Thursday, December 01, 2016

in the studio with alexis drolet

Hi! My name is Alexis, the artist behind the Etsy shop “Dashes of Happiness,” where I make and sell colorful abstract art with motivational and inspiring hand lettering.  I’m a 35 years old, living in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, PA with my amazing husband and two daughters, ages 8 and 10. I’m actually not one of those people who always dreamed of being an artist. In fact, this is something that I never saw coming. I took my first art class at age 30, after spending basically my entire life telling people, “I don’t know how to draw,” without ever once attempting to learn how to draw. One day it just sort of clicked that all of the skills that I silently wished I possessed, were things that I had never even given myself a chance to learn. So I swallowed my pride, and found a local beginner’s art class. Once I got over the initial anxiety of doing something so outside of my comfort zone, I absolutely fell in love with it.  I think I always had all of this art inside of me, I just never knew how to get it out. And I’ve found that the more that I learn and the more that I create, the more inspired I feel. It really is like stoking to a fire.  

I love seeing how other artists set up their creative space. Can you tell us a little bit your studio?

My studio is the spare bedroom at the top of the last set of stairs in our funky split level home. From the first moment that we saw this house, I just knew this would be my creative space someday. I think the exact words that I said to my husband were, “The natural light in here is way too good to waste on a guest room.”  

I share the room with my daughters, and we have always called this room, “The Art Room.”  Several years ago I painted one wall with magnetic chalkboard paint and bought them a bunch of chalk and magnets to continue to encourage them to use this space to create and display their art. Over the past few years I have claimed a little more of the space as my own, and I sometimes I have to erase all of their cute little chalk drawings to use the wall as a photo backdrop for one of my projects, but I still try to let them use this room to make their art as much as I use it to make mine. 

They have a desk along one wall, I have a desk along the other, and we fight over the floor space in the middle. Usually the room is a creative disaster of projects in various stages of completion, with pages of paint drying on every available surface. And since I share it with my girls, there is pretty much always glitter on the floor. But regardless of whether it’s clean or messy, when the afternoon light streams in through the windows, it is pure magic.  
What inspires you? What motivates you to create?

Without a doubt my two daughters are my inspiration, my motivation, and my everything. 

In a broad sense, my work is inspired by them because it’s very colorful and joyful, and almost all of it is stuff that they want to hang in their rooms. Lots of my artwork features positive messaging, and as my girls rapidly approach their teen years, I think more and more about the importance of promoting positive self-worth and self-esteem.  When I’m creating, I always think about what I want them to see every day when they wake up. 

In a literal sense, my world of inspiration is very much a product of our daily life. In the past 10 years as a mom, most of my time has been spent with them- at parks, playgrounds, museums, and the sidelines of sports fields. We are constantly out exploring together, and the colorful images of our daily life sink into the corners of my brain and then eventually spill out through my paintbrush.  I sometimes don’t even know exactly where my inspiration is coming from until I find an old photo, and realize that my latest painting has all of the same colors and movement as something that I photographed on a whim months ago. 

How do you organize your creative schedule?

As an artist I have learned that without deadlines, I pursue perfection to the point of producing nothing.  So, I have been forcing myself to commit to things that I am not necessarily ready to do, in order to get a deadline in front of me. For example, the only way I could actually get myself to hit publish on my website was to enter an art contest that required me to have a website. In the end, it was the contest submission deadline that finally forced me to finish the website. Then I registered to sell at an art show even though I had no inventory to sell and frankly had no idea how to set up a booth once I had my inventory. At that show, I put a notebook out on my table saying “Join my email list,” even though I had absolutely no sort of email system in place.  Once I commit to something, and I know I have to make it happen, I always pull through. I guess it’s called “Fake it until you make it.” 

What is a typical day like for you?

I’ve been selling my art for less than a year, so I honestly feel like a baby that is still trying to learn to walk. For the longest time I just kept adding things to my plate without taking anything off…and that didn’t go very well. So I’m still learning how to actively pursue my art and make it my priority, instead of just trying to fit it into the nooks and crannies of my day.  I find that I have to continually fight back at the self-imposed notion that I have to be everything for everyone all of the time.  

On an ideal day I’m up early before the kids, sometimes early enough to get a little bit of computer work done over a cup of coffee. Once everyone is awake and I’ve successfully completed the lunch making, hair brushing, shoe finding shuffle to get them off to school on time, I try to spend a few hours painting.  My energy and creativity are at their peak in the morning, so I try not to waste that time on household tasks. I tend to chase the natural light around my house, and if I have any projects to be photographed, I’ll drop everything for an hour or so in the early afternoon when the light is warm and perfect in my studio.  
Once 3 pm hits, it’s a flurry of homework, violin practice, dinner making, and getting everyone out the door for sports practice. I rarely work after dinner so that my hubby and I can relax together on the sofa, and then I turn into a pumpkin around 10 pm. I feel like each day is simultaneously a marathon and a sprint. 

What are you working on right now?
Oh, so many things! I’m still learning so much every day, both on the creative end, and on the business end.  It feels like there is a never ending list of skills I would like to learn and things that I should do to help my business grow.  On days when I just want to create, I’ve been painting lots and lots of greeting cards. They truly are my favorite things to make. Each card is like one of my babies, and I have the hardest time letting them go.  But I know that they spread joy to everyone who sends them and receives them, so that motivates me to just keep making more.  
I’m also working with my friend on a handmade jewelry and accessory brand, where we are combining our talents to make wearable art that is super unique as well as empowering.  The best part about being an artist is that it really feels to me like the sky is the limit, and now that I have the skills to get these ideas out of my head, it’s just a matter of finding the time to do it. 

Want to see more of Alexis?

Also you can find updates at
Or on FB and Instagram @AlexisAnneCreative

"In the Studio" is a feature here on the blog where I share a glimpse into friends and fellow artist's and crafter's spaces. If you are interested in submitting your studio to be featured, send me an email at


Julie Arthur // said...

Hi Alisa, I love these features! The only suggestion I would like to make is for you to bold or CAP the questions so that they stand out from the answers. Sometimes the text all runs together and I think a visual "break" would make it easier to read the article. I do love this series. It is very inspiring!

Amy Maricle said...

I love this work space, and Alexis' work is so beautiful!



jo kelly said...

Thank you for introducing Alexis!! I am a bit obsessed with hearing other artists' "Beginnings"... (maybe because that's where I am)... and Alexis is a big beautiful inspiration!! Thanks for the details, the personal bits and every picture:) This is my favourite feature and the only thing better would be to have a cup of coffee with every artist after I read... so I can ask more:)
I appreciate your inspiration Alisa!

jo kelly said...
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Crooked Feather Studio said...

I love hearing how other mom's manage an art schedule with a family. My 3 (soon to be 4)kids and husband are my everything. They are the reason I create work, and reason I can't get any work done. It seems very common that art making only fits in here and there but somehow through the hectic schedule progress is made. Keep up the beautiful work Alexis!

Kim said...

What a wonderful space to create and dream, and even better to share that space with your daughters. Not only are they learning to be free to create, it also lends a wonderful opportunity to have true conversations while expressing yourselves artistically. Thanks for sharing Alexis' space!


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