Monday, March 12, 2018

Painting Parent - Molly Johnson

How many children do you have?
We have 5 children and 5 grandchildren ( equally important because I am prime babysitter for one of them and available when needed for 4 of them)
What are their ages?
29, 27, 25, 23, 21; 9, 5, 4, 2, 1
How did your artistic career begin?
I always loved drawing and painting as a child so it seemed natural that I would pursue that as my career. After graduation from The American Academy of Art, Chicago I worked in art departments doing small renderings for grocery ads and machine magazines while doing some side commissions of architectural renderings. My husband and I married at the age of 22 and wanted to begin our family right away so we chose for me to be a stay at home mom.  I was so busy taking care of children and the house that it never bothered me to only have limited time to pursue my work. The older woman next door kept telling me, “ In a blink of an eye your children will be grown, cherish these hectic times.” (Boy was she right!) During the next 10 years I did some freelance work but mostly did personal paintings for my family and lots and lots of kids projects. I enjoyed being home with the kids and knew that my time would come to jump back into the art world.
What is your Parenting/work/art situation?  
My five children are now grown and on their own but I am the prime babysitter for my 5 year old grandson. My daughter is a single mother and they live with us. I walk him to and from school each day and he is at my school/studio until 5pm when we close each evening. I own and operate The Academy of Fine Art, an Art Renewal Center approved Academy here in Wisconsin. We are a full time academy/atelier. I am one of the instructors, the administrator, groundskeeper and the janitor because I also own the large grain mill that houses the school, my studio, a small gallery space and my husband's machine shop.
Do you now or have you ever worked other jobs while pursuing your art.
I was strictly a stay at home mom until my youngest was 2, it was then I started teaching art classes at a small grade school.  They let me bring him with me when I taught which worked out great because all my other children were enrolled in the school. When my youngest turned 10 and the need for me to be available all the time lessened, I started diving back into my art career with a huge amount of passion. So, yes, since my son was 2 I have always had another job outside of my house and studio. I have been the art teacher for grade schools, high schools, tech colleges, art centers and private lessons and I also ran the office of a family business. Many times I held two or three of these at once. I always had my schedule set that I would be home to make supper and help with homework. Because most of my jobs were art related I felt as though I was creating all day everyday. About that office job, not sure why the family chose my right sided brain to run the office, but I did gain many business skills that are helpful in my art career now. And I found out that I am able to tap into my left side when necessary.
How to you preserve time and energy for your art. Are there ways that your art benefits from your other job?
I profit from scheduled studio time. I often announce to the family ahead so that they know of my plans. I am lucky that my job is in the art field because I learn so much from the students, but with that also comes the frustration of wanting to be in my own studio working on my own projects and commissions.  
When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine?
I try to arrange a full day a week for my studio, (preferably a week day when my grandson is  in kindergarten) and I work in my studio on mornings that the school is running efficiently and I am not needed and also on afternoons when another instructor is scheduled to teach.  As I get older, I can sense when I am too tired to be in my studio. I need a fresh day, a day where I wasn't behind the computer all morning or teaching a class. On days that I am tired, I will spend time in my studio putting ideas together for my next piece, framing, or going through art books. Just spending time in the studio energizes my spirit.
Do your children get involved with your art?
When the children were small, they wanted to have their hands in everything I did. That usually meant that I put my things away and we did art projects at their level. I do the same with my grandchildren, I do not want to spoil their desire but I want to keep it at their level for them and for me.
As grown-ups they have never had a desire to join me in my studio. I do have one son that loves to be creative with drawing and hands on art such as wood carving and jewelry. My children and grandchildren do model for me and for the school, sometimes under duress, but I usually win.
Do they inspire aspects of your art?
Yes, my children and grandchildren are huge inspiration for my pieces. Maybe because I am surrounded by them so much I just want to capture each moment of time before they grow up.
How has having children changed your artwork?
Everyday I wake up I am thankful for my family. The innocence of the little ones playing and the beauty of the older ones becoming adults often set the stage for many of my pieces.  Maybe having children has forced me to sit back and observe more because I do not have the luxury of painting on a whim. And when I paint them, I am painting what I know.
How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?
I am super tidy, probably to a fault. I like my house in order before I go to the studio. I feel more energized if I know there are not tasks waiting for me at home. I try to straighten the house every morning before I come to the school/studio. And before I return home for the evening, my studio is straightened up  and ready for the next day. Is my house perfect? Absolutely not, but I know that I can work with it the way it is.
Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which ways?
I think the grade school age to 16 was the hardest. When they were babies it was easier in the evening or nap time to create, after 16 they could drive and had friends to hang out with and were not needing me as much. But in grade school there was homework, extra curricular activities and lots of cooking and cleaning. I did not have as much time for my studio, but because I was teaching and doing demonstrating most days, I felt lucky to at least have that.
How do you encourage your children to be artistic?
We have always had art projects going on in the house; tie-dyed clothing, Batik, basket weaving, Pysanky eggs, wood burning, sewing, birdhouse making etc. My goal was to let them find creative outlets that they enjoyed.
Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic?
Nope. My father is a civil engineer and my mother is a nurse and they were not disappointed that I didn’t follow their careers, to each his own. My motto is, “ You can be what ever you want to be, but do your best at it. “

