South Australian visual artist
My guest this week is Simone Wise, a visual artist from Adelaide and mother of 2.
Simone grew up surrounded by creativity, with 2 creative sisters and a creative mum. They went to the gallery a lot, and she was never really bored as she was always making craft. She studied Art History and considered that as a career path. It wasn't until her early to mid 30s that she took the plunge and went to art school. She was determined to practice and push through in the face of challenges.
Simone is heavily influenced by Dutch still life of the 17th century and the works of Turner, and interested in iconography and symbolism. She describes her artistic style as tonal realism style, She is currently studying a Fine Art Course at Adelaide Central School of Art.
Today we chat about why we gather certain objects, role modelling perseverance to her son through her art and how Simone's art helped her through the loss of her first son.
**This episode contains discussion around stillbirth, grief and mental health***
Music used with permission from Alemjo Australian new age and 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 that'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 mothers 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 place on their artistic selves. My name's 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 discussed 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 Bondic people as the traditional owners of the land, which his podcast is recorded on. Me today, it really does mean a lot. My guest this week is Simone wise. Simone is a visual artist from Adelaide in Australia, and is a mum of two. So mine grew up surrounded by creativity with two creative sisters and a creative mum. They went to the gallery a lot, and Simone was never really bored, as she was always making craft. She studied art history and considered that as a career path. It wasn't until her mid 30s That she took the plunge and went to art school. She was determined to practice and push through in the face of challenges. Simone is heavily influenced by Dutch still life of the 17th century and the works of Turner, and she's very interested in iconography and symbolism. She describes her artistic style as tonal realism. She is currently studying your fine art course at Adelaide Central School of Art. This episode contains discussion around stillbirth, grief and mental health. Today we chat about why we gather certain objects role modeling perseverance to her son through her heart, and how Simone's art helped her through the loss of her first son. Music you'll hear today is used with permission from LM Joe, Australian New Age ambient music trio comprised of myself, my sister, Emma Anderson, and her husband, John. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Welcome to the podcast Simone. It's really lovely to meet you and have you on the podcast today.
Thank you so much for having me, Allison. I'm really excited to chat about all things creative and being a mom in the world today.
It's a pleasure. So we're about to you, based you in Adelaide. Australia.
Yep. Yeah, based in Adelaide. I'm born here lived in Queensland for a little bit but mostly been here. All my life. So yeah, yeah. Have you ever been down to make Gambia where I am? I have. Yes. And I've actually my little boy has been asking me to go to Mount Gambia for a while because he's got friends who have been so yeah, but no, I did love it down there. It's Yeah,
lovely. Yeah. Don't come in winter. Just stay away. Okay, so yeah, yeah. Wait, did the sun comes back to Yeah. So your visual artists can you share what sort of style your art is? And
yeah, okay. Well, I'm I'm two years into a three year Fine Art course at Adelaide Central School of Art. And I specifically chose that school because it has really strong grounding in I guess you'd say the traditional arts foundations. Not everyone who graduates from their works in you know, old fashioned sort of art, but it has a really good foundation in a drawing and painting. And so I guess you'd say I, my paintings have been described as photorealistic. But I don't really like that description to be honest. Because while there's a skill in photo realism, there's not much in terms of interpretation. So I like to think I painting like more of a tonal realist style. And I'm really informed by still life paintings from Dutch 17th century like that real tradition of, you know, like a black background with things like grapes and setups of grapes and lemons and Silver Goblets and things like that. I love the iconography and symbolism and drama, all of all of that. And so I'm very much drawn to really detailed paintings and really detailed drawings. Yes. So,
do you work in? I'm gonna ask this question. Now. It's probably a question for later but I was looking on your Instagram, as I do with all my guests. I like to have a bit of a stalk before I do But you you were you painted in? It was oils, but it was on copper. Can you explain what the relevance of that is because I don't know anything about anything.
I've done one painting on copper. And it was a bit of an experiment. And I was thrilled that it got chosen to be part of an Art Prize, because I wasn't sure how it would work out. But yeah, traditionally, it's something that's been done quite a lot. But it's been in centuries past that it's been painted, like the board hasn't been able to go through, you get a piece of copper and like etching copper, and you put some just sew something to create the ground and then you paint on it like any other surface, you can paint on. Lots of things. So yeah, I didn't, I don't think I'll get back to it because I found it a little too slippery. But I did love the warmth and depth that comes from the middle, underneath. So
yeah, that's cool. Yeah, like I said, I don't know anything I've got, since I've been chatting to people. Through the podcast, I've discovered that I can actually do art, like I thought it had to be, like realism sort of stuff. Like it had to look like what it looks like. And because I couldn't do that, I was like, I can't do this. And then all of a sudden, I realized there's all these things you can do. Thing is amazing chord like
people. I'm not trying to do a humble brag or anything. But people often say to me, like, Oh, you're so talented. And I don't actually think I'm that talented. I think I just have perseverance and sort of a bit obsessive sometimes. I think the school that I went to teaches you like really, like we learned the most boring painting triangles in black and white ages. And you know, you can't help but develop some skill. And if you're obsessed enough with something to stay up too early in the morning to get better at it, then you will so
yeah, that's it, it really is a practice isn't it? It's not like you just wake up one day and you can all of a sudden do something, you actually have to learn the skills and and that's something else I didn't understand either. I just thought because my background singing I just thought you can sing or you can't sing like he can, you can do it or you can't and that's how I felt about drawing and painting until very recently. So I'm glad I've
experienced it even when, like I'm at a point where I'm happy with my skill level. But there's still heaps more that I can learn about different techniques and different ways I can push myself conceptually so yeah, I can never ending process
so when did you first get interested in art and creativity.
