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Old 03-24-2012, 03:56 PM
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Art & Motherhood

So, I'm looking for words of experience and encouragement from other individuals who have been here before. I am the proud mother of a three month old son who is cutest little thing and also an artist at the start of her career. Or at least I was. Last year was very profitable for me, was a member of a co-op, won some awards, entered some local/regional shows and did rather well. I have a dedicated studio in my home and my husband and I had this idea that working as an artist would be a wonderful job for me as a stay-at-home mom. Some days I get time to work, but between childcare, housework, and other errands, it's often not much. I never expected to work at it 40 hours a week, but I thought it would be possible to get in 2-3 hours/day. But I'm starting to wonder if I was being too much of an idealist. Are there any other parents around here that have raised a family and made time for the creative life and advancing their artistic career? BTW, I titled the thread art & motherhood because that's the angle I'm coming from, however, I am sure there are men with similar experiences and I value your opinions as well.
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Old 03-24-2012, 05:04 PM
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CallMeCordelia CallMeCordelia is offline
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Re: Art & Motherhood

Hi there. Congratulations! It is a huge adjustment, isn't it? I don't think anyone can really comprehend what being a stay-at-home parent is like, until they do it. I have found that one's time gets filled in for you in all sorts of ways. It is the best job, ever, but it isn't easy.

I'm not a professional artist - just one that that gets crabby if she doesn't get some art time. To get that, I have to carve it out. Sometimes, that means asking my hubby to take over kid-duty. It gets easier, as the little ones get older.

I'd suggest either setting a regular time when your husband or another family member can take care of your son or hiring someone to come over and do it. It seems like you want to approach your art as a career, so it might help to treat your "job" just as you treat your husband's. You need to be there at certain times and on certain days. I know that one of the joys of being a SAHM is the flexibility, but for me at least, if I didn't have a consistent time that was MY time, it would just get filled in with other people's needs. To be honest, I never got 2-3 hours a day for anything except family/house stuff when my son was a baby and I don't know of any mom who did without a combination of husband/family/professional childcare help. I didn't know that SAHMotherhood would be so time consuming (all consuming? ) or as wonderful and amazing, until after the baby arrived. I had to completely change my plans to fit the reality.

On a side note, I have found that motherhood has enhanced my art experience and my love for creating art is now a special thing that my son and I share. These two gifts combine not as addtions, but exponentially!

Hang in there. You will find the right balance for your family! Take it easy on yourself, too. Do whatever feels right - no guilt about not being in the studio enough, if you would rather be with your son and no guilt about not being with him, if you find you need some studio/career time to be complete. You will be a better mom and a better artist, if you follow your heart, right now. I wish you much happiness in both your art and your new journey into motherhood. Enjoy!

Noelle
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Old 03-24-2012, 05:45 PM
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Re: Art & Motherhood

For my son's early life I just wore him in a sling while I painted or did housework. It kept him safe and satisfied and close to momma, and I could nurse him hands-free in the sling and still paint. I painted up til the day I had him, and started again when he was 2 days old. I think a good sling is an excellent timesaver, especially when it comes to nursing, since once you get the hang of it, you can nurse hands-free. When they get mor mobileit is harder, but after a few years you can make them up their own space and buy them some cheap, non-toxic paints to paint with while you work on your own art.
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Old 03-24-2012, 10:21 PM
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Re: Art & Motherhood

Hi Pantherinae:

First of all, congratulations on your cute little bambino.

Second of all, I'm a little tipsy so I hope this makes sense. I've already corrected 8 words and started over twice. But I will FOCUS...!

Years ago, I was like you. Was on "a bit of a roll" until I got pregnant and then the momentum just stopped. There IS a big adjustment in terms of how much time you actually have left in a day or week to do art, and realizing how much time raising a kid actually requires. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one that thought, "Well, things will continue along as they've been going, except now there'll be a kid in the mix." However, it's never that tidy. I think you might find that you'll swing back and forth between: focusing on one priority to the detriment of the other, OR...trying to do it all equally which ends up making you sort of a "watered down mother" as well as a "watered down artist." But what choice do you have? You can't neglect your kid while you go off chasing your art, and you don't want to neglect your art and lose your identity. It's a tough balancing act, but you, like lots of other mom-artists will figure it out.