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?
My children have taken my hardworking entrepreneurial spirit to heart. They watched me go back to art school full time in my 40s with 5 teenagers at home and hold a 30 hour per week job and love every minute of it. They saw my husband kick it up a notch and do cooking and cleaning so that his wife could pursue her dreams. I see them succeed in their jobs now and know that I played a role in shaping these awesome humans.
In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier?
With any passion you hold as an adult, being a parent can be difficult if you have to now schedule time to do your favorite things. But you cannot replace those times with your children. They are more important than anything and in a blink of an eye they will be grown. Trust me. I do not regret putting away my supplies and playing with my children. Did it hold my career back? Oh, I am sure it did but it was worth it. The memories of camping trips and lazy summer days with the kids will outweigh any sold painting I may have created. Having to wait for my career to begin fired the passion within me when the time came.
Do you think it effects men and women differently, being an artist and a parent?
I do not know if I can answer this one. I have seen so many scenarios. Dad working and mom creating; Mom working, dad creating; both working and creating as a team. Bottom line is that someone has to bring home the bacon and someone has to take care of the children. Your hope is that your spouse and children will see your dreams and help you make them come true, no matter what your passions are, and as a family you can make it happen together.
Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist?

Only positively. Many of my successful friends that have decided not have children to pursue their careers praise my husband and myself for making it work. Again, I know that I may not be now or ever as far in my career as those who have been working hard at it for longer, but I am OK with that. My friends know that with me family always comes first.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Painting Parent Chris Benavides

How many children do you have? What are their ages?

My wife Tina and I have 2 grown boys. Their ages are 28 and 24.

How did your artistic career begin?

I’ve actually had 2 artistic careers. I currently have a day job as an Illustrator for the American Greetings Corporation in Westlake, Ohio. I’ve been working for the same company for nearly 40 years.

What you might call my second artistic career in painting began in earnest only about 4 years ago.

When I was in art school I dabbled in oil paints and I liked it a lot. But being young and inexperienced I couldn’t conceive of an actual job that would pay you to paint in oils. My actual major was fashion illustration. I chose fashion illustration not because I loved fashion so much, but because I loved drawing the figure. Most decent sized cities then had one or 2 newspapers with a fashion department that needed someone that could draw the figure in that long, elegant style as well as render accessories. The idea that I could actually get a job drawing the figure sounded great to me. As newspapers started closing down (for various reasons) fashion illustration kind of died as a possible career path, except for in some very large cities. There are still some great fashion illustrators out there, but they are much fewer. The other option for someone who could draw the figure well, at least locally that I knew of, was the greeting card company, American Greetings. At that time they were always interested in someone who could perform this skill. Growing up we also had a family friend who worked there and who became a kind of art mentor/big sister/angel to me. She always encouraged and supported me to pursue my artistic abilities and actually even offered to pay for me to take my first series of Saturday morning life drawing classes for kids at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Her job always seemed like a dream job to me so right after graduating I applied there and was hired in 1977 at 20 years of age.

What is your Parenting/work/art situation?

My wife and I met and both worked at American Greetings and maintained our careers (more on that later) while raising our boys. It wasn’t always easy and I’m sure we made lots of parenting mistakes, but they survived (and we did as well---barely, lol). And they actually still kind of like us and don’t mind doing things with us so I guess we weren’t so awfully terrible.

Do you now or have you ever worked other jobs while pursuing your art. How do you preserve time and energy for your art. Are there ways that your art benefits from your other job?

At this stage of my career I find the pull to fine art to be very strong. So strong in fact that I’ve decided to take an early retirement from my job as a commercial illustrator so I can pursue my fine art objectives with more consistency. The fact that I’ve been an illustrator in a creative company, surrounded by lots of creative people and inspiration certainly hasn’t hurt. It’s meant that as someone thinking about painting seriously, I haven’t had to start from zero in terms of experience with things like color, composition and certain aesthetic sensibilities the way perhaps a hobbyist might. During the time that I have worked and tried to improve as a painter I’ve had to force myself to go down to my basement studio even when tired. It’s not always been easy, but I’ve found that even when I’ve practically had to drag myself off the sofa after work and dinner, usually around 9pm or so, I would get a second wind and am able to paint until around midnight, meaning around 3 hrs per night, usually around 3-4 times per week.

I would also add that although I didn’t attempt this when my kids were in their very needy years, I did during those times have other interests that helped me retain my sanity. I’ve also been blessed with a very supportive wife, who is very talented herself, and without whom I don’t know if I would have been able to commit myself to my art the way I have.

