US mixed media paper artist
Sami Lange is a mixed media paper artist living and working in Phoenix, Arizona, and she's mum of 2 children.
Sami grew up in a creative home, and sees art and creativity as a fully incorporated part of family life, with her children having access to her studio.
Her paper artwork is made of hundreds and sometimes thousands of paper circles and shapes stitched together. Each shape is hand-cut by Sami with scissors, dyed multiple times in water baths, and then dried, taped and stitched. Sami has worked with paper dyeing for over 14 years. She has also done furniture painting, drawing, collage and print making.
After an evacuation of her hometown of Santa Rosa, California in 2017, Sami's family was blessed to have their home spared after the Tubbs fire swept through the city and burned down over 5,000 homes. This life changing event forced Sami to re-evaluate her art practice, reflect on what is truly important and what makes a thoughtful piece of art worth making.
**This episode contains discussions about post natal depression and anxiety**
Visit Samis website - https://www.samilangeart.com/
Connect with the podcast -
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.
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 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 art. 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 bow and tick 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 elders.
Semi Lang semi is a mixed media paper artist living and working in Phoenix, Arizona, and she's a mom of two children. Semi grew up in a creative home and sees art and creativity as a fully incorporated part of family life, with her children having access to her studio. Her paper artwork is made of hundreds and sometimes 1000s of paper circles and shapes stitched together. Each shape is hand cut by Sammy with scissors died multiple times in waterbirds. And then dried, taped and stitched Sammy has worked with paper dyeing for over 14 years. She's also done furniture painting, drawing, collage and printmaking. After an evacuation of our hometown of Santa Rosa, California in 2017 semis family was blessed to have their home spared after the Tubbs fire swept through the city, and burned down over 5000 homes. This life changing event for Sammy to reevaluate her art practice, reflect on what is truly important. And what makes a thoughtful piece of art worth making. This episode contains discussions around postnatal depression and anxiety.
Thank you so much for doing this. So it's just lovely to meet you and to have you on so much for having me. I'm so excited. So you're in Phoenix, Arizona. So what's it like there at the moment? Is it is it cold and snowing or anything?
Live it? So Gloria, so in Phoenix, it doesn't usually snow, I mean, not really a couple hours north it will. But here it's about 65 degrees in January, that's about 18 degrees Celsius. And it's just so glorious. It's basically the perfect time and weather. We've only lived here for about a year and a half, we essentially moved the day everything shut down when the pandemic started. That's when we moved out of state. Yeah, so it was a little bit of a wild ride. And it was very, very hot, like 120 degrees for what felt like two straight months,
and that's about 48 degrees Celsius.
But they always joke that the whole state is air conditioned. And you know, it was a little bit better this last summer. So we transitioned really well now, I
think. So where were you before? Where did you move from?
We were in Northern California, and I was there for close to 20 years. So as a little bit of a change of pace, but the fires hit where we were at. And so we just we kept having to evacuate. And we knew a lot of people that were losing their houses, and we just eventually decided that we really couldn't raise our kids there. You know, we just we just was really stressful. And so I was actually a tenured librarian there. And I decided, okay, I'm giving up tenure, we're just going to start over, we'll just do whatever. And so we put our house on the market even before I had a job. And then thankfully, everything worked out because then the pandemic hit, and then the job almost didn't come through. And so it was a little wild there for a while, but we're settled. And, you know, we're grateful that we've kind of had, you know, as much luck as we've had, but I mean, you know, it's been rough for all moms everywhere. Oh,
yeah, goodness. Yeah, that sounds really scary. The fire's like, we've got like, we get quite a lot of bushfires here in Australia, so I can appreciate what you say. I've never been in that position personally, but I'd certainly understand what you're saying.
We had to evacuate. We actually chose to be one day and then that afternoon all of the police came around our neighborhood and told everyone to get out. Well, there was one night where we were we were thinking about if we wanted to or if our home was going to burn down we didn't know and And we're kind of reflecting like what choices we wish we'd made. You know, that was 2017. So was the Tubbs fire. So I had a lot of friends and colleagues lose their homes in that fire and it just sort of hit randomly. Yeah, I remember that night thinking about the studio and thinking about my work and be like, well, that's okay. If we lose everything, you know, that's fine. We're safe, which of course, that's, you know, the truth. And then we got back and it just was this very surreal experience. There was ash everywhere, you know, and then I went into the studio, and I was like, Oh, my gosh, like, it made me question everything. And of course, the whole community was in trauma, and then it just kept happening. You know, it just kept like, every year we would evacuate and then someone else we knew would lose their house. And it was a really stressful way to live. I don't know how people do that year after year, and it dangerous things like that.
