Meet the Maker - Jane Ammon

A few weeks ago I introduced you to one of my best friends, Leah Kilcup.  I also want to introduce a woman and friend who inspires me, Jane Ammon.

Before you meet Jane, you might be asking, "Why are you doing these interviews, Jenny?"

My why behind these interviews is to inspire creative individuals like yourself to see and know that your work matters even if you are not a full-time professional artist.  Especially if you are not a full-time professional artist.  

You, my friend, are still an artist.

You might be a full-time mama who steals away your creative time before the sun comes up.  You might be a full-time business woman who pours herself into her work, comes home at the end of a busy day, drops her briefcase on the floor, jumps into her sweatpants, and takes a few minutes to paint at night from her kitchen table.  Our, you might be a full time retiree whose kids are now grown and the house is now empty, and you want to explore creativity with your new-found free time.  

I believe that no matter what our role, it's important that we answer the call to create because art has the magical ability to make us feel alive.  I'm inspired by women who make the time to honor that.  I want you to have the opportunity to meet these makers too.

So who is Jane Ammon?

Jane is a photographer, writer, and teacher who lives in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania.  I met her a few years ago after being hired by her husband, Erik Ammon, to illustrate his 2 childrens' books, The Rabbit Who Wished He Could Fly and The Lost Squirrel.   Through a series of 1 on 1 coaching calls, she helped me find my own creative "why" of encouragement.  (You can read more about that here.)   

One thing I admire most about Jane is that she emanates authenticity and light in her work.  She speaks from her soul and listens intently to others.

She creates and listens.  You can't help but want to do the same. 

I hope you'll give her a listen below.

Interview with writer and photographer, Jane Ammon

Hi Jane!  Let's get started.  How would you describe *you*?

Whew, a loaded question, huh?  Well I’m devoted, quirky, natural, and full of mercy.  I’m a listener, a creator created by our creator, and I’m madly in love with being alive.

What does a typical 9-5 look like for you?

Well it depends on the day!  During the college semester, on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I’m up on campus doing what I love:  teaching future teachers about how to educate students with special needs.  On Mondays and Wednesdays I’m in my home office working on writing, creating or allowing myself to rest.  Weekends are spent being a Mom taxi, reading books, playing games with my family or photographing amazing families!

Interview with writer and photographer, Jane Ammon

What is your favorite way to unwind?

A cup of coffee with one or more of my people...at a table, or in the living room, or at a coffee shop or outside on my patio.  My best unwinding happens when I get deep and real with my people or in prayer/meditation.

What about photography makes you feel alive?

When I make people feel heard.

Interview with writer and photographer, Jane Ammon
Interview with writer and photographer, Jane Ammon

When did you first pick up photography?

I picked up a camera for the first time in 2004/2005 after our son was born.  I started my photography business in 2009 after we came home from China with our daughter!

Your creative outlet seems to be primarily focused on photography, but do you have other creative outlets that you enjoy?

I love to write, especially letters to others...sometimes in actual handwritten letters and many times as blog posts to my community.  I always write with the intention of sharing my heart.  I also love to paint my “gratitude monsters.”  I make them into notecards to send letters to people!  Basically making notecards of any form makes me happy!  Knitting also ebbs and flows in my life as well.

How do you keep your creativity flowing?  Do you have any favorite creative books or podcasts you could recommend?

I keep it going through reading and podcasts as well as talking to other artists.  I love the book “Crossroads between Should and Must” by Elle Luna.  I am also a die hard Brene Brown fan, so all of her books keep me grounded and inspired.  My favorite podcast is “On Being” with Krista Tippet.

You’ve mentioned to me how important it is to have a supportive family in your creative corner.  Can you elaborate?  Who are "your people"?

My people are the backbone of my creativity.  My husband, Erik, is my number one fan and he is always encouraging my creative work.  I also rely on my dearest friend Lisa.  She and I talk 3-5 times a week about life and making art.  Our children, Connor and Maddie, continue to be my deepest inspiration as they are always interested in how my creative process works.  And my wonderful gaggle of friends (artists and not artists) are my constant flow of strength.

What creative work, pieces of art, or photographs are you most proud of?

I’m the most proud of my personal projects.  The first one “The Clothes They Came to Us In” was my first gallery show and that was life transformative as it taught me that I am, indeed, a writer and a poet.

The second personal project that went to a gallery show “Into The Light” is another of my proud creations because it gave me the opportunity to tell the stories of brave women I admire.

I’m also really proud of my current personal project which is a series of self portraits I’m working on through the year.  I’ve created a group of women (anyone can still join!) and I send them prompts of self portraits to make every two weeks and then I make one too with them. It’s been balm for my soul this year.

Interview with photographer and writer, Jane Ammon
Interview with photographer and writer, Jane Ammon

What tips would you have for anyone wanting to carve out creative time for themselves?

I think it’s the best gift we can give ourselves, to create something everyday.  Creativity is not about art.  I firmly believe all of us create something each day.  Opening the door for a stranger and making eye contact creates connection.  Singing loudly in the shower creates joy for you.  Writing in your journal creates a release.  Holding space for someone in struggle creates peace.  Do any of these and you are a creator.

You offer photography courses and creative classes.  Tell us a little bit more about them.