Do your children get involved with your art?

My boys have only gotten involved in my art by way of modeling for me on occasion. We did try over the years to expose them to art as much as possible and our oldest son has some talent. Our youngest son never really showed much interest or aptitude for the visual arts, but does have musical ability.

Do they inspire aspects of your art?

I would say they inspire my art indirectly rather than directly. I can’t say that I consciously pull from my experiences and memories of them growing up and try to infuse it into my art in some way. But I am conscious of being dedicated and persevering as an example to them that you can accomplish dreams you may have if you’re willing to do the work. And I have to admit that it doesn’t feel terrible when they express their pride in my work or accomplishments to their friends when they come around.

How has having children changed your artwork?

I can’t say that having children has changed my artwork, because I’m really very young, in a fine art sense, and started painting seriously again after they were done with high school and needed me a lot less. Even though they are basically adults now I am conscious of how my kids perceive my art. I don’t ever want to create anything that will embarrass either them or myself. Although I strive to be an all-around painter, my favorite subject matter is mostly figurative. And even though I’m not opposed to nudity when done in good taste or in a proper context, I’m essentially a fairly modest person and would like my paintings to reflect an uplifting ethos that would speak to their sense of the more positive virtues. I guess what I might be trying to say is that I don’t want to reflect in my art anything which is contrary to who they know me as, if that makes sense.

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?

At the present time household tasks actually take priority over my personal artwork. It varies some, but usually when I come home from work it’s do some chores until dinner, a short breather, maybe some more chores, then hopefully painting in the evenings with whatever time remains.  I always try for at least 2 hours straight painting time. Three is good. More than three means I’m up too late and will be tired at work and not functioning well the next day. If I find that I can’t get in 2 hours of painting then I often like to go down to my studio and just putz around, clean, straighten up, organize, and maybe just think about what I want to paint next.

Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which ways?

Like I said, I wasn’t really thinking about doing my own personal art as they were growing up. It was fulfilling and satisfying enough then for me to do the artwork I was doing at my day job as an illustrator.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic?

When they were little, mostly by doing and letting them watch. My wife would sometimes do freelance or some other project when they were very small and she might have one of them in a high chair with some paper and crayons and just let them go at it. If one of them showed an interest we might let them go to a summer art camp for a week just for fun.

Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic?

I never felt pressure to make them into artists. We always just wanted them to find their own way. If they ever showed an interest or aptitude in an artistic direction we would encourage them and help them. But we tried to round them out as people and so they also did things like play sports and learn musical instruments, basically in order to experience different things that might possibly click for them. I feel like the life of an artist, whether commercial or fine art is not really an easy one. People don’t think of art as competitive but in many ways it is. There are lots of very talented people out there and if you are not driven and dedicated to whatever craft you choose, then you’d better find something else to make a living at, because there is surely someone else out there that is managing to do so and putting in the time, and that person will either take the job you were hoping for or the gallery space that you wanted to get into. I hope this isn’t discouraging to anyone that might read this, but I don’t believe we do people a kindness when we give them false hope. That said, each person has to decide for themselves how far they hope to go and what they are willing to sacrifice to get there.

In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier?

I think being an artist can make life fun for kids. The projects, the imagination, and just seeing the world in interesting and unique ways. Kids love those things. But it can also make it harder because as artists we’re not typically gifted with left-brain strengths. So for example, we stopped being useful in helping our kids with things like math assignments somewhere around the third grade.

Do you think it effects men and women differently, being an artist and a parent?

In our case, I think our male and female differences are pretty common to most people. But it’s hard to say if it affects us differently as parents because my wife and I are both artists. Also our situation was probably a little unique to many marriages in that my wife was the major breadwinner in our family and was more career-oriented.

 Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist?

I can’t say I’m even sure how I may be perceived as an artist.

Are there any other things about Balancing Painting and Parenting that you would like to share?

In my opinion you may never perfectly balance parenting and your personal artwork/career. In my way of thinking our children had to come first. I made a choice to make art my career. They didn’t choose to be born. They never had a say in my career choice. If art is your chosen career path then you may have to suffer the same things that non-artists do. Things like pangs of regret or guilt over the time your kids get from you. I think if the route you’d like to pursue is that of full-time artist and parent you will need to be extremely disciplined and allot your time carefully. One thing I didn’t mention before that I’ll share is that when our kids were very small we were never completely sold on the day care route, even though we did it for a while. It came to a point that we decided that we wanted to have greater influence over our kids lives than a stranger and so we both inquired about part-time options at work. As it turned out, that option was not open to my wife, but it was open to me and so I took it so that as parents we could be more available to our kids. It doesn’t sound like a huge sacrifice, but that choice kept me from advancing in my career the way other full-time co-workers did. Not to mention that the expectation was practically the same as that of a full-time employee, so it wasn’t easy. But I felt like the sacrifice was worth it. It was never an issue for me because they mattered much more and I would do it all again. But every situation is different and each person must make their own choices as to what is best for their family. I understand that times can be tough economically for many of us and dual income families seem to be pretty much the norm. But if you can at all swing it, I would encourage parents to make sacrifices that matter for their kids. Painting will still be there when they are moved out and that time comes very quickly. I’m proof that pursuing your personal art goals later in life is still meaningful and fulfilling. Heck, I recently turned 60 (did I just say that?) and pursuing my personal art goals now gets me to feel very engaged, enthused, and energized.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Painting Parent -Tina Garrett

