Welcome to Week 30 of Motherhood by Design – the series where mothers who also run creative businesses share their inspirations and their experiences juggling the demands of raising children while growing a creative career.
"Even as a young mom, craft supplies were only a bit less important that groceries."
Nearly ten years ago, Laura Gunn discovered her true passion - painting. She describes the process as engaging all her senses and it allows her to play with her obsession with color. Her work is a visual feast of richness, as she combines textures and tones with images that straddle the line between realistic and abstract. Her work can be found as commissioned paintings, prints, and luscious cotton quilting fabrics.
Welcome to Motherhood by Design, Laura - can you please describe your family?
Lily, age 14; Luke, age 8; and Grant, age 6
What is your business?
I’m an artist. I paint florals, skyscapes, and abstracts. I also design quilting fabric.
When you were a child yourself, how did you spend your free time?
I was constantly making stuff. My own mother is an artist and she was very free with her art, craft, and sewing supplies.
Did crafting or handwork play a significant role in your childhood? If yes, in what way?
Absolutely. I learned to sew at a young age from my mom and through 4-H. I also loved beading, painting, decoupage, etc
When you were a child, did you have ideas about your own future as a mother? Was motherhood something you’d always imagined for yourself, or is it an idea you grew into later in life?
I was always very excited about becoming a mother, and I believed (as I still believe) that it would be the most important and rewarding job of my life.
In your early years of motherhood, did you have/make time for your creative pursuits, or was your creative work put aside for a while? If the latter, when did you pick it back up?
Even as a young mom, craft supplies were only a bit less important that groceries. I had an area set aside as a “studio” in our tiny apartment.
Did you start your creative business prior to becoming a mother, or after?
When I started my business I had one child and we had been trying for years for more children. Starting my business was a way for me to focus on the present and enjoy what I’d been blessed with. When more children came I found that my little business was a great addition to our family.
What prompted you to start your creative business? Is it something you saw yourself doing when you were a child?
I’ve just always loved making stuff and if I could get paid to do it even better! However, my passion for painting began in earnest when I was nearly 30. I was at an art show and said to my husband, “I want to do that.” So I did. When I started showing my work to friends and family they responded with so much enthusiasm. I just knew I was on to something and I went with it.
How do you balance your creative work with your role as a mother and how has that changed over time?
This may be the hardest part. I try to always remember that my family is more important than anything else. And I’ve learned the hard way that just because a cool opportunity comes along doesn’t mean I should take it.
In what ways does motherhood affect your work processes?
Honestly, it makes it a lot harder! There are just so many interruptions and demands as a mom.
In what ways does motherhood affect your creative products?
I’m definitely a happier person because of my kids. I’m sure that affects my work.
What is the biggest impact that your children have had on your business?
Having kids keeps me grounded in the things that are most important.
How do you think your creative pursuits, including your business, affect your children?
My kids are incredibly proud of what I do. I think it gives them confidence in pursuing their own passions. And I know they love having endless art and craft supplies on hand!
Is there something you hope your children learn from you by having a creative business?
I hope they learn that creating something beautiful is a reward in and of itself.
What advice would you offer the mom who feels drained by the demands of motherhood and wants more hands-on creativity in her life?
Make time to be creative. When my kids were very small I would get together with friends and we would make stuff while our kids played together. It was good for everyone. The house will definitely fall apart, but that may have happened anyway.
Thank you so much, Laura, for sharing your thoughts with us today! You can find Laura in the following places: