How many children do you have?
I have given birth to four children. However- my husband and I have blended family and we have six children all together.
What are their ages?
My oldest will be 16 this winter – and we have everything from ages 14, 12, 6, 3 and the youngest is 2.
How did your artistic career begin?
I have wanted to be a “serious” artist since I was fourteen years old. I had high hopes of moving overseas and painting my life away. However – those dreams shifted as soon as I delivered my first child. I have been painting ever since- but my career as an artist just recently refocused with my youngest son turning two. When I created MAP – Mother Artist Project it was my way of truly taking time to focus weekly my work and the work of other female artists by blogging about them. I got my very first studio downtown Indianapolis because of an interview I conducted of a mother artist there. The Harrison Center has an amazing circle of mother artists – who have hired a nanny to tend to their babies while the mother artist works. It is because of this set up – that I am able to take my career as an artist seriously.
What is your Parenting/work/art situation?
When I decided to have children in my mid-thirties I knew that I wanted to be a stay home mom. My husband has been able to offer that to me – and I am so grateful. Raising Children and caring for the endless needs – along with a house – is a full time job. I do have a studio – in which I spend a handful of hours in a week. It is my sacred personal time. When I can’t be in the studio I paint in the evening – in which I call “Closet Studio” time. It is literally my bedroom closet – with a tiny table, chair and my paints – oh, and clothes! However, I am not a night owl – I paint anyway... usually because I have an idea and I don’t want to wait to get it on canvas.
My routine is – four hours a week at my studio downtown where I paint in oils and do all of my paper cuttings. Any work that is done outside of that is usually done at home after I tuck my babies in bed... and I only use acrylics at home just in case one of them gets a hold of a tube of paint.
Do your children get involved with your art?
I have had 15 years of involving my children in my art making process. My oldest is now aiming to be a photographer- my oldest daughter sketches a lot- and my youngest daughter is constantly wanting to paint or color. I feel that my own desire to create art and allowing them to make things at the same time... has influenced them a great deal. It’s a good thing!
Do they inspire aspects of your art?
Mothering is so important to me. It is first in my life. My children have inspired me for many many years now. I am constantly taking photographs of them... and creating MAP – Mother Artist Project was created by pure experience ...by being a mother artist myself.
I think the only thing that has changed is learning to be faster at what I do. Learning to balance creating while making dinner – or knowing what supplies to use when and where... knowing that they are close by.
How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?
I used to get really upset about the balancing act. I recall crying rivers over this obstacle. However, I have learned tricks and ways to work around everyone else. Painting in my closet when everyone is asleep is just one way to get my personal time in .I have a routine, though I like to think of myself as a spontaneous person – I get the chores out the way first thing... and go with the flow the rest of the day. I try to make lists and sketch daily to keep ideas flowing. I really try to utilize the time I set aside to accomplish whatever mission I have set out for myself with my work.
Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which ways?
I think this depends on if it’s your first child or if you’re a seasoned mom. I remember feeling like one child ... felt like an army. I laugh now- having six... it can be pretty crazy at any given moment. I have to carve time out for myself because no one else will.
Art is an everyday topic in my household. I come from a long line of artists and their work is placed around the house. My children have all been raised with art making and art in general and know that it is important. I encourage my children by being an example and teaching them about their family roots. Along with giving them the tools to discover art for themselves.
Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic?
I don’t feel any pressure about this at all. I would be thrilled if my kids said “hey mom – I want to go art school”. I feel they are artistic – no matter what I try to say or do... they can’t help it.
In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier?
As much as I would like to say – I can make a living off of my work... the truth is, I haven’t been able to- yet. However, I look around and see female artists who are “making it” --- and what I have noticed is that they do not have children. They live and breathe making art and promoting themselves. In order to be successful – I feel you need to be able to balance both worlds and be business savvy. Market yourself – etc. This is a balancing act – indeed. We want to be successful – we want to do what we love and yet it often feels like swimming upstream.... society somehow makes it impossible. I refuse to believe that a desk job is the only option to make a decent pay check but for me, for many years... it was the only way. I am blessed to have a husband who can support me and our family.
I know for certain it has. I recall going back to art school to finish my degree as a single working mother. I walked into their office and sat down to discuss my complicated schedule. My only question for them was – How is a single mom supposed to attend art school during the day when she had to work? Art classes were not offered in the evening ... making it impossible for me to be a female- single mother –art student.
I carried this “issue” for years and it fueled me to find a solution. I think that mother artists aren’t taken seriously. As if their passion to make work is just a hobby. I think times are changing – as they always do... and there are more and more mother artists out there wondering the same things. Asking the same questions – how do we do this?!
My answer is – you just do it! Art is your voice.