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Breakfast with Bec

For your Independence Day enjoyment, today we join Bec Thomas for “Breakfast,” the Friday series where we get to know an inspiring, creative mother from the blogosphere and peek into her creative space. Bec is a photographer, blogger, and home-schooling mother to three boys. That’s right, home-schooling. Oh, and she lives on an island and spins wool. Seriously. How cool can one woman be?

CC: Please introduce us to who you are, what you do, and your family parameters.
My name is Bec Thomas, and I am me. Me can be a lot of things and they are subject to change over time. I live in the Pacific Northwest so I’m one of those socks and sandals wearing folk who spends a lot of time outdoors. I have a love of water, reading, and online gaming. I’m generally considered very confident, passionate, and rather anti-establishment, but if you asked my friends they would give you many nice adjectives that I don’t really think about.

What do I do? Well first off, I’m a fine art photographer who works mostly in monochrome with nature, but I also decoupage and I hand spin yarn. Yes, I have been asked how I can possibly find the time. My family consists of a husband who is a professional techno geek who works way too much and 3 boys ages 7, 9, and 13, who I home-school.

CC: Tell us about your photography and other creative pursuits.
Photography has always come easy to me. I can just see it, but I couldn’t paint a scene if my life depended on it. A famous photographer, Ernst Haas, from the 40s and 50s, summed it up best: “The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE.” I can see various moments in time that will never exist again; the only way to keep that moment is to record it with a camera. I prefer to work in monochrome but will do color on occasion. Monochrome brings out the details in an image that can be hidden by flashy color. For me, color often gets in the way and the viewer just can’t get past it. I do a lot of storm photography. Here in the Pac Northwest the landscape is often naturally in grayscale in the winter months. My absolute favorite condition to shoot in is fog; it spreads the light so evenly it’s like a dream!

I’ve taken pictures since I was a kid; it wasn’t until my youngest children got to be over 5 that I decided I could fit making it a career into the mix. My two youngest often accompany me when I take photos — even when I’m going out in bad weather, as in my household we worship the Gortex gods. Since my husband works too much I often take the kids with me when I have to drop artwork off for a show or gallery and they take turns being my date for the patrons’ parties I need to attend. They take these duties very seriously.

In the midst of all the photography excitement, I get in several hand-spinning demonstrations a year, usually with my best friend Laurie Wheeler who is a crochet guru. My two oldest boys can both use a drop spindle so they usually demonstrate right along with us. I also decoupage on wooden boxes — some are as big as trunks. I don’t usually show my boxes but that is changing and my new studio will help.

CC: Where do you do your creative work?
BT: A lot of my work is outdoors. I especially like to work on beaches! After I take the photos, I have to edit them and for that I hang out in my messy office space glued to my computer.desk When I get photos back from the printer, I then head to my new studio space to mat and frame them. I just moved into my studio space a couple of weeks ago. It’s still under construction but it’s huge and can fit all my photography stuff and all my decoupage things. I still have to get all the photography lighting set up out there, but that will come in due time. Once the studio is completely done and snazzy, I will open it to the public. We have art tours on the island I live on and I plan get become a part of that. I will also feature other artists along with both my photography and my decoupage works.

CC: Do you have a schedule for your creative work?
I have what you might call an extremely flexible schedule. Since I take the kids with me, I never know what time I will be taking photos. If I shoot at night then I leave the homestead in my husband’s care (yeah, scary I know). When I have to do my indoor work, it is almost always at night. I’m nocturnal by nature; therefore I have more motivation to get my indoor work done at night.

CC: What do you struggle with most?
I think the biggest challenge I have is trying to sync schedules with my husband. When I cannot take my children with me, it really puts a snag into the works. Part of the time a friend helps me out but that doesn’t always work. It can be quite the juggling act at times.

CC: How do you manage your photography, spinning, decoupage, family life, domestic responsibilities, home-schooling (!) and still have time for online gaming or even going to the bathroom? Have you made conscious decisions about areas where you compromise?
I’m really skilled at multitasking and delegating. I also live under the belief that compromise is just a fact of life. I keep an extremely flexible schedule so things can be worked around and in. I find that if time gets put into a rigid structure then you start to become inclined never to break it and get really frustrated when something pops up that doesn’t fit into the box. If you can stay flexible, the world doesn’t end if something doesn’t get done. The kids usually accompany me, or in some cases “help me” (read pester me, hee hee), while I’m working. A lot of my photography is outdoors so they get an education and exercise why mommy does her thing. Much of the time homeschooling gets done while we’re doing other tasks; the whole world really is a classroom. Yesterday we were out at an extreme low tide viewing the interesting sea life you don’t normally see; I was shooting pictures while discussing what a limpet is and how I hadn’t ever seen a bright blue one on that beach before either.

I have long since refused to be the queen of domestic responsibilities. My goals in life never included being a maid for four other people. The kids all have age-appropriate chores, and have to clean up the messes they make. I still do the laundry though; it just scares me when anyone else, including my husband, does it.


CC: How much does guilt factor in your life?
BT: You know, guilt really doesn’t factor into my life much. I learned when I was a very young woman that I cannot feel guilty for pursuing what I want to do with my life. People too often forget about their own needs in service of others. When I was young I did that too; but I also learned you need to balance, need to set up personal boundaries, and that no one can possibly look out for your best interests better then you can. I generally don’t have time for people that want to try and make me feel guilty or attempt to stuff me into a box of how they think I should live. I am my own empowered individual and you can either accept me for who I am or move on.

CC: Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration can come at me from just about anywhere. It can be a scene before me, randomly pop into my head, or come from viewing someone else’s work. My most recent inspiration came from fashion photography. I want to apply mass amounts of beads to my friend’s face and photograph it. She is still trying to avoid that inevitability, I’m afraid……

CC: What are your top 5 favorite blogs?
work table

CC: What is your greatest indulgence?
BT: Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate! That and all the books I read. I really don’t know if I can live without Laurell K. Hamilton, Jacqueline Carey, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Jim Butcher. Also Patrick Rothfuss recently released his first book and it is fabulous, I can’t wait till the next one is released. When any of those authors release a book, life stops for a day so I can read them.

CC: What are you reading right now?
I am currently reading Acacia by David Anthony Durham.

CC: What advice would you offer to mothers who struggle to be more creative?
Don’t make excuses for not doing it. There is always something that can get in the way, always some excuse, make time and just do it. The only person holding you back is yourself. Also, ignore all that “great” advice or put-downs from the peanut gallery. If you’ve got the passion for it, you can make it happen.

CC: Thank you, Bec! And Happy Fourth, everyone.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’m glad someone thinks I’m cool and not crazy lol. Thank you so much for including my interview. I hope everyone has a really fun and safe 4th. In a couple of hours I’m doing a spinning demo that includes an angora goat, then firworks. I hope everyone else has this much fun also.

    July 4, 2008
  2. Yay for Bec! A talented, intreprid young woman with a wonderful Joi de Vivre!

    July 5, 2008
  3. Cathy #

    cool, bec. i’d love to have the “freedom” to be as spontaneous as you are with your family. however, it behooves both my sons and myself to have more structure. i have a tendency to “get lost in the ether” without one. my older son is the same way, and if i don’t provide structure for my aspie son, the whole world knows!

    and it took me a bit longer than you to learn and relearn a few more times about the pursuit of what makes me happy, though i believe that was always the core of who i was. certainly my mother tells many a tale from my youth of my “ridiculously independent nature”

    July 5, 2008

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