08 Mar 2024Mont Marte

Let’s jump into a Q&A with Australian artist Ema Lou (@emaloukidsartcraft) to learn about her journey with arts and crafts. She is passionate about providing an inclusive space to express yourself through creating and loves helping kids explore art. Read on to find out more about her fun take on creativity!

How did you discover your creativity? Was it a gradual process or a surprise discovery?

Ema Lou holding up a rainbow flower art painting against a colourful background


From a young age I found art and craft supplies throughout primary school and after school classes, which I began to explore creativity. Growing up in the 80s, art supplies were extremely special, and I would treasure them by entering colouring competitions to try and win supplies and even gather sequins and treasures when my Mum would visit the local craft shops (my mum is a brilliant sewer and quilt maker).


My parents would encourage my creativity always, and I grew up with freedom to explore what made me happy. As a non-sporty kid, they could see my happiness through making and creating and I have never stopped. I would spend hours each day, dreaming of ideas with crafty books about all the DIY possibilities.


Our Christmas tree was full of handmade goodies and now as a mum, I bring that joy to my children and always display their art.


I would learn to sew in the school holidays, making bags and jewellery, but I always remember having the opportunity to make art. My parents never stopped me from using their blender to try making paper pulp or burning polymer clay in the oven and learning not to forget about it, ha-ha.


My Dad built an awesome art table to match my crazy magenta bedroom as a teenager.

We noticed that you’re into art therapy (very cool!). What are some of the benefits?

4 rainbow finger paintings on a white piece of paper


I’ll promise to not write pages on the benefits and keep it short and sweet because I'm extremely passionate about advocating for creativity and supporting mental health.


Creative healing time brings a rest to the mind and eases the stress of this busy world. It’s like a meditation for people. You can see the benefits of being present, allowing the busy mind to slow down and go into a flow state.


Sometimes when words or talking are hard to express due to trauma, art therapy releases what you can't say, uncovering how you feel on a subconscious level. Like peeling an onion, it can slowly pull away those layers making you feel safe. Working with mixed media can benefit all ages and art therapy works for every age but my passion is watching children explore their feelings through art.


Fluid art can help children go with the flow, let go and trust the process. Watercolour can soften the mood. Sensory play can help with anger and internal struggles. Choosing art supplies can give children confidence to listen to their needs and wants. For example, working with children who have faced domestic violence/abuse may have had a chaotic environment leaving them with little control. Empowering them to have autonomy and allowing them to choose their art supplies, even paint colours, can be significant to healing, building confidence and self-discovery.


Holding a safe space with connection, care, listening, empathy and some fun are my main values in art therapy. Art builds creative confidence that then flows into building stronger self-esteem.

Art advocacy and creating an inclusive space seems to drive your work. What inspired this amazing message?

Ema Lou sitting with a dog in bright clothes on grass


Being inclusive is a huge value I hold close to my heart after a late diagnosis of ADHD. I suffered a lot with anxiety as a child and art making or creative time was my safe haven to rest and recover. Naturally, I have seen these signs in many children.


With academics being such a main focus for children being successful, I've seen so many creative kids not given the opportunity to explore art and crafts, not allowed to use paint, or try something new.


Mental health is very important to me, especially as a mother. I made sure we made our home a creative colourful space that the kids just loved. It was to be part of our everyday routine like brushing teeth. Then I noticed our community and kids being drawn into our magical space, so it was a no brainer that we created school holiday workshops where kids were allowed to use glitter (most parents nightmare) and you didn’t get in trouble for getting paint on your clothes. A space where mistakes were lessons in learning, and you could choose your own colours. The freedom to express yourself and make mud pies or do watercolour painting in the rain, messy splat painting, throwing confetti is what I love to share and inspire more parents to do the same – childhood is so precious.


We provided the magical childhood that kids deserve and from that we naturally attracted kids who needed that space, including emergency foster kids who needed the nurturing, kids who were misunderstood, kids struggling with mental health, kids being bullied and kids on the spectrum. My main word I love and use often is JOY. I love providing joy and hope to all children.


Children with Autism and ADHD get so many negative comments and criticisms within their childhood that I was astounded at the stats and want to make sure the stats change. It makes my heart break and because of that I keep advocating for this to change.


There is less shame around being neurodivergent now and more focus on your strengths like being spontaneous, not afraid to try something new, seeing the world through colours, paying attention to detail and hyper focus.