I've always been interested in art and creativity. My mom's very creative. I'm one of three girls and we all are creative in our own ways I grew up going to the gallery a lot really loving art never really been bored because we were always making something out of papers, sticky tape. I guess I was always craft II I still entered still am I still do lots of crochet and sewing and things. But I never really trusted myself as an artist because like you said, like you were saying before you cannot you can't there are always people in school who were better drawers than me. I was interested in it. But I wasn't ever, like, didn't have that natural aptitude to be like amazing. So I I studied art history interested in getting into working in art. And I love to I love art history, but it didn't quite feel right enough for me to pursue that as a career too much. And it wasn't really until about my early to mid 30s that I took the plunge and went to art school and thought you know, what the hell. You know, if I if I want to do something, I'll usually do it properly. And so going to art school was my way of like, taking the plunge and seeing whether I could do it or not. So, yeah, yeah. And I've been through to discover that. You know, I, I can't it's just a matter of perseverance. So I was terrible, terrible at first and always one of the slowest in the class. So
yeah, that didn't put you off. You're determined to do it. Yeah,
there was a sort of bloody mindedness about me that I was just I wasn't gonna let it let it beat me.
Good Anya, that's a great energy to hear. When you're talking about your art history, background, is that weird that sort of that love and appreciation of the symbolism sort of comes from?
I think so. Yeah, I think the thing about my art history studies has taught me is that art is such a reflection of the world that you live in. And so, you know, you might look at a 17th century Dutch painting of a goblet and some grapes and think, oh, that's boring. I've seen that 100 times before, but it's actually of its time it had symbolism about, you know, life and death and wealth and prosperity and, you know, eternal life or, you know, greed or yeah, there's so much symbolism so much meaning to things. And I find it really fascinating to think about the context in which it was created. Yeah,
I find that really fascinating, too. I had an interview with Dr. Melanie Cooper on one of my season ones, I love her. And I just opened my eyes to this whole world. And I was so fascinated by it, because I'm, I'm one of those people that I can't just watch a movie. And just, like, watch the movie, I have to see all the little hidden messages and in the, you know, the light and shade or wherever, where the actors is placed, and all this stuff, and it drives my sister nuts. Like, I can't just watch something and just shut up and watch it. So I found that really fascinating. And ever since then, I've sort of had this newfound appreciation for pieces of art, because they can't just be viewed on their own. Like, you can't just take them they have to be viewed within a context. She that's just reminded me of something that's completely random. Have you watched that Netflix show? It's called I think it's called inventing Anna. It's just come out. It's about that, that haven't I've seen teen girl. Yeah, she it's like this. She's a con woman. And she's really into art. And there's this one scene where they're in this art gallery, and I can't remember what the who the artist was. But she basically said, someone said, Oh, that's a really crap painting or whatever it was, it was a it was a photo of this art a lady with like a, I don't know, she had, you know how they used to put like handkerchiefs over their heads to stop that when they're in the cars or something. The hair going into it. Sorry, this is really random. It just reminded me. And so the person that was looking at it was all they were seeing was this lady with a thing overhead and just got in what's why is that amazing? And, and Anna in a, you know, calmness come out with this big story about how that was the first time a woman had stepped in front of the camera. And like a photographer, had made herself the subject and because of the era that it was in, and it was like a message about patriarchy and women's rights. And it was like, that just reminded me Sorry.
No, no, no thing I love about art is that there's, it can just be a pretty picture or something that you'd like to look up. But there can also be so much to it. And I sort of get discouraged when people say sort of assume like art has to be just about skill. And I guess for me, I do have obvious skill in that I can paint. You know, if I would have been an apple, it would look like an apple when people would recognize it. And so they therefore think that my art is good art, whereas not necessarily, you know, and it's there's a sort of, I guess it might be a bit of a tall poppy thing, like people not wanting to push themselves or be confused by something challenged.
And I think that that's the Australian way, isn't it? Like we've always got to we've got to cut down our tall poppies because they make everyone else feel in insignificant or incompetent. Or, you know, we've always got to try and level the playing field in some way, don't we?
Yeah, it's horrifying that there is that tendency to feel. Yeah, I feel like you to feel discomfort about not knowing something instead of curiosity. Yeah,
that's sorry. That is that's a really well put that's that's really well said. Yeah, so you paste that page on copper that we talked about before, was actually it was off the handle of cemetery. It's called handle of cemetery summer. And it was selected by the handoff Academy in the Adelaide Hills landscape arts prize. And that's pretty special.
Yeah, I was thrilled, especially as I was saying before, it's the first time I painted on copper, and I saw that painting is a bit of an experiment. And I was also trying to push myself in that painting to leave things more unfinished. There's a tendency me to be a perfectionist and just paint everything to a fine detail. And that was quite inspired by an artist. Turner, and he has these beautiful paintings of weather and landscape that are just sort of half finished. They're just so coarse in some areas. And so I was just really trying to get get to that.
Yeah, it's It actually reminds me of paintings that my Nana, not my Nana, sorry, my grandma had on her wall. She lived in clango, which is a little place near Mount Gambia. And just the color of the sky like that really burnt orange. I don't know I just when I looked at this, it just there's a I don't know there's a famous painting that used to be in her lounge. And it just came into my head. I thought gosh, Is that? I'm not saying it's the same, it's nowhere near the same. But that that color, that color just got me and I had that, you know that nostalgic Pang that you get. Then you go. Oh, yeah, yeah. So can you share with the listeners about the story about that? How that painting came to be?