How many children do you have? What are their ages?
I have two really lovely children. They’re just great people and I’m a little partial to them. My son is 16 and my daughter is 14.

How did your artistic career begin?
 My artistic career began as a graphic designer and illustrator in 1994. I had always wanted to make great paintings but my parents pressed me to go to a college near relatives so I could live with them during my two-year college experience, so I went to the Colorado Art Institute, which taught me QuarkXPress and Photoshop. 
Immediately after college, I began work as at the Kansas City Star laying out ads on the night shift.  Within 6 months I was working as a graphic designer/Illustrator at a local not for profit. Just two weeks before my first child was born in 2000, I began working from home on a freelance basis for a local woman-owned PR firm and by 2001 I had several clients.
I was able to work for myself as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator for over 10 years with my largest client being the children’s curriculum and music divisions of Nazarene Publishing House. It was around 2010 that I saw a serious drop in the work from the publishing house. By 2011 the work was essentially gone. Children’s workbooks and crayons had been replaced with iPads and Ipods. Though I was successful at creating a few animated videos and apps for the company, I let the work go. I didn’t feel like an artist anymore. I felt like a computer programmer. Faced with the decision to either go back to school to be competitive in something I didn’t love doing, go back to school to learn a completely non-artistic career or finally peruse my life long dream of painting like the masters, I took an incredible leap of faith and applied for a scholarship to the Scottsdale Artist’s School. In 2012, they gave me the first of two scholarships and I began learning how to oil paint. 

What is your Parenting/work/art situation?
I’ve always worked at home throughout my child raising years. Many hours have been spent at the computer or drawing table with a baby or two on my lap. Today it is second nature to my children. I taught them from a very early age to respect my privacy when I was on the phone or in a meeting, just as they would want me to not interrupt them if they had a play date over. Just the other day my 16 year old left my studio saying, “I know, I know, I won’t bother you unless we’re both on fire.” (A saying I coined when they were young…my husband is a full time fire fighter.)
Do you now or have you ever worked other jobs while pursuing your art. How to you preserve time and energy for your art. Are there ways that your art benefits from your other job?
No, fortunately, since I was the breadwinner in my freelance years, my family easily respected and supported my switch to fine art. My husband worked three jobs at one point so I could have the space and time I needed to learn how to paint. In the few short years since I began oil painting, I’ve pursued it tenaciously and with the intention of making a living. If you are intending to make a living with your art, there isn’t any confusion about how many hours you work or how much attention your work gets, it’s your work. If it isn’t your work, it’s a hobby and hobbies are always negotiable, second place and even eligible to be dropped all together.

When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine?
I plan my week out on Sunday and aim to use Monday and Tuesday for any administrative work, errands, framing, private lessons, promoting my work, etc. I try to reserve Wed-Friday for painting. This is my framework, but if a client can only meet on a Friday, I may have to be flexible. Or, if I’m feeling the groove on a particular painting, I’ll paint on Monday and Tuesday and stop for a private lesson, but not to run errands. My calendar is set for a year in advance for workshops, open studio events and reminders are set for competition dates and shipping dates. This is my job, so I’m not only the Creative Manager/painter but also an Office Manager, PR Director and Sales Manager…I leave the accounting to someone who can actually operate a calculator.

Do your children get involved with your art?
Yes, both my children have posed for me during workshops and private lessons or just to make a painting that I’ve dreamt up. They’ve been super-supportive from the beginning! They both pass the kitchen to enter my studio and cheer me on all the time. They’ll happily go to art openings when food is involved and the whole family is traveling to Maui next month for my 3-Day workshop and family vacation. In April 2017, my daughter will travel with me to Limoux, France as my model for my 10 day Painting the Figure in the Landscape workshop. She’s thrilled since she’s been studying French for three years. I’m happy to have a model I know can do the work beautifully and has to show up, we’re staying in the same boutique hotel after all!

Do they inspire aspects of your art?
My daughter in particular has been a great inspiration in my work. Her coming of age years have touched a special chord in my work and recording her changing body and the growth of her spirit through oil painting has been a priceless experience.