I worked full-time as well, so between the job and mothering stuff, I was lucky to squeeze in about 10-15 hours some weekends. And many weekends, I couldn't. Although I kept painting, I lost touch with the "art world" and felt like I was existing in some kind of motherhood bubble. I was happy enough there and I love my kid more than anything in the world. But she's 19 and off starting her own life, and now I have the time to pick up where I left off. I mean, it's weird...kids have a way of putting everything in its proper perspective, and raising one goes by in a blink of an eye, but a "gap" that big looks bad on any career trajectory. The ONLY thing I regretted is that without enough time to work and practice, the slower I developed and grew. I suppose I became artistically retarded. Anyway that was MY experience...yours will be uniquely your own.

Best of luck in keeping all the irons in the fire.
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:47 AM
AllisonR AllisonR is online now
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Re: Art & Motherhood

There are some real words of wisdom here.

Yes, I think 2/3 hours a day is a bit unrealistic with an infant. But remember, you can get back some more time with your art later. But you will never get back time with your newborn, infant, toddler, young kid, if you do not take it now. Because those stages will pass. And each one is fantastic, and fantastically difficult. And if you put off your kids now, in a few years they will be easy to reject you - no mom, no time for you now, friends, soccer, computer game... A dear friend once told me, the days are long, but the years are fast. So true. Another thing to remind yourself is you often hear older people say "I wish I had been there more for my kid" but you never hear anyone say "I wish I had ignored my kids more, wish I had spent less time with them, wish I had hit them more.... Never. Sometimes the days are long, and you don't see the purpose, but the purpose is there, and it is VALUABLE, no matter how society knocks it, subtly or directly. It will show in your kids, how they grow, how they become.

I agree with Noelle - either put your art on hold. Or treat it as a business and give baby to someone else at set times. Being stay at home is not the same - it will get filled with all the other have to do things - laundry, meals, baby vomit, whatever.... People that do not stay home with a baby assume you have all this time on your hands, when in reality you do NOT at all- Frankly a 9-5 job is way easier than being a stay at home mom to any kid under 3.

Onewithwings - a sling is great. Both me and my husband used an Ergo when my daughter was small until about age 2. Baby cries less when on you, is more active because she is seeing what you are doing but also more calm. Can not explain, but it is just easier - you still have two free hands, and it is also more intimate, in the bonding sense.

No truer words were ever spoken, than OliveOyls post:
I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one that thought, "Well, things will continue along as they've been going, except now there'll be a kid in the mix." However, it's never that tidy. I think you might find that you'll swing back and forth between: focusing on one priority to the detriment of the other, OR...trying to do it all equally which ends up making you sort of a "watered down mother" as well as a "watered down artist." But what choice do you have? You can't neglect your kid while you go off chasing your art, and you don't want to neglect your art and lose your identity. It's a tough balancing act, but you, like lots of other mom-artists will figure it out.

In my case, I tried to be great at everything, and crashed hard. I was on top of the game, being a great mom, a great employee, a good wife, a good painter (in the middle of the night when everything else was done) OMG - insanity. You can do that for a day or week, but eventually something has to give, and you end up too tired and stressed to be really good at any of the things. For me, my choice was giving up the 9-5 job. All jobs come and go, but my kids are there forever, or until I die. And hopefully my husband as well, for many years to come.

So now I work the 9-5 job, only the job is painting. Not 1/100 the income I had in IT, but what I want, and due to that, I have the energy left to be a great mom and wife, and a good friend. No one can say what your path will be, only yourself. I just say to let something give right now, because if you try and be great at everything, you will end up feeling like sh*t and not good at much.

From a practical standpoint, I will say that I painted while pregnant both times, but once my son arrived, nearly nothing for 2 years. Then my daughter was born, so another two years. But when my son was 4 and my daughter 2, then they were great friends, could play well together, so I started to take time for my art. Not much, 3 or 4 hours on a weekend, as I was still working full time, and husband was working full time. So time during the week was not realistic, I mean we still had to eat and have a reasonably clean house.... Plus, for me, I prioritized healthy, home cooked meals every day. You will have something else that is important to you. Follow that.