Yeah, well, I I specifically painted that painting and took the photograph that I painted that painting from with the Adelaide Hills landscape prize in mind. So that's why I was so stoked I got it. I guess like a lot of people I struggle with procrastination and fitting things in. So I will often choose an Art Prize and paint something for it. And whether or not I get it in is not the ultimate outcome. It's just to have something to do and to have a deadline. So and I don't do landscapes and but I thought I was quite interested to try. So I went for a drive up to hand off with my son one day and we had a lovely walk around. And I'm quite interested in cemeteries so may sound morbid taking your he was then four, I believe. Yeah. Taking a four year old to the cemetery. But um, yeah, I just love those. Love the area. And it's such a traditional old cemetery with so many old German names there. Yeah, yeah. Definite face for the eyes and lots of areas to paints.
Yeah. Yeah, no, I can appreciate that interest in cemetery skill. I think it's, it's such a can obviously, it's a connection to the past. And often, like, we've got two cemeteries here, we've got like the new the newer one, and then we've got this really, really old one. And it's so nice to walk around and see. Like that. I don't know, it's just, it feels weird that you will somewhere with someone that that has was existed so many, like maybe 100 years before you, and you're at the same place at the same time with this person. Like it feels really unlikely. And there's one in the old kalangan Do you see reentry? In one of them? It doesn't even say this lady's name. It just says mother. And couldn't she even got a name on it? Like that one just really sticks in my mind. And I find that interesting to to see how people are remembered by other people the words they used to describe them and all that sort of stuff. I find that really fascinating. Yeah, for sure.
Day. Now, you said there that you're not you don't usually do the landscapes? No. So what's your sort of? I mean, again, I've stalked you on Instagram. No, there was a picture that sorry. Yeah, a photo that you posted of painting that you've done of your son's robot that he made? Oh, yes. Which is always a beautiful picture. Like, it's just, I look at it. And I think like you could put your hand in and pick it up. Like it's just so it's really stick but without being, like I said before, like it's not an exact copy. It's got like, I don't know, it feels like it's looked through through a filter or a lens or something like an old. I don't know, rambling again. But I really liked that. So yeah, so share with us, what's the sort of things that you usually paint? What are you sort of influenced by mostly? Yeah,
I usually paint objects. I don't generally tend to paint, paint or draw people and just not that I have anything against people who do or paintings that are of people are portraits, but I'm more interested in objects and what our objects say about us. So it's almost like I believe the objects that we find special to us are more of a portrait in some ways. And so that painting, it's lovely to hear that you love it, because that was very dear to me. It sold which was very flattering as well. It's amazing to think that someone wanted to pay money for that. So yeah, the I guess the story behind that one is my mum was looking after my son while I was at work, and my son is very, very into making and creating things too. And he just got it in his head that he had to make me a robot and he and my mom made it robot and he was just so his dear little face when he gave it to me. He was just so thrilled. And yeah, and I was yeah, it was just one of those lovely moments of being a mom where you're like your kids made you something really gorgeous and it's this really sweet and there was just a way to sort of capture that and I entered it into a Portrait Prize because um I see it as a portrait. Even though it's not a traditional portrait, it's almost like a double portrait because it's sort of triple portrait even because it's like, the title is me as a smart and pretty robot, which my son made a robot version of me being smart and pretty, which is what you'd want to be functioning well as well. And so he made it, and then I painted it. And so yeah, it was like a double, you know, his creativity, my creativity and our relationship. And so there are a lot of objects that have a real lot of meaning and tell a lot of story and I love I really like the ambiguity of painting something that might be a bit confusing, like, why would you paint? You know, I spent hours and hours and hours painting this particular thing and plunking it in the middle of something and making it look like this amazing, grand thing like they did with the, you know, Dutch still lives of these amazing goblets. You know, you can understand why paint something that was like beautiful fruit and silverware. But why would you paint some sort of cardboard thing? I quite liked the ambiguity of that. So
yeah, that raises a real question. I think of like, what is valuable? And what, you know, just because something doesn't have a price tag. It's important to someone it has that value that that person places on it. Yeah,
yeah, the sort of thing that you might grab, if they were a fire would not necessarily be the most money stuff at the most monetary things that are a link to another relationship.
Yeah. Two things I want to ask you about this conversation. What did you send? Think about the fact that you then painted a picture of the robot? What was his impression of that?
It's funny. He's very blase. Most kids who grew up their parents, whatever their parents is, like, oh, yeah, you know, you know, I asked him about the progress as I went on. I was like, What do you think about that color background? He's like, Yeah, it's good. Yeah. He was. Yeah, he was, I think it was he was quietly chuffed, but not amazingly. So just like yet. He was, he was annoyed when it got into the exhibition. And I haven't told him that it's sold yet he's forgotten about it. He sort of was a bit annoyed that it got in like, as if I hadn't consulted him. He's, I guess it was his intellectual property. So that's funny.
Yeah. It's interesting, you say about objects that people might collect or be given, or you know, what they place their value on, I suppose. And you were saying how that can sometimes tell you more about someone than, you know, a portrait. Or maybe that's what I was thinking. Maybe they weren't your words, but I was thinking like, you can find out so much more about someone by looking at the things that they hold dearest. It's so interesting, because there's a friend of mine who is a watercolor artist, and Julia, Rita, hello, shout out to you. She collects when she goes on a walk, she collects pieces of nature. So it might be leaves, or gum nuts, or just anything that she finds. And she always posts on Instagram of the things that she's found. And I always find it so fascinating, because I'm like that with feathers, feathers. I always click those. And if there's an interesting leave, it's got to be very interesting. Yeah. And it's just like, why do we do this? Like, what are we, you know, this connection that we want to have to things
surrounded by so many things and so many objects, which are the ones that stand out and become special?
