Melbourne artist + artist business coach
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My guest this week is Fiona Valentine, a visual artist + a business coach for artists based in Melbourne, Victoria, and a mother of 2.
Fiona grew up a creative child, her mother enjoyed drawing, she was influenced by her, she received her first oil paint set at the age of 12, and she did some training in high school to hone her skills in oils and drawing.
After high school finished, Fiona took a trip overseas. It was during this trip that she met her her husband and her life took on a whole new adventure.
At 23 years of age Fiona found herself with a new baby, living in a mud hut in Niger in Africa. She put her art aside, feeling that in light of the poverty and suffering around her, that it felt frivolous, it didn't seem like it had a place. This was a decision she has since regretted.
During her 30s Fiona was back in Australia, with 2 children. She then realised how crucial her art was to her life balance, she taught herself watercolour and acrylic. She delved into training, joining the Australian Guild of Realist Artists. The life changing training she received lead her to share her love of artwork and to become a business coach for artists. Fiona credits her deep relationship with God as a huge support in the time where she delved back into her creativity.
We chat today about how finding your creativity can enhance other parts of your life, creating new neural pathways in your brain, finding new ways to create and looking at things differently.
**This episode contains discussions around post natal depression, autism + Asperger's syndrome**
Connect with Fiona website / instagram
Music used with permission from Alemjo, Australian new age ambient music trio.
When chatting to my guests I greatly appreciate their openness and honestly in sharing their stories. If at any stage their information is found to be incorrect, the podcast bears no responsibility for guests' inaccuracies.
Podcast transcript at the bottom of the page
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Art of Being A Mum Podcast. I'm beyond honoured that you're here and would be grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave me a 5-star review in iTunes or wherever you are listening. It really helps! This way together we can inspire, connect and bring in to the light even more stories from creative mums. Want to connect? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram tagging me in with @art_of_being_a_mum_podcast
I can't wait to connect. And remember if you or somebody you know would like to be a guest on the podcast, get in touch! I love meeting and chatting to mammas from all creative backgrounds, from all around the world!
Alison acknowledges this Land of the Berrin (Mount Gambier) Region as the Traditional Lands of the Bungandidj People and acknowledge these First Nations people as the custodians of the Region.
Welcome to the Art of Being a mum, the podcast. It's a platform for mothers who are artists and creatives to share the joys and issues they've encountered, while continuing to make art. Regular themes we explore include the day to day juggle, how mother's work is influenced by the children, mum guilt, how mums give themselves time to create within the role of mothering, and the value that mothers and others placed on their artistic selves. My name is Alison Newman. I'm a singer, songwriter, and a mom of two boys from regional South Australia. You can find links to my guests and topics we discuss in the show notes. Together with music played, how to get in touch, and a link to join our lively and supportive community on Instagram. The art of being a mum acknowledges the bonding people as the traditional owners of the land which his podcast is recorded. Thank you so much for joining me. My guest this week is Fiona Valentine, vas a visual artist and a business coach for artists based in Melbourne, Victoria, and she's a mom of two. Fiona grew up as a creative child. Her mother enjoyed drawing. She was influenced by her and received her first oil paint set at the age of 12. She did some training in high school to hone her skills in oils and drawing. After High School finished, Fiona took a trip overseas. It was during this trip that she met her husband and her life took on a whole new adventure. At 23 years of age, Fiona found herself with a newborn baby living in a mud house in New Year in Africa. She put aside her art, feeling that in light of the poverty and suffering around her, then it felt frivolous. It didn't seem like he had a place. This was a decision that she has since regretted. During her 30s Fiona was back in Australia with two children. She then realized how crucial her art was to her life balance. She taught herself watercolors and acrylics. She delved into training, joining the Australian guild of real estate artists. The life changing training she received led her to share her love of artwork, and to become a business coach for artists. Fiona credits her deep relationship with God as a huge support in the time where she delves back into her creativity. This episode contains discussion around postnatal depression, autism and Asperger's syndrome. The music you'll hear today is from Australian New Age ambient music trio lmJ which features myself my sister Emma Anderson, and her husband John. I hope you enjoy today's episode. Lovely to meet you.
Lovely to meet you too nice to meet somebody who's podcasting on this continent. Oh whereabouts are you? I'm in Melbourne.
Our lovely my mum was born in Altona that down at the beachside suburb. So it's been a lot of time going to Melbourne over the years. So yeah,
we my sister was born in Adelaide. So while our family were there, so we've been done the South Australia Victoria.
Have you gone through Mount Gambier much on your way? Between there you go the the upwards upwards route?
Well, we were actually in Moogerah for a few years. So we often also between Algeria and Adelaide. Yeah, I've done that. And yeah, I don't I don't think we went through Mount Gambier very often. Is that where you are? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm
getting an amount. Yep. Not many people like that. I talked to on you know, Mount Gambier at all. So
I know people have lived there, but I don't think I've ever actually been there. Yeah. Okay, I was born here. But I've lived all over. I grew up pretty nomadic childhood. And I lived in like four countries. The first five years I was married. We've been settled in the same street in Melbourne for nearly 20 years now, which is great.
That would be really hectic, like moving like countries, little line moving, you know, towns moving countries. Yeah,
you get good at it.
You probably wouldn't like want to accumulate too much stuff, either. Because you sort of, you know, when you go next place, you'd be like, Oh, I don't want to take too much baggage, I suppose.
