Thursday, July 01, 2010

Art Biz Mama: Wendy Brightbill

 An ARTIST, a MOM, a CREATIVE BIZ OWNER. What happens when you combine all three?

I am back with another installation of my new series called Art Biz Mama. A series of inspirational interviews about being a mom, an artist and a creative biz owner. I am really excited about this!

The why behind this series:
In an effort to connect, share and get to know some of my favorite artists (and I am sure they are yours too) a bit better and because I am a mama who has creative biz visions myself (maybe you too?). I have asked for a sneak peek into their very busy lives. To share a bit about just what it means to juggle these roles and how it all really plays out.

I know this is a topic that has been discussed plenty but for me (and you) I need to hear these stories. To know there are others reaching for their dreams and maybe stumbling at times, all the while caring for themselves and their family.

I believe we will glean a bit of insight from these smart and talented women that can inspire us all.



This week we are so lucky to have with us artist Wendy Brightbill from a girl and her brush.
From Wendy's about page:
i am wendy brightbill… mixed media artist, wife, paint from home mom, entrepreneur, creative soul, color and pattern lover, paper junkie, interior design addict, seeker of beauty, messenger of hope, and dreamer of big dreams.
if you were to step into my world, on any given day, you would find me making a mess in my studio, which is actually, well, just my dining room…  my dining room, that is now being overtaken with paintings, blank canvases, paper, paint, brushes and many other supplies. you would find my hands all covered with glue and paint, sipping tea (wishing it were coffee), with several projects and paintings going all at the same time.  you would see my two girls climbing all over me while i create, stealing my paintbrushes and dipping their little hands in my paint. when i first discovered  collage, it was love at first paste. and i began this adventure as, quite simply, a girl and her brush.
I recently came across Wendy and I am so glad I did. Her spirit, her story and her art are truly inspiring. I was immediately enthralled in her story. Enjoy!

So let me start by asking when did you make the decision to start your creative business?

I just started my business in February of this year. But I feel like everything in my life has prepared me to do this, like I was created for this very purpose. Six years ago, my life was turned upside by a car accident. I found myself with a broken brain, a victim mentality, and a sick heart. I had lost my joy in living. I would cry at the drop of a hat and found myself often wondering why I couldn’t accomplish the simplest of tasks like making a phone call. In February of 2009, my case finally went to trial. The stress from losing the trial sent me into a downward spiral. I was deeply depressed and in financial ruins. I couldn’t see a way out of the place I was in.

Later that year, my mother gave me Kelly Rae Roberts’ book
Taking Flight. And I started painting with Kelly’s mixed media techniques. My heart came to life. Painting soon became my gift from God, my therapy, my life line. It was if I painted my way through the depression by creating the life on canvas that I truly wanted to live. The more I painted joyful and colorful paintings, the more I experienced joy and color in my own life. I had done some acrylic painting before this, but for some reason the mixed media just clicked. I fell in love with the process of painting this way. I started showing my new style to friends and family with a response that surprised me. Everyone loved it! It was around this same time that I really started to dream about what it would mean to start a creative business. Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could turn my new found love of mixed media into a business? And so out of the ruins of my life, a beautiful dream began to take shape. And I don’t think it is just coincidence that exactly one year from my trial, I launched A Girl and Her Brush. My story is one of restoration and hope and I long to share it with others.

How has having children affected your business and creativity?

Wow! Great question Dana. I guess having children forces me to get a little more creative with my time and to be extremely flexible. As a paint from home mom, I find it a huge challenge to balance my life between mom and business woman. I feel like I am continually using all the little moments throughout the day. I often paint in little ten minute spurts. So many people wonder how they could ever find time to paint. Well, do you have ten minutes? I might start in the morning and take ten minutes to put together a background while the girls are playing. Then I come back later and add one layer of color. Then I come back even later and add an outline of a bird. You would be surprised how quickly all those little bits add up. I use nap time as well to get a lot done.

As a mom and business owner, I have realized that I just can’t do it all. I let a lot of the little things go. My children sometimes stay in their pajamas all day and the dishes pile up in the sink. I don’t use my “work” time to clean the house. I make my priorities and stick to them. It does help that my husband works out of our home because I can run to the post office or craft store while my daughters are napping.

On another note, my children have reminded me how to play. They keep me young and on my toes. We dance, laugh, play, and sing and this kind of energy in my house inspires me to create. They remind me that it is ok to make a mess and get yourself dirty every once in while.

Would you please share what a “typical day” is like for you? Is there school or childcare, etc. while you are working on your biz?

My girls are 4 and 2.5. No I don’t use child care.

7:00 Wake up hopefully before the girls get up. Finish blog post for the day if it isn’t done. Social networking, emails, any computer work, to do list.

8:00 Girls get up and eat breakfast.

