Speaker 1 (00:01):
You gotta look after yourself because otherwise it's all gonna go wrong.
Speaker 2 (00:04):
This is the Bold Artist podcast.
Speaker 3 (00:10):
You have answers, and you're expressing them in your art. Your art is important, and it needs to be seen.
Speaker 2 (00:18):
Welcome. And let's get started with today's episode.
Speaker 2 (00:26):
Welcome back to the Bold Artist podcast. I am so delighted to be here today with a returning guest, Shandra Smith, a bold artist who specializes in surface design. We were so privileged to have Shandra as a bonus audio guest on our audio platforms, Apple, Google, Spotify, and you'll find Shandra's show between Episode 10 and 11 there as a bonus show. And in the show, we get to hear all about Shandra's amazing work, and she gives us some tips on licensing our art . If that's something you're interested in. So, you might wanna find that show, but Shandra and I touched on some topics that I felt I wanted to explore a little more and hear a little bit more about Shandra's life and art. So, welcome back to the show, Shandra.
Speaker 1 (01:18):
Hey, Marijanel. Nice to see you again.
Speaker 2 (01:20):
So lovely to have you back. Thanks for returning.
Speaker 1 (01:25):
No problem. Thanks for having me.
Speaker 2 (01:27):
Yes. So Shandra, you had mentioned on the last time that we talked that you live and work with a chronic illness. And this sparked for me the desire to have a deeper conversation, because I think a lot of artists work with a variety of difficulties. We all have our own circumstances and challenges, and you seemto have worked ways into your life and your art flow that bring a lot of balance, and you really work within your limitations. And I felt like you had something to speak into the lives and practice of artists. So, thanks for being willing to come back on and talk some more with me.
Speaker 1 (02:09):
Thanks. Yeah, it's a, it's kind of personal, but it is important to talk about these things because lots of people have problems and limitations that they're trying to work within. So, yes.
Speaker 2 (02:23):
Yeah. Well, thanks for being willing to go there. So, can you start by telling us a little bit about your condition and how it affects your artwork?
Speaker 1 (02:34):
You bet. Um, so I have a chronic condition that causes pain, um, nerve and muscle pain, and it affects lots of different parts to my body, but especially my neck and shoulders. Um, I was diagnosed about 25 years ago. So only in my twenties, um, tried to figure out how to manage it and still have a productive, happy life, not be, you know, unhappy all the time. Um, tried out lots of different jobs, and I, it was hard to do most of them to be honest. And, um, I sort of fiddled around with art in high school, but nothing too serious, um, until, um, so I got this diagnosis in my twenties. Then I fooled around a little bit with art, maybe in my early thirties, had a brief stint at an art gallery. And then that just sort of opened my world up to art.
Speaker 1 (03:37):
And I thought, wow, look at all these people that have become artists. You know, you don't have to be some super fancy person to create art. I was also, um, a stay at home mom at the time, I had two kids, and of course that took up a lot of my time and energy, which I was happy to to do, but I also needed something on the side for myself. And I started creating art. And I wasn't wasn't really any good at painting or anything else. So, I sort of fooled around digitally. I, I think my father-in-law bought me a digital camera to send photos of the kids over to Holland, where they were living at the time. Anyway, I fooled around digitally, then I thought, Hey, this is something I can do, but it had to be in short bursts of time. Um, just because it caused a lot of pain in my neck and shoulders. And, um, anyway, it's been a, a long road to get here with, um, differing amounts of time I could spend on the computer, and also learning to use different equipment and, um, different mouses. Um, and then I sometimes use this sort of shoulder strap that, um, helps keep my neck and shoulders down. Anyway, I'm going into great details.
Speaker 2 (05:06):
No. It's really nice to have an inside look into some of the challenges that you've had, because what I hear is about perseverance and determination that an artist doesn't have to let anything stop you. And we had a guest on the show from India, Mini Suboth, and she had said that if you have the desire to create art, nothing should stop you. I love that quote. And it's something that at the Bold Artist podcast, we, we have a couple of hopes. One is that artists would never feel alone. And so I feel like you coming on the show and saying, listen, I create with chronic pain. And sometimes I have to wear straps on my back in order to create it gives hope and lets people know no matter what your circumstance, you're not alone. And then second, we want to give a voice to the community and let them know, um, that nothing, nothing needs to stand in your way. We can together break down these barriers to become wholehearted artists. Charla and I talk a lot about being wholehearted artists, the, the fullness, not only just our skills, but our whole heart and spirit. And you're an example of that with your determination. And so can you tell me a little bit about what you've, you've learned? You mentioned doing your art in short bursts of time as your pain tolerance allowed. Can you tell me any more about that, of, of different tools and tricks you learned how to get your art done despite the circumstances?