So you are a paper artist, I've never chatted to anybody that does your kind of art. So this is cool. Can you tell me about what you do in the process and all that kind
of stuff? I would love to and I it's so funny. I have such a hard time deciding what to call myself. Occasionally, when I'll send out emails, it'll say simulating paper artists. And then next week, I'll send you mixed media, paper artists. And then I'll say print maker and mixed media artists. You know, it's just, I mean, when I think of paper artists, I don't think of my work, but I'm making work out of paper. So I'm actually a printmaker, which is kind of where the mixed media piece comes in. I I consider myself conceptually a print maker by trade. And that was what my BFA was in. That's what I went to school for. And about 15 years ago, I did some assistantships at print and press workshop called Frog man's in the US. And it's this amazing workshop. And it lasts for two weeks. And I had gotten an assistantship for three weeks. And so you go and then you kind of help run a class. Yeah, so I had been in a class with an artist, Tim high. And he does these amazing screen prints. And what's so interesting is he basically takes like a wood stipple. So it's kind of as almost a sharp as like a very sharp pencil point. And he'll block out the parts. And he basically stippled an entire scene in a gradation gradient of screen printing, which is just insane from a technical standpoint. But he would start that by dyeing the paper, which I loved, because it's like, instead of being a white printmaking paper, you just went to pastel yellow, or you just went to PDH, or, you know, and he would kind of just let the process flow. And so that was the first introduction, I got to the paper, dyeing it all. And then I sort of like did that, you know, it sort of became this tool that I would use for, I guess, about 11 years, but I kind of didn't know what to do with it. You know, it's like I do a painting. And then there would be this cut shape that I like, glued on the painting. And then I finished me like, okay, but like, why is that glued piece of paper? They're like, what is? Yeah, and so then I then we had the fires. And then I had that night where I thought, gosh, you know, what happens if the studio burns down? That would be okay, so then when I got back, I just had this sensation of thinking, Okay, well, if I was okay with it burning down, then like, what are we doing? You know, at that point, I've been an artist professionally for about 13 years, but I was working in education full time. So it's always on the side. And I just, I thought, Okay, well, maybe this isn't me, it was sort of the first time that I'd ever questioned if I was an artist, or if that was my identity or anything like that. Yeah. And so I took a break, I took like a three month break. And that was the biggest, that was probably the only break I can think of in my entire life of not making art. Yeah. And then I've always had a home studio. And so I did at the time, my kids were really little, they were like two and three. And so we had a baby gate up on that studio, which was a room and I would just I would walk by like 30 times a day because I was always chasing them. And then one day, I saw a little circle that was on the ground. And it's like something clicked and I thought, oh my gosh, the work is the paper like stop putting in a drawing, stop putting in a print, stop putting it on painting, stop doing it. It's just the paper. And so it sort of was this avalanche of creating what I call the paper quilts. I don't really know what to call them but they're basically hundreds and sometimes 1000s of cut paper that I hand cut with scissors, and then I dye them 123 times in water baths I'm just using die in like jars with the shapes put in them and then I dry them. Thankfully in Arizona they dry really quickly. And then I tape them down and then stitch them and so they just kind of become On this piece that's created from, you know, white printmaking paper to start.
So that's an incredibly intense, like labor labor intensive process, that's incredible.
When it comes to like, choosing your colors, is it just a really intuitive thing, like when you're mixing up your dyes,
it's a really intuitive thing. I, sometimes I wish I was a more organized, you know, methodical color picker, sometimes I have this vision that I'm going to make all of these color formulas and have this book and I go through it and I, but it never works. That way, there's something that's so that is so out of my control when I do the water bath. And I feel like the process in general is so controlled, that it's this way that forces me to not have control. And so I need to keep that incorporated. And there will be sometimes I mean, I kind of learned my lesson repeatedly with this because sometimes I'll do you know, a light read or kind of a reddish orange. And then I'll do maybe a deep dark blue purple dye, I don't think this will be so beautiful. And then it comes out and it's basically mud. It's like they died over each other and it looks horrible. And it's like, oh, well, they're just hand cut 100 circles, and then I killed them and that way around. Like, I know that. But there's something kind of exhilarating even though this is not a big risk. It's like this small risk way to have fun. And so because the process and the cutting and the dying is just so a part of our daily lives, I always have a home studio. So it's always like there's something in the die pads or something that I'm cutting. I think when I didn't, didn't do as well, with my time when I was younger in the studio, that would have bothered me. But now I just sort of embrace all the failures. It's almost like I'm trying to fail a lot. Because when I, when I feel big, sometimes I fail forward. And so that really helps my practice. And so even though the work is really tight, there's a ton of play, which is refreshing and you know, uplifting. So,
yeah, absolutely. I love that. So does that challenge you like your own thinking then? Like, is that been a process for you to work through of accepting? When things don't work? It's okay, that sort of stuff.