When creating artwork, do you prefer to plan it out or jump in and learn as you go?

A bit of both, ha-ha, keeping it real.


Planning is awesome but being spontaneous brings out the rebel artist in me where some days I just see where the day takes me. Depending on my mood and what I need in that moment, my typical artist brain full of too many ideas with not enough time can lead to spending days or weeks going back to artworks until they feel right without planning one part of it. Nothing beats learning as you grow and I’m a huge believer in trying new ideas and learning through mistakes. Totally nailing it first go is also a great feeling!

Do you come from a creative family? How about your kiddos – do they enjoy art?

Two children sitting at a rainbow desk in a colourful room


My family are creative thinkers, my twin sister is also an artist, so we were raised to be ourselves and not compete against each other. We have our own strengths and I do love that our individual efforts were rewarded.


We were incredibly lucky to have our parents support our entrepreneurial adventures. As teenagers, they would help us run market stalls. Along with my sister making art and canvas frames, I began making and selling jewellery. My parents would drive me to the city’s famous bead shop to get supplies and encouraged me to make a wonderful arty resume to get my first job at Lincraft.


Because of this, my kids have grown up with art supplies everywhere, toddler finger painting, loads of sensory play, making playdoh, and getting covered in paint – it was nothing a bath couldn’t fix. They thrived in a creative home. I am a huge fan of the outdoor mud kitchen we have and our indoor/outdoor art space I'm so grateful for and feel immensely proud that I created for them.


That’s how we started our art blog and Instagram. To share these ideas with more families and show how it doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes, simple pasta gluing and painting is doable for busy parents. Others might set up a space called an ‘invitation to play space’ for while you cook dinner and have paper, markers and stickers set up for open ended activities.


Art confession: my kids had never seen me iron clothes! I only own an iron for melting beads, hehehe... the cat is out of the bag now!

What tips do you have for working with young artists?

I love young artists as they don’t have the fear that adults have, to create without pressure. They make art just because!


I would say don’t be scared to try something new. Don’t worry what people think, focus on how it makes you feel.


Art journaling is brilliant because you can brain dump - write, paint, collage or gesso over.


School teachers shouldn’t be critical of your artwork. Don’t let them beat you down. I had the cruellest art teachers at school, and I never gave up on art making for myself.  Sometimes you hit the jackpot with art teachers, and I love our local high school teachers for my kids, they’re awesome!!


YOU define your own version of success!

Where do you find creative inspiration?

Rainbow paper plate flower craft with a smiley face




My mind is always inspired by colour, shapes, and textures. Naturally, ADHD minds need extra dopamine and creativity gives me loads of that. I will look through books, magazines, blogs, the web, Instagram, Pinterest, the outdoors, rainbows, florists, and the list goes on.


Watching others create, such as Kasey Rainbow, Deb McNaughton, Rachel Burke, Meri Cherry and many more, is always inspiring.


Going into an art shop, sorting my studio space, organising materials and finding old supplies I was saving for a rainy day can also inspire me to create.

What 3 art supplies would you take to the moon?

Ohhhh, that’s hard because I'm a craft supply hoarder. I'd have to say paints, an art journal and polymer clay.

What would your dream creative space look like?

A child doing sensory play with lots of rainbow cups, liquid, and glitter


A giant shed with a wall of art and craft supplies and a huge art desk in the middle for everyone to fit around so that no one is excluded.


It would be filled with colour and rainbows, a glittery resin floor, massive murals on the wall to change up when you want, and air conditioning too, ha-ha.... don’t want anything to melt in the Australian summers.


The side would open to a beautiful outdoor art space for kids with sensory play or painting under the sky with magical fairy lights strung through the trees.


It’s never too much with the eccentric artist brain.

How do you deal with art block?

I play with my art supplies, clean, rearrange and even sharpen my pencils. When I went through post-natal depression, I started these small steps to build happiness.


I love to paint in my art journal, even if it’s a coat of gesso or a simple colour. Just start!



We hope you feel inspired by Ema Lou’s passion for arts and crafts! Try out creating into your daily life and see if you notice the benefits.


Check out more on @emaloukidsartcraft by hopping onto our gallery, where her art journey is featured. Stock up on creative tools by checking out our huge range of Paints, Polymer Clay, and Craft supplies. If you do make something, #montmarteart or tag us @montmarteart on Instagram or Facebook. We’d love to see what you come up with!


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