Artist Interview: Sadee Schilling

Name: Sarah D. or "Sadee" Schilling   
Name of Business:  Sadee Schilling Studio--
"A Picturebook Life" (my blog)

Creative Influences:  I grew up "antiquing" and crafting with my family.  My Grandma is a quilter, seamstress, cross-stitcher, painter and all-around crafter.  My mom was amazing at cross-stitch as well, and also a beautiful writer.  My sister inherited the design gene--she knows, just like my mom and Grandma, how to make even an ordinary day and space so special.  I think that everything I do and everything I make comes out of the way my creative spirit is loved and nurtured by these three amazing women.

Preferred Medium of Creativity:  A mixture of drawing and painting.  Previously I made acrylic/mixed-media works on canvas.  For the past 3-4 years I have painted exclusively with watercolor, colored pencil, and pen-and-ink on beautiful, delicate papers, but I want to start experimenting with acrylic and mixed-media again soon.
Brief Bio: I grew up in Oklahoma's "Green Country" in the humid Midwest.  Sunny Colorado is the adopted "home" of my heart, and I am making a new life with my family in a town near Hamburg, Germany. I studied art, literature and education in college and earned a Bachelor's and Masters degree in English and Teaching Arts.  I have worked as a copywriter and as a teacher, but now I mother my two little girls, paint and write about art and inspiration on my blog:

What is one of your earliest creative memories?
As a kid I would make these tiny little books (about 2 inches square) that I would use to write and illustrate a story and then carry around in my pockets to pull out to read when I got bored.  There was a series, actually: The Adventures of Super Cat.

How did you find your creative voice?
I always was good at drawing.  My mom enrolled me in after-school classes when I was in elementary school, and I took every art class I could in high school.  I even started college as an art major, but I think the problem was that I didn't have my own creative voice.  I loved art, and I loved to create.  But I mostly did it because it was fun and I was good at it.

It wasn't until I faced some heartache and uncertainty as an adult that art became a refuge for me.  Then, a year ago, my family moved to Germany.  And as God put me in a place where I have sometimes felt more alone than ever before, I have become more dependent upon Him in my minute-by-minute life--including my artistic inspiration--and I feel like I've finally found my creative voice.  Because art has been "therapy" for me in so many ways, I want tap into that comfort I have received and create work that serves as a comfort and encouragement for others.  

Did your creative habits make a smooth transition into your adult life?  What did the evolution look like?  If you had a creative hiatus, what event/circumstance brought you back to your creative lifestyle?

As an art major at University it became a "chore" to make art even when I was uninspired and when I was covered with papers to write for my other studies, so I quit.  I had planned to attend a proper art school after I finished my "practical" teaching degree.  Six years later I had two "practical" degrees and a prestigious teaching job--and I was very unhappy.  I felt stunted and trapped.  Plus, my mom had just passed away and between grad-school, my new job and taking over for some of the clients of my mom's PR firm, I simply left myself no room to process the grief.

Following a sudden prompting in our hearts, in 2006 my husband and I dropped everything and moved to beautiful, sunny Colorado.  It was an escape of sorts.  But now I know that more than that, it was a rescue.  

The only painting I had done in years was on the walls in the house my husband and I had purchased and renovated together, only to sell it when we moved to Colorado less than two years later.  I had also made a couple of simple little canvases as gifts for friends.  My work then wasn't amazing.  I was rusty after so much time away from painting and my imagination was inhibited by stress, but somehow art began to represent freedom for me--and a new life.  So once we got to Colorado, I painted for hours everyday in the basement of our friends' house where we lived for a time before we found work.  This is when I began to call myself "artist," and I have not gone long without a paintbrush in my hand in the last five years.

How has GOD been a part of your creative process/lifestyle?  Is there a particular moment where your creativity became infused into a spiritual practice?

When my mom passed away, I dealt with the grief (or, didn't deal with it) by making myself busy busy busy, with no room to think about it.  When I had a miscarriage 3 years later, God used painting to slow me down, face the heartache and reverse the damage all that stress had caused in my health and my emotions.  Because my return to art coincided with this intense time of healing, painting is still almost always spiritual for me--painting is how I work out things in my heart, and remains a way for me to slow down and listen for His voice.  
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