Motherhood and the Creative Process

Inspiration strikes. I rush to find paper and pencil. Lines flow from my hands and I am entering the zone. That place where the rest of the world falls away and I focus on the task at hand. Time has no meaning here.

Then the baby cries. The sound that no mother can ignore. I rush to his side, all thoughts of what I was working on fade away. My baby needs me.

I have two beautiful children. They have introduced new levels of joy and chaos into my life. Sometimes the chaos side can be overwhelming. The holiday season, the busiest time of year for my art, is here. It is also the busiest family time of year, with birthdays and family gatherings in abundance.

When I first started my business, I remember reading blogs from successful craft business moms who somehow managed to produce high quality and quantities of their craft while being amazing mothers. I thought, I can do this too. It should be a piece of cake. I only work part time at my “regular” job. That’s plenty of time to balance motherhood and both my job and my business.

The reality is that it is not as easy as it looks. Finding balance is the key. Sometime that means that my house isn’t as clean as I think it should be or that I take on fewer commissions than I would prefer. Sometimes it means splurging on a babysitter before a craft fair to make sure I have time to produce enough inventory. Sometimes it also means having a table at a craft fair that is a little sparse. Sometimes it means getting a couple hours less of sleep a night.

Working long stretches at a time aren’t possible anymore. I have to be ready to jump into a project the moment the youngest is napping. I have to be ready for the inevitable interruptions.

I’ve found that I am a mom, not a super hero. I’m human and that is ok.

Here are some of the things I have learned:

1. Don’t compare yourself to others – Every parent has their challenges. Even the ones that make everything look easy. Do the best you can do. Don’t worry about everyone else.

2. Find balance – We all know and feel that our kids should come first. But unless we are going to close down shop, we need to remember to give some time and attention to the business. Sometimes it feels a bit like juggling knives. Sometimes everything just falls into place. Honestly, to me this is the hardest thing to do. You have to find what works for you and your family. Take one day, one moment at a time.

3. Share your creativity with your kids – Inspiration can fizzle if you don’t cultivate it. Some of my best ideas have come out of what we call “special art time with Mommy.” My eldest loves to draw and paint. Nourishing his artistic spirit also nourishes my own. He has reminded me how much the act of being silly can inspire creativity.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – There is this myth of the super mom. She is someone who is so together she can do anything. She doesn’t ever break down. She is so amazing that she doesn’t need help.  Here’s the thing – she doesn’t exist. Everyone needs help at some point. there is no shame in asking. People wont look down on you if you ask. That help might be what you need to succeed.

5. Don’t forget yourself – This can be said to any parent, not just those pursuing their creative business dreams. If you are over extended and worn out, you wont be able to take care of anyone or anything else.

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Collaboration

I love getting the chance to work with other artists. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I recently got the opportunity to work with a local woodturner. Ken Gadway, aka. The Adirondack Woodturner, was kind enough to give me two cherry bowls to burn on. He kept one and I have the other. Here are the final pictures.

“Odin’s Bowl” is inspired by the Norse god Odin and his two ravens.

OdinsBowl_Ckester

OdinsBowl_Ckester2 OdinsBowl_Ckester3 OdinsBowl_Ckester4OdinsBowl_Ckester5

“Winter” is a celebration of the beauty of trees in all seasons, even in their naked winter form.

Winter_Ckester

Winter_CKester2 Winter_Ckester3 Winter_Ckester4 Winter_Ckester5

Holidays

It is the holiday season. I am finished with craft fairs for the year, so I have some time for special orders. I just updated my ArtFire store with some of my new items and several of my ornaments. I’ll continue adding more in the next week. I’m also working on my first gourd. I’m pretty excited to see how it burns.

Here’s a peak of my latest work.

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FireOakStudioHoliday - ArtFire.comFind Gifts on ArtFire

Update 10/19/2014

A lot has changed in the past year. I have slowed down on the production of art. It’s been harder to find time to fit it in with this new addition to my life.

Fire Oak Studio New Addition

Currently I am working on two bowls that are a collaboration with Ken Gadway. He turned the bowls and I am doing the pyrography art on them. All of the artwork is original, hand drawn and burned. I’m very exited about the project. I’m planning on debuting the bowls on October 23rd at the Artists Supporting ARC show. Ken will be selling one of the bowls and I will be selling the other.

