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The Venus collection to releases June 23rd for email subscribers and 24th for the public

the sketchbook

For A Creator

For A Creator

You make me happy

 

I am writing this with a sleeping baby on my chest after  a day of cheering at basketball and football games and then walking into my studio to check on the kilns. I pause and with care peek under coverings that have been laid over pieces so that they may dry slowly without cracking.. This is the blur for me, the careful but familiar fluency of my life where motherhood and creative entrepreneurship intertwine. I don’t have hard lines between the two but I do have a mantra, “be here.” Live presently and do your best. I wanted to write something in preparation for Mother’s Day, a day where we as womankind often feel many complex emotions. Something has happened to me over the years as I have greeted 10 mother’s days and 7 of those have been spent as a professional artist running a vibrant business, I have settled into my core roles and I have gained confidence in mothering and creating a business my own way. 

mother and children in studio

This can’t really be something beyond encouraging you to do the same, live presently and have confidence in mothering and working at your craft in your unique and glorious way, a way that will meander and continue to shift and roll and may you come to awaken both the mother and the artist within you as your nourish both roles.  Mind your life, it is wondrous and we are traversing ancient roles as Creators who are vessels for growing life and nourishing life-giving art.  What gift, to have a whole world inside you. 

Travel Inward

I found a note I wrote to a friend when she anxiously told me she was pregnant with her second child and was nervous about her growing business and finding a way to care for her children and her business, these were some of the notes I put in my phone when she asked if I had any advice for her:


“Priorities and boundaries will become very important- the rest will fall into place or fall away.

Wherever you are, be there.

Expect your definition of success to shift.

Affirmations and empowering frames of mind will ground you.

Acknowledge your fears and speak them out loud.

Time away is not a bad thing. Rest. Care. These are important parts of creating too.

Your creative flow may not feel the same.

Begin Again.

Prepare a list of things you would like to learn about or improve, just because the way you are able to work looks different doesn't mean you cannot continually grow.

You can do it all but not by yourself and not all in the same season, consider where you will accept help.

Quiet moments are very important both quiet as in soundless but also stillness.


Look at everything in nature… it never stays the same, what does it do to us then and the conception of ourselves if we don't appreciate the natural passage of time and our place and the opportunity to grow.”

There are flows to your time with your children and your work, recognize and honor them 

I consider us a working family, not myself as a working mother. With practice we have all sort of settled into the routines that work best for our family. My family knows that if I am getting ready to release a collection, or most especially around the holiday months then some of the responsibilities that are normally mine fall to other people in our family. After an intense period of work I try hard to settle back to a more harmonious place. Going on individual special dates or having a small special moment with my kids like before bedtime, or a slow morning with their favorite breakfast also helps to restore some of the normal flow to our routines. When I am extra tired I have to really fight hard to be present in my life.


There are times I might feel overwhelmed and neglect the care of myself, our family home, or moments I normally prioritize like family dinner. Sometimes I find myself thinking it has to be a grand gesture or nothing at all but committing to a morning walk to move my body 3 days a week, or going to bed earlier twice a week,  spending an hour doing the laundry and watching a show you enjoy, or putting together simple nourishing meals for 4 days a week seems manageable. In the moment sometimes it feels like you can’t take breaks or you’ll lose momentum but those I have found are exactly the times where it’s necessary to slow down and replenish. It will be easier to begin again when you have filled your own vessel. 


I love being able to work from home but it also creates some chaos in our lives. To restore some order these are a few things that have helped at different seasons of motherhood and makerhood: 


Communicating clearly and having a family meeting at the beginning of the week so we can get everyone where they need to go, plan ahead for things like book reports, and enable my husband and I support each other in our work recognizing that he may need the weekends for work so he’ll be more involved during the weekdays so that I can have some work at nights. 



Hiring help with the kids, when my daughter Rosie was a toddler we had a babysitter on Fridays, it is amazing the amount of work you can get done and the flow you can get into when you have glorious hours all to yourself! I was hesitant to accept help with child care, for a variety of reasons including making sure my kids would be safe and lovingly cared for but we found a way that worked for our family. I have also heard of friends trading days to care for children so each gets a day for a playdate and then later the promise of a day to work while their friend is caring for the children. I find this lovely, encircling each other in our creative roles as well as our mothering. I have very dear friends who have cheered me on since the beginning and I think I would have found it more of a challenge to find my way.  