Yeah, you learn. You don't want to have to carry too much with you. But you also learn to I think that objects are they have a sacredness about them and you can't just clear out everything because they hold our stories. And you want to take some of that familiarity and comfort with you even in an overseas move, which gets trickier because you have to weigh everything
Tell us about yourself. You're watercolor artists and you are an art coach as well can you share sort of how you got into painting like growing up what you was, was that sort of your main art form of there any influences how you got into it,
I really, I just always enjoyed the idea of being creative. And painting and drawing. Were very interesting to me. My mom was really supportive. And she liked to sketch and I still have my first oil paint box that she bought me when I was 12. And I got some really good training, when I was in high school, living in the country, just a really tiny school. But we did some courses on drawing and watercolor. So I got some good skills early on, which was really helpful. And then later I had, I worked with an artist who taught us how to draw from little still life settings and things like that gave me a bit of oil painting, tuition, but then I didn't really do a whole lot with it. I went overseas after high school. And I thought I was going on a six month trip to teach kids to read. And the trip got extended, I met my husband, we got married here in Australia and went back overseas. So my life took a little bit different path than I thought it was going to. And so I found myself with a new baby in a madhouse in Africa, thinking that my creativity felt really self indulgent and frivolous. And I made a really bad decision to just sort of put it aside because in light of poverty and suffering, and it just didn't seem like it had a place. But that was just, you know, her 23. What did I know? If I'd had another voice at the time helping me see how these things could work together, it would have been really helpful. But instead, yeah, I hit my 30s, my, I had two girls, by now I was back in Australia. And I really started to understand how core creativity was, to me, as a person to all human beings. We're just we're born creative, we just don't always recognize it, or develop it. And I really began to treasure that and see how crucial it was to my balance and well being as a human. For me, it was a connection with God as well, just that was how I was wired, for relationship with him. So I really made it a priority. I'm mobile, I read everything I could from the library, and taught myself first of all, watercolor. And then I moved on to acrylic, and then finally got my brave up to try oil. And I just loved it. And that's where I started to get some training. Then I joined the Australian guild of realist artists. And they were running winter schools for a few years, we could go for a week and spend time with some master artists. And it was absolutely life changing fan tastic got introduced to much more skill based training for realism, and composition and drawing and painting and color use. And it was wonderful. So that really helped me build my skills and understand how to create the kind of art that I was really interested in.
There are so many things you've just said in there that I want to ask you about. But the one that sticks out is the mud hot living in Africa. Can you give us a bit of background, how you actually ended up there? What was the circumstances that brought you to living there?
It wasn't something I ever thought would happen. When I chose this trip of going to Africa, I thought I'd be in a fairly rural setting. But for just a few months, it turned out I was in a large town that was you know, had stores and cars and all that sort of thing, electricity. And I lived with another couple. After I met my husband, we went back to that same town and we worked in an international school. And so we were helping kids with transition. We did some training in the US, which actually helped us as well as everybody else on how to make those big moves and handle them. When you're going across cultures. Maybe you've spent many years in one culture and now you're moving permanently to another one. Just how that affects us was fascinating stuff. And then we moved in Tunisia and we live just south of the Sahara desert in very small mud village. And it wasn't actually a heart although it was mud. It didn't have electricity or running water. It was sort of like a three bedroom house, and we put a kitchen in one of the so called bedrooms, and and nothing was really square. And it was very hot. So we slept outside. Oh, wow. And sort of had to run the hose at three in the morning because we were on a bit of a hill, when the rest of the town didn't have the water on, we could actually get the hose to work and fill up some barrels with water. Oh my gosh. So it was pretty crazy. We had some solar power. Yep. And we would go bushing outfall drive because we were working with nomads, so we would go out and stay with them slip on sand. The stars were amazing. But it was a pretty full on existence, you know, just making sure you had clean water, putting it through the filter, baking bread, ground grinding meat, just surviving was an language learning was pretty tough with a with a new baby. It was a pretty extreme, really extreme time. But we weren't there terribly long. After about 18 months, we came back to Australia. And we had planned to go back. But for lots of reasons it it was clear to us it was right to stay here in Australia. And we had another baby and daughter life here. Yeah,
though, like, let alone, you know, take the fact that you've got a baby out of the mix, that would still be incredibly challenging. But then obviously, that's a whole like, yeah, that's like I can't get around that
was really big. And for lots of reasons. Although I loved it. I loved being there. And I was really committed to being there to what we were doing. It also took a heavy toll on me. And I think part of that, I mean, often, postpartum depression can be a thing that we face, whether that's hormones, or whatever it is. And being separated from my support system. I think that was a big part of it, too. A friend who's a psychologist who works with moms, has identified grief, actually, if we're separated from our mother, by, you know, could be relationship reasons, or, or death or distance. But when we don't have that mother support that village, that other women in our life caring for us, we actually go through grief, but it's often not recognized. Often it's misdiagnosed as depression. That was another piece I learned recently that made me think, Aha, I think there was some of that going on. Plus the creative piece of making that choice to think no, no. In this context, that would just be so self indulgent, instead of saying no, no, it would have been something to really help me navigate that tough time.
Yeah, I can certainly appreciate where you're coming from both sides of the coin there. Yeah, I can imagine if you're if you're Yeah, if you if you're worrying about having, you know, potable water that you're, you know, that's important. And then if you're using water to paint, you'd think or is that the right thing to do you know what I mean? You'd be questioning this the ethics behind it, I suppose, like, you know, if people are struggling to get clean water, and I'm using it to dip my paintbrush eat like, you know what I mean? Yes,
yes, just the simple things can feel indulgent. And there's also a strange feeling of if someone else is suffering, then who am I to not be suffering? And, yeah, you can't go into a situation in a third world country as a Westerner and not feel that there's a difference in lifestyle here. There has to be if I if I didn't maintain drinking water, or you know, some measure of Western food, I probably wouldn't survive. I haven't grown up learning to just deal with a particular environment. Yeah, a harsh environment. So there's some of it, that's necessity, but trying to work out. How much of that helps and how much just be free of it. It's just the way it is. And just be be myself and understand that these women around me, they're enjoying their creativity. It may be different than the way I would Yeah, but they're embroidering. They're making designs. They like the way things look. And they love having a new dress like I do. They're just doing it slightly differently in their context. I didn't need to feel that way. I understand why I did. But if I'd had, I guess, probably just some more time to grow up. If I had more understanding, I could have been kinder to myself. But I think even now, you know, I think people when they see trouble in the world, they can feel like their creativity isn't as important and the need to do something really makes a difference. And they forget that actually, our creativity is hugely powerful both for our own coping stress, and for the things that we make, and how they help create home environments that help us cope with stress, or work environments that help us be productive, or healthcare environments that heal. So if if creativity is something that's really your thing, whether it's music, whether it's art, it's so powerful.
