Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Balancing Parenting and Painting - what works for me

Photo of Ruthie splattering liquitex white gesso over a canvas
(I was hoping she'd paint it smooth but this parenting thing seems to be  all about letting go....)

I had someone  in the comments section of this blog a few weeks back ask me how I balance parenting and painting so I wanted to speak to that in terms of what works for me and how I create time for my creativity and mostly single parent my daughter!

The first big thing I would suggest is have your art project(s) out in a place where you can see them regularly. Even if you're not working on it, your brain will be while you're busy doing other things.  Ahhhhh the power of the subconscious. This is actually a very powerful way to work. Put it out there and let the answers - that next layer, brush broke, collage piece - come to you.

I just recently moved and converted the living room of our apartment into my studio workspace. I purposefully leave paintings around so that when I walk by in the morning making my little girl's lunch, breakfast, dinner, snacks, cleaning up her lunch, breakfast, dinner and snacks I always have a good view of my paintings in progress. That way I am still 'working' on them.

Which brings me to bridging a concept which I've written about in previous blogs. Basically its a fancy word for being set up. Make sure you have your work area totally ready to go so when you have a moment - the kids finally takes a nap or gets absorbed into a game or is invited to a play date at a friends house (hallelujah), you can start working immediately. Have you water, paints, brushes, tools, notepad, canvas, paper all easily accessible and ready to go.

I have a stock pile of ready to go projects set up for her ahead of time: play dough, water colours, stamping box, kitchen play, water play, sorting coins and buttons, cutlery, making kitchen stuff - she likes mixing flour, eggs, water & spices, her own 'creations', stuff set up for making her own collages with stickers, glitter, colored construction paper, books, music, you get the idea - and this is really age dependent, but you know your child's needs best.

Sometimes I even let her paint on my paintings! ugh! This is not my favourite thing but it is sometimes necessary to let her in on the fun. In the up and coming 'Pure Abstraction' video about my work, techniques, beliefs and new Pure Abstraction paintings, there is a scene where I let Ruthie come and paint with me. It's a double edge sword because she looooves it but also I have to completely let go of what I was working on. My ego hates the loss of control!

(Stay tuned....video will be released in April along with the new website)

Above are my core methods of balancing parenting and painting and then there are the obvious ones such as:

- do small projects  that you can do anywhere in small amounts of time (Personally, I have a hard time with this one as I'm a sucker for big paintings and big projects!)
- set boundaries and let them know this is YOUR time
- hire a sitter
- off load children to willing friends, play dates, grandparents, sister, aunts uncles, etc (I envy those of you with  local and helpful relatives!)
- get up early and paint when they are sleeping! 
-put them to bed and paint when they are sleeping!

And... I've got  number of artist friend with children - Rosemary Gara-Hill, Desiree Davidson, Russel Young, Amy Roemer. So I will ask them to add their thoughts, comments, tips too. 

Good luck!


alex said...

Thanks so much for the post and tips, for me they are going to be useful soon :)

Deb Chaney said...

You're welcome. Thank you for leaving a comment!
I keep thinking of more ideas...it really helps me to write this...Anyways, you'll have a good year of drool/poop/sitting in one place with the baby so get all your creative stuff in while you can. Much love, Deb

Deb Chaney said...

Alex, I'm assuming you're having a baby. Pardon me if I assumed wrong. My apologies.

RoseMary said...

I really like the suggestions you give re: managing parenting and painting, they're very practical and easily doable. In my personal experience, I've found that in order to create I need total peace and privacy, which means I can only actually create when my son is not home (where my studio is) or sleeping. When he is around I can research, flip through books, play with color matching, and in general do things that will help creative ideas to come when I need them, and that can be interrupted and resumed later. Lately my son has become very interested in photography, and it's a great pleasure to help him discover his "eye", but when we do that I just enjoy being with him. Now as far as the act of creating itself, I really need to focus and be centered. The best way to get to that place is to prepare by being alone, having my supplies ready and most of all, being willing to let my soul "speak forth"...

AudreyO said...

I have writing talent, I don't have artistic talent. When my kids were young, I so didn't want paint and other art supplies all over their clothes, my furniture etc. Perhaps that's why my daughter loves to read? :)