It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Yumi Phillips' work. I mentioned her as one of my favorite artists mothers in a recent interview I did! Visually, her work, color choices and compositions are stunning. As a person, Yumi fantastic because she speaks so candidly about her journey as an artist, self doubt, and other vulnerable topics that many of us go through. When we see others sharing, it makes us feel not alone, and instead feel empowered to keep going. I have loved watching your growth and cannot wait to see where it takes you! (And I can't wait to buy my own Yumi Phillips original piece one day too!)
Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?
Hi, my name is Yumi. I am a stay at home to 2 little girls, Isabelle age 3 and Elsa age 1.5. We are also expecting baby #3 in spring 2016. I love to paint, usually during my girls' nap time. Pre-kids, I was a nuclear medicine technologist and breakdancing was my creative outlet. I stumbled into painting in the fall of 2014, a few months after my second child was born. I wanted to create an art piece for our home and I thought, "hey let me just create some abstract art, because it couldn't be that hard right". I was in for a rude awakening of course. I laugh at myself whenever I think about this. Since then, I've been teaching myself through online courses, local workshops, and just pure experimenting and learning by trial and error. I share my artist journey on my IG @yumiphillips. Recently, I also launched my website, www.yumiphillips.com.
How has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?
I was not painting pre-kids but dance was "my life". The creative process is very similar. I took dancing seriously, although in the eyes of most people it was just a hobby. When I didn't dance, I felt very restless. There was a void in me that only dancing could fill. My other priority was my education and then my job as a nuclear medicine technologist. My biggest dream at the time was to become a really good dancer, maintain my day job that pays the bills, and start a family.
After kids, priorities changed. Dancing/art is no longer "my life", and I mean this in the best way possible. I read a quote recently on Design Milk's IG that spoke to me : "To be a good artist, you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist" - Jasper Johns (painter/printmaker). I might not have understood this quote prior to motherhood, but after being a mom and having to "give up everything", I can relate. Before kids, I was such a perfectionist, as a dancer/artist. Motherhood kind of cured me of that. Of course, I still have my struggles with perfectionism (it is an on going process/battle I think), but motherhood helps put things into perspective. It is constantly schooling me to be more selfless, patient, gentle, enjoy the little things, let go...It is helping me to see things in the eyes of my children. This helps me tap into my creativity and be more fearless and experimental.
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?
I am a stay-at-home mom. I started painting when my youngest was around 6 months and had a somewhat predictable nap time schedule. So when the nap/bedtime routine was solid, it got easier to find time to create. While they sleep, I paint. The time I have is limited and precious so I get down to business and paint as soon as nap rolls around. But not all the time, because sometimes the laundry needs to be done and I need to see the bottom of my sink again.
My girls go down for an afternoon nap for 2-3 hours (no, they don't really nap the whole 2-3 hours...they play with each other for an hour or so then eventually nap after I tell them numerous times to settle down and go to sleep). Tuesdays and Thursdays, my 3 year old goes to pre-school for the whole day, and I get more "me time" while the 1.5 year old goes down for a morning and afternoon nap. I know once the newborn comes along though, things will get wild again.
I've given up having a tidy home at all times. We also do a lot of take-out more than I am willing to admit. I do hope to change that this year. I am still trying to get a system down where tidying up and chores don't get too overwhelming and healthy food is readily available in our fridge... All while still being able to carve out time for art. It almost sounds too good to be true, but I really think it's doable *cross fingers*.
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?
Me being an artist = happy heart = happy mom = happy family. Outside of motherhood, I think it is very important to respond to those other callings in life, whether it's knitting or karate or volunteering or pursuing a career... Whatever it is that makes you come alive. I hope that my children will see the importance of following their heart, and that "having kids is not the end of your life", which is what a lot of people joke about. I want them to see that if they choose to become a mom, they can still work towards their dreams. I hope that they will be inspired to pursue whatever it is that makes them happy and gives them fulfillment.
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?
When our girls started room sharing, I was able to claim one bedroom for my studio (before that, my studio space was the dining table). I know this set up will not last forever because we are going to need a nursery in the future - but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. In the meantime, I like that I can leave my messes without having to worry about little hands getting into it, or without having to see it until it's painting time again. To improve my workspace, I would love it to be a permanent set-up. Also, having more space and windows wouldn't hurt. But that'll have to wait until the "forever home".
I create art with my kids, but not during studio time. They have a little art corner in our living room, where we paint, draw, and do some crafts. Sometimes, I let them in my studio and show them my latest work. They are my biggest fans. My three year old would always say, "wow mama your painting is so beautiful - i love it!!!".
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?
My biggest tip is having a solid nap/bedtime routine especially with small children - this has been huge in allowing me to find time to create and keep my sanity. Also, ask for help if you can. We are very lucky to have family close by who are willing to babysit. This allows more time to create, but sometimes we spend this "free time" to keep up with other household stuff and miscellaneous errands. We also send our three year old to preschool 2x a week which she loves.
Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?
I'm very much in the baby phase of my artist journey - I have so many dreams and I'm still all over the place with it. But one day, I would like to participate in a group show, have my own solo show, be represented by a gallery, travel for art and teach workshops, contribute to the household income through my art, and give back to the community somehow. My biggest goal is to keep creating for the rest of my life.