How has having children changed your artwork?
Many times over the years when I was illustrating, I’d lamented over the choices I had made that kept me from being a professional painter. Now that I’ve actually made that leap I can see that it never was ‘having children’ that kept me from being the artist I wanted to be. It was my own lack of courage. You see I never would have taken the leap to becoming a professional fine artist had the children’s publishing industry not imploded…had my income not depended upon it. I was complicit in my dreams just staying dreams. I imagined the life of a ‘painter’ meant you had to live aloof, alone and in some small apartment in NY or Paris, eating paint and take out. Ha! That is such a lie. Real, successful women painters have beautiful full lives as parents and spouses. We cook, and clean our own houses and we even have friends we get to have coffee and see movies with once a week!

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?
Okay, I have to admit…I did just hire a housekeeper two weeks ago to come twice a month and clean the things I am clearly not addressing. It’s not as expensive as you’d think, and it has really eased a little guilt for me in the “I’m supposed to have that done.” department. The fact of the matter is, as a businesswoman who works more than full time hours, it is okay to hire help with anything that needs to be done which I simply cannot get to. Next on my list is to hire an intern to keep my palette and brushes clean. Just kidding!

Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which ways?
No, as I said, my children have been raised to behave in a disciplined manner around my working schedule. In reality, I’ve been far more available to them working from home all these years than any other parents we know. They’ve never done day care aside from camps and moms day out stuff, and they’ve both told me that seeing me work from home makes them proud and inspired. I wouldn’t do a single thing differently.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic?
I really haven’t encouraged my children to be artistic per se. I’ve always want them to be who they are and follow their own passions so I paid close attention to them when they were young. They both gravitated to the dress up clothes and puppets much more than the crayons and watercolors so I followed their lead and enrolled them in children’s theater and took them to plays at an early age. They are both gifted musicians and actors and public speakers. The benefits of art, the calming, focus and ability to be in tune with your self are true across all artistic endeavors. I love that me kids participate in theater and music. I don’t have an ego that drives me to push them to be visual artists just because that’s what I am.

Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic?
I receive a lot of questions about it, but I don’t consider it pressure. My husband and I are confident in our parenting together mostly because we have wonderful mentors (friends with older children) from whom we receive advice and direction from often. And so far, we’ve raised truly beautiful people, which is what is important to me most as a parent.

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?
My children are so involved in their own work, acting, debate, travel and school. They are both very creative and funny people. They are charming and ambitious and we are often complimented as parents, which always feels great. They have expressed their pride in me, and inspiration by me, but I think that comes more from seeing me be happy and persevere as a professional than specific to my artwork. So I haven’t’ seen them mimic my artwork as much as emulate my example of how to make their own dreams come true.

In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier?
I definitely claim space for myself that perhaps other working parents aren’t as finite about. My door may be shut for hours and my music may be loud enough to drive another person in the house crazy, but that’s what headphones are for. I imagine any parent working from home, artist or otherwise, has to have a similar boundary. I wouldn’t say being an artist makes it harder, though, it’s just different. There are jobs that would be much harder to be a parent while doing that job, like a soldier overseas. Parenting as an artist is cheesecake compared to that.

Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist?
Perhaps, since I have painted my children, people may consider my being a parent when they think of my work, but I would be saddened if their thoughts bent either positive or negative about the fact. I want my work to stand on it’s own merits, to be considered and appreciated and judged on it’s face, not by me, my working methods, my materials, my life choices, marriage, children, pets. It all seems irrelevant when one is faced with a great work, or a bad one. I stood in front of Sargent’s “Madam X” last year at the MET and never once did it cross my mind, “I wonder if he was a good parent”.

Are there any other things about Balancing Painting and Parenting that you would like to share?
Only that I hope women painters in particular are not burdening themselves with undue work/life/parenting questions, or letting anyone else place those burdens on them. Parenting is difficult enough as it is, and 10 times more so if you don’t have a loving partner and lots of support to raise your children with.
I wish for all artists who are also moms, to give themselves permission to do both jobs beautifully. Pull all the resources you have to give your kids beautiful childhoods and give yourself the time and space you need to make the best work you can make. Be unapologetic about your art if it is your work. Demand of yourself and your environment the same standards any job from home requires.
If painting is your hobby, accept that hobbies are hobbies and they don’t and shouldn’t’ garner the respect that work does. I wouldn’t support my husband in racing remote control cars for 20 hours a week, but I’m happy to see him enjoy the hobby when he has time and I’d love to see him go to an RC Car Race Workshop once a year so he can really hone his skills, meet up with some other RC Car nerds and come home refreshed and excited about life!
We should all live the life of the kind of people we want our kids to become. Be happy, productive and kind and your kids will be too.

Tina's bio and workshop info can be found at

Friday, July 1, 2016

Painting Parent - Rachel Alvarez

How many children do you have? What are their ages?

2, 3.5 and 1.5

How did your artistic career begin?