I just, I just find it really interesting. Yeah, so I was gonna ask you about your son. So he's, he's grown up. Like you said, he's a bit sort of blase, but the whole thing, because he's seen the paint he's grown up in, in the family of a painter and artist. Can you tell us a little bit more about him? Yeah, his
name is Emmanuel. He's five started school this year. He's, he's lovely. He's amazing. He's He's very funny. Very energetic and hyper. He teaches me a lot about the world actually, he sort of I've often said he, he approaches everyone as if they're going to be fit be his friend. And mostly they are and I think that's a such a lovely way whereas I'm a lot more introverted and shy than him and it's just lovely to see him approach people with faith and excitement and enthusiasm and response. So
yeah, that's, that's really interesting way you've described it, because it sounds like you're describing my child, but I haven't quite put the words together he seeks and he's the same he just now that you've said it in those words, it makes perfect sense. It's like he thinks everybody in the world is pretty ain't your friend like a kind person? And? Yeah, sort of thing. There's the time gonna come when you realize that's not really true. But for now it's lovely.
Yes. There is that. Yeah. Yeah. Being five, he's very hyperactive and energetic. And yeah, it's an interesting age, he's learning to read and all that sort of things. So I think I'm getting to the point where I can sometimes have an hour off, or something to myself, but it's still very much that full on, you know, like food and drink. And this and that the whole time.
Very demanding little things. Yeah. It's funny, because like, they grow up, and they're capable of more stuff. But it's like, the more capable they get. It's almost like the more they want you to do for them. Like, hi, like, right? They
sort of revert and they want. Yeah, it's like, yeah, I want you to still be there every second. Yeah, exactly.
You, you're actually a mother of two. Which I appreciate that. You feel comfortable talking about your son. Can you share with us about Louis?
Yeah, so Emanuel has an older brother, Louis, who was born eight years ago. He died as a baby, he was. He was I was 39 weeks pregnant, about to set for an induction and I went to the doctors for the appointment ahead of that. And they were doing the ultrasound and couldn't find a heartbeat. And I was just really, like, what I felt the doctor was like, well, the baby's there. And it just hadn't occurred to me that anything would happen and, and so close to the birth. Yeah, so Louis was stillborn. Yeah, at 39 weeks. So that was, it was horrible, because not that it would necessarily be easier if you knew it was going to happen. But the idea that you could lose a child at that point, was just like, yeah, had not even occurred to me. And it just, I just couldn't quite comprehend it. So and when he was born, he was a perfectly formed, baby, like, he was my child, and he was beautiful. And he but he just wasn't alive. And it was just baffling. Like how it could happen. And yeah,
yeah, it's it's interesting, you say that, I think there's so much emphasis placed on you know, the first three months, you know, those first 12 weeks, get through the first 12 weeks, and then no one ever talks about anything happening later on. And I think you're right, you just you just flow through and you just expected that that's what's going to happen. And so when it doesn't, it's just incredibly shocking and confusing. And
yeah, yeah, it's almost like you breathe a sigh of relief after those first three months. And you can tell people and yeah, so yeah, it was it was horrible. And I think the fact that he was stillborn I didn't even get to see him breathe. I've always mourned. Well, I've known the whole thing, but I've definitely mourned. Not being able to tell him that I love him and see his eyes open. And so yeah, yeah, it's been um, you know? Yeah, it was was definitely the worst thing that happened. Yeah,
yeah. I'm sorry to mine. That's yeah. And thank you for sharing it too. I think, like a lot of things in, in this world. There's so much taboo stuff that we never talk about. Yeah. And I feel like the more conversations we have about that stuff, the more we're actually helping each other. He's you know, on this on this podcast before we've talked about miscarriages, stillbirths, we've talked about mental health issues, death of a parent grateful, that sort of stuff. And I think it's important not only for the people that are sharing it, to have a platform to be able to share it if they want. But people who might have experienced something like that, and haven't had anyone around them talk about it. You know, this might be the first time someone's heard someone else say that and think, oh, wow, I am allowed to talk about that or you know, and encourages people to reach out to other people and and get conversation started.
Yeah, and you're very alone. I mean, I guess no one can ever be inside your head with you. But it is a particular type of grief because, you know, you might meet someone new, you might be in the shops and someone could just assume that you're fine. You know, it's one of those. I'm sure everyone going through grief feels like you know, you should have this big red splash on your face or something. Like, to show that things aren't fine and normal and it's with being a mum, and having had a child but not having the child to raise. It complicates things so much like, you know, you'll meet someone, you know, go to the hairdresser, and they'll say, Have you got any kids? And in the early days, I would say yes, because I, it pains me to say no, because it was a definite was like a denial of his existence. And then people would that would raise people be uncomfortable and not know what to say and be awkward. And these days, I'll I'll choose whether I say or not. And most times, I'll actually just say, I've got the one kid because I just don't feel the need to get into conversation with acquaintances. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, my friends and family obviously all know about it. But I feel more comfortable not talking about Louis as much as I used to. I think in the early days, it was important for me to I was always angry it No, it wasn't almost, I was very angry. I felt angry that he wasn't there. I felt angry that people didn't know about him. And I Yeah, yeah.
