The Art of Motherhood, Holding On and Letting Go: with Andrea Naylor

The Art of Motherhood, Holding On and Letting Go: with Andrea Naylor

This month we're celebrating Mothers Day and shining a spotlight on our new KEEPERS muse, Andrea Naylor. Andrea is a multi-talented artist, painter, and mama creating magic right here in Door County.

Andrea wears the Pleated Tie Dress by the amente

We traveled the winding roads that lead to Andreas home and studio in Door County.  Nestled in a picture-perfect setting with stunning water views, we drove up the driveway to discover Andreas home. It's easy to feel the love in a space filled with so much art, life and musings. It's the little things, quirky ceramics, and curiosities that make a space come alive, not to mention brimming with fresh flowers, they were overflowing both inside and out. Needless to say, we were instantly captivated by Andreas space.

Andrea welcomed us from upstairs as we entered, diving right into conversation. As creative women, bonding over style and art, being in Andrea's incredible studio was immediately inspiring! Little Sullivan, Andreas' baby was such a cherub, softly cooing and lounging while we conversed about all things art and style.

KEEPER: Can you tell us how your artistic practice began, evolved and how you wound up living here in Door County? 

Andrea: My artistic practice began as a young girl. Both of my parents were artists and I grew up watching them constantly creating. My dad worked as a carpenter for a number of years, then switched over to working with tile as a tradesman and would create these incredible mosaics for his customers. My mother loved to sew and paint and craft and garden. I think she would call her style of painting Folk Art. Both of them had the ability to do small projects but also work very large. It was very impactful for me as a young girl to see how they created with multiple mediums with such ease. I honed my skills as an artist in high school but then took a different route upon entering undergrad. Throughout my biology undergrad and public Health graduate courses, I always pursued art and music classes and continued to paint. It wasn’t until I moved from Florida to Door County in 2013 that I started to pursue painting again full time. 


Andrea wears the Blockprinted Indigo Skirt

a wooden vessel hand-painted by Andreas Mother

KEEPER: Who are your biggest influences and inspiration? 

Andrea: Definitely my mother and my maternal grandmother are my biggest inspiration. When I was a child, I viewed them both as the pinnacle of beauty and strength. My latest artist in residencies and my most recent body of work “Women in Chairs” focuses on exploring the intergenerational relationships between female family members: grandmothers, mothers, babies. 

Another big influence in my life was when I served in the Peace Corps in 2005. I lived in Ghana and embraced learning to live off $2/day with no running water or electricity working as a science teacher.  I found the community among the Ashanti women in my village was incredibly powerful and loved watching them create, sew, and wear handmade textiles and jewelry. I was in awe that the women joyfully and stylishly did all this while balancing fetching water, cooking, cleaning, AND nursing their children together. Observing the grandmothers and mothers in my village take care of babies and children was a huge influence for me as a young women. Ashanti culture and Yoruba art remains a huge influence in my work to date, along with Picasso, Matisse, and Basquiat- all of whom were also influenced by African art. 

Andrea wears the Indigo Flared Dress with the Amphora Necklace


KEEPER: Has your art changed since becoming a mother?

Andrea: I became a mother in 2016 and it was the single most impactful event of my life. Up until then, I had pursued a style of painting that required lots of child-free quiet focused time in the studio. After giving birth in 2017, I realized that my personal life and style of painting were clashing. I don’t have a lot of free time and I wanted to be able to bring my baby into the studio. At the time, my solution was to have someone watch my children while I painted. Then the pandemic occurred in 2020, I had two children under the age of 3 by that point, and like many mothers in the US, childcare options became scarce to non-existent. This was a cross road for me and I knew I needed to learn how to be able to paint with my children in the studio with me. So I set up baby gates, learned quickly to let go of my perfectionist ways and developed a more loose and playful style of painting. I very quickly learned how to paint with one hand while holding a baby in the other.  I started to paint together with my children as they grew and began to learn so much from watching them create from such an unihibited place . It was that year that we started to work collaboratively on several pieces and I started to regularly incorporate and preserve their marks into my work.


KEEPER: Do you have any creative rituals/routines that you return to again and again?

Andrea: Yes! I love using my senses to ignite my creative process. For example: I will light candles and use a special spray to sort of ground myself in order to be able to work from an intuitive place. I love using certain smells and tastes to awaken memories that I paint. Bringing fresh flowers into the studio, especially during the winter months is another ritual I love using.  