Speaker 1 (06:41):
Yes, for sure. Um, back in the day when I first started, probably about 10 years ago, I would get so lost in a piece that I'd wanna work far too long on my computer. And then what happened was I ended up in so much pain later in the day, and I wasn't a very nice mommy, and that didn't feel very good. I thought, okay, I'm, I'm gonna have to really pace myself. And some painters have this too, if they have arthritis, or whatever. You really have to be tuned into your body because it's so easy to get lost in the whole vision you have and, and in the artwork you're creating. But you gotta listen to your body's messages. Like, okay, there's that niggle. Okay. My body's telling me I better just take a quick break here. Otherwise I'm gonna regret it. So for me, um, I, I do like to create in the morning if possible. Like, ideally I'll get my to on the bus about eight and then jump right on my computer.
Speaker 1 (07:43):
It's, it's always nice to be able to create for maybe 45 minutes is a good amount for me until I, my body's saying, okay, do something else. So, then I mix up my task, maybe do something else in my studio, or I might even throw a quick load of laundry on because that's using different muscles, maybe do a bit of housework, then come back, um, and then do a little bit more sometimes. Then I do my admin or whatever else, but I'm always mixing up the computer work with other tasks because that's the only way I, I can do it personally. Um, sometimes there's an ice pack involved, too. It all depends on the day. I mean, if I have deadlines, then you kind of have to push yourself a bit more. Um, yeah, but I think it's just figuring it out for yourself. We, we all have different needs and different bodies. Uh, um, I, I know another painter, she was telling me the other day, 'cuz she's got different pain issues and she was telling me she got one of those easels that moved up and down and whatever time of day or whatever her neck is doing, she can adjust it accordingly. And this is what I do with my practice, too. You, you kind of figure it out for yourself.
Speaker 2 (09:02):
It really stood out to me that you said that usually you will work in the morning. And I found that for myself in my creativity, I, I often will find, I'm always looking for that time of day where I'm at my creative best. And working my schedule and life around being able to get in the studio or whatever it is that I'm doing creatively to get there in that space during my, my time of day that's my creative best. Is that harder for you to do with chronic pain? 'Cuz sometimes your pain will interfere with creative best.
Speaker 1 (09:37):
Yeah. I had to really kind of analyze it and think, okay, what's gonna work for my body and the best time of day creatively. 'Cuz like you said, a lot of us feel it more in the morning or whenever. And also what's gonna work for my family. Um, yeah, there's been a lot of trial and error I would say.
Speaker 2 (10:02):
Mm-hmm I hear, I hear that. It's just the work of balancing, always balancing and, and trying to be, I'm sure, very gracious with yourself.
Speaker 1 (10:15):
I think so. I, I think we all need to be kind to ourselves, and I think especially if you do have any pain or mobility issues, um, maybe let go of some of the expectations. Because it's so easy to compare yourself to others and you know, I think, oh, look at this artist, she's creating one amazing design every day and posting it on Instagram. And sometimes I, I really think, oh, I'm just gonna get this one done, but my body's telling me otherwise, and I think, okay, I'm just gonna have to be okay with this. And also, kind of switch my attitude a bit because there's been other years when I basically couldn't create at all. And so I think, okay, I should just be grateful that I can only do it in this short window of time. Like, I shouldn't be upset that I can't do what someone else is doing because this is my body, and this is my limitations. And this is my own journey, right? So it doesn't really matter if I'm doing it in short bursts of time because I'm still moving forward and getting the piece done eventually. Right?So...
Speaker 2 (11:26):
Mm-hmm, yes. That's such wise words of remembering that you're just moving forward. That sometimes when we have to stop or pause in order to pay attention to self care, we feel like we're going backwards, but we're not. it's a pause and, and we gotta take care of ourselves and then just push forward one step at a time. And, and that kind of gracious attitude is important for us to remember as artists because we often, um, naturally have high expectations, and perfectionism, and we tend to be natural doers, uh, hard workers. And so that is something I have to often remind myself because I'll wanna go into work mode in my creation process. And I have to remember that, that, that to lift that expectation. I mean, we wanna have expectations that are still for excellence and quality work, but sometimes we have to lift the expectation of how fast we'll get it done or whether it will be in one straight shot or several small increments.
