When I think of Emily Jeffords, I think of two words. Lovely and gracious. Her art is lovely. Contemplative, meditative, serene, happy, and with a hint of goodness in the world. Emily herself is kind, genuine, and thoughtful. We have recently been commenting and messaging about how there needs to be more written about artist mothers, and she, Heather Kirtland
and I all are finding we have a lot to say! We all agree that there needs to be more available to encourage others to find time for their art. What a wonderful conversation, and I know that her thousands of fans (there are literally
thousands of them) would love to hear more about what Emily has to say on this topic. Since i had an interview with her in my queue to publish, it seemed like the perfect time to share her thoughts on this topic. Emily, thank you so much for participating in this series, and I look forward to chatting with you more about this moving forward!
Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?
Hey! I'm Emily Jeffords, artist, mother, & writer (you can check out my work on EmilyJeffords.com and find me tucked away in my lovely studio in Greenville, SC). I have two little girls, ages 4 and 6 years old.
How has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?
While I was an artist before having kids, I really took my creative career seriously when I decided to stay home with my first baby. When she was a few months old I decided to do a painting a day which really jump-started my creative "career" and encouraged me to make a real thing of this! Since then, both my girls have been a big part of my creative process and belong in my studio just as much as I do. Having their perspective and joyful energy in my studio is SO beautiful and helpful when I'm in a slump.
Is it easy or difficult for you to find/make time to create? Did you have to give anything up? Do you have advice on what works for you?
It is SO difficult to find time to create - especially if I'm out of the rhythm - but carving out time in the extra hours (which I always seem to be able to find when I try hard enough) is literally fuel for my soul. It can be tricky to balance life, work, family, creativity, laundry, health, grocery shopping - and honestly, sometimes I feel quite overwhelmed. I really enjoy saying NO to things that don't fit my life, family, and goals. I am such a "yes" person by nature, but saying no gives me freedom and creative space.
How does being an artist make you a better mother to your children? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you?
The biggest perk to my job is that I'm in charge of everything. If I think my kids need to stay home and play, we can do that! If I need to work late into the night, I can! That flexibility ensures I can be present and engaged as much as possible. My husband and I also have consciously included curiosity and expression in into our kid's life. Painting, making, drawing, writing... I don't think they know a different way to think!
Where do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve? Do you ever create art with your kids?
I paint in a beautiful 1890's historic studio with soaring ceilings, white walls, and big windows. My kids have grown up in my studio - they used to nap on a little bed in the studio and now they sprawl on the floor, watercolors and markers close at hand.
Do you have any tips to streamline / delegate / outsource household and childcare activities so that you can focus more time on your art? Has your lifestyle changed in any major ways?
Admitting you need help is no failure. This took me a while to figure out - coming from a home where my mom really does do it ALL and so, so well. I rely on my husband heavily. We really are partners in life and when I feel overwhelmed he is quick to pick me up. We are homeschooling our two girls for the first few years of their education, but we hired a tutor to help with that enormous task a couple days a week. This gives me about 14 hours of solid studio time without distraction.
Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?
We are planning on spending a few months in Southern France next year. Needless to say, I'm dreaming BIG about that adventure! Walking in the same fields as Van Gogh, visiting Monet's studio and gardens, visiting the town Picasso spent so much of his formative years in... it's going to be so refreshing and exciting and inspiring.
Thank you, Emily! That trip sounds amazing. I cannot wait to live vicariously through you and see what magic you create!