 I also keep a small bowl of fruit lollipops in my studio that I allow the children to pick out of when we are working together. I want this taste to always remind them of playing with their mother in her studio. 

Andrea wears the Message Bracelet 

KEEPER: Tell us about your creative/work space.

Andrea: I am very fortunate to have a studio in my home. My studio is my happy and sacred place. It faces south and I love how the sunshine pours into the space through my windows every day. I use it to dream and I create work daily both with and without my children. 


KEEPER: Any thoughts on balancing parenting/motherhood with a creative practice?

: I think the process is probably different for every mother (or father) who is creative so my answer is to encourage each person to find the balance that feels the most natural for them. For me, I have learned to balance my own creative practice and motherhood by brining my children into the studio from a young age, allowing them to safely explore different materials and mediums, and I’m constantly re-wiring my brain to learn to let go. I have a rule for myself in the studio that I don’t say “no”. Both letting go and learning to say yes, lends itself to more play. I have learned and evolved as an artist because of how much my children have taught me to play and be present.

Andrea wears the Indigo Flared Dress 

KEEPER: Any favorite spots to hang out/feel inspired on the peninsula? 

Andrea: I absolutely love sitting with my easel or painting box and painting en plein air next to the water. Some of my favorite beaches include: Ephraim, Jacksonport, Algoma, and our own backyard here on Riley’s Bay. Sunrise and sunsets are incredibly inspiring for me because of the colors I observe in real time. 

works by Andrea Naylor - Artist

KEEPER: Why Flowers?

Although I’ve always considered myself a coastal artist, flowers are extremely special to me. I’ve been painting them in my sketchbook since forever but they’ve always felt like such an intimidating subject to formally paint. However in 2023, that changed for me. During 2023, I became pregnant with my third child who is now 6 months old. Each pregnancy I leave time and space to make room for any new themes or subjects that I may be drawn to painting. During that most recent pregnancy in 2023, I was drawn to painting flowers- specifically their delicate, feminine, fleeting nature. The vision for the collection and my voice as an artist on how I wanted to execute painting flowers came through so clearly, I just had to paint them. I am now revisiting this series again and it feels so fitting holding my baby in my arms, whose pregnancy inspired the series, now as I paint each piece. I am excited to release a second body of work in this series: “Flowers on Paper” this month via my website. 

works by Andrea Naylor - Artist


KEEPER: Any advice for fellow artists/creatives?

Andrea: Paint or create every day. Don’t doubt what you choose to paint and how. Listen and respond to what your heart and eyes are naturally drawn to. I believe there is a unique magic in how each artist interprets the world around them. 


KEEPER: Any big projects or happenings you're excited about in the coming year?

Andrea: Yes! I am so excited to have an upcoming solo show at Woodwalk Gallery here in Door County entitled: “Twilight ‘till Dawn”. The show opens June 28! 

 I am also currently pursuing an artist in residency on Motherhood. I started it when I was pregnant with my third child who is now 6 months old. The ongoing body of work includes body printing, quilting, several large paintings, and a series of self portraits which inspired my most recent body of work I released a few weeks ago entitled “Women in Chairs”. 

works by Andrea Naylor - Artist

KEEPER: A favorite poem/lyric/quote you'd like to share?

 Andrea: One of my favorite poems that has really been resonating with me over the last year is by Jan Richardson, entitled: 


“Blessing in the Chaos”


To all that is chaotic in you,

let there come silence.

Let there be a calming

of the clamoring,

a stilling of the voices that

have laid their claim on you,

that have made their home in you,

that go with you even to the

holy places but will not

let you rest, will not let you

hear your life with wholeness

or feel the grace that fashioned you.

Let what distracts you cease.

Let what divides you cease.

Let there come an end

to what diminishes and demeans,

and let depart all that keeps you

in it's cage. Let there be

an opening into the quiet

that lies beneath

the chaos, where you find

the peace

you did not think


and see what shimmers

within the storm.

-Jan Richardson


Thank you so much for having us Andrea, and to baby Sullivan for being the sweetest ever throughout our visit!

To learn more about Andrea Naylor, visit her website.

Shop The Edit: A curation of Andreas favorite pieces from KEEPER


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