When you're saying, talking, then I just had that thought, just recently with the conflict in Ukraine, that there was a footage I saw of a, a gentleman whose son had been in the hospital with being traded in Ukraine, and as the son had been finally discharged, and the dad played his saxophone for the, the doctors and nurses and the other patients there as his little thank you. And, you know, you think that if you play the saxophone or sing or something, you think that so simplistic, I do that all the time. But in that context, you know, the, the joy that it can bring others in, you know, the emotions, and the connection that it creates, you know, is huge, you know,
and remembering to do that for ourselves, and our own household, and the people who buy our albums or buy our paintings. It's not just about racing off to a part of the world that suffering and doing something about it, although we feel that it's often just seeing how am I bringing the healing of creativity, the joy of it to my everyday life? My family's everyday life? And my customers everyday life? Yeah,
that's, that's so important. That's it, that's a massive point. When you came back to Australia, when was the point that you sort of realized, I'm feel like I've lost myself, I've lost my creativity. And I need to get it back. You talked about you started to do some reading and stuff was there one moment where you just went, I need to change this was it sort of,
there were a couple of moments, I knew I was underweight, struggling with my mental health, and not in a good place, which kind of surprised me, because I had been so excited about being in Africa, and so committed to the work that we were doing. But that doesn't stop environments, and even the spiritual environment we're in, and an environment where placing curses on people is a part of normal, everyday life. And if you've never encountered that, and don't really think it's a thing, that doesn't mean it's not a thing. So it was a lot in that environment that I was perhaps only even partially aware of. So I knew when I got back, I needed something needed to change. And I, I kind of felt like creativity was part of it. So gardening was a gentle beginning. As I became more confident in how important my creativity was, quilting became part of it. And then eventually, I was like, Okay, I really want to make space for painting. And a few years had gone by at this point. And there were some, some theological learnings, really just discovering that God is three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that their community of friendship and joy is creative. That was a real lightbulb moment for me as a Christian going, Wow, that my creativity is not just my thing, and a self indulgent thing, it's deeply core to the nature of God and the relationship has invited me into and for me, that was the biggest, okay, I get it, I get why this is core to who I am, and to my life and to my relationship with God. And it gave me the freedom to say I'm going to pour resources at this time I'm going to invest in growing my creative skills and drawing and painting in the way that I've been wanting to. For years I've been dabbling with music and gardening and quilting, but yeah, just it gave me the yes let's dive in.
Yeah, yeah, almost like that. That not permission but that reassurance I suppose that you felt like yes, this is this is it and this is important and it is a value and I can see Yeah, that I'm supporting this I suppose as well. You felt really sure really comfortable with that. So you also work as an art Coach, can you share with us about what you do there?
I've been teaching drawing and painting for a few years. And that was how I made the transition from being an admin manager. After homeschooling my kids, I needed a job, they went to school. And that's what I ended up doing. I learned a lot of business skills doing that. And then I just the desire to paint more got really strong. So I built up workshops and classes on the side until I could replace my salary. And during that process, that teacher, part of me, really came alive again. And so I've been juggling my own painting and teaching for quite some time. And I started to have this desire to teach beyond just the class session, because I could see the transformation that was happening in people's lives. So I started luxury art retreats, where women could come for three days, we went to the Yarra Valley, state and beautiful country hotel. And I taught them my six keys to painting, and just watching their dreams come alive, because I get them to start with, who are you? What do you love? What do you enjoy? What subject is most important to you? What style do you like the most start there. And then just learned those things, because there isn't time to learn everything. So learn how to make the kind of art that you most like making. I mean, if you're a musician, you don't feel like you have to sing classical jazz country. You don't have to do it all you kind of know what you like. And you go with that. Yeah. So I kind of took that pathway with helping my students find focus. And then watching these women come live and realizing as I was growing my own art business, and investing in courses and coaching, learning, aha, that this message, I'm hearing so often that it's really hard to sell art. Or you need to get into art shows and win awards. Or you need to get gallery representation. And this is how you do it. I started to think now I think there's another way and I started to realize the entrepreneurial opportunity of the internet for artists. So I started building, how to help artists move on from painting, to being able to do what I've done, and create a side hustle from the art and even a full time business. And so now that's really what I focus on. As a business coach for artists, I've created the profitable artist method. And I teach artists how to get clarity on what they really want to make, and who it's for. Get clarity on how much time they want to spend and how much money they want or need to make. And to build a simple business and marketing plan from there.
Yeah, right. That's awesome. Because I think that there is there is this not what the word is, this can be a misconception, I suppose at least this way we see the starving artists, you know that, you know, art's not a real job, you can't make money out of art, you know, and you're basically kicking that to the curb and going no, actually, if you do it in the, you know, particular way, in a particular method, then there's so many opportunities for making a living from your art,
for sure. I believe real artists don't starve they thrive. But it does mean recognizing that as an artist, you're not only an art ambassador, you're also an artist, entrepreneur, you're in business, if you want to make a living from your art, and that doesn't. That's not selling out. That's not compromising your creativity. It's an extension of it.
Yeah, so it's looking at it in a different way of, you know, taking ownership of it and seeing it as a business rather than I don't know, just a hobby in real cities. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that's it. And that can be a challenging mindset, I think for for some people to sort of see that in the barriers, like you said that that selling out mentality, which I'm putting in air quotes. That, yeah, it's, it's if it's what you want, then why should you be held back by you know, maybe some beliefs that you've had in the past or people around you have these certain beliefs? Do you encounter encounter sort of that sort of pushback from people when they're going through that transition?