Yeah, I think I've had to do that for like seven straight years. I feel like my my youngest is, or my oldest is seven. And I feel like this idea I had, what being an adult was is hysterical. I look back to being a kid and thinking, oh, when you're an adult, you can choose everything. I feel like, you know, I had really bad postpartum depression after my kids were born. And so that was a real shocker. And that lasted for several years. And then kind of right when I sort of came out of that in the fog it cleared and I was feeling good, then the fires hit, then that lasted for like four years, then we you know, we transitioned to an out of state move, I gave up a job that I thought I would basically have my whole career and then a global pandemic hits. So it's like seven years of this like straight sort of, you never know what you're gonna get. And I would say in the past couple of months, it's been sort of exhilarating because I'm just like, Okay, we never know what we're gonna get let's just go for broke in the studio you know, it's like this safe space to just go why Oh,
yeah, it's almost like it's just it gives this giving you permission just to just to just take the pressure off and have no expectations because you know, the unknown is there and it could happen at any moment. So it's like well, okay, let's just go for it.
Go for hot pink in the water bath.
So you've always been a creative person, like as a child and growing up you've always been making?
Yeah, I would say it's a it's a serious core identity. I think I mean Some of my earliest memories were like looking at art books. My mom was primarily a stay at home mom. But until I was seven, she was a graphic designer. So some of my earliest memories are going with her. And I'm at the age and she's at the age where nothing was digital. So it was all storyboard. So like, I remember going into her work office and seeing all the transparent paper and the different layers taped down, you know, like, kind of the more old school graphic design. And so she was always doing art stuff with me, and she's more of a realist er. And then I got into I mean, I took art classes all the way up through high school, then I I was doing like furniture, painting and mosaics, I mean, just something always creative. And then college is really where a printmaking head, and I sort of happened into it accidentally, I didn't, I wasn't, I was not planning on being an art major. But then you go to college and things happen, and then I got a BFA so.
I was gonna ask you about your children. So you briefly mentioned your oldest is seven. So how many children have you got?
I've got two, I've got a girl that seven and a boy that six. Yeah, right. And they are yet the same age as yours. They're hysterical. It's a, I have to say someone told me years ago when mine were babies that these were sort of the golden years. And they were right. I mean, I just I absolutely love, I love that they can tell me what they want. I love that we're past potty training. I love that. They can hold a pencil and a paintbrush, like in a different way. You know, because we do a ton of creative time. I get up early before I go to my librarian job. And I'm in the studio every morning. And we just, I think, I think because I grew up with such a creative mom. And in such a creative household. I never sort of questioned that as, as how you live, you know, it's like, that was how we lived. And my dad worked full time in the government and then retired and became a teacher. And he was always writing, you know, it's like creativity was just the lifestyle. And so I never, I never had any other expectation of what I would be like and how I would raise my kids. And so and we didn't have kids right away. My husband and I, we waited like 10 years not not as a plan, just, that's when we decided we were ready. And you know, and so then I had always been art making. And so then my kids always made art with me. And I remember right before I got married with my husband, we were just talking about this the other day, and I said you remember, like the week before we got married, and we got married really young. I was 21. Or I thought that was young, because I freaked out. I'm like, we're too young. I'm like, This is crazy. We should do this, what are we thinking? And then I said, you know, I just I need to tell you, I'm never going to make less art. I said, I'm not going to get married to you and you know, clean or something like that. I was like, I just need you to know, this is who I am. And you guys I know, this is who you are like, we're good. You know, and granted, I will occasionally clean now. I did go back on that. But but as far as the studio time, it has never changed, you know, and so even when they were babies, it's like they were painting with me and they were in the studio and I've always had a home studio, which I have to say is really really important. I mean, that's just a total game changer. And so there's always we've always had a room that's been my studio, the dedicated space and that it's just super important. You know, we were talking about how you have all your kids artwork. I have drawers in my flat files that are theirs. It's like they know that those are their drawers and there's their paper and there's their work and you know, so it's just kind of how we live I guess which makes it possible to make the work and also work so I'm grateful for that
so you get up early, you do some in the morning. Do you do do you then go back to it at night?
