I'm not sure where I first discovered Ruth Simon's blog, Gracelaced. But I quickly started following her. I found Ruth inspiring since she was a homeschool mom like myself and also a writer and artist. I'm always interested to see how other women work from home, are inspired creatively, and seek to continue using their talents. After I started following Ruth, she ended up opening a shop to sell her artwork, which has exploded over the past year. I'm excited to introduce my readers to this inspiring woman!
Tell us a little bit about you, your family, and what a normal day looks like for you?
I’m a Chinese-American mother of 6 boys (ages 1-12) and a wife to Troy for almost 17 years. My husband Troy was a preaching pastor for 7 years at a church we planted, but now serves as the headmaster to a Classical Christian school we started here in New Mexico that employs a part time home classroom schedule. That means, I homeschool 4 of my boys every other day at home, and run my blog and art business at GraceLaced.com on the days they are at school. Neither of us ever expected to do such big “start-ups” with our lives, but we are so grateful that God chooses to do more than we think we are able to do on our own.
Did you study art in college or are you self-taught? Did you envision pursuing a career in art?
I was a typical Chinese over-achieving academe, and pursued a degree in biochemistry with scholarships and grants, but during my second year of college, the Lord pursued my heart in ways deep ways, that ultimately led me to finish out my university studies with a fine arts degree. Back then, before blogs and social media...a career in art didn’t seem practical or faith and family friendly. So, no, I didn’t plan to pursue a career. I was just studying what I knew I loved.
What brought about the decision to open your shoppe?
I had been writing at the blog (gracelaced.com) for 6 years at the time, and having recently joined Instagram, found a social media outlet that favored my love for words and images. In October of 2013, I joined in The Nester’s 30 days challenge to write on any topic for 30 days. I chose a theme “Drawing Close,” in which I would write and draw something for 30 days. My desire was to challenge myself to rediscover my love for art, and to include it in my blogging. The response was so supportive, and the requests to purchase artwork was so great, that I decided to open a shop to try it out. I opened my GraceLaced Shoppe the following month, with $300 worth of inventory. The rest, as they say, is history.
How do you carve out time for your artwork in the midst of life with six boys and homeschooling? Do you fit it in around the edges of your day, or do you have set times where you sit down and work?
When I first started, I painted during naptimes and often during lunch breaks. But, as the demands of the shoppe increased, orders overwhelmed what I could handle on my own, and custom order paintings began to pile up, I knew I needed to create better boundaries and more specific time for work.
I now paint in the evenings and afternoons during naptimes on days when the older boys are at school, and do minimal work on days when I’m homeschooling. As of 2015, I’ve hired the first part-time help I’ve ever had in 13 years of mothering. :) It was a tough decision, but as the shoppe grew, I knew it was necessary for me to manage my time well, steward the opportunity with discernment, and to find help in things that I can hire for.
Approximately how many pieces are you creating a week right now?
In original art, I paint an average of 2 a week for commissions. I’m always developing new artwork for the shoppe, but I’m also learning to paint “for fun” and to practice the art...for the process.
Your artwork is often inspired by Scripture. Do you have a specific mission in mind for your artwork? What takeaway do you hope someone gets from purchasing a Ruth Simons print or custom order?
You know, I didn’t actually begin with a particular desire to do scripture art, but I think my artwork just flows out of whatever the Lord is teaching me, and so, as I write, read, and work through the things that I desire to grow in...the artwork featuring scripture just flows out. I do offer many giclees, prints, and original paintings that don’t necessarily speak explicitly of God’s word; however, my desire remains the same: I want to inspire others to observe God’s faithful, creative, and merciful provision in his creation. Such faithfulness can be seen in the soft petal of a fading flower, as well as a sunset. I pray those who own my artwork find a reminder of God’s glory through the strokes, colors, and words scripted...that his praise would be quick on their lips on account of a beautiful reminder.
What encouragement do you have for other women who desire to use their artistic gifts in a meaningful way but have yet to find an outlet?
That is such a good question. I wrote something about this very thing recently “Creatives: 4 Things To Consider As You Pursue A Dream.”
But, I also like to tell those who are still waiting to see how the Lord will lead:
Despite how much I wanted “to do something” with my gifts and talents 10 years ago, I don’t think I would’ve been prepared like I am now. The Lord had me focus on being a mother, ministering from my kitchen table, and supporting my husband...that I might have the content, the wisdom, and the inspiration from which to create. Starting a business or creating art simply to succeed, grow financially, or keep up with peers is the most stifling thing to creativity. As artists, we simply cannot create anything authentic if we are not truly living, reading, growing, and becoming. My encouragement to all who desire to take their artistic dreams, and fly...is to joyfully walk first with the Lord, and treasure that above all else. Then, when the affirmation and acknowledgement of your work one day comes, you will not be so lured by the opinions of others, but the applause of One.
Thank you, Ruth, for taking the time to be interviewed! I hope it will be an encouragement to others!