We're excited to have Lisa Anderson Shaffer of Zelma Rose here today sharing her experience as a mother and artist. Also, her own mother is an artist, which is very cool in my opinion! From what I can see, Lisa sees the world through the eyes of the artist. Her environment is part of her inspiration and creative process. You can see the textures, landscape and colors of California in her fine art, fiber art and designs. Her gorgeous handcrafted jewelry is wearable art. I don't have a piece yet (I'm eyeing those indigo or black necklaces), but I think wearing them would make me actually feel the golden late afternoon California light and calm yet creative energy that Lisa exudes. Thank you for sharing with us today, Lisa!
Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?
I am Lisa Anderson Shaffer, a fine artist and jewelry designer. I live and work in the mountains of Marin County, California with my daughter, 5 and husband. You can follow my adventures:
How has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?
Back in the day when I was in art school I was the kind of artist who would lock herself in the studio for about 16 hours in a row. I would forget to eat, and if I was in a good flow I wouldn't sleep until things had played out. I would often leave larger projects until closer to their completion date and work long and hard hours instead of a few at a time. This was just the way my creativity naturally flowed. It worked for me and my husband, so we just went with it.
When my daughter was born the days of long and hard studio hours came to an end. I knew it was coming and that if I wanted to continue to create I had to find a way to do so in smaller increments of time. In the first few months between breastfeeding and little sleep, I was happy if I squirreled away 15 minutes a day. These minutes grew and in time they became hours again. I still cannot just close the studio door for 16 hours, those days are long gone, and the trade off has been incredibly rewarding, but it has been difficult to try to harness and target my creativity. It's like, "I've got 45 minutes to make something happen or it's not happening today." I have found that working on multiple projects really helps. If one things isn't flowing I quickly switch it up so at least I am creating during that time. I have been surprised that having clear parameters put upon my creativity time has actually helped me stayed more focused. I get more done in less time now, which I never would have guessed!
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 never feel like I have enough time to create. Some people would find that depressing, but for me it is a product of having everything I want. Being a stay at home/work at home mom and being an artist for a living is getting to have everything for me. It's more of giving something up for now, than in totality. Like I might have to give up an hour of art time today to gain an hour of something super fun with my daughter's school. Being able to juggle things like that can be difficult and wonderful. I have so much gratitude to be able to make these choices. I say that to myself at the end of each day. I chose this. I chose this.
How does being an artist make you a better parent to your child? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you?
One thing I know for sure about myself, deep down inside to be true, is that I can always paint myself out of a corner. When you have creativity and know how to use it, the possibilities are endless. You are never stuck for long. I hope my daughter can grow up to value creativity. To know that it is something of incredible value and importance. To know that it should be nourished and no matter what your interest or calling, being creative makes your life experiences all that much more rich. To be able to appreciate art and create is to be truly free.
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 am lucky enough to have a beautiful home studio. It is really the only way I have been able to run a business and be a full time stay at home mom at the same time. The time and money spent on an outside studio space would take away from my time working. I work a lot at night and some weeks that makes all the difference in getting projects finished on time and staying on my jewelry production schedule. I look through giant picture windows on two walls of my studio. It's as close to being outside without actually being outside. I watch deer and fox wander through our property and if I'm up working early enough, take in the sunrise over the valley. It's magical! I am always making art with my daughter. Every wall in our home is painted flat white and available to be used for hanging art work. We are always painting, drawing, making and then running around with washi tape covering the walls.
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 daughter starting pre-school was a major shift for me. Suddenly my time went from trying to get as much as I could muster finished up during nap time and at night to suddenly having a few hours each day to work. That was the first major shift. As her day has gotten a little longer, the shift continues and next year things will be even more extended with a kindergartener. It's always changing and flowing. I try to be as flexible as I can and know that what worked this week might not work next week, but I'll figure it out when I get there. There is no balance for me and I'm good with that. It's all about how well I can juggle.
Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?
As I have had time to get more involved with the fine art part of my business I would love to take on a few major commission works this year. Whether for an interior design project, a wedding, or a business, working on a few large scale zodiac constellation pieces in the coming months would be a lot of fun!
All photographs provided by Lisa Shaffer Anderson unless stated otherwise.