids, but I just have to remind myself that flowers don’t bloom all year round, and it’s okay to look dormant from the surface. It just means my roots are busy at work!
Swansea, South Wales UK
Medium: Watercolour and Pen
Most of my inspiration comes from the day to day antics of being a mama and wife. Although I create illustrated stylised family portraits, a lot of my sketchbook work, the “me time” work is filled with pieces from our day to day life. It could be a quick sketch of a new plant that I’ve bought, or picking the colours from a new item we’ve bought for the home and using them in an illustration – usually something mustard or teal.
I also love the simplicity found in children’s illustrations and stories, and this is something I wish to work towards in the future as an artist. My husband is a fantastic children’s writer and one of my biggest inspirations and role models and I one day hope to work alongside him.
Outside of Montreal, Quebec, Canada
My creative juices come from life. Even the most mundane tasks, washing a stack of dishes on a Saturday afternoon or dragging a soapy mop across my living room floor, can spark something that will having me chomping at the bit to get to my computer and write it down. Writing truly is my everything.
Be sure to check out Bunmi’s books, Toddlers Are A**holes: It’s Not Your Fault and Confessions of a Domestic Failure: A Humorous Book About a not so Perfect Mom.
Austin, TX USA
I mostly escape any emotionally taxing situation with movies and books. I’m always searching for traces of stories in those things, but also everything around me- always keeping an eye open. I try to involve my child in it when I can to help him understand what I’m trying to do. Now that he’s older, I think he’s understanding it more, which helps me emotionally when I need time to create.
Portland, OR USA
Medium : Musician and currently sing, play bass and sometimes drum (I’m learning!) in a two-piece garage-wave band called Gentle Bender.
Website: Find us and links to our music and various sites at gentlebender.com
Well, I have continued to play music and shows up until I could hardly reach (let alone see) my bass and at 38 weeks pregnant I just don’t have the lung capacity to sing my songs right now! But I am inspired to continue as soon as I can because being in this band with my life partner (and soon-to-be partner in parenting) these past few years has been such an incredible adventure both internally and externally and I hope to pass that spirit on to our child.
Through touring and playing shows with my band I’ve been able to bond with so many wonderful people in our love and need for these experiences, and learning that there are so many out there who share a similar world view has been truly life-affirming (you are not alone!) and I believe introducing our child to this will only add a mutually positive foundation to our lives together.
Ferndale, MI USA
Medium: I mainly work with taxidermy, wet specimens, medical oddities, religious items and creepy dolls that no one wants.
My creative juices come from wanting to provide the “wow” factor when people walk into my shop. I want jaws to drop and people to either get really excited or straight up disgusted. Either way, they aren’t going to forget me. I also have a 3 year old named Foster and he loves hanging out at my studio and shop. He likes to pet the taxidermy. I’m definitely lucky to be one of the very few women in this industry!
Kayla M Duran
Reno, NV USA
Medium: Painting on canvas; using acrylic, and menstrual blood. Also doing banner drops for veganism, abolishing vivisection, smashing patriarchy, pro voice, etc on trains, billboards, abandoned property.
Website: Still a work in progress, stay tuned! Instagram.com/mamatinybones
I pull my creativity from watching my son’s play together, seeing how they are so full of imagination. Free and uncaring of the day to day rat race that this world seems to inevitably chain us to. It makes me remember that life is much much more, it’s about using our hands to make memories, playing in the dirt, and enjoying what is now known as the alternative way of life, as it was always meant to be.
Los Angeles, CA USA
Medium: Film, Writing, Painting, Photography (some professionally, some is a hobby)
I’m a single mom of five sons. It’s me and them against the world. When they were little my entire world revolved around them. I didn’t do anything creative for almost a decade and I felt a huge void in me because of it. I still danced around to punk rock, classic rock, and the wiggles with my kids. I was always a stay at home mom, so my kids and I formed really close bonds. So the way we operate as a family now that they’re older is like a tribe rather than a traditional family.
A few years ago, I almost died the night before Mother’s Day and I thought of my mother and sons. I thought if I died right now, what am I leaving for them? That was a Saturday night. That Monday I was enrolled in classes that started the following week. It inspired me to do something more with my life. When I put some independence between me and them to start a career when I realized it was going to be squarely on my shoulders to support the lot of us, my kids & parents were my biggest cheerleaders.
I’m driven by my dreams and where I want to go. I am a whole person outside of my kids. One day they are going to grow up, become independent, go out on their own and what am I going to do? Go through depressive empty nest syndrome? Oh hell no! I am the matriarch of our little tribe. We cook together, we clean together, we learn together. But they have their dreams and I have mine. I encourage them to follow theirs. They encourage me, inspire me and cheer me on even when I feel like giving up. I’m also really inspired by music, aliens, nature, ancient cultures, astronomy, goddesses, psychology (the human mind) and cats.
My main source of inspiration lately has come from my recent move to a shop with two extremely talented and driven artists. It’s an honor and humbling experience to be able to work alongside and attempt to keep up with them, so it’s absolutely lit a fire under my ass.