Housework was one of the first things we arranged to have help with when my husband’s and my businesses began to grow. We hired a local business that schedules a team of cleaners to deep clean our home once a month. We then try to maintain the cleaning with a simple schedule in addition to the daily chores like picking up and doing dishes: Mondays everyone collects the trash to prepare for Tuesday trash day, Tuesday we each clean a bathroom, Wednesday we do laundry… If we fall behind we just do our best and begin again the next day. 

 Nourishment and Protection

I naturally like to be busy, motherhood also ensures that many of your daily moments are already accounted for. A kind word of advice: Protect your moments, your celebrations, and your rest. I do not subscribe to the hustle mentality, I try hard to create habits and systems that will improve my efficiency when it's time to work and then enjoy the moments right after when it comes time to nourish myself to begin again. Guard your stillness but also know you will probably be tired especially when your kids are small but the power lies in being able to recognize when you have gone too far and need to come back to yourself. 

I’m certain you have heard of this thing called Mom guilt,  and I have been working hard to reframe my mentality around this to heal from an idea that doesn't help and to also invite my children to be a part of what I do. My work helps my children see the world in a colorful way. Their eyes are being trained to see beauty in others and the world around them, their minds to creatively solve problems.  My work provides money that I save for their futures, my gift enables future them to use their own unique gifts. My work gives them opportunities to see new parts of the beautiful world. My work shows them that hard work is something that is important to our family.  My children have seen me fail and be a part of some very vulnerable moments. My work introduces them to another part of me beyond being their mother. I have other talents that I am developing and I am in a constant pattern of growth and becoming even when it comes from mistakes. Spending time in my studio bonds us but also there is the time I spend alone in my studio where a particular child may be on my mind and heart and the making and mending I do while I am guiding the clay helps me to make and mend myself and my relationships with my children. It becomes important to create from a place of abundance so I am continually trying to guard my reservoirs of energy, love, and time so I can create the highest work I am capable of but also a happy life with my children.


There is a work only you can do, this is your focus. Hire help when you recognize something isn't bringing you joy and is stealing your attention and energy- bookkeeping, website and brand design, shipping orders, customer care might all be places for you to accept help. I once heard a story about a mom who loved baking but was often distracted while she was doing it causing her to perpetually burn a batch of cookies. This woman wanting to share some cookies with her neighbors or friends would try again and this time keep a closer eye on the next batch of cookies and they’d usually turn out better than the first. This mom then offered her family the burnt cookies and would give her neighbors and friends the better batch. One such time after eating a batch of slightly scorched cookies her son yelled “why do we always get the burned cookies! I want one of the good ones just once!” Who are you offering the better cookies to and who is getting the less favorable batch of time, energy, or attention?

 

believe there are so many right ways of finding your way in motherhood and your creative work. I have found it important to give both roles time and the best effort we have for that day knowing that as the sun rises again we get to begin again, improving upon the day before and with the hope that by small intentional acts great things will come to be. 

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Maternity Memories and Meanings

Maternity Memories and Meanings

I was driving around today, eating a chocolate chip cookie and listening to the Beatles as one does when they are in their third trimester and life's a tangled ball of emotions and stresses. I was listening to one of my favorites  “In My Life,” and I heard a line about memories and meaning and I thought to myself “ I don't want the memories of this season of my life to lose their meaning, no matter how overwhelming some days seem.”


I suppose this was my motivating factor for documenting this phase of life with my maternity portraits even though at the time I didn't have the words to express what they actually meant to me. This is my last baby, but my first time taking maternity portraits. If I am to speak honestly, I must share that when trying to sort through why a person who loves creativity and capturing and expression and storytelling purposefully skips over a phase of life that is usually regarded as something you want to remember. What it comes down to for me is when I’m pregnant I feel as though I am just trying to hang on, to make it through all the phases your body and emotions cycle through not to mention that three out of four pregnancies my husband and I have decided it was best for our growing family to move to a house with more room, which has lead to three home purchases, remodels, and moves when I have been 8 months pregnant. 

building a house, growing a baby


 The day I found out I was pregnant with this baby I remember thinking “I know what’s coming, and I will try my best for this sweet babe who I know has a special soul and role in our family but this is the last time I will be this version of Krista and I really liked her.” It takes me years to feel like myself again after a pregnancy and along the way I change, not just physically but my priorities, my energy, my habits all change and sometimes that is a gift and in other seasons it is a struggle. 