I majored in fine art, painting and photography in college, but it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago, that I really got serious about painting as a career. I am a SAHM but, thankfully, painting has turned into a wonderful part-time job for me.

What is your Parenting/work/art situation?

Right now, I paint only during nap times for my kids. I work on marketing, paperwork and website things after they are in bed for the night.

Do you now or have you ever worked other jobs while pursuing your art. How to you preserve time and energy for your art. Are there ways that your art benefits from your other job?

I have not been working a traditional 9-5 job since pursuing my art, but I did have a long career before becoming a SAHM. When I was working in that career, I always looked for ways to be creative on the job. I worked retail management, so I was able to do displays, web maintenance, product photography and promotional events- all of those things provided an artistic outlet for me, which I definitely need in order to be happy and productive.

When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine?

I paint nearly every single day; sometimes it’s for 1 hour -sometimes for 3, depending on nap times.

Do your children get involved with your art?

My 3 year old son does. Earlier this year I did a series of watercolor food paintings called “toddler snacks”. He helped me choose my next subject, photograph the plate, and then gave me his opinion once the piece was completed. I don’t think he minded one bit when we got to the donuts…

Do they inspire aspects of your art?

Yes. I am painting with watercolor ONLY because of my lack of time. I usually work with oils, but that is just not practical for me at this time. I got over my fears of the medium, and now I really enjoy the challenge. I like to paint colorful, lively things. This is a little way for me to celebrate the energy and joy that my kids have brought to my life.

How has having children changed your artwork?

It has certainly inspired me to produce MORE. I am not as afraid of messing up as I used to be. My subject matter has reflected them, of course. Before becoming a mom, I wouldn’t have painting celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins on top.

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?

For the household chores, they just have to be done with help form the kids. I am glad that they see me working in that way, and I’m happy that I have a way to refresh myself while they are doing the same. If I didn’t paint, I would most likely just be doing the dishes. Now, my son helps me with those things and we make it fun.

Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which ways?

It has become more difficult to paint now that my youngest has started to walk and is only taking one nap. I just have to be even more efficient in my paining, and that’s probably a good exercise for me in the long run anyways.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic?

We sing, color, and imagine together. I talk about my art and what I am doing with it- eve if it’s just packaging something to be shipped. They see all aspects of what being an artist means.

Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic?

Not really. I feel like those interests develop. I was in 4th grade when I really got into art. And, although my entire family is fully of professional artists, I never felt pressure to be artistic. It became my own interest. I’d like it to be that way for my kids, too.

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?

I think so. My son loves to draw and use his imagination. My daughter loves to sing just like me. It’s really great to see them excited about the things that I love.

In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier?

I think it’s sometimes harder because I have a real need to produce. Some of my parent friends don’t have that need, and so they don’t feel unproductive, per se, if they haven’t finished a project every day. I would feel so weird if I didn’t try to complete something art-related every day.

Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist?

It might, but I try to celebrate my motherhood in my art. My etsy shop, for instance, is called TheNapTimeArtist. It’s an upfront reality that I am an artist and a mom.

Are there any other things about Balancing Painting and Parenting that you would like to share?

Love both and don’t get upset when one has to be put on hold for the other. It’s a real balancing act.



Monday, June 6, 2016

Beth de Loiselle and Hans Guerin - Painting Parents

"Love and Comfort" 16" x 12" Oil" By Hans Guerin
How many children do you have? What are their ages? One, 13 Months old

How did your artistic career begin? Members of my family (Hans) have been artists for 6 generations
including my brother and me. Both of us, my brother and I, both went to college studying subjects other than art but we decided without coercion to study at our family atelier, The Schuler School of  Fine Arts.
Ornate Magnolias by Beth de Loiselle
My wife, Beth, is the first of her family to endeavor to become an artist. She won a scholarship to the
Schuler School’s summer program in 01, fell in love with the school and me and the rest is history.

What is your Parenting/work/art situation? Right now we are still struggling to find studio time with
trying to be very active in our little boy’s life. We arrange it so that if I’m not teaching I watch the little one so Beth can paint in the daytime. I paint at very late/early hours when I’m not catching up on otherwork for the house, our art business, or the Schuler School.

When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine? Somewhat. The days we teach are scheduled. My time at night is available to me if I’m not too tired or don’t have very important duties to address. Beth paints when I am home unless we decide to do something else as a family.

Do your children get involved with your art? Yes he doodles on pads of paper while we prevent him
from putting the pencil into his eye or his mouth, the cats, the furniture, etc.

"Mother Earth", 48" x 36" Oil by Hans
Do they inspire aspects of your art? Yes, We both have ambitious compositions that involve him in some aspect but further, our paradigm of life has changed. We are more optimistic, nurturing and  more outwardly expressive of love outside of our personal and very private lives together. That definitely comes through in our art

How has having children changed your artwork? A little early to tell, Beth has been painting mostly
commissions and I have only produced a limited amount of artwork since his birth, most of which was already planned beforehand.

