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Jessica Mendes

Canadian watercolourist and illustrator

S2 Ep28

Jessica Mendes

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Today I chat with Jessica Mendes, an illustrator and watercolour artist from Kitchener Canada, and a mum of 2 young children.

Jessica recently got serious about her art, creating a business 6 months ago as a result of wanting to have some fun and more positivity during the pandemic. She has found her niche painting portraits of homes, cards and creating keepsake art.

We chat about how being a parent has influenced the way she approaches her work, how her children motivate her, how turning her hobby into a business has legitimised it for her and how your confidence levels changes through your life.

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Music used with permission from Alemjo

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.

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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!


Thank you!


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 where we hear from mothers who are artists and creators sharing their joys and issues around trying to be a mother and continue to make art. Regular topics include mum guilt, identity, the day to day juggle mental health, and how children manifest in their hours. My name is Alison Newman. I'm a singer songwriter, and a mum of two boys from regional South Australia. I have a passion for mental wellness, and a background in early childhood education. You can find links to my guests and topics they discuss in the show notes, along with music played a link to follow the podcast on Instagram, and how to get in touch. All music used on the podcast is done so with permission. The art of being a mom acknowledges the volunteer people as the traditional custodians of the land and water which this podcast is recorded on and pays respects to the relationship the traditional owners have with the land and water, as well as acknowledging past present and emerging eldest. Thanks so much for joining me today. On this episode, I chat with Jessica Mendez, an illustrator and watercolor artist from Kitchener in Canada and a mom of two young children. Jessica recently got serious about her art, creating a business six months ago, as a result of wanting to have some more fun and positivity during the pandemic. She has found her niche painting portraits of homes and creating keepsake. Today we chat about how being a parent has influenced the way she approaches her work. How her children motivate her how turning your hobby into a business has legitimized it for her and how your confidence levels change throughout your life. I hope you enjoy so you're in Canada that's pretty I am Yeah, I haven't spoken Canada yet. So this is really

perfect. I don't have the lovely accent but all your other guests

I love your I can give a town that you're in. What can you just tell me a bit about it? Because I'm really fascinated with like towns and weather and all that kind of.

So I live in Kitchener, which is part of like Waterloo Region. So it's like Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, they're all kind of connected as one big city even though they're three. So we're about an hour west of Toronto, so, okay, yep. Yeah. More of a landmark for people.

So yeah, so what's the weather like there now? You got snow?

Yeah, not too much. It's about today was like minus seven degrees. So not too bad. But that that's pretty cool. Yeah. We haven't had like a minus 30 yet so.

Oh, is that that's what's gonna happen?

No, in recent years, but it definitely can happen. Oh, wow.

I can't even imagine that. Because where I live, our coldest day would be like 11 or 30. Like, we don't we don't get snow we we don't get minus

if it reaches a level and people are like in T shirts, they're so happy. Love that. It's nice to have a balance of both like summer and winter though. So

Oh, wow. Have you always lived?

Yeah, my whole life. Yeah.

Makes you I've always lived in my little town I've done some looking at your beautiful artwork on your website. It's beautiful. Can you tell our listeners what you create the style that that you make and all that kind of stuff?

Yeah, so I mostly use watercolor in combination with ink and then some just straight ink illustrations. I'm fairly new. I just started doing this maybe six months ago. So that's just what I've been working with. Up until this point. I started a small business and a website. Initially I started you know, doing greeting cards. Something I figured that would be something sellable. And then after you know doing it for a bit browsing Instagram and that kind of thing. Hey, I started trying a few other ideas. And I'm mainly right now have been working on the house portraits. That was kind of my biggest, like requests leading up to Christmas. And that has been really fun. I enjoy doing those a lot. So that's what I've been leaning towards mostly now.

But yeah, yeah, they fantastic. Is this so unique? Like they're just Yeah, such as a special, like, beautiful thing for people to have. So

yeah. And I think it's now kind of my ideas are morphing into more like keepsake art. So, yeah, things that people will hang on to like, even like pet portraits and things like that are very popular. So yeah, yeah, I think that's, that's really neat.

That's lovely. So you say you've only been doing this for six months? So how did you decide to start doing this? Are you self taught? Or have? How did you get into it?

