This week we’re featuring painter Emily Reid. Emily studied art in Florence, SC, Bozeman, MT, and Sydney, Australia. Her work features a strong sense of color, and a connection to animals and our natural world. Emily says that she also hopes to help connect humans to their animal spirits and to their creative spirit through my art workshops. She believes the creative process is more important than the result and should be fun.
Emily’s artwork has been licensed by West Elm, Greenbox Art, and with more in the works!
For people who don’t know your medium well, could you explain what your art is like?
I paint animals- often in bright colors and using lots of patterns.
What are important motherhood contexts people should know about you?
I was married for a short time in my 20’s and had a real-life Jerry-Springer episode and divorced while I was pregnant with my daughter. Her biological dad had his parental rights removed and I am her sole legal parent. It wasn’t fun, but ultimately it wasn’t a bad thing. It just presents different challenges, including finding a way to make money and finding enough time to enjoy life as a parent- supporting all of my daughter’s activities and spending quality time together- which I’d say I’m doing a pretty good job at! But you know, households with two parents have to do the same thing, so I guess it could just be the challenge of being a parent.
Besides my human child, I provide a home to about 30 animals and my goal for all is to help them have healthy, happy lives. My creativity, my art, is what supports all of them, and my art is inspired by them.
How has the practice of your creative life changed since motherhood?
I didn’t become a professional artist until after I had my daughter. But before that I had several businesses and expressed creativity in other ways!
I often ask my daughter what color I should use on something or ask her what she thinks about one of my painting ideas—she is awesome, she gives me good feedback and ideas!
Can you say a bit more about your process and what a typical painting day looks like for you? Sometimes I paint every day and sometimes I will take 2 or 3 days off. I paint in my studio at my house, but sometimes I spread out into the living room, especially now that it is getting a bit colder because my pellet stove is in my living room. My daughter is sometimes laying on the couch nearby or doing homework if I am painting at night.
I often listen to audio books while I am painting.-I get through at least a book each week, sometimes 3 or 4. I also listen to music ranging from Mozart to Led Zeppelin and podcasts like Oprah’s SuperSoul, Mike Tyson’s Hot Boxin’, and Russel Brand’s Under the Skin.
My pigeon Tubbs is often nearby while I am painting and I have to be careful because she walks across my paintings if I leave the room, and she likes to drink the gross paint water. All of the other animals are outside and I’ll take breaks and go out to visit them a little.
I always work on several pieces at once. Often I get stuck on a piece but still have the creative flow going, and I can keep it going and not get frustrated or stuck by just moving to the next piece. A lot of times I lose track of time and I’m not sure how long I’ve been going. If I have somewhere to be I will set an alarm because it is so easy for me to lose track of time when I’m painting. I complete a painting about every two to three days.
What’s been the best surprise about having a creative life in motherhood?
My daughter is 12 and I am becoming less and less cool to her, but her friends come over sometimes and will say it is “cool” that her mom is an artist. I’m like, SEE??? I AM COOL!, which is usually responded to with eye rolls. But all kidding aside, Hattie and I have a great relationship. I teach art classes about 10 hours a week and outside of that, painting allows me a lot of flexibility, so I have time to spend with my daughter, watch her soccer games and school performances, eat dinner with her at night, all that fun stuff.
What’s been the your most important practice for having a creative life as a mother?
If I don’t take time every day to focus on me, I’m a crappy artist and mom. Well, I can be. If I don’t take time to go for a run, meditate, journal a little- whatever it is- I’m not able to handle the stresses of everyday life, I am not at my best, so my artwork suffers and so does my parenting. But I’m not saying anything surprising- you don’t have to be a parent to know that or need that. Last year I read the book, Miracle Morning, and it helped me add a little structure to my day. I would recommend it to anyone; you can adapt the ideas to suit your lifestyle best.
I can’t create very well if I’m not in a good “space,” so I try to balance me by eating right, exercising, meditation, journaling. I check in with my goals regularly. I want to do well as an artist so I can provide for my daughter, take care of my animals, help other artists thrive, and help our community. I volunteer each month at our local homeless shelter and teach art classes to the kids who live there. I know some artists create when they are in dark places. I know I am lucky because my art only comes from healthy, happy head space. When I went through a breakup three years ago, I struggled to create anything for several months while I was getting back to happy.
Who are other artist mothers in your field that inspire you? Artworks that inspire you as a creative mother?
Artist Lisa Kurt is kicking ass as an artist and single parent! I love her and her work!
This year, I hosted a community art show at my farm with 12 other local female artists- I’d like to keep doing that.
Find Emily Reid’s work and learn more about her at: