Happy Valentines day and welcome to the 6th and final love that arty mama interview! I feel so honoured to have hosted this series, to have such talented artists share their lives so openly, and to have such wonderful, supportive readers. You have been so kind and loving, to me and the mamas I interviewed. Thank you! Please show this mama the same kind of loving. She deserves it!
Over to Soraya…
* Please tell us a little bit about yourself and the type of art you make.
I am a wife, mommy, mixed media artist, blogger, budding photographer, seeker and creative. I have one child (my daughter Tara) who is soon to be 4. I paint mixed media art that is very woman centered. My art speaks of the journey of the human soul; of our sufferings as well as our joy. I feel that in the honest sharing of our stories we find the opportunity to heal ourselves and inspire others to do the same.
* Roughly how often do you make art? Roughly how many hours per day or week?
I make art whenever I can!! As all of us mammas know, it is difficult to balance everything (work/family/personal time) so I don’t have any set hours right now. A few months ago, Tara gave up her afternoon naps so that has been challenging for me. Prior to that, we both took a short nap and that allowed me to stay up in my studio until 1 or 2 a.m. painting. Now, however , by 9 p.m. I am exhausted!! So I go to bed early and wake up at 4:30 or so and get into my studio at that time. On Saturdays I generally have about 5 hours in my studio (Tim and Tara are out doing daddy/daughter stuff!!). So…to give you an hourly estimate…I would say maybe 12 -16 hours or more.
* Do you keep regular working (art) hours, or do you fit art in whenever?
I do both! I keep my regular hours as well as fit my art in whenever! Recently, I put a drop cloth on my kitchen counter and spread out some canvases and work on things here and there. It works out well because I can apply layers (gesso, collage, paint splatters) and allow them to dry. I used to work on really huge canvases before I became a mom (36 x 40”) but now I work pretty small so I can work on 4-5 paintings at once.
* Do you plan/ schedule your art time in advance?
I try to but I always allow for unexpected incidents like illness, appointments and such. So if I have a deadline I try to complete it as soon as possible in case something comes up (no procrastinating anymore!!).
* Do you have any rituals that take you from Soraya the mum to Soraya the artist?
I would like to say yes but the truth is that, most often, I am multi-tasking so throughout the day, I work on my art for 10-15 mins. while Tara is occupied and I go back and forth. A small thing I do, when I have a few solid hours in my studio is light some candles. I have a mini altar on my studio table and that seems to help me transition into painting. I also hold an intention in my heart and mind (a fairly recent ritual that I absolutely love!) before I start painting and helps me make the shift. For the most part, though, I don’t separate being a mom from being an artist. I carry all that heightened passion, emotion, love, excitement, joy from my mothering into my art. I try to bring all of me to whatever I do…so when I am mothering I bring the artist in me as well and vice versa.
* How has having children affected your work (working process, subjects, etc)? And how has art affected your mothering?
For me, I became more ambitious about my art after I became a mom. My art became more truthful and raw and I started seeing it as a record of my journey. All of a sudden it became extremely important to do my work, to address the things that are important to me. I know how important it is for my daughter to see me do the work I love and follow my dreams and I hope one day she will do the same.
I think being an artist allows me the freedom to view mothering in a creative light as well. I don’t think there is any one “right” way to do things with Tara and I try to be as flexible as possible while enjoying the mothering journey. I carry a lot of lessons from my creative life right into mothering and find that they apply quite well. Also, Tara has been exposed to all kinds of art ever since she was born. Our house is filled with art (sculptures, paintings, fabrics) and I take her to children’s museums as well. I want her to experience art as an everyday part of life and not as something that is separate from day to day living.
* Does your family get involved in your art making?
Absolutely! Tara has been painting since she was about a year old. We are always making art, collages, crafts…it’s one of her absolute favorite things to do! I love setting out her art supplies and easel and us working a little side by side. My husband gets involved in my art from a completely different perspective; he is extremely supportive and does quite a lot of the housework (I know, I’m very lucky!!) so it frees up my time a little. My family is proud of the work I do and that, to me, is success.
* As an artist mama, what do you consider your greatest challenges, and how do you overcome them?
The greatest challenge for me is time!!! Namely, the lack of time! And definitely …energy!! I am 44 years old so it is difficult for me to keep up with my 4 year old daughter, for sure! However, on the plus side, I rarely procrastinate anymore because I simply can’t afford to! The fact that my time is so limited forces me to prioritize. A few things that have really helped me:
* I have learned how to say no! With my time being so limited I have had to turn down projects/opportunities that I may have really wanted but I simply can’t do right now. And I’m okay with that because pretty soon, Tara is going to go off into the world and need my time less and less so I understand that I have this short time to have her completely to myself.
* When I get into my studio and am really super tired, I just start painting. I listen to audio books while I work and after a few minutes I get lost in my work.
* every moment counts! I always carry little notebooks with me wherever I go. A few minutes here and there all add up. I have written entire blog posts, ideas for my paintings, to-do lists in this way.
* I take time out for myself. Whenever I feel as if I am getting burnt out I make time for solitude. Simple things like a half hour of reading a fave magazine, an artist date, writing in my journal, a cup of tea, a nap…whatever it takes.
* I have quotes posted up everywhere on my studio walls that really inspire me and see me through the difficult times. A couple of my fave ones are “meet yourself where you are” and this one right here by Bruce Lee “making way out of no way, using no limitation as limitation”.
* Do you sell or teach your art, locally or online?
I sell my art online (Etsy) but have not taught anywhere.
* What tools (for example… blog? instagram? twitter? art fairs? gallery shows? etsy? facebook? word of mouth?) have you found the most helpful to get your art known?
I have a blog, a website, a Facebook page, a shop on Etsy and a twitter account. I think all of these social media avenues are helpful and they each have their strong points. For the longest time I was intimidated by Twitter and thought I really didn’t need yet another site to keep up with but now I love the micro blogging aspect of it! Just a quick word or two and a photo can speak volumes and connect us to anyone in the world! So I think trying out new things and seeing what resonates with us personally is really important because that comes through to others.
* Where can people find you (links to blog, etsy, etc)?
Thank you so much to Soraya for taking part in the love that arty mama interview series! All the pictures above are copyright Soraya Nulliah and were posted with permission. If you missed any of the interviews, or want to revisit them anytime for further inspiration, they can be found under the tag love that arty mama, or by clicking the button in the sidebar. Thanks again for your love and support!