I do. i i This is so I have this funny story. And it has to do with me wearing a bikini to work, and it will, like we're going on a tangent, but really, it's going to come back, if I can remember to get us back, it's gonna come back. So Right. So right after my son was born as a college librarian, you do a lot of teaching. And so I had gone back, and I had both my kids at my last job when I was on the tenure track. So I had, you know, I was trying to get tenure, I was teaching or student observations. And I was teaching a class and I was wearing, I remember this beautiful blue linen dress, it was so beautiful. And underneath that I was wearing a bikini, because I had just returned to work. And I had not done laundry. And so I remember be teaching in this class, and like, you know, pointing to something on the screen. And in my mind, I'm thinking about this bikini that I'm wearing, and the fact that I have no backup bikini. And it's not like it was a bikini that fit. It was like the pre pregnancy bikini. So it's like, dire, you know, and so I'm, I'm like, Okay, what should I do? I had to stay late teaching that I'm like, should I go to Target and buy a backup backup bikini, or should I, like I because I didn't have time to do laundry, like, forget that they were the kids are gonna be up all night. At that point, my son was five months old. And my daughter was 19 months. Yeah. And I was like trying to, you know, teach and all this stuff. So then as I'm trying to teach this class, I'm like, You know what, clearly, this isn't working. Like you need to figure out a way to change your schedule, cut stuff out, do whatever it takes, so that you're not thinking about backup bikini is like is your emergency work plan. And so I ended up just getting totally into productivity research, and like trying all these different time hacks and all this stuff. It got to such a point that then I started talking about it so much at work that then one of my supervisors was like, Could you start doing some productivity trainings, then I started making videos and classes and like kind of creating these mini cohorts. And so then I started doing all these very enjoyable, small groups about productivity and how we think about our energy and what choices we make. And that how much time and energy our decisions take us and cognitive load, and like, and all that stuff. And so that kind of helped me reset everything after my kids were born. So I started just really focusing on the art making, as opposed to worrying about this idea that the dishes had to be done, or this idea that like, there was one year where one of my strategies was, I thought, I don't need matching socks, who cares if I have matching socks, so I stopped doing all map all socks hurting, like, you know, but then I realized I'm like, You know what people actually can see your socks. Like, maybe that's not the strategy that you want to do, you know, like, a snowflake sock. And like, you know, like, so. So anyways, I tried a whole bunch of stuff. And I ended up cutting a whole bunch of things out. And then kind of over the last year, I realized that I had gotten really, really good about managing the time so that I could have studio time and Eve, like in the morning and night. But then I realized I was tired at night. And I was like, alright, well, what's the deal, like, You got everything down, you need to get down and you have this time. So what's the block and so then I just sort of started paying more attention to my energy. You know, like, when we're at the park, normally I'm, you know, talking to the kids and engaging with the kids and, and then I started taking more photos, there's some really beautiful photos on my camera, things like bark, you know, things that are kind of make, they're the textures, and colors and stuff that will eventually make themselves, you know, back into the studio and back into my water baths and things like that. And so it just sort of started checking in a little bit more about how I was feeling and how my energy was, which one makes me a lot more patient. And two, I feel like then it gives me that little push so that when the kids are asleep, then I can go in and do like 30 minutes in the studio and listen to a podcast or, you know, Pandora or like just a little music, and then I can go to bed. And then when I get up early, I'm ready to roll. You know, like that early time with coffee in the studio. That's probably my favorite time of day. Aside from the hysterical jokes and questions were like, I don't know how to answer that. And I know you're six. But I don't know how to answer that was like constant skill testing as a parent, like, what's the answer here?
When when Diggs asked me he asked me really wacky question the other day, and I had I could not think of a thing and I said, Well, what do you think? Because I just thought, I cannot think of anything to say, Hey, this is ridiculous. And then he came out with this great big, long winded explanation. Excellent. That sounds good on you.
So we're going to use that strategy. My daughter asked me last week, how was man created? She gets one question at bedtime. And I'm like, um, what was your other question? Oh, you know, using your strategy.
It's dates, definitely. Because then the main probably bedtimes not the greatest time for it because it gets them thinking again, but Why is that at bedtime? All these questions come out? It's like I wrote this ridiculous Facebook post years ago. And I don't know how I can remember exactly what it was now but Digby asked, How do you make bricks? What is this thing happened where the colors come from? He clearly thought of the language why do we talk in this accent? All this stuff just one after the other understanding going tomorrow we'll do this tomorrow so I'm guessing the the, the key dyes and stuff that you use then like non toxic and stuff like were you able to keep keep doing that while you were pregnant? Like there was no sort of worry there.
So I use red dye, you know that really, really common dye that you can find with fabric and at all the craft stores and, and I've used both powder and liquid but right now I primarily use liquid. And as a printmaker, you know, I just threw down the hours in the studio, I mean, I would go to the shop and be there for like 12 hours, and I would leave with these horrible migraines. And so when I graduated college, I just decided I wanted a totally non toxic studio. So after college, I transitioned to essentially everything non toxic, non toxic print inks, acrylic paint, you know, so, and that was kind of part of the plan with having a home studio was that I wanted everything to just be comfortable. And so I've never fortunately had to transition any of the materials when I was pregnant, I could just use everything. Yeah, so that's been really, really helpful. Just having the kids around, and they use all my supplies. I ran into a photo the other day, my son when he was two, and he had, you know, those little edges, sketch those magnetic things gone. So he was too and he hadn't shirt off. And he was so proudly holding up on his little belly, that I just sketch with, like some circles cut on it. And at the time, I was excluded or drawn on it. I was exclusively doing circles. So he was like, so proud that he had his circle. And then I started finding and we got them into looking back, probably they were really little we got them into using kid scissors really young. Yeah. And so I would find these really jagged edges, like circle square shaped things in with my servers. I'm like, Oh, he was contributing to my pile, like he got on scissors. And so it's nice, because they just think they make merit. And sometimes I'll find these piles of glue and circles. And they're mine on like, something I'm like I didn't make has been in here stealing my materials. But it's pretty, that's beautiful.
