Julia Rymer

I'm so excited to share this interview from Julia Rymer with you today. I'd like to think that we'll meet one day, and she'll be as welcoming, energetic and enthusiastic as she appears in my mind. She's an expressive writer as well. Do yourself a favor and check out her blog. I recently enjoyed reading her thoughtful essays on balancing art and motherhood and learning to accept being the artist you are. Thank you Julia!

Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?

I am an artist creating abstract paintings and prints that explore nature and science. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my husband, two kids (age 5 and newborn), and a moody cat. You can find my work on juliarymer.com, or represented through Serena & Lily and Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery in Lafayette, CA. Physically, you can find me at home or in yoga class!


How has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?

Before kids, I was in more of an experimental phase, and played with a lot of styles and media, lacking sustained focus but learning a lot in the process. Since having kids, my vision for what kind of art I want to make has clarified, and I am focused, usually having a plan for where I am going with my work (though it doesn't always work out, mind you). I also am more efficient, and schedule my time for painting- otherwise it doesn't happen.

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 very hard right now to find time to make art, but usually it is not- it is something I prioritize. However, I just had my second child in February, so I am not painting at this moment- I am in the newborn phase. I know this is temporary, however, and soon I'll be back in the swing of things.
In order to be a mom and a wife and an artist, I ended up giving up a part time job working for a company I really admire. Balancing all of it was way too much for me, and something had to go. Fortunately my husband and I are able to make that work.
As for advice, I was told to paint at home - don't get a studio far away, with any commute time, for example. Maximize what little time you have, in other words (even if it is 15 minutes!) But otherwise, I am winging it- most successful women artists I know are not mothers, and the few I am familiar with are winging it themselves!


How does being an artist make you a better parent to your children? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you? 
I think showing children what it means to be creative is a priceless lesson, especially in today's world where we need creativity. We encourage children to go into STEM fields, not realizing how much creativity is needed to be in those professions, denigrating the part that the arts and humanities play in our lives and in culture as a whole.
It makes a difference in my parenting that I do create regularly- I am a calmer, nicer mother when I am feeding that part of myself.  Subsuming myself beneath motherhood and fighting my need to create art is, frankly, a recipe for depression and despair.
I also feel I am showing my children how to take risks and work hard at something. The life of an artist is not easy, and there is not often a "payoff," but I do this work because I love it, and I am good at it. I have worked for it. That is not a small lesson!


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 my garage. It is close by, and because I live in California, it is never too cold to paint (though it does get too hot). I love that my workspace is nearby, and that I can open it up to the fresh air. I also think a lot of good stuff comes out of garages- from rock bands to personal computers!

The only thing I would change is having a bigger car to transport bigger canvases home, without the need to remove car seats. #momproblems

I make art with my daughter regularly. I don't coach her or tell her what to make. As far as I am concerned, children are natural artists and need no assistance. Sometimes I teach her a new media (I recently started showing her how to use acrylic paint- she's 5 now) but I don't suggest subject matter or give her any direction where to go. Kids get enough of that in life!


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?

If you can afford it, outsource the cleaning or other mundane chores. Or worry about them less!

Reduce distraction. Instead of social media or TV, make art. At least for a short time a day.

Oh, and don't feel guilty about putting your child in childcare or getting a babysitter so you can create. You are not wasting your time, and you are not neglecting your kids. You are practicing self-care. You are creating beauty.

As for lifestyle, I would not say ours has changed, except that having kids changes your lifestyle. I can no longer jaunt off to the weekly openings and schmooze with other artists and arts professionals. I have to schedule those outings, find childcare.



Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?

I want to go bigger in 2016, literally making larger paintings. I'd also like to curate a show at an art space, find new venues to show at in markets beyond my home, and of course, find new collectors of my work!