Yes, it can be there, even if they don't fully believe it for themselves. Maybe they doubt themselves? Have I got what it takes? Or they worry? It's about talent? How do I know if I'm talented enough? Whereas actually, I think the more we understand brain science, the more we realize, the people we have thought were the most talented, have actually benefited from training and practice. Those are skills that have been developed. It's not really even in the case of someone like Mozart. It's not just about talent. It's about the environment, the training, the practice, the discipline, that It's really liberating. Because if you can learn art skills to grow your art ability, you can also learn business skills to grow, that even if you're not techie, or you've never had business experience, there are some really simple things you can do. To make sure that as you create work, you share that work with people who love what you love, and can afford to buy it. And you make a buying experience, which these days we can do online, so that they can buy from you. And you create this whole ecosystem using social media and an email list and website. So you, I mean, you're asking that pushback. Yes, there's pushback, but really, there are a lot of people who hold on to this sort of toxic suffering starving artist thing. I just think why you don't need to. So ask yourself, Do I want to thrive? Do I want to make art I love and make a living and build a life I love or do I want to starve for me? I know which one I want?
Yeah, that's awesome. You're listening to the art of being a mom was my mom, Alison Newman. I want to talk a bit about your own children. Can you share? You've got two children.
I've got two girls and they're grown and in their 20s. Now, yeah. One's a nurse. And one has worked as a library assistant. She's currently doing some writing and working, helping me actually quite a bit at home. And yeah, they aren't at all. They yes or no, no, in the sense that neither of them have a desire to be making drawings and paintings. They're both quite creative. My oldest daughter who's a nurse is very creative. And she really brings just this amazing problem solving people caring, empathic sense to her nursing and palliative care. And the other ones come up with a really creative ways of challenging kids who don't love reading, to do a six chapter challenge. That's what she calls it. Read the first six chapters of this book I recommend, and if you still don't like it, I'll give you another one. By the time they get six chapters in their heart, yeah, lots of converts. So yeah, their creativity comes out in different ways than art. That sort of
goes back to what you were saying earlier about how we are innately who humans are creative beings. But I think there's a lot of people that discount that in themselves. And even some women that I've approached to be on this podcast, perhaps looking at themselves a different way to where I am as a as an outsider, I see someone who is creating something who's, you know, has created something from scratch and is, is making it work and making changes to it as they go. And I see that as a creative person. And they'd say, Oh, but I don't make anything that cycle. It's not about necessarily making something and having something in your hand that right. Yeah, can you can you sort of expand on that a little bit?
Yeah, my husband, Mike is a lien specialist these days. I don't know if you've come across the lien. But it's a whole system of tools and behaviors that helps businesses to work efficiently and helps them to value people and use tools and systems so that they can reduce waste, reduce overwork, not pass on poor quality, things like that. So it makes millions of dollars worth of difference to big companies. But the principles are really amazingly simple and helpful. So as he and I've talked over the years, you know, having a glass of wine sitting down, he's talking about Lean, I'm talking about art talking about our day. We've just seen how many of these things come together. So I actually created a program for businesses called The Art of innovation, using classical drawing to help businesses see 50% of people don't think they're creative. The reality is 100% of us are and if you're going to have a business committed to continuous improvement, you've got to help your people tap into their creativity. They're not going to be creative if they don't think they've got the goods. So add a drawing can be a great way to realize Oh, with a bit of training, oh my goodness, look at that amazingly realistic. Foot I just drew, with these three steps you just taught me Wow. Okay, I'm more creative than I thought. And it's not that being creative is about making art, as you said, or making anything is about recognizing I have this potential, to think of something, to think about it, to think about the problems, to think about the solutions, and to make changes. And my thinking, and my ideas want to understand how my brain works, and how I make tiny new connections that feel so awkward and uncomfortable, and how they can grow. And with repetition, they can practice and develop until we've got like these superhighways of information in our heads where things travel quick, fast, then we can have the courage to grow and change at work, and doing things new ways, problem solving, collaborating, where we've got different opinions coming together, we can realize this feels really uncomfortable right now. But as we persevere, we're gonna get through it, we're gonna come through to the solution. And drawing models that process, that life process. So these workshops are powerful in helping businesses unlock their creativity, for all of the applications within
business. Because yeah, you're right, it's like, I think, in COVID, sort of presented so many opportunities for looking at doing things in different ways. And unless somebody feels as though they've got the confidence to think differently, or think like that, but they won't, I think, and then if you, like you said, you open up one tiny little bit of creativity, where they can physically see that they are capable. And then you must just see them thrive, they must just go, oh, my gosh, what else am I capable of, you know, and it gives them that confidence, to share their ideas and to look at things in different ways and challenge things. Yeah.
And once you've got those neural pathways in your head, if you struggle through the awkward learning phase, the learning phase of anything feels like trying to write with your with the wrong hand. If you've ever broken an arm and had to write with your other hand, it feels terrible. Yeah, yeah. If you've never done it, try it. It's awful. That feeling is like, that's what learning anything feels like, but you get through it. And then those neural pathways are available for different skills. And that's where it gets really exciting. Yeah, yeah.
It's like, just because it worked for one thing, then your brain can connect it to, to sort of reach other outcomes that possibly weren't able to be accessed before. Yeah, yeah, that's really fascinating. That's, like very clever to be able to recognize that you could put those two things together and, and make something that's of such value. Because I feel like, at different times, you know, the government comes out with these different ideas that they're going to train the next generation of whatever. And these these jobs haven't been thought of yet, and, and stuff like that. But then you think, how do they actually do that? You know, doesn't make sense to me. But then you say something like this, that makes perfect sense. Like, you know, it's like, you're just you're discovering things that haven't, you haven't had the chance to discover before? Because your brain hasn't been like that.
Yeah. And that process that you're talking about? Michael Gallup, who wrote a book called, how to think like Leonardo da Vinci, he says that creative endurance is the most distinctive trait of highly creative people. And it's that ability to push through it when it feels yuck. When it feels uncomfortable, unfamiliar, I'm stuck at this, I can't do it. And you realize this is just a phase. And you get some help you get some training, you do some practice, you persevere, and pretty soon, you've got a new skill. That's what people need that. I am creative. I can learn new things. If we give that to people, then yeah, we can problem solve, change careers. Do whatever.
Yeah, that's awesome. I love that that is really cool. One of the things I like to talk to my moms about on this show is the concept of mum guilt. Do you sort of find or talk about yourself, but also want to talk about people that you work with? Is that something that sort of holds people back creatively mums, in particular, that they feel like when they've got to do something, when they've got to paint or they've got to create, it's at the expense of their children so they feel guilty about doing it?