Isn't it like that, obviously, it's, you know, they see it, and it's made such an impact on them and that they want to they're a part of it, you know, that's their way of being a part of it. And that's lovely that they're welcomed into that space that they they can be there. And it's not like oh, you have to stay out because it's either it's not safe, or I don't want you to touch or whatever. Like it. That's lovely. It's such a beautiful environment.
They're like little human bodies of glue. It's like wherever you go. They go. Attached to I had a funny conversation with my daughter the other day. We have, I have these rules. Like one rule is don't talk to mom while she's in the bathroom. So that's to me, like even if I don't need to go the bathroom. That's a safe space. So I was walking to the bathroom. I've I like announced I put my arms up and they go, I'm going to the bathroom. My arms are up. I'm like announcing to the household. And I'm walking and she's finally and I'm walking and I go I'm going to the bathroom. She's following still talking. I go I'm going to the bathroom and she goes, Yes. And she stops and she kind of puts her finger up and she goes, but you're not in the bathroom. And I go you know what? You're ready. You are so right. Okay, what do you need so that I can go to the bathroom? Oh my gosh, it was so hysterical.
That's gold and not bad. You're listening to the art of being a mom with my mom, Alison Newman.
So if you don't mind would Is it okay if we talk a little bit bit about your postpartum depression? Is that okay? Talk? Yeah. Yeah, I can definitely relate, I had had it bad with the first one, but super bad with the second one. So. So did you did you find at that point that you are either ramped up or sort of went the other way and decreased? How did that sort of impact? Ya?
know, I've always been pretty consistent with the practice, I think, I honestly don't even remember. I mean, that was such a dark time, but I probably leaned into it more at that, at that time, I wasn't doing the paper quotes, I was still doing a lot of drawing and a lot of hand printed printmaking. I do remember because I had kind of tried everything for the postpartum depression, you know, it's like, everything that you were supposed to do, I just, I feel like I was in a hole. And I was like, trying to climb out of it. And, I mean, I did the journaling, and I did the exercise, and I get I got a therapist, and I, you know, I did the art and I did the walking like, I just, I tried everything and, and for me, I just kind of had to wait it out. You know, it's like, I did everything so long, and so consistently, and then one day, the fog just sort of cleared. But it wasn't like a switch, it just was like, gradually, eventually, everything sort of worked. And I had a therapist at the time. And I use this a lot. So my work is so much about color, you know, it's so much about color, and emotion and color really brings out, you know, feelings. And so she would say to me sometimes she said, we'll just sit there, you know, because we would talk about my art. And she would say what color are you? You know, and I would have to think about well, what color do I feel like? Am I read on my, you know, what color do I want to be? And so I started meditating a lot at that time, too. That was one of the strategies. And so then when the fires hit, and we came back, and everything switched to the paper quilts, I used a lot of the quilting as meditations, you know. And so a lot of those blues and most common greens, that was kind of what I hit first, because it's like, I just needed the space to sort of watch my community heal, to see what was gonna happen, you know, was such a shock. So I, I really did make a lot of art, but not necessarily that much different. I've just been this massive producer, I used to try and recycle everything because I used to make a lot of really ugly, like a really hideous work. I mean, I didn't like it, but it was like I was trying to get to something. And so I'm finally at the place where I'm making what I want to make. But I mean, it was like, it was like 12 years of just junk. And I would put it in the recycling bin and I would like tear it off and throw on the trash. Like that was nice when I transitioned to non toxic because I feel like I could recycle more stuff. But, you know, it was a real push there. And I just kind of had to wait it out.
Yeah. Good on you. You obviously had a lot of support that time. Yeah. Husband helping out a lot.
Yeah, I'm an only child. And my parents were, you know, in really close with them. When we moved from California to Arizona, we actually said that I'm like, Are you coming? Because you know, we kind of need you to come like are you going to come in. So now and they came. They're now neighbors. So they knew Yeah, it's just amazing. And so they knew what was going on. And I had some really close friends that knew what was going on. And then my husband, I kind of hit the jackpot. And he's the Marriage and Family Therapist. So he like kind of had this language, you know, there's a sort of a therapist language that he has never he can help me identify things or talk to things and, and you know, therapy is actually really hard. I mean, therapy is really charged to especially if you're going through something like postpartum depression. And it's funny, but like, I basically found the therapist that I needed to help me through that time. And it was so hard that she was just an amazing person. But I think sometimes people need therapy and they try a therapist, and then it's not the therapist, they should do it. So then they think therapy doesn't work. Yes, I'm grateful that I had a husband who could be like, well, you need support. And so why don't you find a therapist, but then if you don't like that person, keep looking. And so even that is a simple idea. I have no I had never heard of that. I would have never known that. You know and so, so I kind of had everything going for me as far as like the support network, which I'm super grateful for. Yeah, it's hard. Like transitioning from motherhood and having postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. It's hard.
