Tag Archives: artists

Am I An Artist Making Crafts Or A Crafter Making Art?

I’m this mom who loves making art and loves making crafts and who one day decided she was an artist.  Seriously, one day I looked in the mirror and declared myself a painter. I said, “Self, from now on you will introduce yourself as an artist.” So, I did. I became an artist with one bold move. I don’t have a degree in art. I don’t have much formal training in art beyond a couple of college courses I took a lifetime ago. There are a lot of people in the art world who would call me a crafter. I don’t blame them really because they probably have studied art for years and struggled to find jobs and really put in the time to earn the title of artist. Not to mention, I do use a lot of craft supplies in my art making. I mean, scrapbook paper and even alcohol inks are things you purchase in a craft store. Fine art stores don’t even sell alcohol inks, at least not any that I have visited online.

There are so many rules around being an artist. I find this more than a little curious. I thought artists were rule breakers, deep thinkers and mad scientists, all rolled into one. Instead,  I see a lot of people spending their time trying to define people or list them on some sort of invisible hierarchy. They say, “I am this, but you are not.” Usually they just want to make sure you know that they are superior to you. I say let them feel superior. Who cares, right? They place people on lists claiming who is real and who isn’t based on their perception of skills or talents or even fame. As if that defines who anyone is or what they are capable of doing. Anyway, while they are busy defining things, you and I can keep practicing our crafts or “arts and crafts” because in the big scheme of things actually doing something is more impressive than categorizing it.

Am I an artist making crafts or a crafter making art?

In the world of creativity there are many lines drawn in the sand. People are categorized by the mediums they work in, by the style they work in, whether they are professional artists or amateurs and, of course, whether or not they are crafters or fine artists. I don’t know where I fit into all of these labels and structures. Am I an artist making crafts or a crafter making art? Am I an “outside” artist because I lack formal training? I have no idea how to describe myself. What’s so great about a one-dimensional category invented by a culture that loves to narrow people, professions, and even things down so finely that they barely exist at all anyway?

I don’t really fit into one category or another very neatly. I don’t really fit into anything very neatly, but do any of us? I don’t think so. We all have  many talents and interests that make up who we are as people. We are human beings who sometimes love and hate the exact same thing at the exact same time and who can both dance and make pasta well. We like sky diving and gardening and can work in an office all day and then go home and milk our goats. I find myself constantly shrugging off the idea that I have to be exceptional at only one thing. That I am only one thing. That’s just not true. It’s not true of any of the people I know and that is just the plain truth.

Everything I read about how to succeed in art, and even in blogging, says to find your niche and do that one thing over and over again until you master it. Write about one topic. Paint everything one way until the cows come home. “Strive to be one-dimensional!” all of the experts yell. You are never supposed to mix family with art and art with chickens and marriage with a visit to the dentist. According to all of the Internet business gurus, if you mix things together too much people just won’t understand who you are. People will be confused. People will lose interest!

I don’t know about you, but I find that kind of insulting. People are smarter than that. People know you are more than one thing because they are more than one thing too. Sometimes the dentist visit impacts your art, sometimes art impacts your crafts. Sometimes art and family collide. It says so right there in my tagline. Sometimes people want to know who you are as a real person. They want to know you share similar fears or like similar foods or dream similar dreams. They want to know it is OK to feel two seemingly opposing emotions at the same time or that smart people change their minds too or that your marriage isn’t perfect even though you can paint a gladiolus flower so beautifully it makes some people cry (that hasn’t happened to me yet, but I am keeping my dream alive that someday it will). They want to know you don’t always use the correct punctuation or have a small obsession with creating run-on sentences because that’s the way you talk when you get excited. They want to know the multifaceted you.

So, I guess I am just saying I don’t want to be defined as just an artist or just a crafter or just a mother or just someone with way too many formally stray animals roaming around her living room. I want people to say this is a real person, with a real life and she is an artist and a crafter and a spaghetti maker who sometimes fixes things with screw drivers…badly. She has strengths and flaws and weaknesses and triumphs. She has good days and bad days and celebrations and grief. I don’t want to be a niche or just one thing. I’d rather be alive, experimenting and failing, and winning while, hopefully, being interesting. I am committed to being a real person. This is my life. I make art. I make crafts. I mingle them together and make big, sloppy messes and sometimes I talk about my chickens. My life is whole. My “brand” is my whole life. It doesn’t fit into a niche. It doesn’t fit into a box. It can’t be categorized, labeled and put on a shelf.