I think it can be there. I think we're experts at coming up with guilt over all sorts of things, and mothering right? Am I living? Right? Have I done enough? Am I enough? And just recognizing that's part of the journey, particularly when you pick up creativity, for some reason. Creativity is just opposed. People have written books about it. It's not even just internal, it's something outside of ourselves. And recognizing that gives you a bit of something in your backbone that says, this does matter. This is good for my kids, when I'm being a whole person when I'm being creative when I'm modeling joy for them. I mean, the challenge is that our time is narrow, as moms, yeah, even when our kids are grown, you know, we're an important part of the family. And so often, the time we thought we'd set aside gets interrupted or changed or, but just knowing that when we think well, about creativity, when we think well about boundaries, when we think well, about being primarily responsible for ourselves, putting on our oxygen mask, before we help someone else, that's just a healthy way to live, then I think, I encourage the women that I work with, to make space for their creativity in three ways, some time, a place, and a process. And if you need to go to the dentist or the doctor, you make time you make an appointment, and understanding your creativity is healthy, it's healthy for you tell the kids to follow and watch the way that you're choosing to live. So making some time and last is going to look different, if you've got littles if you've got school aged kids, and you're working as well. But whatever it is, even if it's just five or 10 minutes, having a few sessions a week, in your diary, then your creative time, I worked with a businesswoman who was very time poor as a mum. And we built her a sketchbook that she could take on the train. Yeah, we built a plan, build a bunch of reference material and some training. So she could whip out a sketchbook and have a few minutes to draw on the train, whatever it looks like, if you can make some time learn a process, it's just gonna really help and to have a place to do it, her place was in a sketchbook on the train, which meant she had to have a little pencil bag that worked. And two, she could use without, you know, jabbing the person next to her. But if you you might have some space in your house, it might not be a whole room. But it might be a container with your art supplies. So you can just pull it out on the table and get started, whatever is gonna work for the life stage that you're in. It might be really, really simple.
Yeah. And I think that's a really important point. Because I think it can be daunting for anyone, when they decide they're going to take up a new a new art or new craft or return to it, where it's like, oh, but I need all this space, or I need all this time, I need to have a room for it. And, you know, that can be really overwhelming and a real barrier. But like you're saying, it's about thinking maybe thinking outside of that, that box that you've you've put that into thinking outside of that and saying, you know, I love that example, you know, doing it on the train on the commute? Like, I've never thought of that. I mean, I don't have that in my life. So that's not something I ever thought of. But yeah, that's just it's so refreshing to think like that, that it's not limiting. And it's not. It doesn't have to be the way that you might have thought it had to be.
That's right. And when you take stock of how much time do I really have? Am I a morning person or a night person? Where are those little pockets and being realistic about how big they are? I call that loving your limits? Yeah, right, and recognizing what they are because actually, I think it can really help you focus if your limit if you have a time and space limit that might influence the medium that you choose, you might stick to drawing, or you might choose watercolor over oils. And if you're really limited space wise that might affect the size that you choose to work. So as you're loving your limits and working it out, you're finding focus and finding your style finding your way I know an artist who paints gorgeous portraits, but she will just do the eye sometimes, and she'll paint it on a silver spoon. Oh wow. Or in a little teeny weeny box beautiful little box flip open the lid and put a tiny little scene inside. Oh, really mind blowingly creative stuff. So sometimes loving your limits can help you find a way that's really unique.
I've had to say that's incredibly unique, isn't it? And then that I guess that you use that as part of your business that you have got this uniqueness. And you and you build on that. Exactly. Yeah. It's interesting, isn't it? I think it's a lot of it's about, you know, changing, long held beliefs about what it means to be an artist or be a creative. Right, right, from the very basic of, like you said, finding out what you actually enjoy. Like, I'm a singer, and there's no way that I would go through, like you said, sing all these different styles when I know, the style that I love, and what I like to sing or write about, you know, if someone said to me, you know, write, write about whatever I'd go, well, that's, that doesn't resonate with me. And I guess it's the same with your painting. It's in the medium that you want to work with. And also this, like you said, the thing you're interested in painting? Yes, that's gonna change so much for everybody's No,
it really is. And I think when we start there, what do I like? What am I like, as well? Where do I live? What's my personality? What drives me crazy? What colors do I love? What colors do I hate? That when you just look at yourself, you know yourself pretty well. Even if you haven't been paying attention, if you stop paying attention, you know yourself, you're standing there instead of what's the right way to do this. Because our fear and insecurity can make us want to learn right so that other people won't see that we don't know what we're doing. If we can get out of that mode and get into who am i What do I like? That's a much more helpful pathway, I think.
Yeah, and I think too, social media is really good at showing us the best of everybody, you know, like, it's a very curated environment where people aren't going to show you the painting that that they painted over because they didn't like it. You know, you you're comparing your starting point to someone else's finishing point. And that can be really daunting as well.
It really can. Yeah, and I think that whatever that opposition is to creativity, the criticizing voices that come up, it can be quite surprising. And just recognizing that's part of it. And I tell people collect as many affirmations as you can, you're going to need them. Telling yourself those kind things that yeah, don't don't compare the end of their story with the beginning of your story. And everybody's got out. They're not showing you.