It's like, you wanted to tell them because it was, I guess, validating the fact that he actually did exist he, you know, yeah, that would feel like you weren't doing the right thing by him, I guess to say, you know, to acknowledges that he was there.
Yeah. And people were well, meaning that there are some platitudes that come out. And people would say something like, Oh, he's, he's in heaven. Now he's with the angels or something that people don't say that about grown. People that have died, it's almost like because he was a baby wasn't, you know, he gets those throwaway little comments. It's almost like it's not valuing the life as much.
Yeah, no, that's a good is a good point. So throughout that experience that you had, was there any place for your art there? Was that sort of, did you use that as a tool to heal? Or was it was it tucked away for a while? Like how did that sort of play out? Oh, actually
played a huge role. And I feel like, without wanting to sound, you know, melodramatic, it made me the person that I am now and might be, not get over it, get the get through it. Because I'd been in art school while I was pregnant with Lewis and had teamed during the break. And then I went back to the next semester, art classes and, you know, family sort of question, like, Maybe you should take a break from art school. But I did take a little bit of a break from work, but it was important for me to go back to art school, and I really just became obsessed with painting then. And like I said, at first, I was terrible. But I, you know, not having a new baby, like, all my preparations had gone into having this new child to look after. And suddenly, there was a quiet house, and I was on maternity leave, and there was not a child to look after. So it was actually quite good to be able to, you know, I'd stay up to like three or four or five in the morning painting assignments, because I could, you know, it was a way for me to sort of do something that was doing something. Yeah. Yeah. And it was, it was, it was a way to, like hold on to something that I think at the time, I wouldn't even say I was enjoying the painting wasn't about enjoying, it was just about doing it, it was almost like a chore or a challenge or something. So in the early days, it was something to do to get better at it. And further on, it was like a way to something to hold on to something good in life, because it it's funny with with grief, you know, it's quite circular, and you can feel like, I think the worst time for me was about a year after it had happened, because I felt like by that point, I should possibly be pregnant again, and things should be back to normal and things should be fine. But in any in many ways, I think I'd had quite a naive optimistic view of the world and that view had gone down and a year later I just felt like life was just like, trudging through you know, it was all very gray and bleak and art was the one thing I could like make a decision to hold on to and make life good. Yeah, like in some ways, you know that that saying fake it till you make it like it was my thing to hold on to as something good in the world to get enthusiastic about even though I didn't feel enthusiastic I sort of gradually made myself force myself to be so yeah, yeah.
So it was this is hate describing like this, but it was sort of like a form of therapy. I suppose. That helped you? Oh, definitely process and work through thing.
Yeah. Yeah. And I had a my ex partner at the time Probably not fair on him to go into too much information about him, but seeing him NOT have a channel to express himself or spend time on doing anything productive, I saw that I was definitely the better off by having a way to spend my time improving on something I'm getting better at it.
Yeah. And I think yeah, for yourself to, to feel productive and feel like, you know, there's, there's something like said there's something good in the world. And it might have also been like, a consistent thing that you knew, was probably, you know, it was up to you whether it was there. It wasn't, so it was gonna be there as long as you wanted it to,
I suppose. Yeah. Yeah, sure. Yeah. And I think being in art school at the time I had, you know, there was deadlines, things had to be done on a certain time. So, yeah, there was. Yeah, it was definitely a type of therapy. Yeah. I think I think sometimes when the world feels a bit bleak, I've had my own mental health, not so much postnatal depression, but other types of mental health issues. Art is a good way to sort of keep busy doing something that feels worthwhile.
Yeah, absolutely. As a mother, have you noticed that what you're influenced by has changed, or the way that you look at things have has changed in terms of your art? Yeah,
yeah, I would say that. Um, I mean, I was still in the early days of my artists being an artist before I became a mom. But since then, I've found it's yeah, definitely informs my art and the way I see things, because everything that happened with my first son, and my second son, you sort of realize what's important in life and what sort of things are meaningful, and you look for meaning how you can display that meaning visually, so yeah. Yeah, nice. And that's something I, I like about my own art, which sounds a bit vague. I like that, um, I've got the skill to show something, you know how it is, I can paint something and people can appreciate like, Oh, that's a painting of a, whatever it is. And leave it at that. But then there is also that other element, like, for example, the robot painting we were talking about before, you could look at that and say, Oh, it's a child's piece of craft, but then there is also that further element. Like the layering that you get.
Oh, yeah, it's so fascinating. I really wish I had gotten done this earlier in my life. Really? I mean, I know I'm only 40 but after long hopefully I've got a long time to do this stuff is so interesting. I just love
it. Well, I'm 42 I turned 40 A couple of weeks ago and um, yeah, I guess I'm, I'm encouraged by there are a lot of artists, female artists who are going strong into their older years or even like fully come into themselves as artists later on. So while I do get frustrated that I don't have the time to dedicate that I would like I still feel like I've got the foundations of skills and who knows what will happen in the future I might have more time to push things further
Yeah. Two really interesting topics I like to talk to all of my guests about is mum guilt and identity so we'll launch into monk your first because that's always a bit of fun. It's everyone's concept of Aries is different in which I love to to say interesting. What's your take on mum guilt? What's your thoughts around that?