When my kids were 6 and 4, then I was painting even more, because they could be left upstairs to play, and were always good at playing together without fighting, so I could go downstairs and get an hour or so a few days a week, plus I took half of one weekend day every other week. And a bit of time at night, since they were more independent I had more energy left at night. That was with working full time.

And a great "trick" when kids are a bit older but still really need you - give them two hours of total them time - down on the floor reading books and playing with legos. No laundry, no adult talk, just them. They will get "filled up." Then when you ask for two hours to go deep into your painting and for them to play by themselves, they will be filled up, and you are likely to get your time, or a big chunk of it. But if you give them two hours where you are only half present, checking emails, adult stuff, when you want your time, they will not be filled up, they will still be wanting your real attention, and they will interrupt you every other bloody minute. So it is either two hours where you bond with kids and two hours of painting, but don't get email read. Or you get email read in two hours of interrupted kid time followed by two hours of interrupted paining time. And your kids are still frustrated, and your painting looks like cr*p.

Now my kids are 7 and 5, but I do not have my 9-5 job anymore. So now I have the hours to paint, at a reasonable time, instead of stretched out between piles of laundry and when my husband takes them out to the playground.

FYI: this is great forum: http://www.mothering.com/community/f/
there is a life with a babe forum, also stay at home, work at home forums...
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Last edited by AllisonR : 03-25-2012 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 03-31-2012, 07:42 PM
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creativechrissy creativechrissy is offline
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Re: Art & Motherhood

Check my thread out here from a couple of years ago -more about having an exhibition, however I had my first baby the year I was preparing for my first solo exhibition see here http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=587956

My story: I have never been fortunate enough to work full time as an artist. My baby is just over two now. While I was pregnant I was finishing a degree. The following year I took a 'break' from studying while I raised my baby during her first year. So I was a SAHM during the day however after the first 3 months had to return back to my part-time evening job.

I BF my baby, so was constantly feeding and her 2 sleeps a day were usually only 1/2 hr long!!! Grrr! The idea of getting anything done barely existed. So when the baby was sleeping and I should have been too, I was doing those things I couldn't do when the baby wanted me around and my attention. Sometimes I got in an hr of painting during the day if she had a 'long' sleep. otherwise it was after 8:30pm when dinner was done, baby fed and in bed. I spent about 2-3 hrs at night sometimes painting until the next feed at about 11:30pm then I went to bed. (Meanwhile getting up another -1-3 times during the night for other feeds and bub waking up between 5:30-6:30am).

Not an ideal situation. I neglected looking after me -very tired and stressed. But most of all I neglected my husband when I should have been spending that time with him. So our relationship really did suffer as much as he understood.

I was never able to paint while bub occupied herself. She was not a difficult baby or whimgy, just feed constantly and would cry if I barricaded her out of my studio. It was hard but I had to come to terms with accepting motherhood and mother time. I had to accept my painting time came second. Sometimes hubby would give me 2-3 hrs on the weekend and that was great!

Having said that, and now my baby is 2years old and now I am working my first ever full time job, I do not belive in putting aside your art for the next 20yrs until your kids are grow up and flewn the nest.

I think it is a choice each individual makes for their circumstances. I am determined to keep painting every now and then. Lately it has been 1-3hrs every few weekends. I CAN choose to spend my nights after 8:30pm down in the studio, however after all the neglect and suffering my husband has gone through over the past 7-8years of me studying and me on the comptuer at night working on assignments...for now, I am CHOOSING HIM. Our family time -as our relationship as dearly suffered because of it. Now that is not to say yours will. But for him and his needs, I were not meeting them (but that is a whole other thread).

It is about making time in your lack of time day. It is about 'pencilling' in YOUR time. Just as hubby may have his time in the shed, playing golf or going fishing etc.

If your art is your job. Take it seriously. Make it 9-5pm. No housework!!!! If you respect it, others will. It is your income.

Thought m baby is only 2. I do look back on her first year, the year I had my exhibition, and regret not feeling like I had more time for her, or me time -SLEEPING! Sleep is sooo important.

