I'm so excited to share this interview with Lisa Rydin Erickson. This interview gives me a lot of hope and inspiration. She has worked full time, raised 2 wonderful now teenagers, found time to create, and found a way to make use of her commute by using her iPad to create digital art in addition to painting and ink. I just love the paintings that she's been doing lately in addition to her digital art. How fun to see how varied it is and how she changes her medium to fit where she is! Thank you so much Lisa. You have given me some perspective that I truly needed, and I'm sure others will agree.
Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?
I’ve been raising kids for the past 19 years with my husband. I’ve been an artist since maybe always and also a dental hygienist for the past 20+ years. While I still think of myself as a traditional canvas painter, since 2011 I have been painting on my iPad. This process makes a digital file and has allowed me to make prints and cards that I can get into local and not so local stores. I’ve done a lot of art projects in various forms but It’s only been in the last couple years that I have pursued an art business.
- Website / Portfolio / Blog: www.lisarydinerickson.com
- Etsy Shop: Lisa Rydin Erickson
- Instagram @lisarydinerickson
How has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?
I’ve had a lot of fun with different mediums over the years fitting into whatever medium was appropriate and available at the time. Sometimes my easel was upstairs in my bedroom where I could close the door, sometimes it was downstairs. Really when I set up in the dining room in the middle of everything between the kitchen and living room I ended up getting the most work done. I am always available and centrally located, ha. Lots of interruptions but all for the win. It has always been the act of creating that was what needed to be released or what I needed to do to remain me. Often while the kids were young I did projects at their school, I was an art mom, the mom that could help with painting a labyrinth or a class mural or teach an art lesson.
One of my biggest goals raising kids was that I didn’t ever want them to say that they were bored. They always had ideas and I always tried to get supplies together and try them. I learned early on that they were most excited about the ideas that THEY had and so we ran with those and I just facilitated getting supplies and trying to make it real. My daughter one time wanted to knit a sleeping bag. I had her do the math and knit a small square time it and measure the size of a sleeping bag and then we bought some cheap yarn and she began her project. Never finished but hey at 10, that counts for ambition. My son loved mechanical things and always wanted to take everything apart so we would get things at thrift stores and he would spend hours taking things apart. So sculpture, knitting, drawing, cooking and baking all fed into a creative day.
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?
Now it is a bit easier to find time as they are teenagers. They are less demanding but even as teens my studio is still in the dining room in the middle of the house and there are still constant interruptions. I didn’t have the option to not work outside the home or pay for childcare or stay home once they were in school. I couldn’t stay up late doing art because I got up early for work. I’m sure that I could have done more art. I really yearned to be a full time artist and have a studio and stay home. My focus was to have them here with me and know that I cared about their projects and show them that I was happy making things and they could be also. It worked out well, they always had something that they were interested in and now are very self directed and have that love of learning and making instilled. My daughter used to pull the paintbrush out of my hand and tell me that she wanted to use the brush that was working better. So cute. Now I could easily pull the paintbrush out of her hand. She is a good artist. I did get work done somehow, I think working beside them with their projects as we still do.
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?
Yes, you have to be yourself and if you are an artist you need to find some time whether they are sitting on your lap while you are sewing or drawing or you are staying up late or early or one evening a week of un interrupted time. I sometimes thought that even one evening a week outside for a few hours on a regular schedule would have been great. It’s a good question to ask, what makes me happy, what do I need, am I fulfilled doing a small project of drawing or do I really need to work on a 40 hour mural even just once a year.
Actually I did yearly paint a 55’x15’ mural for a small dance school which was so much fun. I really looked forward to that time of year for almost 10 years. My daughter really loved coming and helping with that. When she was three she stood at the edge just shaking with excitement holding a brush and I mostly gave her a large area to paint with one color. She was excited to be part and later was skilled enough to help. Other times I just filled notebooks full of small colored pencil drawings or watercolors or pastels, little bits of time when the kids could color on their own works at the same time as we sat together. I would see that with the teachers at their preschool just sitting and doodling while the kids worked on their own drawings. What you can’t learn from those amazing preschool teachers.
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?
My studio is in the dining room. This works the best. I think someday it would be nice to have a studio somewhere but ideally it would be within my living space, just a huge room. I have tried different rooms in the house. My easel was in a separate room with bad light and nothing got done there. It has been up in my bedroom which worked some. I started drawing on my iPad on the commute to work and this is really where I have gotten momentum. I drew on the way to and from work daily. The iPad was a portable studio and I could work with color and design and line which I really love.
I always created when the kids were around. I still do. I used to share the dining room table with my daughter when she was age 8-12. All rooms are up for art grabs in our house. If someone has a project, my son with computers, my husband building a guitar, my daughter making any number of sewing or art projects we just spread out and work. Again that letting go of the perfect house has worked for us.
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?
When the kids have activities carpools can give you some time and even when kids are busy with the activity you can have some time to draw. There are definitely stages of kids and stages for the amount of care that you need for kids. I never really stopped just going for it and trying to make things. Luckily I wasn’t a perfectionist so I just kept making. Because of that I think that people notice who you are and it builds from there, just jump in the river as a friend said and it will carry you. I did feel the pull so often that I wasn’t doing all that I was meant to do and would have loved to not have to have an outside of the home job, art became third. Things are a bit different now with more exposure online. I think that you can share what you are doing and have that relationship with other people who know and appreciate what you are doing with social media. Household care? I didn’t outsource any of it, most of it got done, nobody starved, everyone had some clean clothes to wear and we had a lot of fun. If you can afford to have someone come in and clean or cook or watch kids part time by all means do it.
Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?
Dream projects.. well I would love to explore licensing and still figure out pattern making which I assume is related to licensing, that is my next goal and a trade show. I feel that it is always good to reassess where you are and what is next. I’m all about that and it is so helpful to keep you on track. I think also my dream it to feel fulfilled by the process of art making and feeling that I have made something that I am proud of and that someone can enjoy. I still love painting above all and always want to do more of that. Of course I would also love to show art in other countries, a way to travel.