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Art and Motherhood

Anatoly Turovzky, image from artcad.com

Art and Motherhood

by Robert Genn

Yesterday, Cedar Lee of Ellicott City, MD, wrote, "I have a 10-month-old son. Before I had this child I never realized the level of freedom and time that I had. The demands are so all-consuming that they leave me with little if anything left to give to my work. I'm depressed about my career--at full speed a year ago, it's now barely squeaking along. Do you have any advice for how to keep my creative flames burning, how to keep my professional image from slipping, and how to be productive during this time? What are the creative, financial, political, and practical dilemmas facing female artists with young children."

Thanks, Cedar. Big order. Before I start in with my stuff about being more efficient, making time, getting help, etc., I need to ask you mothers to give me a hand with Cedar's questions. Your best advice will be included in the next clickback. Live comments are welcome as well. FYI, we've put a short video of Cedar's studio at the top of the current clickback

Also, I want to mention the extreme expectations that current parents have for their children. Children have taken on a god-like role and have become the focus for everything from prepping for stellar futures to daily parental companionship. Parents sacrifice their own lives for the potential brilliance of kids. For better or for worse, raising kids well is the new religion.

Further, I wanted to say that letters like Cedar's come in here like leaves from a shaken maple. I'm conscious that many artists, both male and female, use the advent of parenthood as a scapegoat for failing careers. Artists in this predicament need to examine their true motivation for this popular complaint.

It's been my experience that dedicated artists will always find a way. I'm also happy to report that selfishness need not prevail, nor need the baby lie unchanged in its crib. The creative mind is always working, even during the application of nappies. Household workstations can be set up and work can continue between feedings and other downtimes. The intermittent business may actually benefit the art--for many of us, contemplation is a much needed ingredient to our progress.

Cedar, exhausted though you may be, there is always recourse to the DMWH (Daily Manic Working Hour). This can be programmed any time, perhaps early morning or late at night. When performed as regularly as baby-feeding, you might amaze yourself with how much you can get done when you focus hard for one lovely little hour.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "You have no obligation other than to discover your real needs, to fulfill them, and to rejoice in doing so." (Francois Rabelais)

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice-weekly post. For more artistic insight, visit his site at www.painterpost.com

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1 Responses »

  1. I love this post. I actually started my art career when my youngest was an infant. I realized when she was born that finishing the laundry was not as fulfilling as I had hoped it would be, simply because the minute I finished folding and putting away, more was filling the washer. My sister told me "don't try to find fulfillment in daily chores, because they never end." That day I picked up my pencil again. I auctioned my drawing on Ebay and sold it. Then I decided to try again. I was just drawing what I was interested in. Again it sold.
    I decided that I had no excuse to not draw or paint. I committed to one hour of "me time" to paint each day. I would set my timer so I wouldn't get carried away. Before I knew it I was selling every single painting I created.
    I wasn't making profit at that point. Ebay has since changed their fee structure and a profit may be made by now, but I was fired up because I knew there was a market for my work. I decided to get active locally and try to sell around town. I started making money and even though I have three kids, I can say I have been professionally selling my art since my youngest was born.
    Even if I only have 30 minutes, I can make time to paint. Painting is my sanity and now my career.
    Moms who want to create simply have to be more creative with thier time. Schedule it in. No interruptions for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, whatever it takes.
    Keep creating. You never know, your children will be raised around creativity and will learn from you. Even if they learn that they don't want to be an artist, they will have that valuable exposure. Bring out their paints at the same time you paint. Let them ask you questions. Talk about what you are doing. Your kids learn by watching you.
    Parenting doesn't mean giving up who you are, it means sharing what you know.

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