The Art of Grace

Morgan Herndon finds fulfillment at home and in front of the easel

By KD Reep

Family art project: Morgan and her children, Carter, Tucker, Miles and Lainey.  Photo by Beth Hall.

Family art project: Morgan and her children, Carter, Tucker, Miles and Lainey. Photo by Beth Hall.

Morgan Herndon has been an artist since she was a young girl. After studying a multitude of art courses from interior design to graphic design and most things in between, she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 2003 from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Since then, growing and experiencing the many heartaches and joys that come with life pushed her toward creating more and more.

“My faith and art are deeply intertwined,” Morgan says. “Both are sustaining, uplifting and give me purpose. It is my hope that this art can be as much enrichment to those who view it as it is to me.”

In 2009, she had her first gallery representation, and she continues her work while raising Karaline, 14; Carter, 11; Tucker, 9; Addie Kate, 9; Miles, 7; and Lainey, who is nine months old. Her husband, Eric, and labradoodle, Murphy, round out the Herndon home and give Morgan a continual stream of inspiration for her work.

“I really can’t see myself being as fulfilled doing anything else,” she says. “It’s been a blessing to be able to be at home when my kids have been small and include the painting throughout my days as I can. As any mom knows, your time isn’t your own once you have children. I have found it necessary to really carve out intentional time for creativity during each stage of motherhood—for my own sanity and the kids’ well being, too. Whether it’s during nap time for the baby or quiet time when the older kids are reading or playing on their electronics, that’s a sacred time and outlet for me, and ultimately, lets me be a more complete version of myself.”

When asked how she balances her work, family and other interests, Morgan is quick to point out she doesn’t.

“I think that’s a common misconception—that we will arrive at this magical, harmonious balance one day,” she says. “The reality is there is a lot of chaos and change and multiple needs pulling at me—and you—daily. It is a constant challenge to stay in tune to what takes priority in the moment and what can be put on temporary pause until later. Many, many days I feel like I haven’t covered all the bases, and that’s okay because each new day is fresh, and we get to try again.”

It’s this acceptance of what is instead of an ideal of what should be that helps Morgan model for her kids how to accept what life brings them. The emphasis she places on grace for herself and others is how she gets through each day.

“It seems the pressure to be all things to all people is great amongst us womenfolk,” Morgan says. “We are all part of a community and can encourage each other in whatever season we find ourselves. Grace for ourselves and for others allows us to embrace where we are because it won’t always be this way, whether it’s a good time or bad. I hope people find the positives in whatever challenging circumstances they find themselves. If I can manage to keep at least one of these things in mind as I go about my day, I feel like I’m doing pretty good.”

The most rewarding aspect of being an artist and a mom, Morgan says, is hearing how her work touches the viewer.

“I love hearing any positive feedback about my art, especially when I hear it affects someone in a personal way,” she says. “Since my art is so personal to me, it warms me to know someone else has a similar reaction. It’s almost as if my deep is calling out to someone else’s deep. As a mom, the most rewarding thing is seeing any of my children being kind to another, especially when they don’t know they are being watched. I love seeing genuine compassion blossoming in my children. It’s crucial that you invest the time and find an outlet for feeding yourself without the pressure or guilt about what you ‘should’ or ‘should not’ be doing instead. This simply makes you a more whole being, which in turn makes you a better mom.”