There are also hundreds of other tattooers and fine artists that I admire and follow on Instagram that inspire me daily. Instagram is fantastic for keeping up with the latest pieces from them, as well as any conventions that may be going on or new products to try. I’m also a huge nerd and draw a lot of inspiration from movies and TV shows.
I definitely feel like I live two lives sometimes- one being a mom to our 12 month old little girl when I’m home, and the other being a tattooer when I step into the shop. It can be very challenging trying to find a balance between the two roles, but after a year of parenthood I’m finally getting the hang of it. I think.
I often feel like a machine . I feel everything but no matter my situation I keep looking forward. I’ve been an artist since I was a child – my art has always been my voice in the most difficult situations. It has helped me escape on many occasions. It has always been enough for me to put my feelings out there and leave it be. I’ve been balancing motherhood and being an artist for 17 years now… Being a mother is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Though it has proven itself to be difficult at times – it has helped me become a more well-rounded woman. I’ve learned how to balance two very different worlds – when to take a break- when to slow down and when to get things done. I am so passionate about inspiring others to follow their dreams no matter what – that I started a project outside of my art practice called MAP- Mother Artist Project. A unique project that focuses on women behind the scenes as they make art and raise families. It has been an inspiration to many and that is what keeps me going…
It also has been two years in the making – and has developed into a mama artist group, an annual MAP Market, workshops, a mother artist nanny service and art shows.
This is only half of what I do when I’m not in my studio – or making dinner – or working two jobs. I love my life!
Medium: Book / Fashion
I am actually far more creative now that I have a kid. I have never considered myself that creative but forcing myself to let go and draw, dance and act the fool with my young son has freed some creativity I never believed I had – so, in many ways, he is my greatest inspiration. But, besides my son, my top sources of inspiration are as follows:
Having a child has made me value having time being alone so when I am working on The Junto Network (interview series with tech founders and innovators – video and books) or Tease and Totes (fashion for kickass women), I literally tune out. I plug my earphones in, turn my music up as loud as I can and tune out to the rest of the world. I find an album I can work to then I listen to it on repeat until I get bored of it – often after about 3 months. Current favourite is Acoustic.
Music – like films when I was child-free and actually had time to sit in a cinema – take you to another place. It can inspire you, make you feel happy, make you feel nostalgic but a great song touches you and can inspire you to do great things.
On the other end of the scale, I find inspiration through quiet stillness. Even as a kid, I valued silence. I have always been a chatterbox and so I think to counter-balance that, I would have to find time to be in complete silence.
I think I actually get it from my mother who every so often would pack her bags and spend weekends in literal monastic silence. She would find a convent and go there to be silent for the weekend. I crave silence and when I can get it, I find it really helps me find clarity and direction.
My favourite thing in the world is getting lost whilst learning the backstories of people who have achieved great things, regardless of field. I recently read Dame Stephanie Shirley’s memoir, Let It Go, and to celebrate my own recent book deal, I went to see an awesome documentary on astronaut Gene Cernan – The Last Man on The Moon. But the story could be about an actress, sportsperson, musician… I just love learning how people got to where they are in life – what it took, what fears and struggles they may have overcome – what lessons they learned etc. It’s one of the reasons I am obsessed with telling women’s stories to inspire the next generation – whether it’s in my latest book about women in tech (Female Innovators at Work), or through our Tease and Totes Wednesday Woman interviews – I think these stories are a great source of inspiration, and inspiration is empowering.
Well I’d be lying if I said my kid!! Though she has made me look at the world in a whole new and meaningful way! But I’ve had to seperate my time with her and with my work, for some reason I thought being a stay at home mom would mean I’d have plenty of time to hone my craft (I must have been crazy!) , but she’s in preschool now for the last year and I’m finally back to work on a new show and it’s been hard to find that path back to inspiration that came so naturally before, Ii never even noticed how I got there, so now I’m trying to retrace my steps.
I think I used to do a lot of research before I started a show because words, concepts philosophies, beliefs, these all trigger something and then the images come after. I would troll libraries, online libraries like the British library, I love the Overdrive app that lets you digitally check out any books they have in their database with your library card, then once a concept comes I spend time thinking, take really long showers or walks or drives I used to go on the treadmill at a low speed and just walk with white noise on the headphones, then I’d go searching for images just to see what is out there or images would come to me like id see something on the side of the road and it would click with what is in my show thoughts , I like to see what new materiel’s and trends are out there , I’m especially inspired by high fashion-
I’m lucky to be in downtown where they have the fabric marts flower marts jewelry marts all walkable, sometimes it’s just a print form a fabric, or a sparkly jewel. I like to look at craft tutorial books especially the self-published books on amazon kindle (they even have one for making doll shoes!) I like these because they are current and to the point , and of course YouTube, I like to search vintage antiquarian toys or objects on eBay and just save any images that intrigue me with their finishes or color combos, of course I go to museums and gardens too. Then with all that under my belt I make inspiration boards of all the images and I start making the stuff, I have to keep enough of it a new experience like a new material or technique, so I stay motivated through this part because having the idea and then trying to make it can sometimes be very overwhelming, I listen to allot of audio books during this part to push out those negative voices in my head that tell me I can’t do it-
BUT I used to do all these things over the course of a year, and uninterrupted for weeks on end without distraction…now that I have Sadie I have to relearn how to get to that state of inspiration rather than wait for it come to me, so basically in a short answer, I have no fucking idea anymore!!!