Speaker 2 (12:35):
We have to adjust our expectations. And sometimes lift the pressure off ourselves. And I feel like that's something you've really mastered. I've noticed over the years. Um, as I mentioned in our, in our audio bonus of your show there, Shandra, which can be found between episode 10 and 11 on the Bold Artist podcast, on audio apps, uh, that in that conversation I noticed, um, as we worked together to set up the show that, you know your limitations. You know how you need to schedule things like podcast interviews and press and appointments. You know what you can handle. And I admire that about you. And I felt like that was something that to have you back on the show to really share with other artists was going to be valuable to us. Because sometimes as artists, like, yes, we love to learn and focus on skills, which is something we do here a lot on the podcast. But now this is sort of a real life encounter with pain, and I'm sure your pain is often very frustrating and discouraging for you. You as an artist. Can you tell me about moments like that, that you reached a peak with your frustration and how you handled that?
Speaker 1 (13:54):
Good question? Like, Hmm, that's a tough one because just living to learn with pain in general is a kind of a dance you, because you it's almost like dealing with the small child. Like, it's there, and if you ignore it, it's just gonna keep bothering you. Look at me, look at me -- you know? Um, because pain affects you physiologically, which is your whole system really, you know? Yes, physically and, and of course, physically you're suffering. It's gonna affect your mental mood. So, it's, it's the whole system. Um, um, I used to be part of different support groups. I mean, I've just learned a lot in terms of mindfulness and knowing my body. Just kind of like some of the things you were saying, knowing when to quit knowing like, Hey, maybe I should get off my computer and go down to the pool and swim some laps. That's gonna feel good. It's just, it's kind of a life skill, isn't it? It's, I think pain management is similar to stress management. You, you just get better at it, and then you know what works. And you gotta look after yourself because otherwise it's all gonna go wrong.
Speaker 2 (15:13):
And one thing that you and I had touched on chatting pre-show was that a lot of the artists listening won't necessarily be dealing with chronic pain as you are, but they might have some difficult circumstance in their life. And, uh, some situation that seems to be always there in the face of their art practice, something that they have to work around in order to be able to create. And so what wise words would you share, Shandra, to artists who are just facing a challenge of any kind and feeling discouraged about it, feeling like they can't seem to push through to be the artist that they wanna be, because that challenge is just always there.
Speaker 1 (16:05):
Um, I would just say to keep going. I, I think literally just keep showing up. I mean, I think once we know how good it feels, I think a lot of us, we so want to do it because we, you know, visualize something. We wanna create it. It feels good in the moment. Um, I think we just have to use all of our resources. Maybe find out about different equipment or, um, learning some new... Learning some new skills, learning a new medium that does work for your body. Um, I've for myself, I got some occupational therapists. They help me with, um, my desk set up, and I also got a bunch of exercises to do for my muscles to try to increase strength around my neck and shoulders. Like there's been so many things. I also use a lot of meditation just to sort of calm my system, 'cuz naturally when you're in pain, you, um, tense up.
Speaker 1 (17:18):
So, I use a lot, like, a lot of things like that. Um, I guess, whatever your circumstances. I mean, I actually watched a documentary recently, the guy wasn't in pain, but he was on, he was on death row, and he still managed to figure out how to create the, because he was so compelled to do that. You know, like a lot of us are to start with, this is such a part of our being that we can't imagine life without creating. And it, anyway, it was interesting because he managed to find a way to, I think he used his own hair to make a brush, and then he got dyes from different food products that he got. Anyway, he, he figured it out, and I thought, wow, this is amazing that anyone can sort of, it doesn't matter what your life circumstances. You seem to be able to figure it out. If, if you wanna create art, you're gonna be able to figure it out. If you, if you are determined,
Speaker 2 (18:18):
Yes. If you want to figure it out and do art, you are going to push through every obstacle. and I, I know that and I, I love we can have you back on the show to encourage artists, to push through the obstacles. And then as far as that topic, we talked about balancing and I was told one time that life is never completely balanced. Your art practice will never be completely balanced because balanced is actually balancing. And so if you think about someone on a tight rope walking across the tight rope, they're never fully balanced. They're balancing. So, they're always in the motion of balancing. And that relates for me that relates to, to someone living with these massive challenges, or chronic pain, or whatever is your obstacle, is that as you're navigating your way through it, it's never gonna be perfect, but you will be in the process of balancing. And, uh, and that always brings me comfort 'cuz there's some days that I feel like everything's really off kilter, and my challenges are in my way. And I get discouraged. And I'll think, you are balancing and tomorrow will be better. Just like you mentioned earlier in today's show. One foot in front of the other, keep moving forward.
