Monday, February 13, 2012

Interview With Christy Wilson of Whimsy Gal

Hi, my name is Christy Wilson. I am an artist, mother, marine biologist, and environmental educator who lives on a little green island with my husband, my two daughters and our family dog. I have been crafting all my lif and am always excited to try something new. Right now, I am mainly painting in acrylics, dabblin in watercolours and have started playing with sewing; but,thanks to my life as a mother and homeschooler, I am often trying other mediums and crafts. Sharing creativity with my two girls is one of my favourite parts of homeschooling life!

My Two Creative Girls

As I said, I have crafted since I myself was a little girl (I cherish the memories I have of crafting with my own mom. Painting(aside from the odd school art projects) is a fairly recent undertaking for me. I started painting cusom children's pieces(t-shirts and canvases) for my friends' children when on maternity leave with my first child. Many of my friends also seemed to be having babies and I was looking for a way to celebrate them and save a little money. I soon became hooked on the bold and playful colours and the fast and forgiveable nature of acrylic paints - if you don't like it, you just paint over it! From there I started to get commissions - for children and weddings and anniversaries and my confidence grew.


A Family Tree Commission

I am surrounded by many artist friends, and their support and encouragement has really helped me to branch out. I started selling at local craft fairs and getting referrals and commissions farther afield. Then I discovered Etsy and was excited by the opportunity to reach a larger audience. I have to admit that I still do mainly local commissions and shows, but I am hoping to make more use of Etsy as my children grow and I perhaps find more time for my art as a business.

But for now, most importantly, my art brings me so much joy and I love my escapes into paint and possibility in my magic studio on the top our our house (windows all around, trees beyond...it feels like my own treehouse and I can watch my girls giggling on the grass below as I work.)


It is hard to choose just one of the many favourite homeschooling memories I have. What an incredible time this has been. Certainly it was magic to share the process of my eldest learning to read and now she reads to her little sister and my heart fills with so much love.


Raena reading to Alex

Another memory that jumps out is the one day that I hosted the weekly "Interesting Club" and "took" Raena and her friends to France. We played with the language and made family collages to learn words like "Mere"(mother) and "Pere" (father). We then dined in the garden on a French buffet luncheon and practiced saying "Merci" (thank you) and "S'il vous plait" (please) as we passed around the "raisins"(grapes), "fromage"(cheese), "pain" (fresh bread), "beurre" (butter and "vin" (wine, actually fizzy water in a fancy carafe). We chatted about what it must be like to be a young girl in France, looked up some stories from young person's blog, and remembered our cousin Maddy whom all girls know(she had recenly vistied us from France). Then I read a children's book about Mary Cassatt - an artist who lived in North America like us(more specificall, in the USA, so our general neighbourhood anyways)and at the same age as the girls in our Club (7 or 8), she went to France with her parents. She fell in love with the place and the art of France, dreamed about it for years and in her early 20's she returned to France and began painting with the Impressionists. We looked at examples of Impressionist artists and talked about the style of their art (painting what the see) and their practice of painting "en plein air" (out of doors) and then my daughter and her friends took watercolour paints and chose a solo spot in the garden to paint "en plein air". The results were incredible!




Raena painting cornflowers "en plein air"

I am so inspired by their enthusiasm and passion for all we do. Just last month they dove in with smiles and laughter to help clean up garbage at the annual Great Canadian Shorelin Cleanup at a local beach. Similarly, they will stop everything and direct all their energy to study (and save) a found bug or snail.

My art is really more of a hobby than a home business (for now) but my husband is a co-owner and baker at our Slow Rise Bakery and that business really does affect the rhythms of homeschooling. But being our own boss allows much more freedom to include the kids in your work. Often they play at the bakery or in the garden outside (the bakery is right next door to our home, on our neighbour and partner's property). Sometimes they help bag
and label bread, mix granola or scones or go on deliveries to the local grocery store. From the bakery interaction, my advice would be to try and involve the kids whenever you can, even if it is infrequent, so they can feel included and so that they learn real life experience in your field of work.

Though I often take my daughters to events with my part-time employment as an Environmental Educator, I actually have a hard time following this advice directly with my art. I find it hard to paint with my kids in the room. But I can work on their painting projects with them and I have just taken up sewing and find that I can do most projects (if not too complicated for my beginner level) with my kids in the studio, playing alongside or working on their own sewing creations. I have been sewing mainly gifts but have traded and sold a couple dolls and hope to do more and perhaps get some into my Etsy shop in the new year. Since I can sew with my children in the room, this may be more realistic than expanding my painting business at this time.



One of my First Dolls

Recently, I have been most inspired by words, especially inspiring quotes and intentional writing. I find the power of words really helps me to stay focused on what is most important and good in my life. I love to weave these words into my art to help me to further integrate their messages.


Trust the Universe Original Painting

I have also always been very inspired by nature. I live in a piece of paradise on a small island called Gabriola, off the west coast of Canada. I am surrounded by wild spaces and creatures and I especially love the ocean. My passion for the sea led me to study marine biology at university and my love and knowledge of the salty realm often comes out in my art - from mermaids, to seastars, to vintage beach balls! So many hours are spent exploring the seashore with my girls and I often have a sketchbook or camera with me to capture the magic and save the inspiration for later paintings.



My Favourite Place in the World

For homeschooling, one of my most important goals is to slow down and listen to the interests of my children --- to play with them and to see the world through their eyes. I find that I am too often distracted by chores and projects that call to me and I want to let more of that go and focus more on connecting with my girls. Since I work part time outside the home, the times I do have is so stretched and so valuable. I would like to also help my daughters slow down, perhaps choosing less formal activities(like sports, activities, group classes). Another focus for me is to spend more time outside in nature with my girls. It fills me up, fills us all with so much joy and it nourishes our very souls. As the rainy season descends upon us (we get very little snow on this mild part of the coast) I will try to be more focused on this.





The Girls Sketching on Carlos Island

The specific goals I have for my art business include becoming more playful! I want to paint with more freedom (and less inner judgment) and develop my style. I also hope to integrate my photos into my paintings(photo transfers and collage are speaking to me) and I hope to do more sewing. I am also excited about building my online presence. After thinking about this for many months, I have finally moved forward with this goal and have launched my new website/blog. I will be building up more stock in my Etsy shop over the winter and have a link to my shop from my blog. I will be introducing some new products, reproducing my art in stationary and calendars. I hope these items will help to spread the word about my art a little farther and will allow me to share the love in these creations with more people.

Thank you so much for the chance to reflect on my experiences as a Homeschooling Etsian. It is so inspiring to be a part of the SHEteam and I would love any feedback or advice you might have to pass along!

5 comments:

luvncrafts said...

Great interview. SO sweet to see your daughter reading to her little sister. I love when the children do that!

Very Verdant said...

Christy,
Thanks so much for being so open with us. It is such a joy to "meet" you and your precious family.

Ewenique said...

Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself, your art, and your family!

The Handmaden said...

What very interesting lives you and your family lead, thank you for sharing with us!

christy said...

thank you all for your kind words and for taking the time to peek into my amazing world.

thank you SHE leaders for inviting me to join this amazing collaboration....I am truly inspired and love being part of something bigger than me!