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Emily McMullanProfile Photo

Emily McMullan

Artist, Mom, Teacher

I was born and raised in San Diego, and went to a magnet school for the arts. I studied visual arts. While there, I chose to be a "peer counselor" as an elective, where you supported and helped out the moderate/severely handicapped students, helped them with work, mainstream, etc. I knew then that I wanted to work in this field.

I went to undergraduate school and majored in special education, and minored in visual arts. I ended up staying in Maryland and teaching for 5 years while earning my masters degree in Education the evenings. I met my now husband while there. We moved to Colorado for two years while he pursued a specialization as a physical therapist. In Colorado, I worked as an elementary teacher at a private school.
In 2012, we returned back to San Diego, where we've been ever since. I've been a full time special education teacher the whole time. Now I work with high functioning students, most with learning disabilities like dyslexia. I have two girls; 8 years old and 5 years old.

Due to the stress of having to return to work with my first daughter, commuting, pumping, all of the things, I ended up getting help from a therapist and eventually going on medication. After another year, I switched districts to shorten my commute. Very gradually, I started playing around with paints again in my garage, and took the leap into social media at 34. (Mostly so my friends and family on the east coast could easily see pictures of my kids).

At 35, after my second daughter was born, and I once again returned to work. Since I had to pump everyday, plugged into the wall-I would look at my phone. Eventually I started posting some of my old art work, and what I was working on in my garage, that's how I ended up starting my Instagram account "Practices In Art." I would just chip away at projects here and there, and make a post and write about it. Once my youngest daughter turned 4, I had the ability to carve out real time for my art practice...which left me wanting more...

Pursuing my art practice "in the wings" of my regular life has clarified what is essential in my life. My family, it's well-being, and my art. Most everything else has been eliminated. This includes alcohol, most TV, and saying "yes" to things that aren't in alignment with my essentials.

Because my teaching career has been such an integral part of my livelihood, and because I started teaching so young, I have long term goals to stay the course so when I do have the opportunity to retire from teaching, my art practice will be in a strong and well established place.

There is an artist by the name of Ronald Jackson, who I heard speak on the podcast "The Jealous Curator," and he was in the military. He built his art practice on the side, behind the scenes, and when he retired-he could just soar. I am using his approach as a guide. :)

This is from the "About" section of my website:

The backdrop of my life has always been art. It brought me into the classroom as a first grader who struggled to read. It was my emotional safety net during my tween and teen years, when I often felt isolated and “separate.”
I turned to art to navigate my way through my career as a Special Education teacher. It was there when I aligned my life with another human and became a parent raising two more humans.
Through the successes and struggles of all these evolutions, the presence of art and creation remained stoic and relentlessly persistent.
My art explores the concepts of my own personal evolution. It helps me to continually examine my own spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health. These themes lurk deep within my artwork, only to emerge and resurface in ways that surprise even me.
The more I grow and evolve, the more my art practice shifts from a therapeutic backdrop to a centered and guiding force in my life.
From this place and in this moment, life presents itself as expansive, exponential, and limitless.
I hope my artwork helps ignite this fire in others.

Rekindling Your Passion

March 29, 2022

In this week’s episode, we talk about rekindling our passions. We speak to Emily McMullan, mother of two, special education teacher, as she shares her journey of rekindling her love for art and painting. Emily shares the ste…