Speaker 1 (19:43):
That's all we can do. Right? Um, yeah. I like that about the balancing, 'cuz we you're right. Even if one day you seem to have it all together, then the next it's all, all over the place again. You're right. I think we just, let's just try to live in the moment and know that we we'll get there again. Sometimes, you know, in those really bad moments, it, it, we almost forget how good can, we almost forget things will be okay. You know what I mean? We think, oh man, this is my new life. I'm so outta balance, and this is not working. But we just go back to basics and then, you know, the next day it's like, okay. I guess we learn to prioritize, don't we? And we, and we, we get better at letting go of the things that don't really matter. So, we just focus on those things that matter. You know, for me, I'm a mom, and a wife, and an artist, and I'm running a business. So, I have to kind of let some of the other things go. Maybe my house isn't the cleanest, or you know, other things I'm letting slide, and that's okay. You have to be willing to give something up.
Speaker 2 (20:52):
Yes. I love, I love that you brought up the word prioritize because I do think that that is a key to what we're talking about with creating art with huge challenges. And prioritizing is really a key to that. Where you, you look at your life and you say what's most important to me, what's on that top of that list? And you said for you being a wife, a mom, and an artist. And I would say my, my priorities are very similar where I never wanted anything to interfere with me, uh, and my relationship with my children and how I was raising them. And that included my art. So, in a lot of ways, my art though, it is very, very, um, it's a passionate goal for me to always pursue my, my creativity and my art. I had it prioritized under being a good mom, and that, that was something I always would have to check myself, uh, through a, out my, and I've been doing this, you know, my art journey is, has been 30 plus years.
Speaker 2 (21:52):
And so it's taken on many different shapes, and roles, and mediums, but I would always have to come back to checking my priorities and making sure that I was still prioritizing what I needed to do in my life for it, the life I knew I wanted. And so, I'm glad you brought that up, Shandra, because when we have challenges, sometimes those challenges can seem to take priority. And we have to even prioritize, prioritize, you know, how we go about, um, looking at life that way. So, yeah. So, thanks for, for sharing that. And in closing, Shandra, is there anything else that you'd like to share with other artists regarding the big challenges that we face to be the creative people we wanna be?
Speaker 1 (22:43):
Um, yeah, I think just keep showing up. I think it's, it's so worth it isn't that when you can figure it out or even if you're painting, doing digital art, anything creative in a short amount of time, even pottery, I mean, do something within your parameters, even if it's a short amount of time, because I think it's so worth it and it feels so good. Even if the end result isn't a masterpiece. It, I think it's that, um, level of joy that we get just from creating it. I think it feels so good, and that's gonna make us happier and less stressed and you know, for me and you probably better moms. Or, that's my perception, anyway. I feel like I'm a better mom when I'm, when I do make time for myself. And, I think it's, it's all worth it. If you're a creative type, and if you can figure it out, then it's all gonna be worth it.
Speaker 2 (23:45):
Mm-hmm, I agree. Thank you so much. And thanks for being here on the show and willing to open up into your personal life in connection to your artwork. And, uh, that's just been so nice to hear from your heart on how you've handled the challenge of living with a chronic illness and balancing your artwork. And I just want to remind all our watchers and listeners that you can find that bonus episode, that you can find out more about Shandra's work. 'Cuz today in this episode we didn't get into all of Shandra's amazing artwork and how she has licensed and partnered with large corporations. Your artwork is even on the walls of hotels. It's pretty remarkable. And uh, if you want to check out our show notes and find Shandra's links and her website and see the wonderful work that she's doing, you will be amazed. But this show here has just opened us up to a new window into your soul of how determined you are and how you've learned to prioritize and work within. And so many wise words about balancing. So, thank you so much, Shandra.
Speaker 1 (24:51):
Thank you so much. This was a nice chat.
Speaker 2 (24:54):
Yes. I quite enjoyed it. I hope everyone had a nice cup of coffee and got to relax and, and sink into the conversation with us today on the Bold Artist podcast. Check out all the links, everyone. Shandra and I wish you a very good day. And until next time, keep creating.