My Creative Life interview with Maz Hawes

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.



I first came across Maz Hawes through blogging, and knew her back then as a photographer, as that’s what she was doing at the time. These days she’s diving into painting and making the most gorgeous abstracts which she shares on Instagram. She has a blog, currently under reconstruction, which is always both thoughtful and a feast for the eyes. 

Meet Maz…

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Maz Hawes

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

I have been a serial creative, over the years, tending to throw myself into one creative endeavour at a time, exploring and learning and expanding, before moving on. I trained and worked as a garden designer for several years, before deciding that shading in planting plans and perspective sketches of gardens (my favourite part of the job) was not a good business model, and the finance, contractual, and construction related aspects of the job were not something I revelled in.

After a period home educating my son (a highly creative role!) I segued into photography, building up a successful part time portrait photography business. Again, I enjoyed learning and developing my skills both technically, creatively and in business, but after 7 years or so I decided to close the business and see what lay ahead. This was a period of mid-life, existential angst and a search for renewed meaning in life for me, to the point when I suffered a period of quite intense anxiety and depression, and when I emerged from this I felt an urgent calling to explore a more authentic, direct way of creating.

I’ve always had an interest in how creativity and wellbeing go hand in hand and I wanted to explore for myself how this would work for me if I pursued it actively. And so I found myself painting. I have art journaled for many years but the first time I put paint on canvas on a larger scale was around 18 months ago. I treat my painting like a job, although I am only beginning now to start selling my work – I make sure to show up in my studio regularly and harness my beginner’s mind into improving with every brush stroke. I guess you would call my style abstract expressionist. I paint from feeling not from seeing.

Maz Hawes

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

It’s the most direct way for me to enter a state of flow, which feels like the meditative state I fail to reach sitting cross legged with my eyes closed. I am a sensitive but social introvert, which means that the world frequently exhausts me, although I love community and social interaction, my long term wellbeing depends on managing my personal resources carefully. Art allows me to do this whilst living a productive, creative, meaningful and connected life. And finally it is SUCH a great vehicle for self discovery, which I believe is one of the most important journeys we can make.

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

Not yet… Occasionally, and fleetingly I have wished I had started earlier, maybe been to art school, but I realise that really I am the sum of everything I have ever been, and I wouldn’t wish to be anything different.

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

I do try and always see the beauty in the world around me and so if nothing else I like to think I ‘see’ creatively. As a photographer I have always used the camera as an extra tool to facilitate this. On a personal level, I have shockingly few photographs of family high days and holidays, preferring to live these occasions in the moment and capture instead the moments in between- the everyday stuff that gives the fabric of life its texture.

I love Instagram, it’s usually a daily habit to post a pic though I sometimes take a break because, like anything for a creative spirit, any habit can become stale! I also garden, and cook, and write with variable degrees of enthusiasm and dedication…

Maz Hawes

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

Too many to name! I recently decluttered my bookshelves as I felt the weight of expectation (my own) amongst books unread or not referred to in years to be stifling my own originality. I love books and read a lot but sometimes they are a presence that is daunting. I have of course kept some gems but they tend to be about artists particularly those with interesting lives (Grayson Perry) or a message that resonates (Austin Kleon) or are just simply beautiful. (Rex Ray)

I don’t look at blogs so much any more (apart from this one of course ☺ ) as I simply don’t have time and haven’t updated mine for months, as I think developing my own practice and methodology and message is more of a priority for me at the moment.

I believe hugely in investing in my own education, as far as is possible. I’m coming to the end of a year long Printmaking course at Spike Print Studios in Bristol and have already signed up for another course in paper arts next year. This summer I’m taking two courses at the St Ives School of Painting. (Hey, I don’t smoke or drink- this is my weakness!) But by far the best investment I’ve made is to work with a mentor, Jessica Serran, with whom I am part way through a 9 month program to get me making and selling art in a way that works for me. Jessica is an international artist and leader and totally gets me, and has pushed me gently, further than I would have expected I could go in such a short time.

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

Maybe join in a challenge on social media? A photo a day, or a few scribbles in a sketchbook? Anything counts (well maybe not just looking at Pinterest for two hours). The friendship and accountability I have gained from challenges like these over the years is invaluable.

Alternatively, limit yourself to 1 or 2 materials and make something new. Sometimes the feeling of overwhelm resulting from the weight of ‘stuff’ in our art space can paralyse us. So, paper and sewing thread and a needle? What can you do with that? Fold it, tear it, sew it into a new form? Or, 3 colours of paint, and give yourself 2 minutes. What can you do? Exercises like these are fun and release you from holding too strong an attachment to an outcome. Its all about the process baby! I wrote a blog post with more ideas here a while ago.

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?

Despite knowing that I need to get my ass in the studio every day in order to a) stay sane and b) make good art, I am nevertheless always juggling the other responsibilities that life brings. So, the process is sometimes frustratingly dependent on what else is going on. So when I can, I do, whether I feel like it or not. Thanks to Jessica, the days of navel gazing and waiting for inspiration to strike are over!

Once I’m in the studio each painting takes its own time. Sometimes they rush out into the world in a slurry of enthusiasm – others show early promise but take their time to be born fully. I work on several at a time, to give works in progress time to breathe and speak their truth.

Maz Hawes

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

A sense of self-worth, to be finally doing something that speaks from the heart of me and that I can share with the world. Of course this supports my wellbeing, and is less of a bonus extra and more of a necessity. I’ve met some truly gifted and beautiful people who speak my language, and this tribe (albeit mostly via the internet) is a huge support.

Also it’s so wonderful to see both my children (young adults now) taking creative paths that were denied to me at their age, I like to think as a result of seeing me embracing creativity as such an integral part of life. My son is pursuing a career in theatre, and my daughter in the music business. Neither have shown any interest in, or been coerced by us towards a ‘safe’ or ‘sensible’ career!

What best supports your creativity to thrive?

Yoga, walks in the woods, time alone, support from those close to me, sleep, learning new stuff. Oh, and regular deliveries of new art materials ☺

Have you ever lost touch with your creative self for a long period, and if so how did you bring it back?

I did. For my early adult life when I tried to contort my square pegged-ness into a round hole in pursuing a ‘sensible’ career. It was only after I had children that I learnt to listen to my intuition and engage in activities that brought me joy in the process and relief from the outside world. You might not know you’re missing it, but you’ll know it when you’ve found it!


Maz HawesMaz Hawes is an artist, photographer and yogi, and cares for her elderly mum living with dementia, as well as enjoying family life with 2 grown children, a husband with a ‘sensible’ job, and a changing population of animals. She lives in the verdant and inspiring Wye Valley, exploring and rejoicing in the pleasures of painting on canvas. Self taught and intuitive, with a personal interest in the link between art and wellbeing, she hopes to exhibit her work for the first time next year and move into making a living through her passion for art.

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