I'm, I've been thinking about that since you asked me for the interview and I'm undecided about mum guilt because I feel like it definitely exists. I do feel guilty about things whether or not that guilt is fair on myself or other people well I think it comes from wanting to do the best you can by the by your child and feeling like you're perhaps letting them down. So I do believe in mum guilt that way, but then I also feel like perhaps or maybe I'm just I'm just lucky and privileged in that I haven't felt as judged from people. It's the people I surround myself with. supportive of the things I do so I don't feel that sense of mom guilt socially. If you're not, I mean like I, I work and my son's in child in school and childcare, but OSH if if things could be different they would be but I don't feel guilty about the fact that I am not a traditional mum, and that we don't, you know, bake together very often or do a lot of things I'd like I say, while I do feel regret that there's not as much time together as I would like, I don't feel guilty about that, because that's where we live in. You know, it's if I were not working, then there'd be other problems that we'd have. Yeah. Sorry. Yes, I'm undecided. I definitely do feel guilty mom guilt about not doing everything and definitely times when I haven't done my best as a mom and being a single mom. There are times when I'm just so exhausted. And I've completely I've got nothing left. And I know that at times I could have done better and I lose it a bit and I do feel guilt then, but I wouldn't describe that as your what most people might call mum guilt i i describe that more as just like, general, you know, feeling like I did a shit job of parenting that.
Yeah, hats off to you. By the way, anyone that's out there as a single moms listing. I've got so much respect for you guys. Man.
Well, I'm lucky compared to some of my friends who are doing it all alone. I do have a you know, my son still got a great dad who's a big part of his life. So I don't have my son 100% of the time. So I do get time to you know, have a bit of mental space and not Yeah, so I think it would be much harder if you're that the sole custody parent for sure.
Oh, yeah. I don't know how he's doing honestly. I'm just really weak and pathetic.
You get surprised by what you're capable of. I never intended to be a single parent. It was not what you know. I went into a marriage and motherhood thinking but it is what it happened. Did you know it happened and managed somehow whether or not undoing all right I assume I am. I think I am still alive and healthy and
a nice person. Yeah. Yeah, he's still out there making these friends with everyone. So you know he you know you're doing a good job
yeah, this concept of identity that when when you're a mom, you just you don't want to say you're just a mom, because we're never just a mom. That's not the the right words, but you can be so much more than the mothering role, I suppose. What What's your thoughts on that as well?
Yeah, it's funny. I mean, I do see myself as as a mom as a huge part of my identity. Especially I think having feeling like angry and bitter that my first son was taken away from me. I've held on to that identity of myself as a mother quite strongly like yes, I Yeah, definitely. That's a big part of my identity. Almost like the core really like is when you have a child, they're sort of even if they're not physically with you, they're there somewhere else. People I've heard all sorts of cheesy phrases like having a child is like having your heart out in the world or something that there is a trick to that in that you there's always a part of you that you're thinking about them and hoping they're okay and yeah, it's not the only part of me but it's it's the major part of me you know, I think being an artist and my job and my family and friends form a part of that as well but yeah, it's definitely sort of feels like the central part of my identity especially in this stage of my son's life where that five he still very much needs me a lot and it's quite physical you know, a lot of cuddles and other physical things cleaning up
getting food and that seems to be the biggest thing and I they're always want something that feeds things to be excited come
on you how much you eat. Oh my God.
It's not seasonal. So I've got two boys and it's like my oldest ones because he 14 now and he'll the years he's been eating the same amount of tea is my husband think they'd like sticks. There's nothing off them. It's insane. Yeah, really? Yeah.
Always growing boys. No Are you? You're listening to the art of being a mom with my mom, Alison Newman
is it important to you to continue to have your own interests? Outside of being a mum?
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I think having my own interests outside of being a mum, I feel like is a good part of being a mum. Without wanting to speak ill of my own mum, I think growing up in a very creative family and she was very creative and loved doing art, but she didn't pursue it outside of, you know, craft things for herself. And not that everything has to be pursued to a high level, but it did seem to me as a, something that she could have pursued and didn't different times different means that sort of thing. But um, yeah, I think my son, he's definitely interested in my art. And he gets to see that and something that I really, really, really want him to grow up with is a sense of perseverance. And the idea that if you want something, you have to try really hard to make it happen. And I think he's in in a small way, my art shows in that because he sees something from a small, you know, nothing Canvas to become something that I choose it to be, and he sees me spending a lot of time on it. So the idea of time, putting time into something and sticking to it, not that instant gratification. Yeah, and the idea that if, if you want to be good at something you can be, but you just have to try. So I do talk about even though I'm not studying, right at the moment, I do talk about art school, and how you can get, you can learn things and get better at them with practice. And so that idea of practice I talk to him a lot about and I think it's, it's an interesting thing as well, art, like there's so much so much art that you can go and take kids to, and it's something that we really do a lot together of so it's a big part of our lives together. And I think he's, we go to a lot of gallery openings and things together. And so yeah, in a way, it is a part of my identity as a mother with the art and having that it's important because it informs me as a mother to him, but it's also good for him to see me pushing myself, I think in spending my time doing something that I'm interested in, because not that there's anything wrong with sitting in binging TV show. I've, I've definitely done that. But I think in life, you'd want to have, you know, big things that you go after. And I think it's good for him to see that.
Yeah, I love that. Because it reminds me of this, this saying what society says to kids that are you can be anything you want to be. But then it doesn't follow up with if you work really, really hard at it and persevere at it. You know, it's I think sometimes kids can have this sense of entitlement, I can be whatever I want, you know. And also that, that idea that that two things you said then sort of got me going this, this way that society is seems to be going about, everything's got to be supplied in an instant, you know, like this, I want something so I'm going to order it and get it in two days, or I've broken something that I'm not going to repair it because it's cost more to repair than to buy a new one and this instant gratification. Like I don't know, that I think for him to be able to get that understanding that, you know, a painting does not just appear on the wall of the gallery. There's, you know, all these hours and efforts and decisions to be made and all the stuff that goes into making that pace. I think that's a really valuable thing to teach your child.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And it's a very peaceful activity. So I don't paint a lot when he's around because occasionally he'll see me painting and all who see the progress is quite slow. And I think that peacefulness is something that's missing in life. So a lot for me It plays. So the sense of something being slow and peaceful, certainly doesn't hurt.
