Kelley drawing a new piece with her youngest daughter in arm and two older daughters photos hung nearby on the wall.
Kelley of Claw and Bone Art is not only a philanthropic Savannah artist, but she is a wife and mom of three; Fiona (10 weeks), Ava (6), Madilynn (8). Not to mention we've been fortunate enough to have her sweet family as neighbors for the last four years!
1. In one word how would you describe your mothering style?
That is a hard one. Probably “improvisational” – things change so fast at any given moment.
2. What is your biggest struggle as a mom?
The struggles seem to change as soon as you adjust to one. I think the struggle that stays constant through every phase is staying present; not worrying about your internal to-do list and staying off your phone. For example, I want to do another art show and I catch myself planning it in my head instead of watching the girls in those little moments.
3. What is the highlight of your day?
Right now it’s when Fiona wakes up before the kids go to school and she’s super smiley. And then the kids are like “Good Morning!” and that’s going to be the happiest they are for the whole day, it’s all downhill from there. (laughter)
Her husband, Kyle, and the girls.
4. What is your favorite thing about being a mom?
Watching them learn. Seeing them experience things for the first time. It makes you realize the things you take for granted when they see something so simple and think “this is so wonderful” and I’m like “wow, you’re right!”.
5. As an artist, how has your work changed since becoming a mother?
My art has always been about drawing from experience. So, inevitably it changed when I had kids because my experience changed so drastically. But having children has also opened me up and made me more emotionally vulnerable than ever before. My subject matter changed to focus not just on my children, but on children in general. I had to change my medium because I needed something more portable, I no longer had 8-10 hours to sit in a room and paint with oils. Now I use graphite because I can take it anywhere.
Some of Kelley's beautifully ornate artwork:
6. With two older children, is there anything that is different this time around with a newborn?
Every one of them has been so different. When I was pregnant with Fiona I thought “this is going to be a breeze because I’ve done this twice”, but with everything that happened it was night and day. But now that she’s here it’s a lot easier. When we had madeline I was going from being a kid myself to well, the end of my childhood essentially. You would think a third kid would be overwhelming, but since we’ve been in parent mode already for so long, it has been easier. You’re already getting up early every morning and you know the feeling of devoting all your time to someone else.
7. What's your favorite rainy day activity?
We are big tent builders. As soon as it even gets cloudy the kids are like “It’s tent time!” and we build forts in the living room. We actually used to have eyelets that were screwed into the walls where we would just tie ropes in so it was just automatic on rainy days.
Get ready for the next rainy day with your kids and study up on 25 DIY Forts to Build!
8. Favorite "mom hack"?
I probably have a lot over the course of three kids, but they’re so ingrained it’s hard to think of one. The only thing that I can think of is having the older girls read to Fiona. They have to read for homework anyway and the baby loves it so I can listen but do other things. It’s more of a time saving hack I guess.
9. Favorite lifesaving parenting product?
Any sort of swaddle and a noise machine has been a necessity every go-round.
Check out the 8 best baby sound machines of 2017!
10. What's your go-to weekday meal?
I’m Italian so it’s going to be some sort of pasta product with some sort of sauce and cheese. It’s always ready in the pantry so I don’t have to think about it.
Check out this article on "What to always keep in your pantry" - pasta is definitely on it along with other good ideas to be ready for the unplanned dinner!
11. Finally, what is the best tip or insight you would give a new mom?
Oh, a first-timer – that’s a hard one to think of because I always try to think back to when I was a new mom. I think I would tell them to ignore most advice you get because you get so wrapped up in trying to prepare yourself for things and you just can’t. When I had my first kid I remember thinking “this is not what you said it would be at all”. You can’t explain it and you feel worse if you listen to too many things. I think “mom advice” as a whole has gotten too invasive. Is your kid fed? Is your kid alive? Then you’re doing great.Fiona July sporting her Moss & Marsh Bandana Bib !