On this creative path I’ve met and become friends with many wonderful, interesting people across the world. It’s high time I introduced you to some of them.

‘My Creative Life’ is an interview series where we get an insider view of artists and their lives from different disciplines and on different stages of their own journeys. My intention is to ask questions that are perhaps a bit different from the usual – the answers to which might spark ideas or simply reassure you as you follow your own artist path.

Enjoy!

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Today’s interview is with Esther Orloff. I don’t remember how we first met – most likely through blogging – but I’ve always loved Esther’s warm and enthusiastic energy, and her gorgeously soft and textured mixed media paintings. I think of Esther as a great example of a wife and mother who still makes her art a priority in her life. I love how she talks in the interview about how she does that, and also about the meaning in the work she makes.

Meet Esther…

{All emphasis is mine. And don’t forget you can highlight any part of the text to share it.}

Royal Blooms by Esther Orloff

Tell us a little bit about your creative work in the world {whether it’s your business or your pleasure, or both!}.

I am a mixed media artist who loves using plenty of texture in whatever I do. I primarily do paintings combined with a bit of collage, with a side of photography thrown in. A painting of mine usually starts out by gluing down random papers to create texture and interest, then I layer acrylic paints and glazes and often finish them off by using water-soluble pencils or crayons to add additional details. That’s just the technical side.

Most of my paintings have layers of words, thoughts, prayers, whatever is on my heart or pops into my head at the time. I try to always end it with positive and uplifting thoughts, and although most of the time you can’t see what is written on the piece I do believe the feel, the intention and message carries through to the finished piece. It’s amazing to me when the right person comes along and connects with the art, how they know what it’s truly about… even if to you it just looks like a painting of a flower or an abstract piece. There’s always more to it.  Right now I mostly sell through Facebook and Instagram, but I plan on getting a proper website to further my reach.

Eat Cake by Esther Orloff

What is your favourite thing about being an actively creative person?

I feel most alive and tuned in when I’m being creative. That’s when I feel like I can finally breathe, when I’m truly myself and doing what I’m meant to be doing. I feel truly blessed to be a vessel, to share these messages of hope and love with others, to feel that what I do matters and touches people. It’s an honor that I don’t take lightly.

Is there anything you wish were different? Have you learned a way to accommodate that?

I’d like a maid and a cook… and maybe a nanny. Not yet, but I’m not giving up. I can pay in art. Any takers??

Esther Orloff 30in30

How else does your creativity express itself in your life? {Especially if you’re having a dry spell in your ‘main’ area.}

I don’t really have dry spells anymore in the usual sense, I always have a flood of ideas waiting to spill onto canvas… but with that said, there are certainly plenty of times when I don’t paint for weeks on end. Those times my creativity is being used elsewhere and I work best when I’m just focused on one creative endeavor at a time. Like this month… I’ve aimed my creativity towards our house… trying to make it feel like a peaceful, beautiful sanctuary. I’m trying to figure out what to paint on the bathroom floor, how to give our 7 year old son the coolest space-themed room ever, and how to make our bedroom feel like you’ve stepped into a retreat in Bali… which has led to me designing a bed for my husband to make!

Also, even if I’m not posting them, I take photos constantly. Photography is another big passion besides painting. I could get lost in my own little world for hours with my camera in hand and not realize until the moment when I finally put it down that I’m freezing, hungry, or that just maybe it wasn’t a good idea to run after that juvenile bear to get a good photo! But honestly I can only concentrate my creativity in other areas for so long before I get antsy and need to get back to throwing paint around on canvas!

Awakening by Esther Orloff

Do you have any favourite resources, books or blogs around creativity you’d recommend for inspiration or support? 

One artist I’d recommend following for inspiration and support is Nicholas Wilton. He has wonderful paintings and writes great, honest posts to help artists. Misty Mawn is another artist/creative-guru/thinker I follow who inspires me greatly! Whenever I take one of her online classes I learn so darn much about art, myself, and creativity. She’s insanely talented in so many ways that she leaves me in awe.

A favorite place to go when I feel stuck is Pinterest. I’ve found some great artists through there and it seems to make me want to run into my studio to paint. As far as books the ever-loved The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is one that I reach for time and again. And right now I’m re-reading Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. It’s more about sharing your creativity and putting yourself out there and is an easy read, but so darn helpful!

Golden by Esther Orloff

What one easy and simple creative activity would you suggest to someone who feels like there’s no time for creativity in their life?

Hmm… I’d like to say grab even just 10 minutes and work in an art journal.. but I haven’t been doing that myself! What I have learned though is if it really matters to you then you just have to make it happen. There is always time if it is truly important to you… you’ll just have to cut something else short. Skip Netflix tonight and design that bed instead. Put down the phone and pick up the camera. Take a few extra minutes to arrange the food creatively on your dinner plates.

