I'm a wife, mother and artist. Creation takes on many forms for me and I try to embrace them all. I love to see others discover creation in their own form for their own life. It's in us all the power to create, we just have to let it out.

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Interview with Artist & Mother Emily Mcphie (+ giveaway!!)

1. How has Motherhood influenced or changed your work?

Motherhood defined my work.  Maybe it was the timing that made the connection (I had my BFA final show two weeks before I had my first baby and felt like I became an “artist” at the same time as a mother). The place where the ideas, inspirations, and emotions that come out in my paintings lie right next to my tender feelings as a mother, and the two are intertwined.  The theme comes out in my work constantly.  I don’t see a way around it, as it is what is on my mind because motherhood is part of every moment of my day.

2. Is there a special way you log or keep track of ideas/ concepts for paintings?

I try and keep my ideas organized in a sketchbook, but I currently have them spread around 4 or 5 books and a few scraps of paper… and a list on my phone titled “painting ideas”.  The ideas and  concepts come out in drawings and written lists.  The key is to get them sketched or jotted down while they are fresh or I’ll lose them, so grab a crayon and flip over that kids drawing!

3. Do you feel Mothers are most drawn to your work or have you been surprised at the level of interest among all demographics?

I’m not surprised when my work speaks to mothers.  The magical thing about art is that it can mean different things to different people, but it is satisfying when the viewer can feel and get the emotion I put into a painting.  I have had men (my dad, my husband, my publisher) plum not get the point of a painting I’ve done.  I can try to explain, but there are some things you have to experience to get.  I think that is ok, actually it can be somewhat satisfying – they aren’t in the private club.

4. Do you see this theme of Motherhood in your work ever getting sidelined, or do you think it will just evolve as you do as a Mother?

I fully see my themes growing and evolving as I do.  Having my work so directly linked to my personal experience, I think it will move right with me.

5. How has being a working artist positively effected your kids?

My kids have space and materials to exercise their creativity whenever they feel like it.  They work alongside me and it is a natural thing to them to create and express.  I think that will be a valuable asset to their education, wherever their interests take them.  I hope to be a good influence of hard work as well.  If you want something you work for it, and you stick with it, even the not so fun parts.

6.  Do you feel your art & your “self” would have suffered if you had decided to put your art off until your kids were grown?

I think I would be a crazy person if I had put off my art.  I get antsy and bottled up if I let my work lapse too long.  I do so much venting, sorting out, explaining, exploring and expressing on an emotional level, I couldn’t live without the outlet.  I think my skills wouldn’t have been lost, maybe even grown with maturity as they seem to do, just my “self” would have felt the full extent of suffering.  Having said that, creating can come out in so many ways, I don’t necessarily have to use painting as my medium.  I think if I didn’t paint, I would find some other creative outlet.

7. What advice do you have for working Moms who are trying to make it in their personal field from home in their spare time?

Make the time.  Take the time.  We have so, so much to pull us away from extras, we have to make our passions one of our priorities and think of our whole person.  I’m all about being organized, divvying out my time and staying on top of everything so that I don’t miss my work time.  It is dang hard, but when you want it badly enough, you do what you have to do.  It takes sacrifice and hard work, and an element of selfishness is essential.  I find I have to use my work time and energy effectively and produce something wonderful in an effort to try and push down the guilt from what I am sacrificing to do the work.  A pay check helps to condone anything I’ve missed, but I try also to see the bigger pictures, like leaving a legacy and connecting with other people in the world.  Just when I feel like I am piddling around in my studio and I question the worth of what I am doing, I’ll get an email from someone asking me thought provoking questions about the very things I am questioning and I get to put words out there with the hope of inspiring, and I get to remind myself that what I do is of worth.

**Giveaway (print of Emily’s choice)

winner will be selected randomly from

the comments & announced April 13th!

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Comments (16)

  1. craftytammie 04/07/2010 at 1:34 pm

    Great interview. I love the detailed backgrounds in her work, and the the two hands peeking over the fence, pulling the strings!

  2. fephers 04/07/2010 at 2:21 pm

    i love her answer to the last question especially the part about leaving a legacy.

  3. Jennifer 04/07/2010 at 5:44 pm

    I first learned about Emily McPhie from a newspaper article featuring her work and that of her sister and father. The article showed one of her “In My Garden” paintings (those in front of the multi-colored fence) — and I was enthralled. Such powerful imagery of the puppet theme, how mothers give life and animation, but then must cut the strings someday.

  4. Tia 04/07/2010 at 5:44 pm

    Great interview!! She had a lot of insight into being a mom and being able to express yourself and do the things you want to do. I would love any of her prints.

  5. nic 04/07/2010 at 5:45 pm

    Love her work!

  6. Mary 04/07/2010 at 7:57 pm

    Great interview! I really love her work.

  7. Circe 04/07/2010 at 8:27 pm

    What an inspiring interview! I love the idea of giving our children space and time to create right alongside us as mothers and creators, whatever our medium may be. Mine is usually repairing violins, music and teaching dance, although the creativity can certainly carry over into other areas, too. Emily, I love your style. Beautiful palette and emotion-provoking subject matter. Wonderful!

  8. carriefinlinson 04/07/2010 at 9:54 pm

    She has a beautiful way with words as well as with her art! Love these paintings!

  9. brittanyallen 04/07/2010 at 11:04 pm

    I just love Emily's work. She is truly an inspiration to me. Her paintings and prints are just lovely and carry such sensitivity and attention to details. I could look at them all day.

  10. aimichka 04/08/2010 at 3:30 am

    I absolutely love Em's work. I love the influence of her girls in her art. She's a wonderful artist and an amazing mom.

  11. Julie 04/08/2010 at 4:38 am

    I've always admired how Emily includes her girls in her work and in her work space. I always wish I had a room of my own where I could close the door and keep the kids out of my “stuff” but Emily opens the door and welcomes her kids and encourages their creativity. So much more fun for them, I'm sure.

  12. Angela Knoll 04/08/2010 at 7:31 pm

    I take a painting class once a week as an outlet for my creative juices. To get “lost” in a painting seems like such a luxury, but also a necessity for my emotional well being. Love Utchdorf's talk on the need for women to create. Fine artists like Emily show us how to be a fine mother and a fine artist at the same time. Thank you for this interview.

  13. whitneyhall 04/09/2010 at 3:01 am

    Beautiful artist. It's amazing to me that you guys can find the time to produce something so magnificent with children to take care of also! Quite a talent to multitask like that!
    Emily…. great interview!!!

  14. courtneyderrick 04/09/2010 at 2:21 pm

    This was a great interview. As an artist and mom of 3, I often feel myself struggling with how much time to spend in my studio and the worth of time spent away from my family. I really loved your answers to those questions. Every mother deserves that time. It really is about prioritizing our time so we can spend it how WE want/need to. Your work is beautiful.
    -Courtney Derrick

  15. Jeanne 04/12/2010 at 3:57 pm

    I'm also an artist. It was very enlightening to hear you tell about how you manage to work out the balance between your art and your family. Thank you for sharing!

  16. Clea 04/12/2010 at 4:31 pm

    I'm a painter with a 17 month old son. I'm inspired by how you've created a balance in your life. I love the flat textiles and patterns in your work and how they juxtapose against your figures. So many cool things going on in your work!