I do!  It varies, sometimes I have Intro to your Camera classes in my home and sometimes I have journaling classes online, it really varies from season to season for me.  Right now what I’m focusing on is 1:1 mentorship for women who are in the beginning of their creative business, to help them find a solid place to start.

I hope to turn my self portrait prompts into a class or a book within the next year!

Interview with photographer, Jane Ammon

 

Where can people connect with you?

Jane, thank you for taking the time to do this interview.  You kindle a creative spark within others, including me.  xoxox

. . . 

Be sure to follow Jane on one the channels above, and let me know in the comments below how Jane inspires you!

 

 

Meet the Maker - Leah Kilcup

I had a blast participating in our YouMatterJournaling project together.  I want to introduce you to one of my dearest and closest friends who participated in the project as well.  We've been friends since we were toddlers.  Leah has seen me at my both my best and my absolute worst, and I appreciate her friendship more than I can express.   She is a bold, saucy, beautiful creative who inspires me to no end, and I think you'll enjoy meeting her too.  Take a gander at her journal pages.  (Who knows...  This might be the start of a new interview series!)

Hello, Leah!  Let's start with an introduction to yourself:  How would you describe you?

Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup

I have a hard time describing myself because I have so many different interests and ideas and thoughts.  I think “creatively, eclectic, and passionate” best describe me.   

What keeps you occupied during the day/week?

My husband and kids first and foremost keep me extremely busy, but I also am a teacher of massage therapy.  The unique world of bodyworkers keeps me constantly on my toes figuratively and literally!

How do you like to unwind? 

I absolutely adore with all my heart a hot bubble bath and a good book!  But then there are days where digging in the garden and attacking weeds or cooking in old pots and making a mess in my kitchen gets me unwound.  But one of my favorite cure all’s is driving and listening to good music.  (Usually some good old seventies/eighties rock)

Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals

How did you get started with journaling?  Why is it special to you?

When I was 10 years old my aunt bought me my very first journal with the cute little lock and key.  I would pour into that little book all of my frustrations and dreams about life.  It was like a wildfire and it just took off for me.

Being the youngest of three daughters my journal became a place of safety too.  It was almost like it had become a beloved friend to me.  There were certain years when I journaled that were very pivotal.  The journal I wrote when I was 15 years old is probably one of my favorites because 15 was the year that I first fell in love, the year that I started to really discover who I was, what I loved and what I hated.  Another year of journaling that was pivotal was the year that I met my husband when I was 21.  I absolutely love reading that one because it makes me cackle at how devious I was in hooking him.  😉 I think looking back on journals can be hard but it can also be a thing of learning.  It reminds us that we have come far and grown.  

Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals
Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals

How has journaling helped you?

Journaling has helped me through hard struggles.  I have these prayer journals I do where I will literally pour out my heart.  The good, the bad, the ugly, all of it.  It’s a prayer to God each time I journal.  Sometimes the innermost workings of our heart cannot be conveyed into words, but I have found that when I pour my heart out onto paper it allows my heart to unravel.  

Journaling has also helped me to laugh as well.  I have started writing about things that make me happy or bring me joy.  I’ll find old photographs and write about that moment in time and what it meant to me.  It has allowed me to grow and really come to know myself and to really see what God has made me to be!  

What materials do you use?

I love using old photographs from my childhood.  I also have fallen in love with watercolor pencils, pencil, and good old Ink pens.  There’s also a thing I like to do, where I will print out a photograph onto regular paper in black-and-white. I’ll paste it into my journal then watercolor over it in fantastic swirls and sparkles.  I like to think of it as painting emotion into a memory!

How many Journals would you say you have?

Over 27 journals.  I would say more but some I have started, then lost.  I have moved about eight times since I’ve been married, and I know I’ve lost a few over the years.  I like to pretend that maybe somebody has found a few and is enjoying a good laugh over them.

Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals
Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals
Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals

Do you keep the journals from ages ago, or do you ever purge or burn them?

I have kept all of my journals, even the embarrassing ones filled with love poems to old boyfriends.  I think it’s important to hold onto certain things as a reminder of how far we’ve come.  However, I have burned a few angry letters I’ve never mailed in a symbolic way.   I went through a very traumatic time in my life two years ago.  My husband and I were betrayed by very dear friends.  As we began to heal from the encounter I  journaled all of my anger and hurts.  I poured them into this little book like a woman on fire, and when I was done I couldn’t bear to open it.  It was like I was able to exercise the demons, and that book only represented hurts that I no longer needed to visit anymore.  So one day I actually misplaced it, and I’ve never found it since.  I believe that it was God helping me let it go.

Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals

What tips or pieces of advice do you have for anyone who is into art/illustrated journaling?  

Just have fun!!!  I think that if you approach it as a way to help you grow, it truly will.  Also, don’t take yourself too seriously with your art or compare yourself to others styles.  That journal is a little piece of who you are and it is precious!  

What advice would you give to someone who is on the fence about starting?

Just do it!  Treat yourself to a coffee date at Barns and Noble, find the journal that just makes your heart happy when you hold it, and do it!  

Where can we connect with you?

You can harass me on Facebook and Instagram under @kilcupkreations.  I’m totally open to new friends.

xoxox

Be sure to give Leah a follow.  Let me know how Leah's work inspired you with your own journaling adventures!