This time, before I could talk myself out of it I texted my friend Kendyl who I love working with on my photoshoots and told her that I had a wild idea, which she always approves of. I told her I felt like I was craving authenticity and real life. I wanted to do a portrait session with her at our new house, a house that is under construction and very much in the rough stages of a remodel. I wanted to be able to have these memories to share with our baby boy, that mom and dad and his brothers and sister were all working so hard to make this home a place we could settle into as a family of 6, a home that we suspect we willed to us and came knocking in a most unusual fashion and at a most inopportune time.  I wanted there to be a contrast between the old decrepit life this house had thus far endured with the new life coming, we were trying our best to listen to this house and bring her back to her glory. There is also a new life in me, my baby that would not let us forget that he was waiting for his family, this home is where I see him growing up and these walls we are building will be the keeper of small moments between mother and son, brother to brother, brother to sister and father and son.

 I chose a dress that could not be more different than the utilitarian cotton shirt dresses that are my maternity favorites. It is a dress that made me feel beautiful but also was a dress that highlighted the striking difference between the unfinished state baby’s room (and our chaotic lives)  we chose to shoot the photos in and my whimsical and hopefully serene appearance knowing that all of this felt right- the baby, the house- and it was my privilege to witness. 

I’ll tell you a secret, this dress was the last of its kind and did not fully zip up but carry on we must even if that meant taking photos sitting on a window sill with your dress back open and landscapers on their lunch break right under this window!

When I shared the news that I was pregnant, my friend Melissa messaged me and asked if she could shower me in petals for my maternity shoot, something I hoped she still wanted to do when I asked her if she happened to have Wednesday the 4th free and if her beautiful mind could dream up something for me sculpted from flowers. Melissa made me little gardens that danced in the breeze of the three fans we had blowing and an umbrella of blooms. In her floral designs there were 4 roses, one for each of my babies, a secret message written with petals. One of the memories I will always carry with me, is at one moment in the photoshoot I looked at her and she had this look on her face and she told me I looked like a goddess and she felt so honored to be there (in our unfinished house that didn't have air conditioning on a 115 degree day) and I realized the beauty I had in my life, it abounded in my friends. It felt very much like a sacred moment, three women gathered together to create and two of them had lent me their light and blessed me with their talents.


 

These are some of my favorite captures of the day: 

This is the umbrella Melissa designed for me, have you ever seen anything like it?!!! I love that I could be held above my head, casting delicate shadows, or to the side looking like a beautiful spray of botanicals.

 My husband Steve didn't quite understand the vision for this photoshoot plus I think he was worried about me because it was so hot and the air conditioning hadn't been fixed in the house yet. He came two nights in a row to paint this room for me (and the baby) and then the day before the shoot he bought us several fans, one of them was designed to make the air cooler with water although it really just made it more humid, but we were happy to have them and I think the humidity added to my glow factor! This is also when he told me he was a little embarrassed that I would be taking these photos in the house where there would be multiple contractors working. I told him to say I was the lady of the house, and an artist and this was actually perfectly normal behavior for me! 

I wore blue lipstick for some of my photos because I feel like as adults we forget to play and choose things that amuse and delight us! 

 

5 THINGS I WORK THROUGH WHEN PLANNING A PHOTOSHOOT 

You may not think you qualify as a creative director when you book a personal photoshoot like a maternity portrait session but indeed you are! This is a chance for creative expression and capturing a beautiful story in time and in turn giving meaning to your moments. How much of a production you would like this to be is up to you but I’ll share a few steps to my method when organizing a photoshoot either for personal reasons or as part of my ceramic business.  


CONCEPT

This is usually where I begin, it’s my vision, my story, it’s all the WHY’s and WHAT’S before working on logistics and translations which are the HOW’S. What would I like these photos to say? Are you craving creative expression, whimsy, story telling, documentation, authenticity, emotional release? How do you want these photos to FEEL. Once I have an idea of my concept I usually begin collecting to see if any new themes or directions emerge. 


COLLECTION

This is the gathering of ideas, objects, and themes like color stories or light. As I gather I can usually clarify and refine my concept. For instance when working on my maternity photoshoot, I kept finding myself attracted to blue ( which is very unlike me as I tend to gravitate toward warmth) so I found a blue dress that was my “moment”, chose a blue paint color to paint my baby’s room, I went to Sephora and found some blue shades of lipstick and eyeliners to try out in case I wanted to be very on theme. I collected just a few props- a dropcloth, a large brush with a wooden handle, a wooden handled paint roller, and a paint can that was silver without any labels on it. I also tend to lean towards gold but decided I wanted to wear my great aunt Emmy’s silver heart earrings. I liked the idea of generations of women in my family being there. I matched my silver earrings with silver flats that I already had. When I have these items and ideas gathered I usually share them with my photographer, Kendyl is my neighbor so she usually pops over and we talk the creative direction through or I text or email her photos of everything I’ve collected and been dreaming of.