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks? The amount of work, non-art, has increased but we still make time to keep the house clean and maintained. I don’t sleep as much to help get it all done. The time for artwork has suffered, especially for me. It’s getting better as our boy is less fragile and we are finding better arrangements for others to watch him.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic? Our Art is very much a part of who we are; it has to translate into the way we interact with him. We teach and play with him instinctually and things like color, composition, spacial relationships and attention to detail will come through. We make sure that events for him are well decorated and fun for him, like his Winnie the Pooh themed first birthday party and Christmas. Most of the people outside of us are also artists in some way; his artistic influence will come from many directions.
Sentinel of Beauty by Beth

Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic? None at all. I was never
pressured into the arts. My parents and Grandparents only encouraged us when we tried art but never
pushed it on my brother and me; my wife and I will do the same for our boy.

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork? A little early to say; my wife and I think he’s brilliant but he is very expressionist in his technique.

In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier? Easier in that we can push and pull work hours to better accommodate his needs. Harder in that when we sacrifice time for our art we suffer financially and with our reputation/relevance. A household of both parents with a variable income is also difficult especially with planning for his future.

The Nocturne, 24" x 16" Acrylic by Hans
Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist? I think so, artist have a
stereotype of being daydreamers, slackers and leeches, making objects of beauty or treatises on
humanity without the rigmarole of real world experience. Even though in reality that description doesn’t really apply to my wife and me, not even most of the other artists we know, being a parent can add relevancy and relatability. It also changes our artist’s perspective on life; caring for a child might make the artwork relate to the art-viewing public whether they know you are a parent or not.

Are there any other things about Balancing Painting and Parenting that you would like to share? I think there is a stigma against professional artists that don’t prioritize art over all and can’t put in a full time schedule. I think that dismissive attitude is bs. I prioritize my family over my artwork and feel whole doing it. My and Beth’s work remains relevant in that my recent work has been recognized and awarded; Beth has been killing it with commissions. The amount of work may have suffered and the quality would most likely be better with more time painting but life is more than that; an aspect that I appreciated before my son was born but reinforced since.
Baker Dogs by Beth

Spotted Great Dane Miniature by Beth

You Can't Take it With You
Oil on Canvas Panel
By Hans

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Painting Parents - Rob and Lina Liberace

A watercolor of Ava by Rob, 9”x12"

How many children do you have? What are their ages?
Celia 15, Ava 13
How did your artistic career begin?

Rob received a baseball scholarship to attend George Washington University and graduated with an art major then went on to get his Masters there as well. He was teaching even before he graduated and soon branched out from there with teaching, commissions and gallery work in the DC area. I graduated with a marketing and art degree from Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana, then moved to DC and became a full time illustrator, working mainly for magazines at first, then doing both corporate Illustration and children’s books.
What is your Parenting/work/art situation?
Fortunately we both work from home when Rob is not teaching, which allows us to spend a lot of time with our kids. We both have studios here at the house.
In a Dual Art Career family how do you each support the other's artistic career?
It helps to have a solid marriage where we both respect one anothers opinions as well as one another's artistic abilities. That and wanting the best for everyone goes a long way. We have always been super supportive and do what we can to help each other find the time for creativity.

When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine?

Rob keeps busy with teaching and painting, but is very good at dividing his time between work and family, where he is very much a hands-on dad. I only illustrates occasionally these days, turning down bigger projects, and fit in sculpture and painting when possible. We tend to take on too many extracurricular projects (we’ve done three home renovations since we were married 19 years ago) so there is never enough time to do everything.
Do you Lina, wish that there were more time for you to focus on art pursuits or do you feel content with the current balance?
Like many mom" artists, I would definitely like more time to focus on art pursuits. It is not uncommon while raising a family and keeping the household going. However, I put the much of the blame on myself, since I seem to have too many interests! The good thing is that most of my interests involve creativity, and I am able to release much of that creative energy by doing things such as tiling a mosaic floor patterned after floors I’ve seen in old Italian churches, designing and building a playhouse or even creating a flower bed. While the artistic fulfillment might not be exactly the same as painting or sculpting, it seems to satisfy that same need for creating things. I also tend to do a lot of the business side of things, which is the bane of every artist!