8:30- 12:00 this time is extremely flexible. If the girls are watching PBS or playing with themselves, I might take time to finish some computer work or get in the studio. It all just depends on how independent my girls are that day. The nice thing about having two so close in age is that they often entertain themselves. I honestly don’t think I would be able to get so much done if I didn’t have two children. But I just stay sensitive to my girls, if I feel like they need more of my attention I will stop what I am doing to play with them or snuggle. There are days when they are grumpy and I don’t get anything done.

12:00 lunch

1:00 naptime for my youngest and sometimes for my oldest. This means studio time for me!!! If my oldest is not napping, she is really good about playing by herself. She is my easy child and can color or talk to herself for hours.

4:00 Naptime is over and I usually return to the computer to do more social networking.

5:00 I start dinner. I cook dinner every night. If I had a choice, we might eat out a lot more. But I have a laundry list of food allergies which means I have to do all of the cooking. And I actually love to cook.

6:00- 8:00 Family time

8:00 Girls go to bed and I am back on the computer working on blog posts or other things from my to do list.

The most important thing about my day is flexibility! With no one helping me to watch my girls, I find that it is crucial to be willing to let things go. If I don’t get it done today, it will done tomorrow. There are days when I feel like I am slowly chipping away at my dreams. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love that I am the one to raise my children.


How many hours do you give to your business each week? Are you working during the days/evenings/weekends?

This is an extremely difficult question for me to answer. My day seems so fragmented. I have constant interruptions. During the entire time writing these questions, I have probably been interrupted 10 times. I would have to say that I work between 25-40 hours a week. I do work evenings and weekends, but only if I am inspired to do so. If I feel burnt out, I will take time off. Most of the time working doesn’t  feel like work for me, so it is easy. 

I know this is a subject that is always being addressed but I need to bring up balance. Do you feel you have a healthy balance between your work life and your family life?

Absolutely not! I think balance is a myth. I don’t think it really exists. We are not superwomen, something will always suffer. Right now I am putting a lot of time into my business, but not nearly as much as I would be if I didn’t have kids. There are times that my business suffers because I am taking care of my girls. And there are times that my girls don’t get as much attention as they need to because I am focused on my business. It is give and take. Like I said before, I try to stay sensitive to my girls and figure out when they need more of me. And at other times I know that it is ok to push harder in my business. I try to let the other things go in my life. If it doesn’t revolve around my business or my girls, it can wait. And I stopped pretending that I am good at paperwork and cleaning. Somehow just admitting that was a huge relief to me because I stopped feeling guilty about not doing it. The funny thing is that I was never getting it done before, but now I don’t have the weight of feeling like I need to do it. It gets done when it gets done. Big sigh of relief!!!

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us today? Any words of wisdom for other artists/moms out there who wish to create a business out of their art?

My biggest piece of advice is to follow your heart. For years I thought that after I had children, I would be fulfilled in life. And although it was by far the most amazing thing ever, there was still a part of my heart that felt unfulfilled. I have stopped feeling guilty about that and have started exploring what fills me up, and that is creating. It is like breathing to my soul. When I am fulfilled because I am creating, my children sense that I am happy. And it speaks to them that it is ok for them to follow their own dreams. So go for it, and do what makes you happy.

Thank you so much Wendy!! I really enjoyed this. And I love "paint from home mom"

To learn more about Wendy visit her at:

And check out her shop at:


Anonymous said...

dana, it looks great! i love your use of my artwork. thanks again for featuring me!!!

Brandi Hussey said...

Wendy is SUCH an inspiration, and I'm blessed to call her my friend. I'm better for knowing her, even though it's only been a matter of months. She is such a cheerleader for others and a positive force, I have no doubt that she will go as far as she wants to with her business!

Jennifer Snellings said...

Hi Dana!

I loved the interview with Wendy!! Such an encouragement and inspiration for us creative Mommies!! Thanks again for sharing this series; I'm loving it!! :)

Take care,

Kim Henkel Creations said...

Great post on agirlandherbrush! I enjoyed travelling through your blog (I want to see more of your collages!) and then I enjoyed travelling through Wendy's blog.

Concetta said...

great interviews and series ... x

Maegan Beishline said...

This is such a great interview, Dana! I had not heard of Wendy and her work looks great! I so needed to read this post this week :)

Wendy, thanks for being so utterly open and honest in this interview. Our "work days" sound so similar and I could have written most of your answers myself. It's just good to know that I'm not the only creative mama out there, juggling her time back and forth between her kids and her work...and ignoring the dirty house!

jacqueline said...

Dearest Dana, this is truely such a wonderful column and i really enjoy reading the interview! Wendy is amazingy taleneted!! Very very inspiring! Have a lovely merry happy weekend and love to you!

Harmony said...

Hooray for work at home artsy moms!! I enjoyed the interview. It always helps to know their are other amazing artists in their homes trying to balance it all. Love the interview series idea. I will definitely visit again for the next one.

Mousy Brown said...

Thank you Dana for this wonderful series. As a mama concidering a creative biz - these insights into how other woman juggle it all give me so much hope and inspiration! I'm off to look at Wendy's links now :D