Thank goodness!


Examining The Creative Mind: Carrie Schmitt

Today on Examining The Creative Mind we are incredibly lucky to have the talented Carrie Schmitt talking about her art and her life. I am in love with her beautiful paintings. They energize me with their vibrant colors and instantly put me in a happy mood. I hope you enjoy her interview today as much as I have. Links to her website and Etsy store are at the bottom of the page so don’t forget to check them out.

Carrie Schmitt
Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

Can you tells us a little about who you are and the kind of work that you

I am an artist who lives on a moss-covered mountain on the outskirts of Seattle WA. I began painting in 2009 when I developed a life-threatening allergy to heat and could not leave my home for several months one sweltering summer in Cincinnati. Today I have licensing deals with home décor and stationary companies, such as Hallmark, and paint as often as possible despite a busy life with kids and freelance writing jobs.

Where do you do your work? Can you describe your workspace?

My studio is a room in our home with lovely windows.  Making it my dream studio is a work in progress. I have a wish list for what I want and am slowly acquiring things. I love that I only have to walk down the stairs in the morning to get to work, and I love being near my family so that I am always available when they need me.

My kids are often in the studio with me studying, playing, doing crafts or just talking. We have some great talks in there. It is nice because I am not going anywhere as I paint so it creates an ideal time for conversations.

Scmitt studio
Carrie Schmitt’s Studio                 Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

My favorite item so far is a vintage garden cart that holds my paints so that I can easily transport them around the studio to the different areas I paint. Because I paint florals, I couldn’t resist the garden theme.

I was given a table that had heavy drab curtains and wanted to replace them but didn’t have the patience to sew new ones. I tore colorful mismatched fabric scraps into strips and tied them to the rod—it complements my painting style quite well.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Que Sera                                                                           Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt

Do you have a favorite artist? What attracts you to their work?

I love too many artists to name—so many take my breath away. I do have a Pinterest Board of art that I love if you would like to join me there. I think each artist I see influences me on a subconscious level, leaving imprints on me in ways I don’t realize that come out in my artwork.

How would you describe your work in 3-4 words?

Colorful, joyful, vibrant.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Kitchen Window                                                      Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

As an artist, is there anything specific that you hope to accomplish?
I want to always be learning and growing as an artist. I hope to have enough success that I can support myself through my art, which would allow me the time I crave to dedicate myself to this every day.

As an artist, how do you define success?

Success to me is getting my art out in the world and sharing it with others. Also knowing that I am always learning and growing. I figure if I keep creating and putting myself out there, hopefully other forms of success will come as a byproduct to living my authentic life.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Where Love Resides                                        Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you practice?

I’m a mom of 3 busy children, so my only ritual involves flexibility and acceptance of my time constraints. I’d love to say I light a candle, meditate and do sun salutations before I paint, but that is just not going to happen at this stage in my life. I run into my art room every chance I get and paint while I am quizzing my daughter for a test, trying to find my son’s baseball hat and running back and forth from the kitchen trying not to burn dinner.

What are you hoping to communicate through your art?

I believe in beauty. I think it has a transformative effect on our psyche, our thoughts and actions. Plato said, “Children need to be surrounded by beautiful things.” I think adults do as well. My paintings are my peaceful and non-intrusive attempt to make the world a brighter place. To bring delight and light-heartedness to a space. My hope is that my art makes someone pause and smile.

I just don’t understand our culture’s obsession with violence and negativity in all sorts of media. I think this is my own little subtle response to this. We need more people creating beauty every day.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Friendship                                                     Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

How do you come up with ideas?