Do your children get involved with your art? We have always encouraged them to draw and work on their skills. It is inspiring to see them grow and their artwork progress.
Do they inspire aspects of your art? Rob has enjoyed using the girls as models from time to time since they were little. They are wonderful, natural models who seem to instinctively know how to pose. 
How has having children changed your artwork?  Rob has an extensive amount of work which focuses on the girls and never ceases being inspired by them. It got me off of the full-time illustration track, but I think was ready for that change.
How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?
Rob tries to keep to a routine of painting during daylight hours when possible, and then has his evening open. He is better at switching gears more easily than I am.Most non-art related projects and work get done on the weekends if possible. I tend to work intensely on projects and finish them quickly, but end up spacing them further apart then Ilike to, with all that needs to be done with the house, kids and business.
How do you make decisions about division of family, household responsibilities?
I think we can safely say that we both give it our all. There are things he doesn’t do well and things I don’t do well so we compensate for one another and we both do what is needed. Rob tends to be the fixer and I tend to be the cleaner. I help the kids with their English and he helps with Math and Science. Rob will step in and make dinner any time I am obviously working hard on any project, artistic or not. By the same token, I try and lessen his burden when he is busy.
We can each be a bit scattered at times, but we figure that is the way artistic brains operate so we are very forgiving of one another when something gets overlooked (which happens more than we’d like to admit!). Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a secretary and housekeeper!

Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which ways?
As the girls get older, they are more self sufficient and there is more time for artwork. But even though we’re no longer changing diapers, the years of slumber parties and rides have taken over, so it is still not easy to find large blocks of time to paint. It all still requires time and energy, but in different ways. We both feel that having spent so much time with our kids earlier is paying off now, in that they both had a lot of love and a solid foundation. So while the teenage years certainly bring on new challenges, the ride so far is not as rough as it could be - knock on wood!
How do you encourage your children to be artistic? We encourage by example, although we have no need to try. Both girls seem to have it in their genes. They are always creating something. We are a family of mess makers!
Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic? It is a nice bonus that ours are artistic, but you never know when a child will be interested in art or have natural artistic ability. Our youngest made miniature models of all sorts of things when she was younger, and our oldest even made a dress out of newspaper one time. They are definitely self motivated. We are lucky that both our girls are natural artists so all we do is gently encourage them to develop their skills. We will have occasional family drawing sessions, which is always fun and inspiring. And, of course, Rob is a natural teacher, so his opinions are always in demand. We certainly do not feel pressured to do so. We have the philosophy that the girls should do what makes them happy, whether it is art or something else.
Ava’s copy of an illustration from the book “Giants
Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?   Like most artists, our children are inspired by artwork, whether it is ours or from seeing art on the art museum trips we take each year. When they see something that pleases their eye, they want to emulate it. Or not… once we were at the MET and the Rob had the girls doing some drawing. Celia was busy sketching a copy of some 15th century great master’s drawing and Ava was sitting next to her finishing up a nice likeness of Spongebob Squarepants! 
In addition, both girls are asked to “illustrate” their assignments at school regularly (it seems to be stressed due to the fact that it helps children memorize the material) and take great care to do a high level of work, even if it is just illustrating cells for a science class. It has definitely helped them with good grades and certainly hones their skills. 

Two of Celia’s self-styled outfits.

In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier? Rob is very good at dividing his time between work and family time. Lina has a more difficult in transitioning from one to another, so when she paints, which is not nearly so frequently, Rob will try and fill in to keep the household going. Being an artist is like any job in that it takes time. The good thing is that it is something we can do at home.

Some of Lina’s sculptural pieces.

How has having a spouse that is also an artist affected your career and also your daily life?

I think it affects our connection to one another, our home and how we live. Our lives are rich and full, in no small part from our artistic vision.
Do you draw inspiration from each other in your personal work? Definitely. It would be pretty difficult not to be inspired by Rob’s work. He is always surprising us with beautiful paintings, inkings and watercolors. On the other hand, he recently painted a lovely watercolor after seeing something I was working on, saying he was inspired by the sensitivity of my drawing. He also saw the quick pace I had to keep for illustration jobs and realized he didn't need to take so long to finish a painting.

Lina's oil painting of a wren, 9”x12"

Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist? Our family life is first and foremost. Being good parents is more important than being successful artists to us. As intense as Rob is with his art, he is probably even a more intense and caring dad. If we go to any sort of art related function, we bring our kids with us if it is at all possible. This may or may not always be the ideal thing for people who invite us, but with us, if you want us, that often means the girls will be in tow. They have always been well behaved and at home among adult artists so it never seems to be a problem. We’ve had at least one overseas art trip with students each year for the past decade. I think we all (including the students) believe having the kids along enriches the trips.
People who know us all often tell us that we have it all since we have a great family life but also the ability to work on our art. I think people respect the fact that we are putting so much of our energy towards our children, but still maintaining a balance.
Are there any other things about balancing painting and parenting that you would like to share?  In an earlier interview, I (Lina) said that “You can have it all but not all at once.” at least from the mom point of view. I still think that is mostly true, although as the kids get older, it gets easier to mix the two. All artists who are making their income from their art have to be able to juggle two very different elements - art and business. Having children just adds a third ingredient to the mix, which keeps us grounded in real life.

One of several of Robs paintings of Ava as a harlequin, 16x20