Do what is best for you. Take care of yourself. But childhood does go fast. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Strike a balance. It is important not to give up your passion too.
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:44 PM
maandpafilms maandpafilms is offline
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Re: Art & Motherhood

Hello! I have so enjoyed everyone's response just as much as I have enjoyed working on my documentary film about this very subject for the past seven years. LOST IN LIVING. Four women, all mothers and artists, who confront the contradictions inherent in personal ambition and sacrificial love, female friendship and mental isolation, big projects and dirty dishes. This film is an in-depth and intimate view behind the domestic curtain where the complex reality of making art and raising children is presented for reflection and identification. Can't post a link until I post two or more times so feel free to google me: Mary Trunk, Ma and Pa Films, Lost In Living. Hope this adds to the conversation and thanks for taking a look. Working toward a summer release.
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:46 PM
maandpafilms maandpafilms is offline
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Re: Art & Motherhood

Hi again. Here's a more thorough description of the film: Lost In Living is a documentary feature that explores the lives of four women over a seven-year period. Four women who share identities as mothers and the creative impulse that governs their very existence. This movie is an in-depth exploration of a domain normally off-limits – illumination of private experience, events that happen behind closed doors and the unveiling of one’s most personal, private and conflicted thoughts about life, family, artistic expression and self-image. Kristina, a filmmaker, and Caren, a painter, best friends and both pregnant for the first time, embark on a journey that takes them through difficult career choices, challenges in their friendship, turning 40, parenting struggles, rejection and acclaim for their work and a redefinition of their feminist ideals. Contrasting Kristina and Caren, are Merrill and Margie, both with adult children and many years of child-rearing experience, reflection and wisdom. Merrill is a writer with three adult daughters. She published more than 25 books, was a former fellow of the Wallace Stegner Writing Workshop and decided to quit altogether. Margie, a divorced mother of seven, is a painter. Painting saved her from the deadening dullness of being a housewife and mother and the strains of an unhappy marriage. As she enjoys late life recognition her youngest children go off to college. These four women’s stories illustrate in different and often similar ways the internally driven desire to explore their deeply held conflicts and passions. For them art competes with other passions in their lives and the richness of their lives enriches their art.
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:49 PM
maandpafilms maandpafilms is offline
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Re: Art & Motherhood

And now the links for the film "Lost In Living,"the story of seven years behind the domestic curtain of motherhood and the compulsion to create.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twTqT...&feature=email

Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/maandpafilms/videos

Website and blog: http://www.maandpafilms.com/lostinliving, http://www.maandpafilms.blogspot.com

Thanks for checking it out!
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:17 PM
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Re: Art & Motherhood

the post by allison is BRILLIANT.

, my kids are 17 and 15. and I am now at the stage where they are too busy for me. they are doing their own thing and I barely see them at times. every so often I get a wash of emotion that I'm loosing them. its very hard. then I remember the things I DID do with them--craft times, teaching them things, walks, play dates and parties, geesh, I did a lot!! and not once in all those memories do I think "gee, I probably should've been doing something for myself/for my art". uh NO.

when they were little I did so more small sketching, used colored pencil (easy to put down). thinking you can have a set Xhours to paint every day is not going to work and will be frustration. go with the flow, and love that baby.
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Old 04-14-2012, 09:25 PM
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Re: Art & Motherhood

Mary: If you pop back in...I watched the entire trailer and smiled throughout. This is definitely something I'd watch and I hope you come back here to remind us when this comes out and to let us know where we can find it.

Chewie: Yes, I understand that "I'm losing them" feeling and when mine went off to college it was certainly bittersweet. (She was a wild and willful teen. Have no idea where she got THAT attitude!). But, I also think back on everything we did when she was young and I’m pretty amazed at how much we managed to “cram” into our days, considering all the other competing demands. We also took lots of video, have lots of pictures, saved lots of mementos and now, we finally get to look backwards together. A few days ago, I sent her a text just to ask, “Do you remember how really mad you got when Tasha grabbed the golden egg first?” (I had been shocked at the intensity of her six year old little girl anger). And she wrote back, “I’m STILL mad.”

It hasn’t always been easy, and I doubt if I could have handled more than one. But a kid adds such a richness to your life that NOW I can say, I fully appreciate. Mine is - hands down - my favorite person in the world (sorry hub). This thread reminds me how awesome women are and really, I love us...each and every one.

