Welcome Mere from These are the Days! A busy Mom, blogger since 2005 and a self-taught, soon-to-be published artist specializing in acrylic, paper mache, and clay. Mere uses art supplies and found objects to create her imaginative and whimsical folk art creations that she sells on Etsy and Ebay.
Mere, Tell us a little bit about what inspires you...
If you look closely enough, inspiration can come from absolutely anywhere! My family and the concept of providing them a comforting home inspires me...sometimes the paintings serve as little lessons to myself...things I want to remember or work on in my personal life. Songs are a huge source of inspiration...just one line can be a painting. Everyday life, those completely normal moments can be just that little spark you need. I remember I got one idea sitting in the drive-thru at McDonald's watching a gardener trim a flowering bush. Shouldn't that bush have been allowed to flower? Don't we all deserve that?
For my folk art dolls, fairy tales and holidays have been the driving force. Sometimes, it can be something as odd as a quirky tie I see (and of course buy!) in the dollar store. Other times, I have no idea what I'm making until the recycled item I am using as an armature gives me a little hint. To me, that is the most fun.
A lot of my girls have been in costume, or their clothes have a hint of costume in them to help tell the story behind the piece. This has a lot to do with my other job- I host themed costume parties for little girls. I turn them into fairies, mermaids, princesses, movie stars, etc. All those little imaginations have given me plenty of ideas over the past couple years that I've been painting. :)
With a busy home life, when do you find time to work?
I usually steal a few hours after my family has gone to bed. It's nice to have that quiet time to really just forget about everything else and not have any interruptions. Other times, I try to justify fitting it in during the day. One load of laundry and dishes equals one hour to create. That's fair, right?
Recently, I've had a steady "play date" with my close friend, Jeri. She brings her son over once a week and while our kids play together, so do we! It's a win-win for all involved and I look forward to our designated day of fun! We laugh pretty much the whole day. :)
Where do you work at?
Tee, hee...everywhere! I admit most of it is done at the kitchen table, the dining room is pretty much all mine, but I clean it up every night for dinner. However, I have made things VERY portable. Every vacation I've taken in the past two years has involved a sewing machine, clay bin, and my picnic basket full of paint. I love my picnic basket...it's much more fun to paint out of than anything else. :)
The first time I did brought art supplies on our road trip, my husband stood and watched me put the sewing machine in the van. He paused, and then asked, "Did you want me to pack the scroll saw too?" I laughed SO hard I cried! As you can see, I have a very understanding and creative husband. We even did a joint project just recently...the Jack-o-lantern that carves himself. He drew the sketch and I made it. He has gave me another idea the other day...should be fun!
And yes, I did contemplate taking the scroll saw...oh the possibilities! :)
How did you find your way to the mediums you work in?
I've always messed around with clay. As a kid, I had the kind that never dried and would make creatures and people out of it with a pen and its cap. It is a pretty handy little tool actually! My Dad kept some of what I made, except they are a bit dusty now. :)
I was very lucky to have a lot of encouragement to be crafty when I was young. I always had supplies and I made sure to use them! I try to do the same- my girls get to play right along with me...it's an open invite. The supplies are always out. Lillian (8) likes clay the most and Madeline (2) will watercolor forever if you let her.
My mom did try to teach me to paint when I was about 10 years old. I was WAY too scared to mess it up that she did most of it. That fear, (silly isn't it?) stayed in me for a LONG time. I never felt like I had control of the brush. In 2008, I saw a youtube video that pointed out just how silly that is. So I decided to try and I loved it! The fear was gone.
Really, if you mess up, it could just be a happy accident. If not, you can always paint over it. Playing with it until it makes you giggle is just simply part of the process! :)
How have you found your Etsy experience?
I LOVE Etsy! It's inexpensive and very user friendly. One listing lasts for four months -that's great when you are a busy Mom! I especially like how it is more than just a selling place- it's a community as well. It's so enjoyable when a customer becomes a friend...from Etsy and Ebay, I have a lot of pen pals and I am very thankful for that. :)
When and how did you start selling your art ?
When I decided to tackle that fear of "messing up," I made a painting called "Love is Kind." My girls and their cousins were over and we were all having fun with paint. I hung it up by my front door and saw it every time I left the house. It was a great reminder that even in stressful times, to act with kindness. Then one day, I felt like I was done with it and was ready to let it go. So I listed it. Just for fun to pass it on, not to make lots of money.
This continued, and when my third painting sold, I got a letter in the mail from its new owner. She wrote about what the painting meant to her and how it related to her life. She told me to keep going and included a check for art supplies to make sure I did. I was very moved and encouraged. Making connections like that makes the world a bit smaller and a lot more friendly. The friendships I've made have been the most rewarding part of selling my art. :)
What direction would you like to see your art go in?
I do feel like I'm on a journey, but I don't know where it's headed. I don't really mind that. I know that since I've started painting I've become a more positive person who makes sure to smell the roses while I can.
My girls are growing so fast. I stay home with them and that makes things tight financially. I love creating, so if it could help me stay home with them, that would be great. A do what you love kind of thing. :)
I've also used this experience to challenge myself...to take risks I never would have done before. Thanks to Jen, my Alice Story Doll will be a feature in Art Doll Quarterly! She suggested I make a submission...thanks Jen!
I'm also doing an arts and crafts show on the 27th of this month, it's a huge show and I've always wanted to be a part of it. However it turns out, I'll be glad that I took that chance and put myself out there.
Most importantly, I want to keep learning and growing as an artist.
What is the best thing about creating for you?
Using things other than standard art supplies! I love using recyclables for armatures...or other unwanted items. Light bulbs, air fresheners, joint compound, pickle jars...these are a few of my favorite things! I am in love with the past, so using old, vintage, previously loved items is exciting to me. I'm always buying vintage linens for art doll clothing and other projects.
Keeping those things around has made me a bit of a pack rat, but everything could be used for something, right? Using what I have not only gives me a thrill, but saves me a lot of money too! :)
What advice would you have for someone who wants to get their art "out there" but feels bogged down by daily life?
Remember that you deserve some time to invest in yourself! One hour a day isn't going to make a bit of difference in the condition of your house and you won't love your kids any less, I promise! :)
Daily life won't seem so hum drum when you take time to create. You'll be happier and more productive if you indulge in a little bit of "art therapy!" Soon you will see art and the beauty that resides in everything, everywhere!
Don't forget to have a GOOD TIME...see what it turns into and don't fight it. When you do take that time to create, I would love to see what you've made!
Thank you so much Mere! You can visit her at her blog or see more of her creations at her Etsy store .
P.S. Keep those questions coming on my earlier post!