Yeah, so I was interested in art quite a bit in like when I was younger, in high school, and that kind of thing. And then when I decided to, you know, study in university, and like, pursue a career, outside of the arts, I just kind of didn't really continue with it at all, like, into adulthood. I always considered myself somewhere artistic, but I just kind of let it fall away. And I kind of went more towards the science direction. And then after having children, after my second was born, during my mat leave, which I'm still on now, I just needed something to do especially like during the pandemic is there's no socializing, like, I don't know how it is there. But here's still very much not normal. So yeah, yeah. So I just, I actually decided, more that I wanted to start a business before I decided that it would be art related. Yeah. So yeah, I just wanted like the business aspect to be more of a project for myself. And then it took me a while to decide that it would be art related. I just, I wanted it to be something enjoyable and not something that felt like work so.

Funny, now thinking about it, I don't really consider myself creative. I just, I have a really good attention to detail. So to me, it's why the house the house portraits are really good for me, because it's just copying and being able to see things in and copy from a reference. So I think in the beginning, when I first started this, I kind of had a hard time deciding what my style would be and what I would focus on and when I started to do those, it just felt so easy to say, I don't really have to think about what I'm creating. It's like already on a picture and I just duplicate. So yeah, that's kind of but yeah, I was always interested in that type of thing. And I took classes relating to that stuff in school and then just wanted a different direction and didn't really like make the time for it. in young adulthood and early, apparently.

I'm not artistic. I mean, I'm not I can't draw. I do. I can do watercolor because it's just so freeform. So I like that but I can't. So when I see things like yours like I just, I'm in awe of it because I can't do it. I'm like, Oh, I just love it. This is so cool.

Trying to use water to erase multiple mistakes

you mentioned your children there briefly. Tell us about your kids.

So I have two children, a son who will be three in a couple of weeks and then a daughter who will be one in also a couple of weeks. Oh, yeah,

they must keep you pretty busy.

Yeah, definitely.

Yeah. So do they sort of join in with your beauty creativity doing? Do you let them loose with the, with the watercolors?

Um, my son does enjoy painting actually. Just like children's paints so far and not watercolor, but he's pretty interested in it. And if he sees me bring out my stuff when he's heading to bed. He's he's pretty interested in what I'm doing. But yeah, for the most part, I work on things when they're sleeping. Obviously, they're just too much into everything to try to deal with it when they're I can imagine you're listening to the art of being a mom was my mom, I was the name.

You say you do your when they're in bed. So you obviously have some support around you to be able to do that.

Yeah, so I think as of this week, I we're kind of transitioning out of a nap, daytime nap for the oldest, so I'm going to lose that kind of hour I had there. And I'm also going back to my regular job in a couple of weeks as well. Here we have a year long maternity leave a year, 18 months. But um, so yeah, other than that, I kind of have like a 730 to 9:30pm window to get things done. So yeah, my husband is really good at locking down the bed time to like, give us our evening because that's kind of our time, the kids are old enough now that they, you know, sleep in their own rooms, you know, at seven, they're in there. And it's our time. So that's really helpful. That's good, isn't

it? Yeah. And yeah, you can, if you've got any ideas during the day, you can say, right, I know that time is coming up. So I'll keep

that. Keep that. So you must be pretty good at working, like efficiently then like, it's like, right?

Go. Yeah, sometimes I try not to, like sacrifice my sleep because that's just not good for anyone around. So yeah, I tried to buckle down if especially during Christmas, when I had you know, house purchase that I had promised to people for gifts and things I tried not to take on too many because I didn't want to turn it into something stressful. So but yeah, it's it's definitely hard to you know, by the time you bring everything out, you know, sit down you only have an hour and it flies by so

yeah, for sure. Yeah. Yep. When you use talks about going back to work what what is your day job, I suppose. What's your

so if I'm a scientific writer, so I work for a research company so basically my role is writing up the final reports of the results of the research for the client. Yeah, yeah. Very specific and not related to art at all Yeah.

Will they be interesting I suppose being interesting.

Yeah, definitely. Not very creative.