(And have you noticed that Pantherinae hasn’t come back here to post? Guess motherhood has swallowed her alive…)
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Old 04-27-2012, 02:07 AM
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mek42 mek42 is offline
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Re: Art & Motherhood

Thank you for explicitly welcoming men here. I'm certainly not a professional artist, but we do have our first, a 7 month old, in the house right now and this is how we make things work.

I was laid off a couple years ago and am only working part-time evenings. But I am studying full-time to retrain into a slightly different field than I was in. I typically get absolutely nothing done when I am the full-time daddy while mom is at work.

I'm in EDT, so careful checking of the post time puts me at 0200. I take me time after work while everyone else is sleeping. My wife takes care (wants her baby time really) of our little girl after she gets home from work through the first morning feeding. She [wife] then puts her [daughter] into the bed with me to cosleep with daddy for a few hours.

Thankfully our little girl is very mentally active during the day and needs a lot of sleep. If I get to bed by 0400 I'm usually getting enough rest.

It is still difficult for me to get studying and grading (my part-time job is adjunct instructor at local CC) at home even when my wife is on baby duty, so when I really need to get stuff done, I'll go work a shirt at the local volunteer ambulance company.

So, if you want to treat this as a business but don't want someone else caring for your child, you and hubby should get on the same page and work separate shifts. Even 4 hours a day with more on weekend could be a start.

It is very hard. Best of luck to us all!
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:50 PM
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Evelien1 Evelien1 is offline
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Re: Art & Motherhood

Hi there, I was doing well too (careerwise) before I had my kids. But actually, I wasn't that happy with my career and the kids really were an excuse to start experimenting again (doing non-sellable work). For years I did feel torn between feeling sorry for the careerthing, and enjoying life as it just came to me. I used to be extremely ambitious and that made things more difficult.
I still find it not an ideal situation, having to balance. In the back of my head I'm still have this standard of quality work I want to do, that I can only achieve when I spend lots of time to the work. I'm not that organized. I need time to process things, I like to write as well (I'm an editor in a small dutch magazine). I learned to value the process in the back of my head as much as the result. I make little drawings in between and use notebooks to keep the process in the back of my head and heart going. A still make paintings but not as much as I used to. My kids are 11 and 14 and still need their share of attention, they want to talk a lot. Which I appreciate as well.

Most of issues of motherhood are in energy-management and for me also in personal issues, especially when they were little. Learning to be a mother meant to me, dealing with the way I was raised myself. Issues get in the way, when you need to be super-effective with your time. Most of us have some I guess, in some degree. Which is not that much of a problem if you have a loyal spouse who does all the organizing around you, while you can perform and harvest succes. But my life as a working mom/artist is just not like that. Which I learned to accept, and appreciate for what it is. I learned to enjoy family stuff.
Some women do seem to be issueless and can be a superwoman. But nót being a superwoman is OK, really. I say, love thyself as much as the other.
And let's not forget, this kind of economy we're in (capitalist system) is unfair to mothering artists. (I mean, how do you combine to jobs that both don't pay that well?).

Just enjoy your child while it's still young, it'll grow up fast. Also, when you have a good time with your kid on a regular basis, it's easier to free your mind for work for a few hours. Do stuff with your child you enjoy yourself as well.
Maybe also good to realize that your hormones would like you to do nothing but nurture right now. They make you dwell at household work, but you can take some of the nurturing to the studio as well. Besides that, some organized rebellion (put your child in someone else's care and do your own thing) is good for a mother, I think. And don't be harsh on yourself when these hours are more like 'me-time' than productive work hours. Do what you can, not too much more.
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Last edited by Evelien1 : 05-01-2012 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 05-05-2012, 11:48 AM
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Viking55803 Viking55803 is offline
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Re: Art & Motherhood

My only comment is that you have to nurture and protect your own creative spirit to the same degree as you nurture and protect your children. That's very difficult for a mother, I think. On the other hand, you can make your children a part of your art; as models, as co-creators, as playmates. Abstract art would lend itself to that kind of active participation. Just a suggestion. Good luck!
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:51 AM
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Re: Art & Motherhood

All the advice everyone has offered is perfect. All I can add is: Recognize that being a 'stay at home mom' is a FULL time job... If you paint you'll be trying to go 2 full time jobs... If both your husband and you recognize that no one can do 2 full time jobs without some help and adjustments and wiggling of schedules then I know you'll achieve your goals.
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