COMMUNICATION

Photographers have a unique gift to share. A capture is more than a photo, it encapsulates so many feelings and senses for us we will remember for years to come. When we look with our eyes at a photo we can remember small details that welcomed all our senses but belong uniquely to the experience of being there and feeling the magic of that day.


 We will remember the details like how the dress we ordered didn’t quiiiite fit on the day of our photo shoot so we just didn't take any photos from the back.  Or we can remember that there was a faint smell of paint and wood that mixed in the hot air, the 115 degree air because the air conditioning was broken.  Or while looking out the window in a dreamy state there were actually landscapers casually having their lunch under the orange trees and wondering what was happening up there! For these reasons when organizing a creative photoshoot I find communicating with your photographer to be one of the most valuable things you can do. 


Have you shared a mood board or photos of your collected items or ideas, one that each of you can add to? Created a shot list together ordered from most important to least important and leaving room for your and your photographer’s intuition and creative expression? Have you chosen a location that you can visit together at the specified time of day or does your photographer have experience shooting photos in that location or at your agreed upon time? Is the creative direction you are hoping for play to their strengths, sometimes my friend and photographer Kendyl will practice new techniques or learn new skills for our shoot.  Is there anything creative that your photographer would like to try (for instance Kendyl walked into the bathroom next door to where we were shooting and found a piece of plastic and came out and said “hey I found this in your bathroom and I want to try taking a few photos through it.” Photographers also crave a change of pace, subject matter, and scenery. When you have built a relationship you trust where they place you in the frame, when they tell you to tilt your head down a little, or when it’s  time to run off in a different direction to chase the light beams.

(this is the image photographed through the piece of plastic Kendyl found)

 

 

RELATIONSHIPS

I find building relationships in your creative communities to be one of the most important and fulfilling things not only when planning a photoshoot or creative event but also just as a means of experiencing joy and to find those souls who will help add color to your life. These will become the talented people you can entrust elements of your vision. Building these relationships will take time and intention but I promise it will be one of the most fulfilling things you can do as a Creative. So boldly send that invitation you drafted weeks ago, ask them to meet for lunch, offer a collaborative idea, send gifts, remember important dates, cheer them on in their successes and failures. You will be able to support each other in living a joyful and creative life! I have friends who have graciously allowed me into their homes to photograph collections, friends who work on collections and collaborations with me using their unique talents and skills sets to create something that I couldn't even envision! It is a beautiful experience to be a part of.  I have friends with such fine luck finding thrifted treasures and the good fortune of bringing those pieces home who then allow me to borrow their treasures for styled photos. I enjoy the company of friends who use the same medium who I can say those weird words like ‘“I don't know why my luster is acting like it's being repelled by something,” and they can offer their experience and knowledge.  I have friends who create such beauty like my friend and floral designer Melissa, owner of Moelleux Events who created the floral arrangements for my maternity portraits, that you hope you can hire them because you know whatever they make will transport you and your senses to a uniquely beautiful place. I also try my very best to be ready and willing anytime one of my friends asks for something ceramic that might help them in their creative expression. 


Nurturing relationships with people you admire both within your online community as well as your physical community will be one of the greatest blessings to fully expressing your creative voice. 


AUTHENTICY WITH THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF WHIMSY

When I’m feeling prepared and have worked through these other steps one of the last things I like to do is check in with myself and ask what version or part of myself am I going to be harnessing, releasing, or modeling? Am I channeling an alter ego or spirit of someone I admire Like Georgia O’Keeffe? Am I expressing all of the emotions I’ve been carrying and just needed a way to release them? Have I styled myself and collected pieces that feel authentic to either myself or my vision (we always welcome a little bit of whimsy but I don't particularly love being overly self indulgent.) Then I practice a bit. I try on the wardrobe. I decide if I’m going to paint my nails. I experiment with how much makeup feels right for this moment.  I get into character as it were, enlisting all of the elements I’ve been collecting and thinking about. On the day of the photoshoot I remember to say my affirmations, I always have a few butterflies and some nervousness but I try to bring a confident energy that will carry over and showcase all the preparation work in a glorious way!  


We must refuse to let our moments lose their meaning whether those moments serve as a way to document our growth as an artist or our growth as a person, take the photos. Remembering is a gift. 

 

 

 

creative direction: Krista owner and artist Her Name Is Mud

all images captured by: Kendyl Hawkins Photography

floral designs by the magnificent: Melissa, owner of Moelleux Events

dress: Selkie Baby Blue Toile Ritz Dress

paint color used for baby's room: Oval Room Blue by Farrow and Ball

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