Inspirational Artist-Christine of Sojourners and Exiles

At this early stage in my artistic career, I'm often inspired by other artists and creatives who are doing their thing, especially while balancing the challenges of parenthood.  I want to highlight some of them here and learn more about what inspires them and how they make it all work. 

Christine

Christine and I met at MOPS (it’s a moms group).  I immediately noticed her stellar taste and sense of style.  She’s one of those people who just knows how to put clothes together.  At the time, I didn’t even know about her art.  She recently opened an Etsy shop selling her work.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I needed a piece of her art in my house (I'm in love with the piece I now have!) She has two really little ones, a boy Sam’s age and a beautiful baby girl named June.  (Yes, two, two and under).  She’s as sweet as can be and I’m happy to share her words today about her art and her inspiration.   You can see (and buy) Christine's work from her Etsy Shop.

 

Tell us first a bit about you and what you do.

I’m a mother of two under 2. I love to create, paint and try my hand at almost any DIY project. This year, I opened my Etsy shop to sell original watercolors, among other items. Sojourners and Exiles has given me the opportunity to work at something I love and share my work with others.

When and how did you discover this outlet?  Tell us about the shift from idea to action.

I’ve always had a desire to turn my love of art into something more than just items I created for my own walls. I wanted to offer those things that inspired me to others. My sweet husband, Brandon, bought me a nice watercolor set while he was away and I was expecting our second baby. I first started with a few watercolors for each of my children’s rooms while very pregnant. Once I allowed myself time to create, the dreaming, planning and preparing to actually follow through with opening my Etsy shop began.

I decided to just take the plunge, gathered my pieces slowly as I worked on them and opened in 2015. The steps taken from idea to action are the hardest, but many times the most simple also. Once I hit the publish button on my first item, most of the fear and anxiety left me. I knew I was on my way to making this a reality. And I could tell it was going to be such a rewarding ride.

How do you manage your time and energy?  How do you make your art a priority?

Isn’t this such a huge question for those of us raising children? We are pulled in so many directions with so many commitments. I am blessed to know a handful of women that I admire specifically for their time management skills. Managing time truly is a bit of a science. We have to be intentional about what we spend our time doing and be so very jealous of it. I make it a habit of mine to ask those women what they do to make all of these things fit in their day – feeding their family, keeping a tidy home, working outside of the home, working on their hobby or craft, spending time with their husband and children, the list goes on and on. Every family and personality is different, so what works for me isn’t cookie cutter for the next person. Using those tips from other mothers, I have found the best strategy for me is blocking off time after the kids go to bed to work on my art. This approach is FREE (mommas – no childcare needed and that means so much), worry-free because your husband and children were fed and content before you got started and now there you sit – drinking a cup of coffee and diving into whatever it is that you love.

What’s it like to put this into action? Create at least one night a week where you have an easy night – whatever that means for you. For me it means I need to put an easy dinner on the table, have the house tidied and dishes clean except for what is about to be dirtied at dinner, kids bathed and plans made for what I want to paint as SOON as they hit their beds. After the kids go to sleep, I pour a nice cup of coffee or a glass of wine and settle in for a few hours of work. This makes for a somewhat late night, but maybe this is a scenario that might work for you to be sure you get some time to yourself. Try to allow zero distractions on this night you’ve committed to your art/project/goal. The more jealous I am of my time, the more surprised I am at what can be accomplished.

I have to work diligently to not let time pass me by without reaching any of my goals. Many times I don’t complete everything I had hoped. And that’s ok. I am learning to give myself some grace when it doesn’t turn out as planned. But do find space on your calendar to give yourself and be guarded with what you do with that time. And remember it is ok to say no to some things when they might hinder your time or be better spent working at that goal of yours.

What struggles have you faced and how have you overcome those struggles?

I’d say the first real struggle I have faced, one that continues to be something I have to pray about, is the thought that what I have to offer is insignificant and not good enough. That single struggle is what kept me in the same spot of doing nothing for years. Those negative thoughts keep you from being creative, and most of all it keeps you from enjoying the handiwork God gave you the desire for. Maybe it is painting, photography, writing, decorating – ignore the lies and just start somewhere.

The other struggle is the obvious issue of time. Although I try to fit one or two nights a week where I spend a couple of hours on my work, it truly isn’t enough. So I find ways to sneak it in other parts of my day. Be creative and just give it a shot. If I need to take photographs of my items, I may have the kids playing outside as I take my photos in the natural light. I may start the base of a few watercolors while my son finger paints at the other end of the table. Sometimes it works, and other times it isn’t as successful – but it is still a fun journey!

What impact does your work have on your children?

For me, it was important to make sure this adventure with painting and the Etsy shop didn’t interfere with my family in a negative way. I want my children to see my creativeness, planning and diligence and learn from it. If there comes a moment where I am so frazzled and unorganized that they feel this as a burden, I’ve let something go wrong. Of course I will have days that seem stressful and chaotic – in real life we all do – but I pray I handle them with grace and that my art is something that blesses my family. And I don’t mean monetarily.

 

Thank you so much, Christine, for sharing your words.  I love the advice of reserving time in the evenings after the kids are in bed.  (In fact, it is advice I am following now!)  Your work is beautiful and I am happy you have shared it with the world!