I have a cracker of a Creative Lady to start the series with for 2017! Julia is a singing art teacher with an infectious enthusiasm and ridiculously rad approach to living creatively with littles. I have read and re-read this interview so many times, radiating in her words and soaking in all of her advice. Just quietly, 2017 looks to be the year that Julia takes the world by storm. She has so many exciting things in the pipeline- I can’t wait to see it all unfold. (Make sure you check out the #kidartlit challenge over in Instagram!) I’m obviously a massive Julia FanGirl… Introducing Julia!
I am… Hi, I’m Julia Linsteadt! I love exclamation points, glitter, and getting creative with children. I am the creator of CutOuts Studio a mobile art studio for young children and families, and the artsy voice behind the website and blog CutOuts Kids. I live on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay Area in a small town with my husband (of almost 11 years!) and our two children. Most of the time you can find me elbow deep in paint or glue surrounded by a hoard of laughing and squealing children. There’s nothing better than making children laugh while they make an artsy mess, and there is nothing better than getting their parents to laugh along too.
I am known in my town as the singing art teacher, because I love to sing while I teach, and I love to get my students singing along with me (be careful, I might just get you singing soon too!). Most of all I love providing opportunities for children and families to connect creatively through process-based art projects, simple crafts, storytelling and singing.
I find inspiration… in following my own children’s curiosity. As adults we get so wrapped up in all that needs to happen by this time or that time that we forget to pause and take in the scenery around us, or pause and take the five minutes to watch a snail inch its way up a leaf- my daughter’s favorite pastime. Children view the world with so much wonder and very little expectation, which makes their realizations and discoveries-no matter how mundane to us Adults-life changing for them.
The best part about childhood is that it’s full of play, and play is where all the magic happens. It’s where you get to step out of your own world and step into another. It’s much like putting on a play. I guess, this is why I have always loved theater, and why I incorporate so much theater in all of my work. Incorporating theater into a visual arts curriculum for young children connects the art to their lives. So, when we play with droppers and we sing about ducks quacking suddenly the kids are like, “Hey! I know what a duck is…and I know it quacks…and this little tool likes to quack too when I move my hand like a duck’s beak!” It’s silly, and fun, and wonderful.
I also love finding inspiration from the myriad of amazing talented people online. My favorite place to hang out is on Instagram. Ever since joining the platform and committing to using it daily about a year ago I have met so many creative and kind people. It’s my happy place, and where I definitely go when I need a little extra spark of inspiration.
I am excited about … pulling together all the work I have done over the last decade and crafting it into resource tools for families and educators as blog posts, e-books, and workshops. I love collaborating with other educators and artists and I am thrilled to have some new projects lined up for 2017. I am also working on a new art series of my own art that will be shown in May of 2017. In addition to children’s art I am so enthusiastic about papercutting art! I have worked in a very small scale most of my art life, and I cannot wait to go BIG! It always feels good when I get to make art of my own too.
When I’m in a creative slump, I… can be found under the covers eating chocolate and streaming Netflix….what? Isn’t that what you do? No? Getting out of a creative slump is no easy task. After I worked on a 365 art series (where I made a piece of art every day for a year) I became very familiar with Creativity Slumps. Some days I just had nothing. In my younger years I found that frustrating and I would try to push through the slump and produce something anyway. But, you know what? What I produced when I pushed through was never a fun process. Now I recognize when a slump is coming, and I accept it as invitation to stop creating and get out there and PLAY! I take a trip to a museum, a festival, or I take a walk, I visit with friends or family, and I go do something I love. Taking a break is the best way to fill your creativity cup back up so you are ready to go again.
I’m really proud of… all of the young artists I have the honor of working with every week. It’s so incredible to watch a group of children learn and grow together and make discoveries together. Making art takes courage, and children are naturally brave. I learn so much from them in the process. This may sound really silly, but making art with children makes me feel braver, more courageous, less afraid of failure, and for that I am really proud of myself. We all need to be our own champions and advocates for self- care and self-love (especially women!), and I feel as I create opportunities for children to create they create opportunities for me to grow and learn too.
Someone once told me… Art is chaos in a fixed structure. I have never forgotten those words from one of my favorite college professors. I have really brought that philosophy into my own teaching, and it especially fits well with the concept of process art. Our jobs as educators, whether you are a teacher or parent, is to create the environment, set the culture, and then let the students work within that structure to create their masterpieces. It’s empowering, freeing, and frightening all at the same time and that’s how you know you are making incredible art.
My advice to you is … Follow your curiosity. I am pretty sure Elizabeth Gilbert gives the same advice in her book, Big Magic, so you know that’s sound advice, because well, she’s Elizabeth Gilbert. However, whether you are trying to figure out your next career move or just a way to infuse your life with a little more joy I recommend try following your curiosity backwards. Think back over your life and consider what you spent your time doing. What did you enjoy doing as a child? Most likely, you would still enjoy doing that same things in adulthood. Follow the curiosity. Find like-minded people to learn from, lean on, and lean into that curiosity fully.
Meet more Creative Ladies….