But then again, I guess it goes like the structure of like copying and like you said that attention to detail so it sort of ties in with how your brain works I suppose.

is a strength in my position in my day job and I get that comment a lot so I guess it is very helpful

that's cool. Two of the big topics I love talking about and I say I love not because it sounds bad when I say I love it because I love talking about mom guilt. That sounds bad. I'm not I don't like knowing about people being guilty. You know what I mean? I just I find it such a fascinating topic. I just find it so interesting. And sometimes I think I should have been a psychologist because I love knowing about why people think the way they do and so mum guilt you is I think I think from what I've discovered with talking to other mums in Australia, and then I've chatted to some in the US, it's something that is quite universal. Is that something that you've you've seen over there in Canada as well?

I don't know if it's like a newer term, or I hadn't heard of it, obviously, until I was a parent. But yeah, that's definitely a daily occurrence. I feel like for me, just, I mean, I think the definition of it would just be like, feeling like you're not meeting the standards that you think you should be as a parent? I don't know. Yeah. I mean, obviously, it for the most part is silly. Because if you care that much about your children and how you're raising them, you're doing a fine job. So I, in terms of like, my artwork, and my personal projects, like I don't feel guilty, relating to that, especially because I, you know, focus on that stuff in the evening. Like, it's not taking time away from my kids. So. Yeah, so. But I think, for me, the biggest guilt I feel is, you know, after attending to their needs all day, I don't, I might not have the energy to be like, as fun as I want. Or, you know, so that's like, the main thing that I don't know, the main issue, I feel.

Especially with them being so young, too. It's like you, you're giving so much of yourself to these people. And then it's like, what's left for me sort of thing. It's

just, you know, cooking and changing their diapers and like them, like, have I smiled at them. And then you kind of have to, like, put in that extra energy to see, you know,

yeah, I can understand. Identity is the other big topic that I love. Did you did you go through a bit of a shift when, when you did become a mum, did you see the way that you saw yourself? Changing quite dramatically or

had it? I think it was a bit of a shock. How are consuming like parenthood is, like, no one can really describe it to you beforehand. So yeah, it's kind of that. I'm the type of person that when I decide I want to do something, I act on it immediately. So it's that feeling of like, although you're caring for children all day, at the end of the day, you feel like you've accomplished nothing. So it's kind of like, frustrating, it's like, what is the point of this almost, even though it's super important? Like, I don't know how to really explain that. But yeah, it's kind of like you're just floating along and your day is so boring in a way. And so

monotonous. It's like the same thing. Yeah, same thing every day. So and yeah, that spontaneity of being able to do something when you whenever you wanted to, or you said, you, if you want to do something, you want to just go do it. That's all sort of taken away from you. When you have the children I suppose.

A bit yeah, just to I mean, really, the art definitely I like when I get an idea to its I want to start on it, I want to, you know, improve on it right away and have to wait all day and I only have an hour and it's that is probably the most difficult part of this whole business thing and this extra work that I put on myself. Yeah,

but But saying that do you feel like it's really important for you to have that that outlet for yourself? That sort of feel feels that that need for you to make make or do something for yourself?

Yeah, definitely. I think, you know, prior to starting Well, I started this more like I said, when like our evenings became our own again, like when my daughter was around six months. And at that time, I was just kind of like, use the time that you need to like clean or do laundry and just boring things or if I wanted to like sit down I would just you know like scroll the news which is so negative during this time, so I just, I just wanted something that was fun and more positive. And it ended up being like a really good thing that I chose to do. And prior to this, I, I hadn't used social media for probably three or four years leading up to this. So and I wasn't a fan of it. And I that was an aspect of it that I didn't really look forward to. But there is like a really big art community on there that is really positive and supportive, which is that was like a cool thing to discover when I started that. So.

Yeah, that's, it's the thing I find. I don't know about you. But I really like Instagram, as opposed to Facebook, like I love. I love looking at me versus Yeah, and I, and there's doesn't seem to be as I mean, I don't know how I might use it different to other people. But I just love looking at things like I'm really visual kind of person. And I don't, I don't really click on unless it's something I really want to read. I don't click on everyone's comments and read heaps of comments. I just I'll read the person that posted it. And then I'll sort of keep looking at pretty things. Whereas Facebook, it's just so I don't know, everyone just trashy. Yeah, that's the best.