Medium: I create and run a museum like curiosity shop, I design, display and craft art from natural bones, do and teach small animal taxidermy (all ethically obtained! Pinky swear) I also create jewellery from bones, natural pieces and curiosities.
I find it is so challenging to decide to just be on and be creative as soon as Pandora is in nursery for the morning. Some mornings I just spend surrounded by materials and a cup of tea until something happens. Refilling my cup figuratively and literally is imperative to having enough creativity. If I’m hanging by a thread, I’m not good at any of it. As Pandora gets older, she’s sharing her interests and ideas and strongly trying to put her own impact on the business. It’s beautiful and amazing to see her interest and her desire to create with me. She inspires me with her enthusiasm and unwillingness to never take no for an answer.
South Lake Tahoe, CA USA
I draw my creative juices and inspiration from a number of things. One being my idol Alyssa Marie artistry, another I just have this ability to take something random and turn it into a makeup look and that’s my favorite.
It’s hard to do when I have a toddler but he definitely sparks my inspiration. I don’t get to do my makeup all the time, being a mom is 100 percent all the time. When I do get to sit and create, my son will literally be there with me sitting either next to me, on my lap or even wrangling on my back and I manage to still bang out an awesome eye makeup. It is fun and I wouldn’t change it for anything. He will always look at me and say “Mom you’re so pretty, you did your makeup” and it’s the sweetest thing.
Beautiful North Idaho, USA
Medium: I am a doll maker!
Website: You can find me at etsy.com/shop/theturquoisesquid
I am greatly inspired by my two beautiful daughters! They are my driving force in creating and putting my work out in the world. They are also the reason I get very little sleep. I am also inspired by children’s books, old folklore, music and movies.
I actually find my kids help me be creative…not in a soppy “oh they’re so amazing…” way (they are at times!) but that they open my eyes to situations that I can either look at with a fun eye, or they can get me down. I also love sitting and watching people, I’m an over thinker and an over observer so that helps a lot!
Heather J Luker
SW Ohio, USA
Finding a balance between loving what you do and finding time to create is not so easy when tasked with running a house, working full time and raising 3 daughters. I think I found my inspiration and my creativity when I decided that photography is a passion of mine and not a business. Because of my professional and personal career I have begun to see photography as a wonderful medium to give voice to the people I photograph be they professional models or everyday families.
My favorite ongoing series so far is The Scar Tissue Project facebook.com/scartissuephoto/ which, imho, speaks volumes about how bullying and verbal abuse leaves wounds that are not visible. My other images I try to step out of the norm of modern photography by using and playing with light, using fun make up, focusing differently, breaking the rule of thirds or adding a touch of silliness.
Southend-On-Sea, Essex, UK
Website : 1luckysewandsew.etsy.com
As Mamas we exert so much energy and so much of ourselves raising our children that it can leave us with little left for anything else. I think that it’s incredibly important to take some time for us as an individual – to reconnect with who we are and what makes us unique. Once you tap into the source and the essence of ‘you’, the creative juices will start to flow freely by themselves. It can be as simple as taking a long soak in the tub with your favourite bath bomb and your favourite tune humming in your ears, to practicing some yoga and mindful meditation. One of my favourite ways to reconnect is to go for a walk. Getting out, away from the annoyances of home (the dishes, anyone?!), and getting some fresh air is one of the best ways to clear the mind. Once your mind is clear it’s free to start dreaming…
Medium: Mostly tattooing, but I like to work in all sorts of other mediums in my free time! (when I ever have any and don’t have a load of housework, to do or wine to drink!! )
With tattooing, all the work I do is custom. Usually the clients come up with the ideas. I just make them happen! I’m pretty lucky because most of my client’s ideas are super fun.
But when I get to draw for myself I love anything kawaii, 90s nostalgia, vintage/retro inspired stuff. I used to be better known for doing lady faces, I could never tire of doing those! Nowadays people want cuter kawaii stuff.
I take my influences from everything I’m into really! I love going to art galleries, watching cheesy films and cartoons!! Harry Potter and everything Disney are reoccurring themes in my work. Not a bad way to make a living eh?!
Sometimes it is tough to find a good balance, I’m really pathetic without enough sleep so having my husband on night time duty with our little boy, the night before I’m in work is key.
Despite having a lovely job and an amazing family, I often refer feel like I’m spinning plates in the air! Just trying to keep on top of everything and squeeze everything else I want to do.
Sometimes I think I should slow down a bit, but I love my life and wouldn’t have it any other way right now.
But it’s not a perfect balance. I think maybe I just need to ask for help a bit more. So that Nick and I can actually spend some time together. We definitely inspire each other, but with work and baby sometimes you can lose sight of that and take each other for granted. Even in the happiest of marriages, life with a baby takes it’s toll on your relationship and sanity!
I’m just making it up as I go along!