Yeah, that's an important thing to remember, isn't it? Yeah. Yeah. Do you just don't affirmations is one of my favorite ones. There's a friend of mine, who's a watercolor artist. And I did a course with her and her thing was art has no rules. And she put that on her. Like the packaging that the the box with all the art supplies in Julia reader, if you're listening, thank you. So I've got that has no rules on my little backboard where I paint, because that was my biggest thing. Like I've never been a painter, because I didn't know how to do it. And I thought that you had to know how to do something. Right before you could do it. Like I didn't do it in high school. I've never really done much with it. But the more I spoke to moms, on this podcast, I realized that art can be absolutely anything and done in any way. And that was my, just my lack of understanding and my own insecurities holding me back. So now I just love fluffing around painting. It's just so enjoyable. And it's another thing that I've added into my sort of creative, like care taking care of myself. It's been amazing. Yeah, it's
exciting, isn't it to just have those things that are holding us back knocked out of the way and it can be such a self healing thing. My second daughter is on the autism spectrum and has a truckload of health challenges. And it was very stressful, particularly when she was younger. And just being able to go somewhere and go into another space and paint for a while was such a healing thing. And that the whole thing about art not having rules, there isn't one right way to do it. I would add to that to that. If if you find the style, the look the kind of art that you like, and you borrow into learning how to make that kind of art, you might find that there are actually some rules or principles that help you. Yeah, which is the flip side of the freedom and there isn't one way to do it. There aren't rules you can it can be whatever you want it to be. Yeah, if you're drawn towards detail and realism and beauty. That's okay, too. That's a wonderful thing. And there are a whole lot of wisdom learning training rules if you like That kind of sift that journey that cannot limit your creativity but actually give
Yes. Yeah, it's like, yeah, it's like that if you want to do it a particular way, there's going to be some skills that are going to be really useful for you to be able to produce what you want to produce, I suppose. Yeah, so yeah, that's thing, isn't it. And I feel like that with music too. Like, there's so many. This, you know, a billion ways you could write a song and, and it's so freeing to see people do do things. But then within that, there's still you know, the notes on the scale, they never changed. You know, those basic things about rhythm and things like that. So you've got that sort of guideline within it. But then within that you can do whatever you want. I suppose
I said, diving into it, knowing the style of music you like, learning from masters within that particular style or genre of music. When they give you a tip, try it like this, or there's this kind of pattern, or, you know, if you jump off from here, or use this kind of key for this kind of, it's so exciting, isn't it to get those tools from someone, you just think oh, my goodness, you can do that.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's it, isn't it?
Exciting. You're listening to the art of being a man podcast with Alison Newman.
So just coming back to mum guilt, your own personal sort of thoughts on that?
Well, for me, it probably one area like it really came up was around, not knowing what I was dealing with, with my daughter Mikayla and her health challenges I knew before I brought her home from hospital, something was going on. I called the doctors in mentioned a couple of things, and they couldn't tell me what it was. So we did a round of specialists for a long time, and they couldn't tell me anything that just take a home lover, she'll be fine. And I knew there was more to it than that. And it wasn't until she was eight, that my mom who knew this journey I was on of trying to figure out what's going on with this kid because it's we're not. This is not just normal childhood milestones. Something's happening here. Yeah. And I can't figure it out. And she she went back to teaching and she asked a fellow teacher, I know this kid, these are those symptoms are what, what, what does it sound like to you. And that was the first time we heard about autism or Asperger's Syndrome. So I started reading, did my thing, borrow books from the library, like I'd done laying to paint. And I just sat there reading the Oasis guide to autism and Asperger's in my room, and the tears just started running down my face, because I realized this is my kid, somebody has just described to me what's going on in the inside. And I had no idea. And I could just see all the things I could have done differently, or the things I've been doing wrong. And just realize what this kid had been dealing with. I was clueless about. I knew something but it didn't know what it was. And it was both, you know, you feel the guilt that why didn't I figure it out before? Or, but I could have helped. And what can you do? You can't do anything but go on and be grateful that now you know, and do the best you can to love and measure can not as you can't
Yeah, that's so true, isn't it? I think as moms we're really good at beating ourselves up over things that we could do absolutely nothing about things that are out of our control. Yeah, we've got to sort of make make it feel good for everybody. And then when it doesn't, it's it's our fault, even if it's not our fault.
Yeah, and then when we do blow it plenty of times you know, we get snapping get your into ball, we get bossy we get whatever unfair. And I think just being honest with our kids, especially as they get older and just being able to say I'm sorry, I was really cranky. Or I'm sorry that really wasn't fair. I think that just goes a long way to because the fact is we're never gonna be perfect anything's
we're here. We're humans. Yes, we're honest. We can we're fatally flawed. So then going to another topic I'd love to talk about is the concept of identity about how the concept of your own identity changed. When you did become a mum, did you go through sort of a shift? I mean, I know you were in a really different place in the world, like do you graphically in a different sort of area, but yeah, how did you sort of? How did you feel about that whole process of that change?
I really wanted to be a mum, I was really keen to be a mum, I, I'd been married nearly four years when my first daughter arrived. And my whole life was so extremely different. We moved into this mud village when I was eight months pregnant. So oh, you know, I was not just adjusting to motherhood, I was adjusting to a completely different existence, different language, different everything. So it and because that happened for me young, because I went overseas when I did I met Mike when I did. When he thought I was 24. I thought he was 24. Turns out, there's a 10 year age gap. I ended up being a teenage bride and uh, you know, people, mother, yes. But when we came back to Australia, and I had the two girls and then homeschooling them for a while, I felt like it was really, in my late later 20s and 30s that I started to figure out. So who am I? I can my wife and I'm a mom, and I've, you know, been overseas and done these things. But what am I really like? Yeah, because I'm married to a young and went overseas into an extreme situation. So Young, I didn't even really have those late teens 20s of figuring out who you are, as an adult being a single person, I was already making a life with another person, which was hugely transformative as it is when two opposites try and make a life together. But yeah, I think that discovering who I am, came later. And that's one of the things I love about getting older, I'll be 50 this year. And I love that I don't love the fact that my body is changing, my skin's getting all my hairs. But I do, I do love the internal change of just being so much more confident in who I am having had more life experiences and knowing I just know myself better. I know, my strengths and my weaknesses, and some of those weird limiting messages. I've learned other things that are true that have helped. So I like that side of identity as you get older of just knowing yourself better. And I think it's just always changing. You know, I knew I wanted to learn to paint. I thought teaching was the way to build more of a painting life. And it's reminded me that actually, I'm a teacher at heart. And I love that as much or more than the creative process itself. So for me helping artists step into their full art life, their career as an artist entrepreneur, that is so fulfilling for me that I'm willing to put limits on my own painting to pursue that journey, because I can't do everything I'd love to be and do everything. But there's not enough hours in the day are there?
