Mother in Residence: Riley Sheehey

Written by Katelyn Whelan


Posted on March 07 2024

Photo by Abby Grace Springmann


Meet Riley
Riley Sheehey is a watercolor and multimedia artist and textile designer. Before becoming an artist full-time, she taught elementary school art and developed a love for whimsical styles and playful details.  Her artwork reflects this childlike view of the world with fun color palettes and an attention to detail that evokes a viewer’s curiosity. She specializes in watercolor illustration and surface design, and has enjoyed the challenge of expanding her practice to incorporate textiles and wallpaper.   She lives in Falls Church, Virginia, with her husband, daughter, and dog.

Hot Beverage of Choice: 
Always coffee! 

Early Mornings or Late Nights:
Early mornings- I have always been a morning person and am in bed by 9 if I can be, ha! 

Currently listening to (audiobook, podcast, music):
I am a weirdo who mostly works in silence- but while running, I usually listen to audiobooks or my 90s playlist! 

Can't live without _______________

Best Mom Advice / Tip:
Put your blinders on- you (usually) know what’s best for you/your family, so try not to pay too much attention to what everyone else is doing (something I am constantly working on) 

How did becoming a mother alter your approach to creativity and workflow? For example, did motherhood lend expansion to your craft or define clearer boundaries from a role perspective?
Becoming a mom has made me feel much more creative in many ways- while playing with my daughter and watching her interact with the world for the first time, I have had more ideas than I’ve ever had before- but I also have much less time to make them happen! Because I have less time now to work, I have gotten (a little!) better about setting boundaries for myself to protect my time with my family. 

How would you spend a slow morning alone?
With coffee and a paintbrush in hand!

Where, who, or what are your fondest memories connected to?
Baltimore, MD (my hometown) will always hold a special place for me in my heart- I grew up there with my parents and three younger siblings, and every time I go back to visit my parents, I leave feeling so nostalgic! My parents are actually moving soon- the good news is they will be closer to us, but I am really going to miss my childhood home. 

If you could teleport yourself into any gathering of women throughout history, who would you choose and why?
I would love to hang out with Mary Cassatt and the other (few!) women who held their own in the mainly male group of Impressionist painters.

What is the mark you wish to leave on the world as a mother?
Oh my gosh if this isn’t “the” question that sums it all up- and I am embarrassed to say that right now, I genuinely don’t have a great answer- I have been a mom now for almost three years, and I am learning new things every day but unlearning  twice as many. Please come back to me in fifteen years and I am hopeful that I will have a semi-worthy response! 

If you could leave your children with one distinct value or philosophy, what would you hope for them to carry on?
My dad wrote me this really great note when I graduated from high school and I have it framed above my desk. I am going to share the whole thing because it’s impossible to paraphrase, and apologize in advance because it’s probably longer than what you were looking for, but it sums up everything I hope to pass on to my daughter:
“Take time to dream (we are nothing without our dreams), thank the Lord for all of your blessings (you have so many), start planning how you will use your many blessings to achieve your dreams, enjoy the journey (my experience is that the journey is far more rewarding than the outcome), let your family participate in the journey. We will always be there for you.” 

What are your favorite pieces in the current Sun House collection? 
Love it all but the Smocked Dress in Gretl Bloom is my personal favorite! I also love love love the sweet little girls’ quilted jackets, and am dying for one in my own size!