Yeah, I spoke to a, an artist the other day who was a posture, like did this do clay took the clay out the earth, made it into shapes into whatever. And then you have to take a really long time for to fire it, you can't just put it in and expect it to be done in, you know, five minutes because it will actually wreck it and exploded, you know, everything takes time. And we're talking about how you know that. That forces her to slow down, it forces it to take time and to be patient and to appreciate the process. And you know, there's just Yeah, and she also makes mistake Mercedes she's going to be here episode will be out soon. I actually know her episode would have been on by the time yours comes out. Sorry. I'm getting okay. Okay, Visa the timeline. But yeah, she made ink out of acorns, some like, and then she was making charcoal out of like, vines, sticks of like vines, putting them in little tin and putting them in the fire. And, you know, filling up the tin and drawing with each other. It's like, we don't do that anymore. We just go and order stuff. And it arrives and no one knows what happened. It's just getting back in touch with the earth. And I don't know, we're getting away from that stuff.
And that raises an important idea about when you're creative, like the process of it, like, it's good to have something to show at the end. And I wouldn't paint if you know, everything I painted, got chucked in the bin at the end of the night. But the process is really meaningful is really important as well, like, for me the mixing of the color colors that I need and the application. It's something that's real, it feels really vital to me like the process of going through painting, you know, if I could, if I could speed up my process, I don't think I would, because I really enjoy the whole. I'm very slow and take a long time. But I really enjoy every aspect of it and the different phases of a painting.
Yeah, yeah. And again, yeah, it's not all about the end product. It's yeah, I like that do you mainly paint in oils or do acrylic painting as well?
I don't paint with acrylic. I don't really have any acrylic paint. Aside from like, I'll start. I won't ever start with a white surface. So I'll start with them easily Burnt Umber I'll do in acrylic, just because it's cheaper to cover a board in acrylic than oil dries quicker as well, which is good. But um, no, I just really love the way that oil, you can sort of push and pull it in. It's so pliable and it takes longer to dry, so you feel less pressure to get it perfect. I do some I do do a little bit of watercolor here and there. Like if I'll do a little sketch or something like that I'll do some watercolors are from sort of autism instant gratification. You know, I'll work with watercolor, but I like watercolor has a sort of you don't really know exactly how it's going to turn out. I mean, you do but I get what you mean. Yeah, yeah, if you go with that unexpected side, you can get some really beautiful stuff. And I've I don't know enough about acrylic, and I haven't painted in it enough to either be able to control it or enjoy that unexpected element that I enjoy from watercolor. Yeah, I guess it depends what you can, what results you want. And I don't I don't think I could get what I want with acrylics. Whereas if I were painting something different and what after a different look. And if I could get that from acrylics I'm, I'm sure I would because it would be cheaper and easier to clean up. Paintings are a real pain in the bum. You know, at the end of the night when you finished having to clean your brushes. Yeah.
You can't just do what I do and just leave it in the water till the next day or longer. Think got any sort of things that you're working on at the moment, like any particular sort of train of thought for your work or anything coming up, like entering competitions or anything like that?
Yeah, I hate to say it but I've had a bit of a lull at the moment. I've had a lot going on On family wise, with my dad being in hospital now, and my son starting school, so I feel like this whole year has been quite overwhelming to begin with. So I haven't done a lot of art. I've done a lot of crafts that sort of like my comfort blanket, a bit of crochet. But I've always been in that space of time, I've been going to galleries and looking through art books. So it's always been a part of my life. And I've just been doing more practical things like getting boards ready, because I love to paint on linen on board. So I've been doing things like getting some wooden boards ready for painting for when I'm ready. And I've taken photographs of things because I work from photographs, and I have started a painting, which is sitting up on the kitchen table now. So it feels good to have something out and ready. So yeah, yeah, I sort of had a bit of a flurry towards the end of last year. And I think yeah, that's from working. Not quite full time. But you know, four days a week and having I have to be really self disciplined to do art, and I haven't been that soft. So yeah, but I've, I'm working on a painting at the moment with no, not for any particular competition or anything, but just a lot of things. The work I do can fit slot into competitions. So when it's done, so yeah, I'm actually painting seafood. At the moment, I did a painting of an oyster a year or two ago, and I loved it. And it's a Sargent painting of squeed that I just adore. And it's a lot I'm really attracted to the sort of disgustingness and the beauty of it at the same time. Yeah. So I'm doing a painting of a oyster and a crab and just the sort of the beauty of these, and also the repellent nature of these things as well.
That's an interesting juxtaposition, isn't it? Like it's? Yeah,
yeah. Yeah, I think that's a really interesting thing about still life painting as you can, what you choose to paint, obviously, you're putting it at the forefront and making people pay attention to this thing. And, yeah, what you choose to paint can be interesting.
When you go to art shows, do they have like an explanation of what they're trying to say in in it? Or is that do you? Is it up to the viewer to work to make what they want from it?
