We had the good fortune of connecting with Michaela Jean Upp and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michaela Jean, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I feel I am still learning how to balance “life and work” as an independent artist. I used to feel that if my work wasn’t on my mind at all times that I wasn’t working hard enough or that I would fall behind. Over the years I learned that constantly combining my personal life and my art career leads to added stress and lack of enjoyment in both realms. I now see the benefit of being present in each moment no matter what I am doing. If I am feeding my baby a bottle or deep in a painting, enjoying and being with each act at each moment is imperative for my personal idea of balance.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I believe what makes my art and business unique today is a direct relation to my artwork’s meaning. That sounds vague but let me explain… I hope my art speaks to your inner child and in doing so brings you back to nature and the beauty in life all around us. I feel I have a direct link to this intention as my personal garden and children quite literally direct my work – from the flowers I grow to color inspiration based off of my children’s tastes. My art is grounded. I am very proud of this and I am proud that I have been able to balance these three roles- mother, artist and gardener- and unite them in the name of art. My path to becoming an artist was at base level, written in my DNA. I was a creative from earliest childhood, I loved Monet as a preschooler. But for fear of failure I attempted what I thought would be more lucrative paths before becoming a full time painter. Eventually I couldn’t deny my need to create anymore and took the leap into selling my own art. It was not easy, it was scary. It still is at times. However, I do not see any other possibility in how I can and should spend my time on this earth. I would say the biggest challenge is and was entering the art world as an artist, while also becoming a mother at the same time. I’ve needed to take lots of pauses to prioritize motherhood along the way and at times I’ve felt resentment for this sacrifice. That sounds harsh, but the creative drive is strong and can be bitter when it’s pushed aside if even for your own child. However, like there is no other option for me than to being an artist I feel the same about being a mother. This was also written in the stars and is the most magical thing that can happen in life. My children are my heart and so after a pause I am able to see that they are always growing and changing, and that our moments together are sacred. My creativity will always be. Thus I am able to overcome these more human moments of frustration and redirect this great honor of witnessing childhood to beings I love more than anything, and put it back into my art.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Hmm well this is a bit tricky during quarantine, so for now we would just go to my favorite beach spots or Cabrillo National Monument. The views are insane. But let’s say we are in post quarantine world, in which case we could visit Coronado Brew Co. as I love their outdoor patio and casual vibe. Their beers are so good and it is close to my house. We would likely eat dinner at World Famous in Pacific Beach as it’s close to my childhood home and has one of the best patios in PB. Then we would do a range of outdoor activities like- visit Balboa Park, see the San Diego Museum of Art, walk the Mission Bay Boardwalk, get coffee in Little Italy, and maybe even go sailing.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband! This may seem like an easy out, but really my art career would be non-existent if it wasn’t for him. He has encouraged me to pursue my dreams from the day we met and has not let up since. Not to mention he is my muscle when it comes to art shows, shipments, frame building, etc. haha. Thank you and I love you Erik!
@ Kelsey Muma Photo *for the image of me painting