Yeah, just kind of has become. Yeah. And that was more the more used, like, platform when I left social media. And so now it's it's so interesting to see how much businesses rely on Instagram and stuff now, which I said, like when I started this, that, Oh, I wish I would have, you know, continued on with this when I was younger, it would have been, what would it have been now if I would have kept with it, you know, 10 years ago. But at that time, you know, social media wasn't really the thing it is now so I don't know if it would have been anyway, it's kind of hard to look at it. Yeah, it's

hard to know, too, isn't it? Because I often think about that with my, with my singing because I put so much stuff off until I'm, you know, I'm in my 40s now, and I'm finally doing stuff with it. But then I think I wouldn't have had all the material that I have to write about now. Yeah. So I figured things do happen when they happen. Yeah, try not not

even, I don't even think I would have had the confidence to like have a business when I was younger either. And when you're older, you especially when you become a parent, you don't have the energy to care about what people think of you and you just do whatever you want.

I'm going to take that, and I'm going to make it quite out of that. Because that is definitely say that the new episode. I love that. In a nutshell, though, seriously, isn't it? Like you've got you put so much energy into the important stuff in your life and all this other rubbish? She's like, Yeah, whatever. Like, it's

just, it's background noise, like you just don't get caught up in. I guess most of your work now is you focused on creating your, your work for clients, I suppose. But do you do your kids influence your work at all? Um,

I wouldn't really say so much like the actual content. I mean, I have been thinking about since it's like keepsake art, things relating to like, you know, newborn births, or like birth announcements and that type of stuff, which you would have never considered before. Yeah, and only consider myself a kid person at all. But I will tell you just more, you know, now that I've started it, and turn this into a business and kind of have like those, oh, it'd be amazing. This could become a real job kind of thing. I think they like motivate me in that aspect. Because if that were to happen, I think it would result in a more like a better, like family work life balance for all of us. So I don't know, I think that would be really cool. If that was something I I mean, being your own boss and be. Yeah, pretty nice. I think just instead of you know, working the regular nine to five, I mean, it's not too bad now, like, we're still everyone here is pretty much working from home. So that helps. But prior to the pandemic, I also had an hour commute to work. Yeah, so that took away a lot of time and it was really stressful when my son went to daycare and I felt like I only saw him an hour a day and that Marine, you know, so it's it's much better now. You know,

it's funny a lot of people I talk to, and like not saying that the pandemic is good in any way, but the silver lining of that is been fingered have been, you know, so close to their families, like physically there with their families, and giving, giving your time to sort of put in perspective, like what's really important in your life, too. I think just saying things in a different way. It's like, just because we've always done things a certain way doesn't mean that's how we have to do things going forward. So

yeah, definitely, I think that will change permanently for a lot of people like for my job as well, which I'm really grateful for. Especially with the age, like our children, we've been home, we have not gone back to work in person since it started and like, they have changed so much in that time, like they would have been in daycare for the majority of it if we wouldn't, if we hadn't been home. So, yeah.

Think the fact that I decided to turn my hobby into a business, like as a parent really helped me to, like justify the time I'm spending on it. And I don't know if that's good or bad, but it works for me. And so it's kind of like, I treated the same way I would, as a request from my normal job, you know, so it's like, okay, I, I can't do the dishes, I have something to do. You know. And I think that's kind of like, oh, and or, you know, I have to do this because it's, it's gonna make me a little bit of extra money. That kind of forces me to put time into it. Whereas if it was strictly a hobby, and you know, I was just throwing my artwork in the cupboard. I probably would just choose not to do it if there was so many other things to be done. So I think for me, that's just a positive thing about it.

Yeah. Yeah, for sure. It's like it gives you that that legitimacy, I suppose in your mind. It's like, this is important, too. This is this is a value and yeah,

yeah. Yeah. As long as I just I don't my husband always asked me like, is this feeling like a chore at all? Is it still enjoyable as I as I guess if it becomes like, too much, then maybe I have to take a step back and look at how I'm doing things. But right now it's so okay. Yeah, good on you. Yeah,

that's great. I love it. 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. Join Dez and Eva as to business besties. Building a global tribe having real world conversations about all things motherhood, in the mum bosses abroad Podcast, the podcast that empowers you as a boss to make confident and smart choices for you and your family. Whether you're staying at home, running your own business, pursuing a corporate career or working that side hustle, you are absolutely 100% A man boss. And if you're doing all this while living abroad, well you're simply fantabulous all the way un find the mum bosses abroad podcast, anywhere you get your podcasts

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