I often find inspiration from floral bouquets and the farmer’s market flower stands that Seattle is famous for. Home décor magazine covers, such as Country Living and Better Homes & Gardens, are another favorite source of color inspiration. A lot of time is spent designing those covers, so somebody has already done the work for you as far as color scheme. Sometimes when I paint, I look at the magazines shapes, colors and patterns and paint very quickly and loosely to see what happens. This is almost a painting exercise for me to see what happens. It is a great starting place to begin painting.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt

What do you think is your biggest strength?

I’d say my biggest strength is perseverance. There are so many times when I have doubted myself or felt frustrated for a myriad of reasons, but I don’t give up. I think this is the key to most success in anything you do.


You can see more of Carrie Schmitt’s work on her website Carrie Schmitt Art + Design or purchase some of her work in her Etsy Shop. Her work is so beautiful. I can imagine her work makes you feel as if you have brought your garden inside with you. I can’t imagine a better way to bring some cheer and happiness into a home! Don’t forget to visit her on Pinterest and like her on Facebook too!



For Some Reason My Husband Puts Up With Me

Fairie Painting by Lillian Connelly

I don’t know how or why, but for some reason my husband puts up with me. I just want to say right now, if you like a perfectly neat house, never marry an artist. I mean, I have taken over the little guest house we have and filled it with easels and paint and canvases. Everything is art, art, art up in there. It’s like sitting inside a rainbow. There is no color scheme unless you count all the colors as a color scheme. Not to mention, I keep collecting odds and ends that I might need someday in a collage or sculpture or to make a stamp out of. I have even saved the plastic netting my lemons came in because that netted plastic might make a really cool stencil on something…someday. If I can find it.

Anyway, over the winter I took over the dining room table because my studio was cold. It happened again. Last night I claimed the dining room table as all mine…ALL MINE. I had to paint, but I needed to be near Tiny-Small who was busy simultaneously watching Mulan, eating a snack, and playing with her imaginary friend Boo-Boo, who we found out is a dog, is brown, is big, and likes to pet Tiny-Small. He is also gender neutral because while she calls him a “him” she also says he is her girlfriend. It looks like dressing her only in green and yellow baby clothes finally paid off. Anyway, this morning my dining room table looks like this because I literally painted until two minutes before I went to bed. Best night ever!

Messy table.
Here we go again. I don’t know how my husband puts up with me.

I don’t know how Jim puts up with me. He never complains. Meanwhile, I am always annoyed that he leaves his shoes in the middle of the floor or keeps every scrap of paper he encounters in a day in a pile on the kitchen counter. I think he is probably going to win spouse of the year award for putting up with my bad habits. Unfortunately, I am totally losing for my ungracious nature and messy I-own-this-table year round behavior, but also winning because I married the spouse of the year award recipient. Yes, Jim is still getting the short end of the stick, but that probably happens a lot to people who get these type of awards, don’t ya think?

face painting by Lillian Connelly
Faces, faces, faces.

I have more than one bad habit when it comes to making art. I probably have too many to list here, but I will tell you I have an unhealthy obsession with art supplies. I want them all. One of each, at least, to be precise. As soon as I try something new I read about something else new and have to try it…right now! TODAY! I recently read that most women spend their extra money on their appearance. What does it mean that I spend my walking around money on Stabilo pencils and paint markers? It means I walk around looking like I bought my clothes off of the thrift store clearance rack…because I did. Yes, this is what happens when your spouse is an artist. You have to suffer their throw-back appearance, unkempt hair, and watch them spend your hard-earned money on pastel crayons and fancy papers.

I don’t know how Jim puts up with me and my obsessive nature. I paint face after face…three in one day yesterday, and he compliments every single one as if he has never seen it done before. When I day-dream about a new watercolor brush, he comes home with it to surprise me. When I apologize about the table being covered with all of my stuff he pretends he doesn’t even notice. When I don’t sell any paintings he reassures me that I will next week. He says he doesn’t care about having a neat house with perfectly clean and tidy everything. He’d rather be married to an artist. He’d rather be married to me.

Girl Power painting of a gal with blue hair.
Girl Power!

I guess I can forgive him for leaving his shoes in the middle of the floor…at least this once, right? I mean, it’s the least I could do for this man who loves me enough to put up with my bad behavior. He even does it with a smile. He is totally winning that award this year, even if I have to make it myself…on the dining room table.