Interview: Alex Florschutz on motherhood and creativity

The next of our ‘motherhood and creativity’ guest posts comes from Alex Florschutz, an artist and mother whose inspiring art is making its way into more and more women’s lives… I was honoured to be able to publish some of Alex’s images in Musings on Mothering and am very interested to hear that she is now an author. Thank you very much Alex for taking part.

Tell us about yourself…

My name is Alex and I am a mother, artist, author and art therapist. All my work celebrates the liberation of the Feminine whether through my paintings which act as symbols of empowerment, to my new book The Art of Birth: Empower Yourself for Conception, Pregnancy and Birth (published by Engage Press), that is revolutionising the world of birth and finally my work with clients where I support them to discover Pleasure in their lives through their creativity and other juicy techniques.

Photo courtesy Alex Florschutz

1. Have you always considered yourself to be a creative person?

YESSS! Ever since the age of two and a half I would come home from nursery and would not be able to rest until I’d drawn at least 10 pictures (according to my mother)! For me, being creative is as important as breathing!

2. Has motherhood enhanced your creativity? If yes, in what way and why do you think it has enhanced your creativity?

Since my son was born in 2000 I have painted (and most of my life. I know creativity can take many forms but mine is primarily painting but I do all sorts!). I became a single mother when he was nine months old and I marked that painful transition with a large exhibition thanks to two amazing women who ran a very successful café gallery… they gave me the whole place! Painting has kept me sane, grounded, balanced, self-soothed, happy and pleasured as it’s a non intellectual process and has charted my own personal development. I could not live without it and feel bereft if I don’t paint.

Motherhood has enhanced my creativity because I used art to heal my fears and create a natural, pain free home birth. My birth was my ultimate creative experience and since then doing my art has become a necessity not a whim. I love unleashing my creative juices on a canvas and I believe it makes me a better mother!

3. Do you have any tips on how to find time for your creative work amongst the everyday busyness?

Love yourself enough to know that YOU MATTER! Women find it hard often to make time for themselves and the ‘busy’ story is often a useful defense or excuse. I know it’s hard, especially if you have several children and work BUT there is always a way, e.g. make time once a week/month where your partner, a friend (perhaps a babysitter?) looks after your children while you have ‘mummy time’ where you can experiment with art/craft. My book has lots of interesting exercises in it. You may want to try a craft that you could do in the evenings. One great way of being creative with your children is to either do art with them OR have a nature table. A nature table is basically a designated place in your house (I have mine in the kitchen on top of a chest of drawers). I put a coloured cloth on it and decorate it with things I find in nature which you can collect with your child(ren), like coloured leaves, nuts, conkers, feathers, flowers, shells etc. I do, however, also buy little things from a local craft shop like little candles, crystals, gnomes, fairies or relevant seasonal objects. It is lovely to collect objects from the natural world which also shows your child about the changing seasons, helps them feel included, is fun and interactive and nourishes their soul at the same time. Even my teenager secretly likes it!

4. What does breastfeeding mean to you?

Breastfeeding gives life to your child and sets them up for a healthier life! There are numerous benefits. I think women need all the support and encouragement necessary to breastfeed; dangerous adverts on TV about formula don’t help. If you cannot breastfeed for whatever reason, then do not feel bad… I was lucky to breastfeed for two years and I did it anywhere and it was tough if people didn’t like it! My baby got fed as he requested it. Try and reduce stress and anxiety as much as possible as this can help.

5. Were there any pieces in Musings on Mothering that spoke to you particularly?

In particular, the poem ‘Farewell to my baby’ by Jessica Starr really moved me and made me sob every time I read it. I feel the grief of all the mothers who have lost their baby too soon, the souls that only came to visit the earthly realm for a short while. My heart fills with compassion and love. The whole book is beautiful and inspiring though!

6. Are you working on any particular project right now? I recently launched my book The Art of Birth which is already getting good feedback, and I am currently creating an online program based on the book which will be launched in time for Christmas. I worked on two art shows in London recently (just now finished)! Oh… and being a stay-at-home mummy!

7. Is there any one piece of work that you are particularly proud of?

The Art of Birth book is probably my next biggest project after giving birth! I am very proud of this book and my deep intention is that it serves the world and creates positive change where birth is concerned.

8. Is there any one person (or persons) that you consider to be a true inspiration to you?

Louise L. Hay, Binnie A. Dansby, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Pat Bennaceur, Karel Ironside amongst others.

9. Is there any one piece of art or music, or writing that has influenced you, or inspired you to continue creating?

Artist Susan Seddon Boulet and ambient music Bali Midori spring to mind.

10. What would you to say to someone who doesn’t consider themselves a creative person, but would like to try their hand at something new?

Most people will be scared of beginning because they will think they are ‘not good enough’ at art/being creative. I believe EVERYONE is creative. Most people gave up art (which includes being ‘creative’) at school thinking they were ‘not good at art’. This shut down their natural abilities. Really young children NEVER have any trouble drawing/painting/being creative. We can recapture this if we refrain from self-judgement. It can help to do a warm-up exercise, such as what I call the Daily Doodle, or buy an easy to use art-for-fun book and follow the exercises (or get my book…teehee). If you view it as ‘experimenting for fun’ then this can take the pressure off the ‘performance’ side of doing art or the anxiety and preoccupation with a worthwhile ‘finished product/object’. Buying a journal and doing freeform writing is a great way to express one’s feelings and this can lead onto poetry or even a book! In the journal you can always start doodling with a pen or pencil and start small and work up to more arty messy stuff. This method can be easily accessible in a busy day if you carry it around with you or keep it handy in the house. Alternatively you can buy some poster paints, cheap paint brushes and a roll of cheap paper from IKEA or even plain wallpaper paper. Then, send everyone out of the house for a couple of hours and if you desire, put on your favourite music, light some incense, light a candle, get naked or whatever makes you feel good! Then, once you have a large piece of paper fixed down to a table with tape, or if you have a wooden floor, squirt different coloured paints onto the paper liberally and paint shapes, blobs, images, feelings, whatever comes out is RIGHT! You can even paint with your hands… you’re never too old or sensible to do that! GO FOR IT and HAVE FUN!!!