Yeah, that's it, isn't it? But I think what you said there about enjoying getting older and coming to these realizations, I think that's something that a lot of us can relate to. It's something I certainly can relate to, like I'm about to be probably 44 later this year. And you know, the best times mentally, you know, you go through this, all these things as a youngster about all this doubt. And what do people think of me and all this judgment, and you get to a point in your life where you just go, ah, none of that matters, who gives a toss, you know, and I joked with a guest recently, like, everyone should think like a 40 year old woman because you, you just you don't care anymore. You know, you've got the things in your life that are important, the things that matter, you've worked out yourself. And you're like, No, everything else can just go by the wayside. So it's incredibly liberating time of life.
And I think you get over the shock of, oh my gosh, like, I thought, I thought youth would last longer. This aging thing that used to happen to other people, it's happening to me, there's kind of grief about that, or at least there was for me, and getting over that and realizing ah, actually, the opportunity in the next stage of my life is actually even richer because my baby making user behind me even much I mean for me I started young so yay, I've got adults now not nobody's in school anymore. And I'm, I'm free to move on to enjoying all those things I've learned about myself now in a different way in this part of my life, and I really like that.
Yeah, yeah, I can relate to you talking about like grieving changes. When I had to get glasses. It was like, when I finally said I have to get glasses it was just like this. No getting like this. The worst thing in the world that could possibly happen to anybody. You know.
It's so self referred. Isn't it? passes on in the store. I was is my first year of classes to literally the tears welled up in my eyes because I look like an old lady to myself. Yeah,
yeah, because that's the thing, we have these concepts of what it means to be old and get old. And for me glasses was one of those things. So then when I, when I got my glasses, and I put them on, and I actually they look nice, like, they don't look like my grandmother's glasses, you know, they were never going to, you know, but that's what I had in my head. And then I first time I wore them to work, I was really nervous that because I hadn't worked with children for nine years in childcare, and I was thinking all the kids are going to be trying to pull them off, and there'll be like, making a big deal. And I wore them for probably 20 minutes before any of the children said anything I could tell they were looking, but one of them come up, they said, our you've got glasses on. And I was like, Yeah, I do. And that was it. You know, so my own, you know, worries about how they'd be received. You was nothing to worry about, you know, we build all this stuff, we build these stories in our minds of what's gonna happen in life. Well, I do certainly mean that it doesn't come true. And instead of going, Oh, well, that was nice. I don't have to worry so much anymore.
We're finding things that we oh gosh,
yeah. I put that down a lot of it to being a Cancerian I think YTD for about everything.
You talked about that your your art take second place to your other sort of work that you're doing. But that is still your creative work, isn't it like it's not as though your own, the physical act of creating might not be there as much, but what you've created and what you're sharing is a massive part of it. That's really important to you, isn't it to be
really important to me? Yes, yeah. And I actually love the whole creative process of crafting a message, and learning how to communicate that through social media, through my website, through an email list. Communicating and cultivating that audience, I run a Facebook group for artists called the confident artist. And so helping that community in their creativity, and then stepping into sharing their art with the world, designing the training materials, you know, and the graphics and all of that, that whole process of that teaching process of taking knowledge and experience and questions, and just shared experience. And communicating that with others. That's a really important creative process for me. And part of drawing and painting is that decision, fatigue is a big part, we're making so many decisions about the work all the way along, whether it's designing the idea in the first place, how we're going to compose the composition, how we're going to mix the colors, how we're going to actually create those clouds, or render those leaves, what painting needs next, which particular method I'm going to use to solve that particular problem, it can leave you mentally drained. So in a season, I've just learned I have to have seasons. And if, if I'm in a season of making a body of work, it may not be the same season where I can be really promoting a coaching program like the profitable artist. And that's a hard and costly choice. But sometimes that just has to happen, you have to mind using my creativity in this area. So it might not like I tell my students that really you need about a 5050 balance between making your creative work and marketing your creative work. And that can feel shocking in the beginning. But it also doesn't mean that you divide up every day, with a 5050, half to each, you have to find your own rhythm, it might work for you to make in the morning, market in the afternoon. But it might also mean that you have a week where you paint, and then you have a week where you do the business side of things. It just depends on what works better for you. And you might find it works different in different seasons.
Yeah, that's it, isn't it? Because you can sometimes get on a real roll. We all the ideas are coming. And you don't want to sort of have to put a timer on that and say, Oh, no, no, can't do that. Now, you can let that come and let that happen. Because then there's always times when you're not feeling like that. So that's the time is when you can do the practical work and, you know, that other side of things. That's, that's really important too. So yeah, I mean, that's the thing. We things always ebb and flow, don't they? No one can be everything all the time at the same level. You know, that's just it's just the nature of things,
and especially being the nature of women to Kate Northrup. I wrote a book called, do less more, I think it's called. And in there, she talks about the fact that as women, we're on a 28 day cycle, whereas men are on a 24 hour cycle. And in some ways, we know all about that. But in other words, we don't know much about that. How often do we expect ourselves to be on a 24 hour work cycle. And we forget the fact that our energy ebbs and flows in really different ways that she's done a great job of mapping, the kinds of energy we have at different stages, in even if we're not actually cycling, like we were, when we were younger, even if you're at that life stage, you still have these rhythms of energy, rest, being more extroverted and more introverted. And that is a really helpful perspective, I think, to end to get to know yourself, when you're in that, wow, the ideas are just coming. Capture them go with it. And then when you're in that quiet, I'm just doing the work mode, I'm smashing it out. Or you're in the extroverted making connection space, or just that, who I need to refill the well.
Yeah, that's so true, isn't it? Yeah. And that's the thing, too, I think because, you know, as we're, there's different times in our life when we're so conscious of where we are in our cycle. And then there's other times in life where we just, it's not even on our radar. So and that's the thing to get back in touch with what, where we're at and what we feel at that time, and how that affects our creativity. And, yeah, I think that's a really important thing to think about.
Because sometimes just sneaking away for power nap, is actually going to be more productive in the long run, than just trying to push through.
