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Shay Ometz

A frog on a dog on a hog on a log, floating atop a lily pad-filled bog …

Though it sounds more like the first line of a nursery rhyme, for artist Shay Ometz it sums up one of her limited-edition prints to a T. The multilayered work is just one of the “rhyming prints” you can find at Bee Things — the design/illustration company she co-owns with hubby of eight years, Jeff Barfoot, who also serves as managing principal at RBMM (the brand identity arm of The Richards Group). And much like the whimsical creations she and Barfoot produce, the Dallas native is quite the multidimensional figure herself. When she’s not creating, she works and plays full time as mom to sons Calder, 7, and Milo, 5.
 

Shay has been the creative type ever since she can remember. “My mom is an artist, so I definitely got her genes. I was obsessed with art and drawing at a super young age, and my passion has never faded. When I graduated from high school, my mom suggested I become a pharmacist, but everyone knew that would’ve been a disaster!” she quips.

Without hesitation, she happily slammed the door shut to her future in pharmacy and went the arty route instead, majoring in graphic design at the University of North Texas. But while graphic design certainly prevents her from being a “starving artist,” the 39-year-old admits that she’s more of a hands-on person who prefers painting, textiles, ceramics and printmaking to computer-assisted creative work. In fact, Shay aspires to have a studio with a kiln (a machine that treats pottery/ceramics) and a space for screen-printing someday.

Shay’s penchant for various forms of art is clearly reflected in her home. From the art-clad walls and book-filled shelves to the fascinating objects placed just so, her tastefully decorated dwelling in Forest Hills has been featured in a few publications. However, Shay claims that those enviable magazine spreads only tell one side of the home story.

“My house is always a disaster! I call it organized chaos,” she reveals. “Our house is pretty small, so we use every last nook and cranny to store stuff. We are hoping to build on it soon, so we can redistribute the mounds of books and toys. We also spend all of our time together in the living/dining room, because we have nowhere else to go!”

Spending time with the family, in close quarters or elsewhere, is a definite priority for Shay. She considers herself fortunate that she’s able to work part time, so she can spend the afternoon fetching her children from school, taking them to soccer, karate and piano lessons, helping them with homework or simply hanging out. Of course, “hanging out” can mean anything from kicking back at home with a board game to bowling to swimming to trampoline jumping.

The evening brings another set of routines, albeit more subdued. At night, Shay helps her husband with Bee Things or brainstorms ideas for her column, “The Creative Life,” which appears regularly in The Dallas Morning News.

Shay is one of the lucky ones who can straddle both sides of the work-at-home and stay-at-home mom fence, but it’s a balance she struggles with every day.

“Some days I just want to quit it all and devote all my time to the kids, keeping a better-kept house, working out and [working on] my non-paid art endeavors,” she admits. “But there is something that keeps me going in my career. I certainly love making my own money and contributing to the kids’ education. I also love the people I work with and what I do. I think the biggest challenge is trying to do all of it well. I always feel like I’m doing a lousy job at both.”

Yes, at times being a parent-slash-everything-else can be undeniably overwhelming. Shay confesses that while nothing trumps her love of being a mother, relinquishing her downtime to play dates and soccer games was something she needed to get used to. But has discovered some much-needed grown-up time between carpool shifts — like taking an indigo-dyeing class with other moms.

Calder and Milo reap the benefits of their artist parents on a daily basis. For instance, since Shay’s column discusses ways to incorporate art and into everyday life, her home is often the creative laboratory for her articles and her sons the guinea pigs of Mom’s experiments. “I'm constantly working on new projects with them that I can write about,” she explains.

More than that, Shay and Jeff want to make sure their sons embrace their parents’ nonlinear ways. “It’s very important to Jeff and me that they learn to think outside of the box and come up with creative solutions. Even if they don't go directly into the arts, I think a creative mind will thrive every profession,” she asserts.