Here is a peek at them -

Fire Oak Studio Winter WIP Fire Oak Studio Odin's Bowl WIP Closeup Fire Oak Studio WIP Closeup Fire Oak Studio Odins Bowl WIP

Getting Ready for a Show

My last craft fair for the season is this weekend. The SUNY Plattsburgh Arts and Crafts Fair is held at the SUNY Fieldhouse. It is a pretty good local show. Normally I would do a couple more shows before Christmas, but this year I do not have the inventory to support that. 

This week, I am working on last minute projects and making sure I have my display ready to go. A couple years ago I wrote a blog post about what you need for a craft fair. You can read it here

For now, I’ll just share a couple of the new pieces that I will have at the show.

Image

copyright Christina Kester 2013

Christmas Ornaments

I’ve already had people asking about my hand burned Christmas ornaments. I really have to start working on these earlier next year. I haven’t been able to list many online because I can’t keep them in stock locally. The good news is that I just received a large supply of wood slices to keep up with the demand. this year the types of wood include birch, maple, cedar, apple, linden, and a few more that I don’t have definite identification of. I’m also looking in to adding key chains to what I sell. 

Here are a couple of pictures of some of my ornaments (and a spoon) in progress.

OrnamentsWIP_CKester OrnamentsWIP2_CKester

 

The Habit of Art

In college I overheard two professors talking about a student. One was laughing about how this student hadn’t turned in their assignment using the excuse of not having enough time. The other made a quip about how this student would never succeed because artists never have to find the time for art. Art should be like breathing.

I remember being a little insulted by this conversation. I was not the student they were talking about, but I was struggling to fit art into my schedule. Sure I doodled anytime I had a pen and paper, but I was having trouble finding the time to do formal studies and finished pieces.

The thought that “real” artists naturally do art all of the time was something that has haunted me for a long time. The more I became involved in the art community, the more I realized that I wasn’t alone in my struggle. Art takes work. You have to practice.  You have to be dedicated to be a successful artist. You have to continually grow and develop your skills. You have to learn about business and marketing. All of this takes time. In many cases, you have to try to fit this all in with other responsibilities (family, second job, etc). You kind of have to really want to be an artist.

So, were those professors right all of those years ago?If you don’t instinctively do art all of the time, will you fail?

The answer isn’t that cut and dry. If you don’t make time for it, you probably wont succeed. You can learn how to make doing art a habit. However, making and breaking habits is difficult work. You have to change the way you think of things. It takes time.

I’m still working on changing my habits. I want to up the time I spend on formal studies and not just finished pieces.

If you are interested in how to make or break habits, I recommend this book.

Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick by Jeremy Dean

It talks about the science behind making and breaking habits and gives you some ideas on how to change habits. I’ll warn you though, that Mr. Dean points out that we are not as in control of our brains and habits as we might think. Changing isn’t easy.

I have no affiliation with Mr. Dean, the publishers, or sellers of the book. I actually started reading it to see if it could help me develop better fitness and nutrition habits. The more I read, the more I realized it could help me with my art too.

Letter N

I’m skipping around with my letters. Here’s letter N for Nectarine

Copyright Christina Kester 2013

Copyright 2013 Christina Kester

I’m on the lining stages for letter R and I have letter Z prepped and ready to paint.

 

Update 2/9/13

After my holiday shows, I was in a bit of an art slump. Things have picked up a little recently. I am working on some character concept designs for a story I may or may not get to writing. It is good practice for drawing people even if I never finish the writing part.

Melora hairstyles_CKester2

I’ve prepped two more letters (J and K) for my long time Celtic Tree Alphabet project.

Here are some of my commissions, gifts, and new pieces that I can post now that the holidays are over -

A private commission -

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

A gift -

Some new pieces (all sold except the bear) -

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

Update 11/1/2012

Fall is my busy time of year. All of my big craft shows are in the fall. It leaves me with little time for anything else and as such I have neglected my blog. Never fear, I am still here and still plugging away at my art.

I finished my giant bowl just in time for the Artist Supporting ARC show last week. I think it turned out pretty well.

copyright 2012 Christina Kester

I’m currently working on upping my holiday ornament stock for upcoming shows. I have the SUNY Plattsburgh Craft show this weekend. It is one of the bigger shows in the area and was a good venue for me last year.  Here are some recent magnets, ornaments and a square bowl in progress.

 

In my spare time, I have also been working on my digital painting skills.  One of my goals for improvement earlier this year was to work on more dynamic figures and backgrounds. The following two sketches are a start to that.  For the first, I referenced stock photos by Chonastock on Deviant art for the pose. The second sketch was inspired by Brom.

copyright 2012 Christina Kester

 

copyright 2012 Christina Kester