Four years ago I hosted a series on my blog entitled, Interview with a Renaissance Mom. It accompanied the launch of my first book, Life Creative, co-authored with my friend, Kelli Stuart. Both the book and this interview series chronicled the stories of ordinary moms (just like us) fitting their creativity into the cracks and crevices of our busy mothering days.
When I posted my SHE-SHED reveal here on the blog last month, I shared with you how I’ve decorated my writing space with original pieces of art from some of my favorite mom-artists. As soon as I hit publish, I was inspired to invite one of those artists onto blog for an interview. Whether you are an “artist” or not, this conversation is for all of us, as we learn to see our unique gifts as opportunities to glorify The Lord, even in this intense season.
Brenda Calvert is the talented painter I commissioned to create a a landscape portrait of my little she-shed. After you take a look at this incredible piece below, scroll down and get to know Brenda.
Wendy: Introduce yourself to us by sharing who you are, where you live, and a bit about your kids.
Brenda: I live in Lynden, Washington where I have lived since I was 3 years old. It’s a wonderful small town that is worthy of setting roots down. I met my husband while working as a receptionist for his doctor. He started to come in to make his appointments just to see me. He decided to come see a play that I was acting in, “The King and I”. He gave me flowers the next Monday at work — my favorite, Sunflowers, with a card that read, “I hope these brighten your day as your smile brightens mine”. I called to thank him and he asked me out on a date. We were engaged 6 months later. The way he pursued me won me over, as he is quiet by nature. Now, 20 years later, we have three kids, 17-boy, 16-boy, 12-girl.
Wendy: It has been my experience that a creative person is rarely defined by one specific art form. When I was a child I loved to sing and dance. As a teen I began studying acting and worked as an actress until I had children. Once I became a mom I began to write — during “nap time.” Today I’m still writing but gardening and cooking bring me some of my greatest creative joy! I learned that I am not an “actress” or a “singer” or a “writer”… but a creative. During different seasons, the art has eeked out of me in various ways.
What did your creativity look like as a child, throughout school, or into your early adult years before motherhood? And how has it now changed? What shape does your creativity take today?
Brenda: My mom is a singer and encouraged me to sing throughout my growing up years. I used it in church, in school plays and it helped me land the leading roles in Junior and Senior years of high school. With no TV growing up, I had a lot of free time. I used it to color abstract shapes and entered into some local art contests. I’ve considered myself an artist ever since I was in kindergarten. My dad used to play a drawing game with me; I always felt supported in my artwork. My parents supplied me with art supplies always.
I began teaching a majority of homeschooled and some public schooled kids art classes in my home when my kids were 2, 6 and 7. It grew into 60 kids a week in between 7 different classes. We ended up moving to a larger home with space for an art studio, (with paint friendly floors), no more draping my carpets with canvas! With more space, and my lack of the ability to say no, my classes grew to 80 kids per week. After a total of 9 years, I had a physical exhaustion and God forced my body to rest. While taking a year and a half off of art classes, I started to paint with oil and acrylic on canvas. I felt the Lord was calling me to paint for my creative outlet. I would paint a flower with a verse and then give it to a friend. It was popular, so I started an Etsy account and started to sell them. It then turned into painting Gods creation in nature. I took on commissions and completed a barn series.
Wendy: In the busyness of motherhood it can be hard to find the place and the space to fit your passions within the practical places of family life. Where and when have you carved out the time to create in your busy days?
Brenda: When the kids were younger, I would take them to my sister and moms houses while I taught. My schedule now, I teach only once a month on a Saturday. It’s a workshop style class for three hours. I also find time to paint on the weekends or late at night.
Wendy: I believe that God intended our creativity to be one of the vehicles through which we respond to the Great Commission call on our lives? Writing books and songs that lead people to Him, painting pictures of His glorious creation, and selling handmade crafts and textiles as a means to raise funds for mission work are a few examples. How has God given you the opportunity to share His love with others through your creative gifts? In your home… your local communities… and even out into the world.
Brenda: I believe I am sharing God love to my community through teaching local kids art skills and spending time with them. I also donate paintings from time to time to charitable causes that I love.
Wendy: We spend our days caring for “our most beautiful creations” but there are other creations we long to pen, sing, paint, stitch and bake. For many moms, it is incredibly difficult to embrace any other dream during this dream-come-true season of motherhood. What is one of your dreams that hasn’t yet fit into your busy (albeit blessed) life?
Brenda: I do feel myself holding back on my art career because my kids need me. They are my top priority. I have resolved to the fact that I can’t put my all into my art right now. Gods timing is everything and I rest in that. To everything there is a season under heaven. A dream for the future would be to have my art in more homes across the world, inviting them into my studio as well for small group art lessons. And I would love for my art to fundraise for just causes.
Wendy: Would you share with us one of your “creative crushes” — another creative mom who inspires you and why.
Brenda: My mom creative crush is Morgan Harrington from TN. I met her on Instagram as we were both starting out. She is also a mom of three and loves the Lord. She and I hit it off right away and I would love to meet her someday. She paints the most beautiful flowers in glass jars.
Wendy: If you had one piece of advice to leave us with, concerning this awkward dance between faith, family and the desire to flourish as an artist, what would it be?
Brenda: Plan a quitting time when sitting down to paint. Time flies when you are having fun, but you don’t want to mindlessly forget the loved ones that are waiting for you in the next room.
Wendy: Where can we find more of your work and connect with you online?
Brenda: My website: brendacalvertart.com is where you can find originals, prints, art classes, and commission me to make a one of a kind painting of your home. Or course, I’d love to have you follow along on Instagram or Facebook too.
If you have enjoyed this interview, grab a copy of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom for yourself, or the creative mom in your life.