Lauren Thrift is one of those people who you love the first second you meet her. She has the biggest heart on the planet and is so incredibly talented. Lauren’s creativity shines through in everything she does. Her passion is painting and you can find her work on LaurenThrift.com. I love her tag line: Contemporary family portraits. Paintings of bright colors. Much love.
Lauren is known for her use of bright colors, clean shapes and so much joy! You may be familiar with some of Lauren’s angel and family paintings – you could actually win one of her precious angels in our Smarty Days of Christmas Giveaway today! Her art is featured in galleries all over town and they are guaranteed to bring you to your happy place. What I especially love about Lauren is that she is a dear friend and also hails from South Florida. We were totally meant to be kindred spirits from the very first time we met!
I’m thrilled to introduce you to Lauren and get to know her Smarty self!
Lauren’s Smarty Mom Stats:
Married to: Charles, 19 years
Mom of: Payne (17), Wilson (15)
Years in Charlotte: 19
Hometown: North Palm Beach, FL
‘Hood: Plaza Midwood
Alma Mater: Rollins College
Occupation: wife, mother, artist
Tell us about Lauren Thrift Designs and how you got started.
I’ve always been creative. I like making things. Since childhood, I have drawn, doodled, painted. About 10 years ago I took a painting class at Queens College. We had an assignment to paint figures from a photo. The one requirement was that the photo had to be more than two people. Well, I had two little boys at the time, so all my photos were of my sons. A dear friend has four girls. Naturally, I asked her for a photo. She sent me a photo of her four children plus three cousins!! I had to paint SEVEN figures, but I loved the challenge. When my assignment was complete, the professor was very encouraging. She basically said, “You have to do something with this.” Thanks to word of mouth, Instagram, and a website I now paint family portraits for clients from coast to coast.
When did you realize art was your passion?
I feel very fortunate that art actually combines two passions. I love painting, and I love family. I consider it quite a privilege when a client asks me to paint their loved ones. The sketching and painting is fun, but there is nothing more precious or treasured than family. Getting to know a client, hearing all about their family – it’s joyful. What could be better than that?
How do we recognize if our children have a talent in art and how should they pursue it?
This is a great question! If you have a child who is constantly drawing, doodling, painting, please provide them with lots of paper, crayons, markers, etc. But don’t sign them up for formal classes too soon. When my boys were younger, instead of keeping a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter, I kept a bowl of crayons. The closest drawer, which would typically hold silverware, held paper instead. They could draw whenever they felt like it. They drew a lot. My oldest took art as an elective through 10th grade. My 9th grader is still taking art as an elective. They both have talent, but they never asked for classes outside of school. I didn’t push it, because I think it needs to be driven by the child. However, if you have a child who can’t get enough of art and is asking to pursue it outside of a school art class, then certainly do some research. Charlotte is full of wonderful programs for all ages. There are year round classes, as well as, art camps in the summer. And as you do your research, be sure to involve your child. Like any activity, I think it is important for the child to be able to express what they are looking for while also being fully aware of the commitment to the activity he/she is signing up for.
What different types of paintings do you offer?
Commissions for family portraits make up 95% of my work. I do paint other subjects from time to time. I think it’s good to exercise my creative muscles in different ways. I paint small angels, folk art flags, and flowers. I once did a series of Mattisse like painted cutouts for a dinner party. The families will always be my favorite, but trying new things keeps things fresh.
You have a fun collaboration that you stumbled upon at a women’s conference. Tell us about that.
This has been so much fun. In February 2018, I attended The Southern C Summit hosted by the Southern Coterie. Part of the “Swag Bag” for summit attendees was a terrific tote by MB Green Bags. These travel bags are incredible. They are made of waxed canvas with an amazing clear vinyl lining. I met the designer, Mary Beth Greene, that same night at the conference. She is warm and funny and you just instantly love her. As we were chatting, I told her I thought the bags would look great if they were painted. She loved the idea. We used the large and small zip bags for the collaboration. We have done 3 limited edition bag sales this year. The first one sold out in less than four hours! I must say, they make great Christmas gifts. I don’t even have them on my website, because they sell so quickly.
Moving onto mom stuff…
You’re a mom of 3 boys. Tell us your funniest boy mom story!
We have a lot of laughs at our house. The most recent funny story involves a rated R movie, so it’s totally inappropriate. Let’s just say, my boys are really good at quoting movie lines in funny settings.
Your take on social media and teens – what’s your family plan?
Social media, like lots of things, can be both a blessing and a curse. It doesn’t do any good to try and fight social media. It’s obviously here to stay. Clear expectations and using “teachable” moments seems to be the best plan. With anything child related, the “plan” needs to change as your children age. The “plan” should also fit each child individually. For our family, the best part of our plan is that all electronic devices are charged in the living room. Not having access to social media late at night in a bedroom seems to be help avoid lots and lots of issues. We don’t use phones at the dinner table, but I do allow my boys to check phones before breakfast. Being intentional with how I use social media, setting an example for them to follow, is also a critical part of the plan. Kind of “do as I say, and do as I do.”
Preparing for college – what tips do you have for moms of high schoolers and the college process?
First, take a deep breath. This is one area where it is really, really easy to get caught up in all the frenzy of what others are doing, saying, worrying about, etc. Take a good look at your high schooler and think about all the wonderful amazing qualities that he/she has. Then think about all the hundreds of colleges out there. Please know there is a place for everyone, it might not be where you went or where you think your child should go, but there is school for everyone. When you get away from the scary stories of perfect SAT scores and inflated GPAs, it’s actually a really fun process. With our junior, we’ve done the formal admissions office tour at all of his schools of interest. Now we are planning visits to see sporting events and campus life. There will be conversations about high school course selections, keeping grades up, studying for the SAT, but there should also be conversations about what your child is thinking as he/she looks ahead. Huge college football? Small liberal arts? Greek life? Intramural sports? Study abroad opportunities? Do they want to drive to school or get on a plane? Talk about the budget and cost of school. Enjoy the process. Enjoy your child. Some days this is easier said than done, and I have had my moments of “how does anyone get in school anymore? it is so hard!” But most days I am just really proud of the young man I will be sending off to college in approximately 21 months.
Favorite date night spot?
His recs ARE amazing!!! He has a gift for not just selecting the best restaurant, but also ordering the best things on the menu. He really should be a restaurant reviewer / food critic. Current favorites for a date: The Stanley – all local farm to table, amazing drinks and dishes. Superica – I love Tommy’s Margarita and Chicken Nachos. We just went to The Waterman. The oysters were fabulous. If you go, be sure to check out the upstairs bar – incredible view of downtown.
Favorite family restaurant?
Best lunch in the QC?
Reid’s. (Flower Child is opening in Feb. 2019, so I will then have two faves!)
Best breakfast in the QC?
Laurel Market, hands down best coffee and best breakfast sandwiches
Best sweet treat?
Favorite family holiday tradition.
For 15 + years, we have been doing a Christmas Eve brunch with friends. These are the kind of friends that feel more like family. Life gets busy. We aren’t always able to spend as much time with friends as we like. I love that this tradition is set on the calendar for the sole purpose of just being together.
Finish this sentence: Everyday I hope….
to draw closer to Christ, so His light may shine through me.