We had the good fortune of connecting with Serena Rios McRae and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Serena, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I really, really never wanted to work for someone else ever again. I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. I am just wired that way. With my combination of ADHD and Bipolar Disorder I can solve any problem. I can think up, plan out and execute a business plan in a week. The downside is the weeks of exhaustion and depression that follow those moments of creative Mania. And those low times are what made it impossible for me to hold a job with an employer for any length of time.

Running my own business allows me to honor my brain and my body. Now that I am my own boss I get to set my own schedules, give myself any day off. I have the ability to see the big picture and plan accordingly. I don’t have to ask anyone permission to stay in bed when I am down, or to follow an idea-path when I am up. I follow my passions and my whims as they come, and I can feed my family doing it.

In summation… my thought process behind starting my own businesses was a need to live where I thrive, and the recognition that I couldn’t live happily running someone else’s agenda.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
We have a regular joke in our house that my husband goes off to work, and I hide in my room to draw pictures. The best part about the joke is that while we deliver it like one, it isn’t a joke at all. I am in love with the fact that I get to draw pictures for a living.

I like to think of myself as a modern watercolorist. My work is a far throw from traditional watercolor, and is entirely made of emotion. I like to discover traditional techniques and then turn them upside down. My creative process is never lead by a desired outcome, but by the constant question of, “What if?” Every piece I create is a new discovery.

Becoming a professional artist is a combination of artistic study, market research, marketing, and exploration. You must learn your medium to its fullest to be able to create what you want to create. If you understand the current trends in your community or the world, you can work your art into those trends to fit into the current market and sell. With some research in marketing you can learn to present your work in the world to be discoverable. And you must not get stuck in what you discovered! You must continue to explore within your artistic practice because that is what will make your work stand apart.

I love creating for the sake of creating. It is the joy of my life to just play with color and shape. And it is an honor that the public embraces my creations with enthusiasm and love. I also love teaching. I teach watercolor workshops around Tucson and lighting that spark in others buoys me up, too.

I live very raw and communicate openly with the community about my struggles and wins. The backbone of the picture of me to the world is my experiences with mental illness. I self-published an entire project based on my experience with Postpartum Depression that aims to help mothers. I speak regularly about living with ADHD and Bipolar Disorder. I truly believe that the neurodivergence in my brain is the root of my creativity and my love of teaching, and I want to share the truth of that story with the world. I hope that through my openness and my work that others will learn to see the beauty in mental differences, and that the stigmas around mental illness will be let go.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had a friend coming to visit we would just eat our way around the block. Sonoran Brunch Company, Salsa Verde, El Toro Loco, Potosino, 520 Taco Stop. We would stop in at Hotel McCoy to see the plethora of local art, and play the claw machine to get some local art of our own! We’d stop by Bookman’s because I love showing off the most glorious used bookstore known to man. And then we would eat some more and get Pho from Fresh Sushi Pho, stop by Zeal for gluten-free baked treats. It would honestly just be a week of food.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
When a woman, especially a mother, has a business that she runs from home, there is a huge part of society that likes to call it her “little thing.” It is the degrading assumption that she will fail, or that it is an invalid or annoying trend she has been tricked into trying. This shoutout is to everyone who knows a woman or a mother who is building a business from home, and calls it her business, not her “little thing.” Let’s keep buoying up female entrepreneurs with the way we speak.

Website: Https://Www.CactusCloudsArt.com

Instagram: Https://www.Instagram.com/cactuscloudsart

Facebook: Https://www.Facebook.com/CactusCloudsArt

Other: All the links and updates here: https://beacons.ai/cactuscloudsart

Image Credits
Serena Rios McRae, Honey Pie of Honey Pie Pictures

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.