Redefining Motherhood Through Creativity

Today's guest is mixed-media artist Gina Lee Kim, who has an article on mark-making with pens and watercolors in the current issue of Cloth Paper Scissors (May/June—get your copy here). She shares with us her story of how she was called to art after losing her mother, and how the circle of life has carried on as she now shares the beauty of creativity with her child. Though Mother's Day has passed, we were touched by Gina's sentiments and wanted to share them with you.

Until next time,

Artist Gina Lee Kim with her adorable son, Stephen

Redefining Motherhood Through Creativity
by Gina Lee Kim

Celebrating Mother's Day was a challenge growing up because I lost my mom when I was 10 years old. As I grew older, I didn't want my life's story to focus only on the loss. I wanted my experience to be about hope and healing. Things began to slowly shift into a creative calling. I cultivated and affirmed what I wanted most in life. I found art. I found love. And I became a mother myself. Through my life's journey, I've learned that the true meaning of this holiday is to celebrate that nurturing spirit that lives in all of us, not just on Mother's Day but year round, daily, in all that we do. (Tweet this!)

This motherly, nurturing spirit is always present when I start a new painting. I'm very kind to myself when I make art. Negative energy or self-criticism isn't allowed at my craft table. Any creative endeavor needs gentle encouragement, much like a good mom would cheer us on. The other force or accountability factor that exists in my life is that I share my studio space with Stephen, our two-year-old son. He paints and crafts along with me. You can't miss him. He's the little humanoid jumping up and down, ecstatic over color and texture, much like his mom.

Stephen conducts his art right below a window, on a converted oak bench that serves as his workstation. It's the perfect height for him. With the seat cushions removed, the raised wooden platform holds a 14" x 17" watercolor sketchbook and prevents things from moving around too much. A variety of tantalizing art supplies are always accessible for Stephen: watercolor, markers, oil pastels, stamps, stencils, beads, and modeling clay. Kids create by expressing the potential of any art material at their disposal. This is such a good reminder for us mixed-media artists.

Among our favorite art supplies are DIY watercolor paint daubers. I order empty bingo dauber bottles and fill them with concentrated liquid watercolor (both available online). Not only are they refillable, but also the colors are more vibrant than any scholastic pan watercolor and they're easy for little hands to hold. Plus, they're fun! As an art journaler, I sometimes use them to colorize a blank journal page. For Stephen, he can either make bold, expressive strokes or pounce the daubers into happy dots (aka splats). With my craft table close by, I switch between painting with Stephen and painting alongside him, working on my own projects. Sometimes, Stephen gets to paint at my craft table. I just have to make sure his happy-kicking feet don't knock his stool to the ground!

Creativity is a journey of self-expression, healing, wonder, beauty, experimentation, and play. It has redefined what motherhood means to me. This nurturing and loving spirit is how I always want to parent, how I always want to treat myself, and how I always want to approach the art-making process. Everyday, my son and I celebrate life through art. If motherhood is about nurturing, caring, and fostering what is wholesome and precious, then we are all creative. We are all artists.

Warm regards,
Gina Lee Kim
Instagram: ginaleekim

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