Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Being an Artist-Mom

Once people find out that I am a stay-at-home mom and an artist, the first question they have (after the inevitable "Artist? Like, do you actually sell paintings?" question,) is "How do you have time to paint?"  It's not easy, but I feel like it's well worth the effort.

*Update* After I posed this, I came across this perfect quote:
Being an artist is a scary thing to declare; it's much easier being a plumber or engineer or doctor. Not in doing...but in telling. When you say "I'm a plumber", everyone knows what you do. Same with a doctor or engineer. Most know why you do it and probably how much you make.
But when you say "I am an artist," peoples minds go mad, they twirl and shake and tilt listlessly. You can see the wonder in the air escaping their wordless lips, on the ends of their hair. You can see their confused portraits and the way they shake, trying to stand.
Still, the artist prevails.

Most days I don't paint at all.  I try to, but it just doesn't work out.  Chores, dishes, laundry, errands, and just life get in the way, but I do try to set aside time to my occupation-- because that's what it is.  I feel that my occupation is just as valuable as a non-stay-at-home mom's is, and I try to treat it that way.  So what do I do to make that happen?
(photo from fall 2010)

-I follow art blogs, forums, and websites.  I keep current with what is going on around me, including calls for entries, websites of inspiring artists, even political info that's relevant.  This keeps be from being swallowed up in being a mom and actually current with today's events.  Not only is art very much about what is happening and fashionable today, but it keeps me motivated and interested (and keeps me from becoming too stale in my artwork).


-I talk to other artists. I love meeting new artists and learning how they use and form their creativity.  Their ideas often spur more of my own ideas and that pressures me to keep it up.

-On busy days, if I can't get to my easel, I think about my painting.  I don't have a studio (I paint in my basement), and so every time I come down the stairs, I see my painting.  Being able to see my painting every few minutes, or hours at the very least, keeps it presently at the front of my mind.  When I have five minutes and I don't have time to pull out my paints, I sit and stare at my painting and take note of what I need to work on so when I do have a few minutes, I can jump right in.

-I put on a movie. For my baby that is.  My baby doesn't watch a lot of television. In fact, most days the TV isn't on at all.  While I feel that it is important to not have the TV on, I value my talents and every few days Baby gets to watch a movie, or just play with toys by himself, while I paint. It gives me about an hour (if I'm lucky) to do something with my art.

-Two words: Nap Time.  The beauty of a schedule, as most any mom will tell you and take advantage of it!  Even if I don't do anything else that day (aside from motherly duties), I know I can count on an hour or more where I can paint if I choose to.  Sometimes I'll take that time to update my calls for entries or website or blog.

There are so many people that I talk to and know that tell me "I wish I had something that I can do from home while being a mom."  As an artist, you don't need to put away your art when you become a mom. I feel it is just as important to remember who you are and do things that help your own person flourish, as you do to help your children do the same.

2 comments:

Katelyn said...

Hey Natalie! I wish I had as much motivation as you do to do art while home. Part of the problem is I don't have space for art supplies to just be out to draw/paint with, which often prevents me from taking the time to set up, because I know I'll have to pack it up before my girls get up from their nap, or before I go to bed. Seriously though, you are inspiring. Keep up the awesomeness of having 2 jobs.

Natalie said...

I totally understand. It took a long time for me to finally have a space to paint, and even now it's just a desk in the basement. If it's a priority, you'll make it happen someday. But with that said, twins are VERY different than one baby. Good luck Katelyn and keep working hard!

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