Yes or no? Yeah, there's often sometimes you go to an exhibition, and it'll just be the title and the medium. And that's all there is other times you'll go to an exhibition. And there'll be a catalogue essay that you can read, which is definitely worth reading, because that is generally written by someone other than the artists, but they'll have had a good conversation with the artist and really understand their concepts. So yeah. And then sometimes if you go, like, for example, at the art gallery, they'll put a small blurb around things, explaining them a little more. So yeah, I think I really do appreciate those catalog essays and the descriptions of them as long as they're written in plain English. And I think with a lot of professions, there's jargon, but there is a real history in writing things more complicated than they need to be. I find it really disheartening, when you'll, I'll go to an exhibition and I love it, and I buy the catalog or take the free catalog and read the essay, and it would just be like, feel really dense. And it just, it's almost like someone's trying to prove that they went to uni. And
yeah, it's really alienating, like, creates that boundary between the clever person and the Navy's reading.
For sure. And I mean, it's good to be challenged and to find things that you don't know about and try and learn about them. But I think in the writing of it, you need to be out, you can still write beautifully. And write in a way that's easy to understand.
Yeah, I had an artist on from Ireland few months ago, and she said the same thing. She said, she said, there's all these blank speak. She tries to stay out of it.
Yeah. And I feel like I know it. I can. I can speak that language because I've been school, but I feel like you have to have been to art school to be able to understand something. So
yeah, it's an it's interesting, like, maybe that's why, I don't know people gets I sort of liken it to when you go wine tasting, and they'll talk in this special language of I've got I can spell tones of this and notes of that and you just think it's just why like it's just, you know, it's like why, you know, this world has to have The special thing and I like sit in alienates people. And then like, normal everyday people are so off put from, you know, entering this world because they feel so dumb, like, you know,
like if you could if going to using the art analogy if people could describe it, like, describe it better and say when I taste this makes me feel this or that or something in a way that was more engaging and not like, made you feel stupid for not getting the exact same thing when you took that see if you know if Yeah, yeah.
Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? It's like this elitist. I wonder if that comes from. I'm gonna draw a very long bow here. Because when I spoke to Melanie, that all this stuff about patriarchy came up about how women have always been excluded from art. You know, traditionally, the women did the arts and crafts, like the craft stuff, and that was like, the crap stuff that wasn't valued by the
Yeah, like things like waving that was just a correct Oh,
yeah. Yeah. You know, is that is all that weird talking language world been created by men to try and keep women out of it? Because they can talk in this fancy way. But women wouldn't understand it.
Yeah, that's sort of that. Yeah, I think it's dangerous for any field, to spend, to not be open up to new voices and ideas, I think you can be quite, you can become quite insular in any field. And now mean, if you're talking, or your friends know what you're talking about, or your friends and colleagues, you're talking about, you're talking the same way, then it's all going to start sounding the same and becoming some little in, in joke. And, you know, if other people aren't open to that, then it becomes a bit closed off, doesn't it?
Yeah. Did you ever paint with other people, or you always paint by yourself? Yeah, I
do always paint by myself, I would love the idea of painting with other people. And I love the idea of having a studio space and being able to bounce ideas off other people. And just sharing the space because you are, it is a very solo practice painting and drawing. So I really love the idea of having a studio and one day I would love to but just at the moment. With work and finances and things, it's just not something that I can do. So I sort of artists, something that I more just grab where I can whereas I think you have a studio, you're paying to rent that space, you sort of want to make the most of it. And I mean, I was sort of hoping once my son went to school, I have Friday's off but hasn't worked out yet, but I think yeah, I'm definitely loved the idea of a studio but um, at the moment it's more just you know what I can get done at home and I'm lucky in that the medium that I love painting and drawing I can do from home I can. I've got a very small place I live in a unit and my artists spread out all over the table at the moment I can do that at home other artists, I guess need that studio space because it's the work that they do isn't practical or feasible to do at home. So yeah,
yeah. Before when you're talking about your mom, did that experience of watching her not pursue? Perhaps what she might have been able to do? Did that make you want to do it more? Was that sort of a driving thing? Yeah.
Yeah, for sure. Because, I mean, it may sound melodramatic. People talk about things on your deathbed that you would regret. But it would definitely be something if I got to old age and hadn't become an artist. I would definitely regret that because even though I didn't know that I had the potential, what I mean, I was interested in art and I suspected I could become an artist but I was so unsure of myself for so long. I wasn't sure if I have the ideas and be able to develop the skill. But I think not pursuing that I would have been disappointed in myself. Yeah, and I just I think I'm sound sounding very melodramatic again. But I think life is quite boring a lot of the time. Like, there's so much drudgery and so much routine, that you just really, really need a I mean, relationships make life worthwhile, but you also really, really need a big, huge ongoing project to be able to, to get excited about otherwise. Yeah. You know, like,
the days yeah, that's it. There's everything said repetitive it just flies by before you've even realized. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That Is that is good. We should all live like that.
Yeah, I'm saying that sounding Oh, you know, Oprah Winfrey, but not that I haven't been doing much at all. But it's been in my mind. So yeah, see, that's the thing. It makes you see the world a different way. Like I imagined yourself being a musician, you would hear things and think of that. Think of things differently. Whereas I'll look at certain colors or compositions, and it'll get me excited about things or make me think about things a certain way. So it's something that you always carry with you. Yeah,
yeah, absolutely. Thank you, sir. Right. It's been a real pleasure to meet you and to have you on the podcast today.
Thank you so much for having me, Alison. I really loved talking about, about everything we talked about tonight. It's been all very deep and meaningful. And, yeah, it's good to talk about the things that are important in life, like art and family because, yeah, it really is what makes life worthwhile. So yeah, to have the chance to articulate all the thoughts in my head. Listen to them.
Thanks for sharing. It's been really nice. 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.