Life is art and we are all creative in our own way, and it’s so much more rewarding when we use our creative sides… even if it can’t be an actual art piece at this time. So if you really don’t have time for your creative work, go ahead and have fun and design a funky castle with your kids out of Legos!

What’s your creative process like? Are you an all-in-one-intense-hit-then-collapse type or more of a slow and steady sort? Or something else?

I tend to be a bit of both, but really if I had all the time I needed… I lean much more towards the second one! When I’m on fire I can be in the studio for days on end if my family would let me… and except for the annoyances of having to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom, I wouldn’t stop until yes… I collapsed! Then I’d have to recover for days on end. But with life I don’t always have that time so I will dabble on a painting slowly here and there until it’s done, or if I get stuck on a painting I will put it aside and work on another and go back and work on it later… As long as I get to create.

Esther Orloff Mind Map Journal

What does being actively creative bring to your life that you might not have expected? 

I have met some beautiful people online (like you Tara!) who share the love of art and supporting one another, and I consider them real friends. I wish we were all closer so we could get together and work on art journals over coffee, or grab our cameras and go explore together. I long to find a little art tribe where we can get together monthly and create and bounce ideas off each other. One day I’ll make that happen! I’ll bring the muffins!

Another thing that still surprises me is how effective creating is for working out things that are happening in my life. It helps me think and clear my head. If something’s bothering me, I’m going through hard times, or I’m searching for an answer…I can work it out on canvas. I sometimes feel closest to God when I’m creating and in the flow, and answers just spill into my heart and onto the canvas. I’m so thankful for this.

What best supports your creativity to thrive?

I have the most amazing and supportive husband who knows how important art is to me. He’s my biggest fan (besides our 7 year old son) and he KNOWS how I get if I am not able to paint for a while. I start getting edgy and grumpy and tell him I NEED to get in the studio today… ALONE with no one underfoot, so he will make sure that it can happen. Then I stroll out of the studio (it’s in our house) a few hours later all smiling and feeling like myself… and like I can finally breathe again (happened again this week!)! His support and understanding truly help me thrive.

My other family and friends’ support really helps too! I’m so blessed! My creativity also thrives when I get out in nature, it’s so inspiring to me and the fresh air and exercise certainly help. I also need plenty of alone time to think, look at art, etc. And last but not least… coffee!!

Golden Seat by Esther Orloff

Have you ever lost touch with your creative self for a long period, and if so how did you bring it back?
 
Yes, I have. When I was 19 I started a business painting faux finishes and designs on peoples walls and furniture. For the first few years I’d take art classes at Fullerton Junior College on the side to keep me fresh, keep learning, and to have time to work on my own stuff.

After my business really took off I eventually stopped the classes except for an occasional mural painting workshop or the like. Even though I was painting in people’s homes I longed to paint on canvas but was too tired at the end of the day.

Fifteen years later I closed my business and took a break from paint because of health issues. I’m not sure how long I lasted on that creative low (a few years??) before getting into making jewelry. I kept taking photos also, and then I started taking photography classes. I LOVED my photo classes, and concentrated on that for a bit, but I still missed painting. I would make an occasional collage or something, but it took the birth of my son to fully re-ignite my passion for art. I HAD to make art!

Just a few months after he was born I found the book The Artistic Mother and through that found a group by the same name. They encouraged us to have a blog to share the projects, so even though I was technologically challenged I figured out how to get one going and that… starting my blog… is what catapulted me back into painting.

Being able to share my art with people around the world and getting feedback… wow! My husband said it created an art monster! ha! I haven’t kept my blog up much lately and am mostly on Instagram and Facebook, but I’ve been wanting to get back to it. Since the “art monster” was created, I have had small breaks here and there. During those times I’m still constantly thinking about art and longing to do it, but also seem to avoid it at the same time. I eventually force myself back into my studio and the “rusty” feeling from not doing art falls away fairly quickly….then once again all is right in my world.

Don’t just wait for inspiration to strike. Make it happen. If you feel stuck and you’re a painter… just start painting a background… start pushing paint around playing with color etc, and for me that often leads to a painting I never expected. For a writer just write, even if it’s just the words “I don’t know what to write.” Just get started. Picasso stated “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” It’s absolutely true!

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Esther Orloff
Esther Orloff is a mixed media artist in the Los Angeles area who believes that she was put on this earth to be a vessel of hope, beauty, and encouragement… If she could she would probably spend most of her time in her studio, happily spilling her heart onto canvas…but she also enjoys spending time with her amazing husband and son, eating delicious healthy food, and finding old rusty things or beautiful flowers to photograph. If all of that could be done while drinking great coffee and being near trees, birds, and a body of water… in Italy… well then, it couldn’t get better than that!

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If you have any questions or comments for Esther, or have had an ahas reading her words, please do share in the comments!

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