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Me?  An artist?  Well....  That is a rather loaded word for many of us.  Women of this millennium strive to "do it all" in terms of being career women AND  mothers, leaving little time for creative pursuits.  Many of us dream of what we might write, how we'd love to dance more, or instruments we'd love to dust off and play, but those things seem so indulgent and far off when dishes call, work follows us home, or the kids need a bath. 

However, my inner artist must be dying to come out, because I've found more than one excuse to bring beauty into my family's life.  Pulling out a special platter during a snack of the season's first berries, crafting special gifts for friends, and dancing with my son to the beat of the Farmer's Market band of the week.  Still, "artist" is a word I've saved for reverently referring to the people I know who dedicate their lives making money doing art.
 
For example, Sharon Eisley, art school graduate and painter, creates pieces that often have an arresting affect on me.  Before we formed a friendship, I watched this neighbor looking pregnant and beautiful working in her front yard.  Her long red hair would be wound in some complicated braid, bangs fringing her face and she'd be dressed in some hip skirt and stylish wool sweater.  I'd watch her gracefully move as though her ballooning stomach wasn't toppling her balance at all, while she tied climbing roses in interesting formations throughout her trees and over arbors.  I, who was pregnant at the same time, felt unbalanced, frumpy, and spent my energies deep cleaning rather than making beauty with roses....  I knew she was on to something with her ability to channel art while simultaneously being a mother.  More importantly, she seemed to pull her artistic abilities into mothering.
 
Just step into her home any Friday to see what I mean!  You'll find fresh cut flowers artfully arranged in a vase, candles lit on a beautifully spread table, and delicious foods including fresh, delicately braided challah bread coming out of the oven.  Sharon engages her kids in gathering the flowers, taught her boys how to braid bread, and has them help light the candles each evening.  Art flows through her everywhere.

As a first step in tapping into some of this creative energy Sharon exudes, I bought one of her paintings:  Stork.  After two years of firm friendship, I am learning ever more through watching her.  You can too if you'd like to follow her blog:  When in Home - dedicated to artists who must squeeze art into the life of being homemakers.
 
This one little move towards bringing art into my home truly inspired me to go farther. Sharon's painting reminded me how magical and powerful birds have always appeared to me.  After hanging her painting in my living room, I found a hand painted lamp featuring cherry blossoms and birds to place near "Stork."  Then, I started amassing all of the bird creatures I've collected over the years for holiday trees or gift wrapping.  I found a lovely fallen branch on a friend's property, and mounted it on my wall.  The winged creatures of the forest are now perched all over my living room, and the artist lurking in my heart is dancing a victory jig!

South East Santa Rosa must be a little known artist haven. Miss Teapot, toymaker whose items are on sale at the popular Ark Toy Stores in the Bay Area, also lives just across our court.  This wonderful maker of children's toys, fairy crowns, and magic wands often bestows her gifts on my family.  From lovely hand made cards, to tiny flower arrangements, to ADORABLE children's toys crafted from wood, wool, and other wonderous materials, many pieces of Miss Teapot's work have found their way to our doorstep.  Miss Teapot likes to surprise us by leaving our gifts on the porch, much to our delight!  Last summer, Bryles received the amazing birthday treasures of three little gnomes (see picture at the beginning of this post) and a whole set of hand cut and burned wooden blocks.
 
Miss Teapot does wonders for helping me with my desire to provide Bryles with a few, high quality toys made from natural materials.  Her gifts are always well loved and well used.  However, after receiving such a range of handmade items, I started to get a little envious of Miss Teapot's abilities!  Last Fall, I convinced her to take me on as a crafting student, and she set about teaching me the basics of sewing, cooking, and other important skills she has mastered.  I relish our time together, and seem to have a never ending lists of requests for her to teach me:  felting, card making, quilting, paper doll making, and more are on our agenda for future months.
   
My friend, Annalyce la Source, saw some of my creations (hats, curtains, pillows, toys- even my own gnomes pictured below!) and heard the joy pouring through me while I described my experience.  Lamenting the fact that her own crafty mother was too engrossed to pass on many of her domestic art skills, she asked if Miss Teapot might take her on as well.  Now we are both happily sewing away during weekly sewing lessons!

Infusing art into mothering allows me to move away from thinking of my self as Cinderella (and her never ending list of chores), to seeing myself as the creator of family magic and beauty.  Today I am taking conscientious steps towards channeling my own art, and yes, maybe even using the label of artist for myself.  I began reading the "Artists' Way" and signed up for the Emily Carr workshop in July through Nurturing Arts.  Mary Bowen, Nurturing Arts teacher and founder, is sure to take me out of my normal "thinking mode" by helping to expose me to interesting anthroposophical exercises.  For those that know Grandma Mary, you know that taking one of her workshops is sure to be a soul enriching treat!  Through these activities I'm learning the more creative I allow myself to be, the more energy I have for mothering and the more enriched our family life stands to become.

This movement of moms teaching each other how to bring creativity to the family is growing like wildfire. If you'd like to join in, read Amanda Blake Soule's Creative Family (see Amazon portal "Our Family Reads" on sidebar to buy this book). Ask your neighbor to teach you how to can jam this summer. Find a co-madre who can show you how to sew or stay tuned to Sono-Ma's future articles about rediscovering the domestic arts!


2 comments

  1. Mel // July 7, 2009 at 7:28 PM  

    Hi there. I just saw your comment and link on Soule Mama and just had to read it. I love what you have written here and it certainly speaks to where I am at as well. As soon as I was not working full time (outside the home that is!) my mind seemed to naturally gravitate towards more creative pursuits. I recently bought myself a sewing machine and after a twenty year break have fallen back in love with sewing. I paint *with* my children now instead of watching or trying to do other tasks while they are busy, I collect sticks out on our walks just because they appeal to me. Oh and I too have started a bird collection of sorts!

    Anyway I am babbling on. Just know that what you have written has resonated with someone on the other side of the world (I am in Sydney, Australia).

    Look forward to reading you more!

  2. slowpoke // July 7, 2009 at 10:18 PM  

    I so enjoyed reading your post. I clicked on the link you provided in your recent comment on Soule Mama's blog. I'm so happy for you that you're finding your inner artist and sewing and creating. I'm starving to do this myself. I need a Miss Teapot in my life! I will try to find one near me. Thank you for the inspiration.

    One question: since the Cinderalla chores still have to get done, how do you balance your daily homemaking and taking care of your son with your creative work? This is what I want to know from every mom who infuses her life with the handmade.

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