Yeah, that's so important. I think there's this, there's been this massive, sort of focus on, I don't know what they call it like the, you've got to be productive all the time. You're smashing out things. And you've got the, I can't remember what they used to be this hashtag about? I don't know, you get where I'm coming from that hustle culture? Sort of Yeah. And you've just, it's almost like wrist was something that you'd give yourself as a reward, not as something that is part of just your, your regular life, I suppose. And, yeah, I feel like it's changing is definitely I mean, certainly the people that I follow, there's this idea that we, the old self care Sundays, that the hashtag still gets around, but it's a night, you can be mindful of that any time of the day. And like you said, if you feel like you need a nap, because that's going to make you more productive later, then do it, you know? And that comes down to judgment to be that, you know, how are you sleeping in the middle of the day? You know, aren't you supposed to be doing something, you know, all those little voices from a naive, maybe capitalist or a patriarchal sort of society come into our head and say, Yeah, what do you do in that for?
Yeah, and not recognizing that creativity doesn't like to be on 24/7. And you've actually probably only got about four hours max, of that really intense work, new work, creative work in you. And if you do any more, in a day of that kind of work, you're probably going to be in creative debt the next day, so mixing it up with admin, housework, whatever, without breaking concentration, but just knowing your limits, learning to feel where you're at, is this the time to go with the flow, this is the time to say, Okay, that's enough. And also, brain science is fabulous in this recognizing there are different ways our brain works different aspects of our brain for different tasks. And when we stop, and go away and do something different, like take a walk, take a shower, take a nap, chop vegetables, back in your floor, your brain flips into this different zone. And when it's in that zone, it's almost like neutral. Yeah, what it does is it starts making connections between all of these completely different areas in your brain, ideas, thoughts, memories, experiences, and it starts making solutions that are completely unique.
Yeah, it's amazing, isn't it? Like I find, it's almost like I think did Einstein call it the theta state or the theta state? It's something to do with when your brains at rest. And it doesn't have to be actual meditation doesn't have to be laying down meditating. But it's like you're doing a repetitive or, I don't wanna say mindless because, but you're basically chopping vegetables when you said that. It's like you're doing a repetitive thing and your body goes into like muscle memory, and it just does it. Yeah. And then that gives your mind the time to, like you said, makes the connection and you're not conscious of it. It's not a thing that you're thinking, necessarily, but like the shower, going in the shower and walking are the two biggest times I get ideas. It's like you're just open and stuff just comes in and it's just amazing. I quickly get out of the shower and just record things on my phone or
exactly I need a whiteboard in the shower.
But it's true, isn't it like you need you need the ebbs and flows and your body has to have time and your mind has to have time to process things and then get you ready for the next load of whatever you're
doing. And as a mom, if you can embrace that, then that it just works, doesn't it because we spend a heck of a lot of time, and vegetables and cleaning things and driving and. And we need to exercise you know, just to keep ourselves together. And walking is such a great way to do that. Those things can be part of our life. And when we realize I'm not beating myself up while I'm doing those things about all the things I haven't done yet. I'm relaxing and recognizing this is a really powerful part of the rhythm. And if I'm open, I'm excited to see what floats into my head. Potentially while I'm chopping broccoli. Yeah,
yeah, I love that. That is so awesome. So I, I do a lot of yoga. And it's that the best stuff is like you do all your asanas and do all the movement, do some breathing. And then you have a nice meditation and you have a heavy Shavasana. And it's like, okay, what can you give me now like, you know, you're so open, and you're so relaxed, and your body's in that, that state, and then you can just you just get the best ideas, but I do anyway, I just love it.
I'm not a yoga practitioner at all. But I do like silent meditation before the just what I should say, I don't necessarily love the doing of it. But I love the effect of it and learning that just even 10 minutes of silence just ignoring the chatter that my mind comes up with. Actively just letting it go that Yeah, yeah, it does put you in an amazing place to think clearly and be more energized, doesn't it?
Oh, yeah. I'd always get up from my shavasana and my yoga teacher, she'd be like, Okay, what if he got first this time, like, because it was become this joke that I just be like, Oh, guess what, I just thought of what some I just came up with like, it was just, yeah, I'll just.
If there are people in your audience who are wanting to learn to draw paint, dive into that part of their creativity, then come Come find me, the confident artists Facebook group, there's a lot of people in there who are enjoying their creativity together at all different levels. And I have a blog on my website that's got some really helpful tools and tips for enjoying your creativity, learning to draw and paint. And if you already painting and drawing and you're thinking, Can I do this? Could I really make money doing something I love? How do I even start selling art, then head to my website, Fiona valentine.com, I've got a free guide on how to start selling your art that talks about how to get clarity, and how this works, how to think about your pricing. And there's a lot of other resources there on my website, you can find out about the coaching program, the profitable artist method. And if you've got questions, just let me know, there's a button where you can hop on a free call, and we can talk about your creative journey and how you can get some support
are fantastic. Yep. So I was gonna ask you, what's the best way to go ahead and get in touch but you've just answered that for me beautifully. Thank you. And also on your website, you've got some information on Oh, yes,
innovation workshop. You'll see that in the tabs on my website, there's a tab for business school that talks about the profitable artists method. And it's another tab that says the art of innovation workshop. And that's where companies or you know, collection of people who want to get together and do a two hour online zoom workshop to learn how to draw so that you can boost your creative potential. And you can use it like an exercise taking your brain to the gym. So yeah, you'll find all that information there too.
Thank you so much for coming on today. I've really enjoyed talking with you is raised some points that I've sort of lost along the way somewhere, you know, especially that that you know, keeping in touch with your emotions and your cycle and that kind of stuff. So yeah, really valuable to have you here and thank you so much for giving me your time today. Thank you
so fun to talk with you and your music is beautiful, Allison.
Thank you. Thank you. I
appreciate that. Oh, do
you have to keep an ear out for the next year when which will hopefully be the end of the it's been a slow process, but I don't mind that. It just happens when it happens and amongst everybody else. Thanks for your company today. If you've enjoyed this episode, I'd love you to consider leaving us a review, following or subscribing to the podcast, or even sharing it with a friend who you think might be interested. If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on the podcast. Please get in touch with us via the link in the show notes. I'll catch you again next week for another chat with an artistic mum.