CraftSanity Podcast 167: Self-taught artist Erin Paisley discusses homemade mayonnaise, the compulsion to create and motherhood
This episode of the podcast was rather spontaneously recorded after I recovered from my second foot surgery and returned from the first-ever 10-day vacation that I’ve ever taken in my life. (More on that later.) I was jet-lagged and super excited to get to chat with the exceedingly talented Erin Paisley, 34, a self-taught artist whose painted, fiber and ceramic art I have admired online for quite some time.
It was an Instagram exchange between us about studio clutter that led me to immediately invite this lovely, kindred spirit on the podcast. We ended up recording later that day and talked for hours. The conversation you will hear is the abridged version. : ) *** Keep scrolling down for a Q&A treat!!**
Tune in to listen to Erin talk about her compulsion to create and how making art helped her find her way through the dark forest of postpartum depression. (She tells this painful story so beautifully.) On a lighter note we do discuss many happy things and end up laughing quite a bit. And ever since the recording I’ve been wanting to try making my own mayonnaise now that I know how Erin tests hers to make sure it’s safe for her family.
I think you’re really going to really like Erin, folks. So pour yourself a cup of tea and settle in or lace up your running shoes and grab your earbuds before you head out the door because you’re not going to want to miss this one.
** A special thanks to ACS Home & Work for being a long-time podcast sponsor and my lovely Patreon sponsors for helping me keep this little show going. I’d hug you all right now if I could. Seriously. Thank you. I feel very blessed to get to have conversations like this to share with the world. : )
And just when I thought I couldn’t possibly like Erin more, she agreed to do a spontaneous Q&A that I emailed her just hours ago. (I told you she was cool.) Read on, and chances are good that she will win you over, too. : )
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
What mediums do you work in? I work in fibers(sculpturally), ceramics(functional and decorative), and painting.
What are your favorite items to make? I love the tiny details that go into making my animal dolls and imagining a life for them, but I also love the idea of bringing my paintings to functional pieces that I sculpt myself.
How would you describe your artistic style? whimsical, bittersweet
Who inspires your creative work? My children inspire my creative work. I have always been an artist by nature, but being a mother has directed my work in ways in which MOST of what I do is meant to cherish the wonders of childhood, and perhaps my own nostalgia of an unobtainable or idealized version childhood. I just long to make pretty things that make people feel good. I like to be a safe and comforting place in my home, my community, and in my art.
Who inspires you in life? My parents, my grandparents. Anybody with a story to share. Anybody who came before me and figured ANYTHING out. Anybody who had to face adversity and survived, or anybody just getting by and living with creative intention. So I guess all of humanity. People are amazing, we can really overcome significant obstacles with creative exuberance. That’s pretty much our history in a nutshell, and it inspires me in my daily life and struggles. When in doubt, ask “What would great great grandma do?”
What do you do when you’re feeling creatively blocked? How do you move past that? I force myself to work. If I’m completely blocked I copy myself, I do something I’ve already done over and over until the lines on the paper and in my mind start to shift, or the eye in the doll catches the light in a new way and gives me a different look. It takes care of itself from there.
What art or craft tool tops your list of must-have supplies? I must have super soft yarn, a comfortable crochet hook, and fine needle felting needles. I also can’t go far without my travel tray of watercolors, my special painting tea cup, a sturdy envelope with a few pieces of Rives BFK torn down to various sizes, a mechanical pencil, and good eraser. I always have a project or some supplies in my purse…just in case.
What is your favorite book? “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimen narrated by Martin Jarvis(audio book). I’ve listened to it over ten times. It’s my comfort book. I also love all of the “Discworld” novels by Terry Pratchett. Especially the books involving the witches or The Watch…also comfort books. I am going to dearly miss the anticipation of anything new from the recently departed Sir Pratchett, but I’m just grateful he left behind such a legacy.
What are you reading now? “Shakespeare” by Bill Bryson and “The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England” by Ian Mortimer…and I’m listening to them. I listen to audio books while I work so I get to do two of my favorite things at once, make things and immerse myself in historical fun! I’m addicted to Audible.
If you had to pick a theme song, what would it be? “Razzle Dazzle Rose” by Camera Obscura
Are you a night owl or a morning person? When is your favorite time to create and why? I was always very much a night owl, even as a kid…until I had children. I’m not necessarily a morning person, but I prefer to get an early start and create by daylight. Daylight is the best light to dream by.
What is your favorite food? Do you have a favorite recipe that you’re willing to share? I’ve recently started making my summer tuna salad for lunch at least once a week since cucumbers are in season. I add everything to taste, so measurements can be adjusted, but the first three ingredients make up most of the dish; Cucumbers(1 or 2), cherry tomatoes sliced in half or quartered, tuna(a pouch or a can or two), homemade mayo, a bunch of chopped cilantro to taste(including stems!), chopped walnuts for extra crunch, salt and pepper. Sometimes I even chop up a little sauerkraut and throw it in for a little tangy flavor and some probiotic punch. It’s very refreshing, and if Tuna isn’t your thing, use chicken or leave it out! Dried cranberries are nice in a chicken version(I leave out the tomatoes then).
If you could have a studio date with anyone living or dead, who would you invite over? I know I’m supposed to name somebody famous, but my absolute favorite studio dates are with my mom and sister. I love working alongside those two. They are creative, inspiring, and a great comfort. Anybody else I admire would make me too nervous to soak in the glory or get anything done….but if you pull my arm, I’d like to be able to take a peak over a younger Richard Scary’s or Feodor Rojankovsky’s shoulder.
What advice do you have for those just entering the art world? Put yourself out there. Keep putting yourself out there. Keep working, even when you are uninspired or tired or just want to shut of your brain. Turn it on and get back to work. Then put it out there. Be consistent. Try new things. Be nice to everyone, respond to negativity diplomatically, be here to make friends. Friends take you places.
What do you wish you would have known when you started your business? I wish I would have known that there is no final destination. I could have gotten more done in the earlier days without worrying about immediate perfection. It’s a journey, it’s a process. A very long one with long hours and little pay, so love what you do and be committed to evolving with your craft. If you’re just starting out, you can’t even imagine yet how much better you’ll be in five or ten years. Just keep working and making mistakes. It’s really okay.
Is there anything else you would like the world to know about you? I am part bunny. I’m not telling which part.
Ha! …Oh, I have one more kind of silly question… Are you any relation to the country singer Brad Paisley? : )
Not that I know of! But my aunt thinks he looks just like my grandpa when he was a young man, so she suspects we must be;)
Thanks, Erin. You are awesome. : )
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