Rebecca Yao is a mother of 3 young children, ages 4 to 11. Ever since they were as young as 1, she has been engaging them in various art activities for them to learn from. As a stay-home mom of 11 years, she has been painting and lettering on her own as well.
Before her children were born, she worked as a social worker and an art instructor at an art studio. In 2019, she started freelancing as an art instructor. She conducted many process art workshops and created resources to encourage individuals and families to make art a part of their homes and lifestyle.
Continue reading on to find out more about how she started her journey inspiring creativity in people through art.
1. She Started with a Dream of Being a Fashion Designer
I’ve loved art ever since I was a young child. I remember spending hours copying pictures from storybooks and colouring them. My most memorable artworks were 2 giant sketchbooks which I had, all filled with pictures of clothes - a childhood dream that I had of being a fashion designer.
Then when I became a social worker much older, I found creative expression to be an empowering tool in unlocking the emotions of some of the youths whom I worked with.
After 4 years, I became a process art instructor at an art studio for children - I loved witnessing how a process art activity could bring out a child's uniqueness in creating something and the wonderful conversations of fantastic ideas that could fill the studio.
Art to me is as important as exercise. The reason why?
In 2015, I had 2 miscarriages back-to-back. Hence, I started to doodle and paint every morning and the process of healing begun. Those were very precious moments for me and made me believe that art is essential for our mental wellness.
2. Process Art is Now a Big Part of Her Life
Process art truly became part of my life when I had my own children. Staying home to take care of my firstborn was a huge challenge to me. During the first year, I was just overwhelmed with meeting his basic needs. Gradually, I started engaging him with some of the process art activities I did with my past studio kids.
It didn’t start out all perfect and smooth sailing because making art a part of my home was a new habit and rhythm that I had to create. There was a lot of trial and error involved, unlearning and learning, hits and misses.
Despite living in a small home of 69sqm at that time, I was determined to make it happen because process art had brought so much joy to our home. I changed the layout of our furniture so that we could have as much creative space. It was tiny but cozy. In a society that focuses so much on results, the open-ended nature of process art brought me and my child so much freedom and fun in creating.
Through process art, we talk, we bond, we play, we learn, we reflect, all at the
3. She Engages Each of Her Children Differently
At this moment, I think the most challenging part of my life is trying to meet the needs of my children who are in their different phases of development - a pre-schooler, a kid in lower primary, and then a tween.
My brain has to constantly switch modes and communication styles to match the level of each child. I have to keep reminding myself that my expectations of each kid have to be different and that can be mentally exhausting for me.
It’s very important to have self-care as a parent, and true self-care is not just doing things that you can squeeze into your schedule but planning an actual date with yourself, doing the things that you love.
For me, it’s going on nature walks and making art!
4. To Make Art, You Have to Let Go of The Need to Be Good
Last year, I illustrated a storybook titled “I Hear You” written by a good friend of mine. "I Hear You" is a children's book about giving a voice to a child’s emotional world by exploring 8 different emotions a child might feel through the eyes of a snail.
It took me one whole year to turn the book from an idea to reality. From researching about snails, planning the scenes, drafting on paper, and finally drawing on the iPad - I felt so honoured that my friend chose me to illustrate and publish this book with her.
It was an amazing experience that taught me so many things; listening to feedback, being clear of the vision of the book, and understanding the author’s style.
5. She Takes Life One Step at a Time
“Imperfect progress is still progress”
Being a perfectionist by nature, I have the tendency to worry and obsess about outcomes. Having children brought to light how destructive perfectionism can be as I was having unrealistic expectations of myself as a wife, as a mother, and also of my family.
Hence, I’ve been trying to live a more restful life. Life might be full of uncertainty or anxiety. So just begin to take the next step, one step at a time. We might take a few steps back sometimes but we are still moving forward and upward.
Let’s enjoy the moments and most importantly, let’s enjoy the process.
A big, heartfelt thanks to Art Lover Mama Rebecca for her beautiful story, find out more about her here!
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