We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenni Horne and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jenni, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I actually started my art career out as a Middle School art teacher. Yep…those awkward teenage years where kids are learning to spread their wings and yet still be children, were my little inspirations. After the birth of my 2nd child however, I found childcare to be exhaustively expensive on a starting teacher’s salary so I dove feet 1st into being a stay at home mom teaching after school art classes when I could. But, I couldn’t leave it at just that ….my desire to reach more kids and make more of an impact in the community ran deep in my artsy veins. So I started a children’s art studio called “The Bubble Gum Ice Cream Art Studio” after my favorite ice cream as a child. I was able to teach, have my children with me and still be a wife! Life was great. And then I met a woman that wanted to start a business so we combined the studio and an amazing boutique and together we created a thriving business. I taught art classes after school, hosted birthday parties, we had adult workshops and more plus the retail space was huge and full of great energy. In the middle of owning the store she asked me to make some art we could sell. Now mind you all this time I was just teaching art, not making art. I felt my impact was on teaching others to make and never made time to make myself. Weird I know. Maybe it was confidence, maybe it was not knowing where to even begin. I was very creative and a wonderful teacher who could inspire others to follow their artistic dreams, but my own artistic thread, I was at a loss. So I painted what was trendy….pears. Lots of pears. And bowls of lemons. And flowers. And then one day my son was drawing with me (my kids were always in the studio with me creating. I have so many fond memories of this.) And he drew the cutest little silly bird and said her name was Mattie. So I started drawing and painting silly birds. And then I entered an art show with my bird paintings, felted bird sculptures, prints, bird nest jewelry, etc. I had a theme for sure. A few more shows under my belt and a gallery invitation I left the business with my friend and took off as a full-time artist. It was awesome. And SO MUCH work. Preparing for a show was tough and with two little children I missed a lot of weekends with them to sell my work. After about 4 years of that season of my life I went back to teaching full-time. I attempted teaching and keeping a show schedule but that was beyond exhausting. So now I teach full-time at Northgate High School in Coweta County teaching digital photography. I still make art, especially lately. And have found instagram a great community to receive feedback and sell my work. I also teach online painting courses so I am still able to reach a wide audience. So to answer the question….finding balance….it’s something you as an artist have to develop over time. You go through seasons of life where you have ample time to create and then seasons you can’t. You also may go through seasons of feeling blah or uncreative. Perhaps you are too busy or perhaps just uninspired. I say allow yourself some grace. Don’t force creativity because your audience will see it in your work. When it’s not authentically you people can tell. I don’t ever just stop being creative but my season of selling work might be in smaller windows now. I balance this out with the in between time being used for sketching, gathering materials, cleaning spaces to work and perhaps taking classes to keep building my professional skills. I am always growing and learning and willing to explore new ideas. Finding balance is hard as a creative person, especially if you are driven as I have been over the years to be a voice in my field, to be one that inspires others and works to create bridges with other artists. You have to learn when to let go, when to build, and when to gaze out the window. All these are important aspects to finding balance as a creative person. Dream big….and do all the things….but don;t get frustrated if they don’t happen all at once. It is a journey worth taking your time getting through. Be true to your own creative thread the entire way and don;t ever loose site of where you want to be.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am an avid painter and jewelry maker. My work is very whimsical in nature with subjects being taken from my personal journey through life. I work in stages….filling my sketchbooks until my artsy brain can take it no longer and then I take these ideas to the canvas and jewelry studio. I also teach full-time in a public high school so balancing all my creative energy out in addition to being a mother and wife can be challenging but very rewarding. I think its important for children to see their mother’s working towards their goals and dreams and not just waiting for their next “season of life” to begin. I have shown my own children how to do what you love with grace, poise and lots of determination over the years. Getting to the point I am in my art career has taken diligence and careful decision making. You can not do it all so making choices while pursuing your dreams can be difficult, but when you are thoughtful with these decisions, take your time and don’t rush your end goal the finish line can be beyond rewarding!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
OH goodness…well I live on the south side of town so I would say pack your hat and sunglasses and head to historic Newnan. We have tons of adorable shops like Gillyweeds, Finley’s, Newnan Merchantile and more. Grab the best Bloody Mary outside at RPM, lunch outside at the Cellar and if around long enough dinner with a smokey old fashioned at Knife and Stone. Newnan is a hidden gem of a town full of historical beauty. The town is lively and friendly. If you are into biking we have a great Trek shop with maps for local rides. My hubby and I like to hop on our bikes to ride about 5 miles to Brown’s Mill Battlefield where they have put in a great little ride for novice bikers like us. we also have Chattahoochee State park with great trails for hiking and nice camp grounds. We ar a diverse community who would love to have you visit our mainstreet community! Oh and be sure to check out the instagram feed or website for upcoming events. There is always something happening!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My parents have always encouraged my creative endeavors for sure. My husband, bless him…has endured so many weekends of me being away and nights of the dining room table being my “studio” he is used to using having bits of paint in his food. To my kids William and Mailey….well they have often bean my greatest muses!

Website: www.shopmerakihandmade.com
Instagram: @artsyorange

Image Credits
Jenni Horne