Brei Larmoyeux, mother of 5 children, is an artist living in Palm Coast, FL.  Her media includes chalk, acrylic pour, mixed media and soapmaking. We interviewed Brei about how she became involved in art, and how she keeps her children excited by it. 

What types of art do you make, and how long have you been an artist?

Creativity in one way or another has always flowed fairly freely to me. As a toddler, I was known to
periodically create art across my crib and walls. This must have been the beginning of my love for murals. New parents, can you relate to my mothers mix of feelings as she stood both in disgust and awe of the time and effort it took to create my masterpiece? As I developed, I found more suitable canvas and paint. Nonetheless, that’s where it all began.

After high school, I always thought that I would only be an artist if I could paint classically (which I
cannot). Then one day it dawned on me that I was loving and appreciating the art of others that had nothing to do with classical painting. It was then that I decided to just start to create with the skill I have and see what develops from there. Since that day I have felt free to explore my own creativity in a way that didn’t compare me to others. Am I where I want to be? No. Have I made some cool stuff? Yes.

When I became a wife and mom, I redirected my creative energy towards making a home and raising children. I put away paint, pen, paper, and the gumption to try new creative endeavors for nearly 15 years. During a particularly difficult season, I was encouraged by my friends and family to pick up art again, as a means of self-care. I am so thankful that I listened! Today, I am a single mom with kids moving out of the toddler stages into elementary and high school. Reigniting this part of me has created an opportunity for the kids to see me do something I love and to encourage them to pursue creative endeavors of their own.

How have you gotten your kids involved in art?  Do they each have unique talents?

Ever since my oldest was little I have kept art supplies around the house and accessible. Limiting screen time and using it as a tool for learning new creative skills, keeping a huge box of chalk in the car for impromptu fun at the park, making time and space for them to get messy with different mediums and teaching them the Bob Ross theory of “happy little accidents” have all been ways that I have encouraged my kids to develop creativity without them feeling pressured to produce something grand.

My kids’ abilities blow my mind every day. When Eden (now 16) was in the 5th grade, she got a 2-inch-thick binder full of blank paper that she used to sketch over the next two years. In those pages you can watch the progression of her skill. She started with cats, then moved to dragons and now she has her own unique way of drawing people that I just love. Ardyn (14) is great at what I call graffiti art. He uses sharpies on paper or shoes to create unique designs and you will see his sidewalk chalk art occasionally on the pavement of some out of the way spots in local parks. Anna (9) sketches and is a musical artist. She can play piano by ear and teaches herself ukulele songs from youtubeYouTube tutorials. Autumn (7) doesn’t hesitate to jump into any kind of medium with an open mind and ready hands. She’s great at creating and illustrate stories of her and her friends. Often, she uses watercolor and mixed media to illustrate.  Atticus (5) is very talented with creating amazing shapes and designs from pattern blocks and sketching funny monsters that make us laugh.

How does art affect your children’s moods?  Do they use it to express their feelings?

When my kids get upset, I always tell them to go do something they are good at. It almost always involves their creative outlet. This tends to let off some steam and helps them reenter a situation more poised.

 Any benefits or drawbacks to having creative children?

 Things to consider about having creative children.

1) Designating a space for them to create and keep supplies helps to tame some of the mess.
2) Creative children may use their art to express themselves in ways that you may not agree with or enjoy. Before you freak out over something that you see, think of it more like a peek into their inner world and use it as a springboard for conversation.
3) Creative children tend to be talented problem solvers. Give them the opportunity to develop this skill by involving them in decision making. Sit back and marvel at solutions they come up with.
4) Some multi-creative children are messier than others. Take time to walk in their shoes and come up with practical solutions to keep their supplies and mess more manageable.
5) Creative children look at the world with curiosity which is great in the long run.

Mom Tip: When your child comes to you with a picture they have created, instead of saying,” What is this?”, say, “Tell me about your picture!” Phrasing it this way tells your child that you appreciate what you see (and gives you time to give better feedback when you know more information about it!)!

 Suggestions for other parents who want to encourage their children in the arts.

 I am a strong believer that education is not just a recitation of facts. I would argue that extracurriculars are just as important to development as book work. Just like sports, art builds life skills. Concentration, hand eye coordination, organizing your thoughts to complete a task, interpreting visual information, decision making, perseverance and confidence all come from time spent developing in the arts. Informal art education can happen with exposure and experimentation. Formal education can turn talent (or lack thereof) into skill.

Also, remind your kids that all art doesn’t have to be a masterpiece or frame worthy. Sometimes the point of doing art can just be about learning the process. As an adult, I still do this. How do the colors interact in this medium? What would happen if I used these two different types of mediums together? How fast can I sketch what I see? What happens when I get this wet? Teach them to learn to love the process, resist the urge to compare and understand that skill will come in time.

Suggestions for creative moms…

 1) Find ways to simplify your routine that allows for a time block that you can work on your next creative endeavor.
2) Be fine with it taking longer to complete your projects
3) Teach your kids what you know.  Watch, in wonder, as they bring their own creativity to the table.
4) Even if you make terrible art…you showed up and allowed yourself the opportunity to learn and grow for your next project.
5) The world needs your creativity, you never know who you inspire.
6) Take pictures of what inspires you so you can pull it up for later when you have a free moment to be creative.

Brei’s children are Eden (16), Ardyn (14), Anna (9), Autumn (7) and Atticus (5).  Brie’s soaps can be found at Florida Workshop in Flagler Beach.  You can inquire about her paintings, freelance chalk work and prints on her Instagram account @what_she_said_studio.  Coming soon from Brei – a locally inspired trucker hat for women.

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