Yep, absolutely. Oh, yeah. Talking about that transition, like, did your identity or how you saw yourself did that sort of go through some some adjustment, then as well,
I think mine was more of an adjustment that I will not be able to plan myself into a relaxed life. It's like I'm such a planner, in life in general, and I am one of the most efficient people. And so it's sort of like, well take that really nice attractive schedule to do you write that up, you throw it up in the air, and you see what lands a chair, and then that's what you're going to do that. So I think just that idea of being flexible, and now I've, I would say I'm very comfortable with it. I also think that now that my kids are a little bit older, and now that, you know, we do so much creative stuff that actually really helps a lot. There was so much diaper changing and breastfeeding and like, oh my gosh, what am I supposed to do with that? Oh, my gosh, what do I do with the crying or that this or that getting up, or those sort of walking zombie exhaustion in those early years. And my kids are so close that it was like, we had an under two for three straight years. I mean, they're 13 months apart. And so just the sleep deprivation, it was like a free for all, you know, it was just like, What day is it? Yeah. So I've really acclimated. And I've really, they're really good sleepers. Now, I kind of have one night owl and one early bird, which is okay. Because there's like a solid time in there to sleep. So I think just my idea of getting stuff done how to transition. But as far as the creative part, or, you know, I kind of never lost that part of the identity that just sort of carried through with me, yeah.
One of the topics I really like talking about is mum guilt. And I'm going to I'm guessing that it's sort of, from who other people have talked to you from America, that it's something that's quite universal? Is that something you've ever experienced? Or sort of? What's your opinion on that?
I love this question. And the reason I love it is because of course I listen to your podcast, and there's a couple artists and creatives that you've had on that say they don't have it. And then Mike, Ooh, what's that, like? Triumph on that idea. And I think no, can't even can't even put it on. It's like a try. And I just, I feel like I could sprinkle mom guilt across the world. And that's leftover like. So then after, after I hear all these other people say that they don't have it. I'm like, Okay, well, what is mom guilt to me? You know, because then it's like, kind of this really interesting question of like, well, what is that mean? And? And then when do I have it, and I never have it with the creative stuff. I think it comes back to you know, when I talked about sort of the core identity of being a creative and like, this is a lifestyle, instead of a choice. Yeah. And so I think where I have had the most trouble with mom guilt is, I feel like I always want to look at each individual kid, and try and make the best choice for that kid, you know, and in the pandemic, I feel like there were no good choices. You know, it's like we wanted to pod we moved here, one to get away from the bears, but to also to be with my grandparents and family. And, you know, we chose to pod with them during the podcast. Until then that meant online school. And we didn't want to do zoom school because we didn't think that would work for our kids. So then we didn't you know, so it's like you, you pick, you keep picking the best choice of all these choices you just don't want and so then we ended up homeschooling my six year old son in kindergarten, you know, it's like, it just gets to this point where you're like, Well, how did we get here? And it's sort of, I think that's where my mom guilt goes up, like, Okay, I want us to eat healthy, but I, I don't want to argue about this cookie or you know, it's like just those little things that then by the end of the day, you're tired. And so I'm always trying to tell myself well, that's okay. Because you're gonna refresh at night like get back, good sleep if you can, and then just start over and start fresh. So the module is more about just trying to look at every like, look at every like I have, like 10 look at each one of my kids. And just try and do the best by them. Yeah, if I had more or a dog, heaven forbid, like, I'm, I'm working on it to
do. Yeah, I actually thought when I, when we talked, when I was leading up to ask the question, I thought to myself, I don't think you're gonna have any guilt related to your artwork, just because it's part of your life, your children are included in it. You're not doing your art at the detriment of anybody else. So I knew that was coming. Yeah. So
it's so funny, you knew that because I had to process it. I was like, What would my answer be to this? Because in my mind, I'm like I've done so long ago. But then when I started noticing what it was, it was really those small individual things, you know, that just add up, and then you feel this collective weight?
Yeah. Yeah. And it's interesting, you say about, you know, resetting the next day. But this is, this is the same sort of topic that came up with another lady that I interviewed just the other day, and was saying the same thing. It's like, you when the kids were little, you always knew the sun would rise. And you could start again, and see what happens if you just wipe the slate clean and start again, the next day, and then you felt like you were doing that every day. You know, there's always hope, because you can have that time to reset and then off, you go again.
Or there's a locked door to our chocolate, like whatever it takes.
I'm here and yet. So have you got some projects that you're working on at the moment that anything in particular that you want to share with us about that up? Yeah,
I have a magazine article that I'm working on. So I'm working on a feature article for women's artists magazine, which I'm super excited about. I just got invited last week to a local show, which I'm super excited about in Chandler, Arizona. And then last year, in the last quarter, I just got invited to practical art, which is this absolutely amazing and really neat community of artists. And it's like a gallery and a little art shop in Phoenix, Arizona, and they just love them. It's about 100 local artists. And so now I'm one of their artisans that's featured at their shop, and they're open, which is nice. And so they have like gallery exhibits all the time and sort of like wearable, livable art. So yeah.
Oh, that's psycho. So you're very active in your, like, your local community with your art, getting it out there. And,
yeah, I'm really trying to be you know, it was odd moving in a pandemic, and then trying to build an in person community. So we kind of, but now I feel like you know, we're almost two years and I am back physically in work at my library and job, which is just glorious. It's so nice to work with people in person. I've just been trying to make as many connections as I can in Arizona and in Phoenix, I want to start going to shows and, you know, just really trying to connect with this art community, it makes such a difference. As an artist, being a member of a community. It's so inspiring studio time can be really lonely, even if you've got kids in there. And you know, it's like, even if you have a ton of ideas, it's just so nice to see other people's work and their creative energy and support them too. So I'm looking forward to doing that more. Yes, thanks.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, someone else I spoke to talk to about how their art changes when they do when they're not in isolation, like when you're around other people. And even if you're not doing the same style of art, you can sort of feed off each other and someone might make a comment about your piece. And it's like, you can take it in another direction that you never thought of, you know, having a fresh pair of eyes look at it or someone that has no understanding of your what you do that, you know, it's can be really good thing.
So 100% agree and a lot of my pushes have been based on just sort of one side comment or one observation and right now my stuff, I don't know where it's going, but it used to be behind the frame. And now it's out from behind the frame. And it's just sort of, you know, the open so you can see all the texture and nothing is protecting it. It's just hanging on the wall and then it sort of getting into these more sculptural pieces for the while and stitched in wood and so we'll see where it goes. We're still in experimental phase, but that was just kind of Based on one person's comment of how nice it was to see the texture, and sort of have more visual access to it, so it's always so interesting what creative juices are flowing from other people's comments and their minds. And
yeah, absolutely, you put that very well. I couldn't find the words what I was trying to say. It's still early IV. It's not really bad. I'm, is it over there? Well, it's nearly 10 o'clock. But you know,
it's early, let's do it. That's early.
That first time that you saw that circle, and then you went into down that path? Is there anything you sort of find an imagery of the circle? Do you find yourself like, is there any deeper meaning in that, that circle for you?
There initially was, you know, when I started doing the circles, when I started cutting the circles, it was only circles. I mean, it was only circles. And I was, in my mind, because I'm such a, I'm such a planner to the court was like, I'm going to cut circles for the rest of my life. And I will be a circle cutter. Like, I just, I go really deep in this stuff. Like, this is the plan. Yeah. And so, and I remember walking, I walk a lot with my dad. And I remember one day, he's like, Have you ever considered like, a square? And I stopped, and I looked at him, and I was like, why would I do that? Like, I cut circles. We have very funny conversations. And we're, he's a very enjoyable, and it's funny, because now I cut every shape, you know, it's like, I don't want to give him credit for that. But, you know, it's sort of like there was, there was something that was so meaningful about it never ending, you know, there was something that was very peaceful. And with all the meditation, when I first started doing all the circles and all the die, I had a totally silent studio. So I wouldn't listen to music, you know, it's like, I just used it as a full meditation. And so it's like, you could also because I was hand cutting these, and now the circles are really clean, you know, they're very circular. But when I started, I was making really bad circles, ovals. These, like lobby egg things, you know, it's like, it takes you a while to kind of clean up your, your free hand cutting. And so there was something that was so also freeing, where you could just keep editing, it's like, you just keep cutting that circle around and around and around until it looks like something that it should look like. And so I think that was really peaceful. And so it was just more sort of this personal process of meditation, and kind of getting, you know, back into the studio and back into making what I wanted to make. But there's not like a final symbol of it just being a circle. I mean, I know, there's a lot of, you know, like eternity symbols and like the circle of life and things like that, but not from a conceptual standpoint. And now I'm doing just all different shapes and trying out different dye techniques, and just sort of really experimenting with what imagery comes out. And the colors and the my palette is never consistent. I mean, it's like, it'll be hot pink and black, or you know, and I'm starting to incorporate a lot more of my printmaking. That's kind of the direction that I'm going and then doing a lot of hand printing now and then drawing the circles and then printing on top, and then taping and then stitching. And so just the processes the process, I guess that's lovely.
It's quite freeing, isn't it just to be able to say, I'm going to do it this way? Or I'm going to do it that way. And that's probably probably you mean, you don't want to give the guy credit for it. But it's probably good that he said that, because it sort of gives you permission to say, well, this isn't what I'm going to do forever. I can fiddle around and and try different things and different techniques. So yeah, thanks. Thank you, Dan. So when it comes to retail, you've got all these these shapes, they're dyed, and they're ready to go. What's your sort of thinking or your process when it comes to laying them out deciding where they're going to, to lie on the paper.
So there's a lot of decision, there's probably like 10 or 12 important decision points, but one of the most important is how big the final piece is going to be. Because because I don't use formulas. All the dyes are really specific. So it's like I'll die 400 things. And then okay, you have 400 things, so I didn't so I'm kind of thinking about how large I want that final piece to be before I ever even do it and then usually I'll make templates. You know, I'll cut out paper. I do a lot of drawing in my sketchbook that never makes it to Instagram because it's nothing that anybody wants to look at my guiding path and so I I kind of know all the shapes that are going to be and I Use color a lot just to think about the world. I, you know, I work in education. And sometimes education gets a little contentious people get really in, you know, rightly so about certain issues. And I've been in some very contentious meetings before and environments that are really stressful. And to try and sort of step back from some of that stress, I usually go to color. And so sometimes I'll just ask these not almost nonsensical questions of like, if that person was like, a blob of color, what would it be right now, you know, and so it's like, I'm constantly kind of drawing out these visuals or asking these questions are like relating things into shapes. And so some of that comes out into the work. Some of it is just that I'll be on a walk, and I'll see a visual or I'll see a gradation with, you know, a cactus, and then its variation with what's on the ground. And I'll take a picture of that. And then those are the two colors that end up in the work or the piece, and then part of that line, or that shape, or that feeling, then is the shape that shows up in the piece. So a lot of it is a reflection of what I'm seeing, and what photos that I'm taking or how I'm cropping things. Basically, I try and pull inspiration from everywhere. Yeah. Yeah, I will say to that, even though I'm super intentional, there's always an element of surprise, because when you dye stuff, you're putting it in the full water bath. So there's always two sides. It's like, I might, you know, do a pink and around, but then I pulled the water back, I pulled it out really quickly for half of the batch, and I left it in overnight for the other half the batch. Even though the overall shape might have been a circle, what I end up with is like a really beautiful, soft brown and pink combo, and then like an almost black and pink combo. And so then I might decide when I'm laying it out, but then it's going to be striped. Yeah, it's sort of like I'm making a decision every single time even though I have the templates, and I have the overall colors. And those are fixed. Yeah, then I'm still doing a ton of experimentation. And then I actually take the back of it, flip it over, and then I obviously am stitching the top. Yeah. Ben from the top.
So what sort of material do you use to stitch with? Like, whoa,
you know, I have a brand. Let me look, I think it's the Lisbeth I do used a lot of different threads. And I had a quite a bit of difficulty over the pandemic, finding some of the papers and threads that I was using, like with production delays and stuff. So I ended up switching to Lisbeth thread, which I pretty much only use now it's, this will sound funny, but it's actually super important. They, they treat it in a way I think it's something called gasps injure, it's some process that they do that makes the thread rounder. So when I'm stitching with it, you know how sometimes of embroidery thread when you stitch it on paper or wood or something and you stretch it out. It's sort of like it lays flat. I know that that's a very detailed observation. But I need it to be round, because the mark making is important. I choose the colors of the thread really carefully. If I don't have a color of thread, then I die. I individually hand die the thread. And so I want that crisp color. And it just needs to pop like that, because it's sort of like I'm drawing on the paper boats, but it happens to be with thread. And so that I'm I now just exclusively use that thread.
Yeah, so you want it to sort of have that three dimension where it actually sits up a bit. It's not, it doesn't fade into the work, it's sort of up on top of it. So adds that texture as well.
I just hope that people keep going, I think, you know, I think I struggled for so many years making such bad work for so long. Because I could have given up like at so many points. And I'm grateful that I did it because I I honestly feel like it took me 13 or 14 years to figure out the type of work that I wanted to make. And so sometimes I just I think people really have to be in it for the long haul and just sort of the eye on the prize is that you'll find your path whenever it decides to show up. And I'm so grateful that I kind of had the practice you know, the practice of just showing up to the studio and making really bad work for many many years. So that I could kind of come into this nice space you know, now like, not the physical space but just the emotional space with my kids. You know, now we can share it and now it's kind of this enjoyable thing. That and I just I'm so enjoying your podcast. So listen to other mothers like honestly It just being a mother being a creative is so lonely sometimes. And so hearing podcasts of other women creatives, it's just awesome. You're just you're doing such a nice job. I just love it. Thank you. I
appreciate that. And that's a sentiment that a lot of women have said that it's like, it's so nice to hear that other people are going through the same thing. Because it like even a lady that I spoke to the other night both in Belfast, not Belfast, Dublin, in Ireland. And she said, it's lovely to hear that everyone around the world is going through it too. You know, it's just this universal thing that we're all struggling with. And yeah, it's that support in knowing that we're not alone is just so important. Yeah, absolutely. Oh, that's a beautiful night to finish our phone. Thank you so much, sir. It's been an absolute pleasure chatting with you. Yeah, I really enjoyed 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.