Thursday, September 18, 2014

Painting Parent -Olga Krimon

Todays Painting Parent is Olga Krimon.

How many children do you have? What are their ages?
 I have 2 boys.  9 and 5.5

How did your artistic career begin?
 I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid, and I joke that my career began in preschool where I had my first solo show.  It became serious when I was accepted to the Kazan Art School in Russia, where I completed 4 intense years of academic atelier courses in drawing, painting, composition, Art History and sculpture.  Those years gave shape to the essential fundamentals, and I remember those instructions to this day.  Later on I got a degree in Art History and continued to study and practice the craft.  I am a firm believer that you have to go through all the training first, before you can make a decision where your place should be and how you want to express yourself.  By this I don’t at all mean holding a degree from a prestigious school.  I mean getting the schooling, whether on your own or with instruction.  There are so many options today to do that.

 What is your Parenting/work/art situation?
Good question, as this is the most difficult part of being an artist, one that I am working on every day.  I am divorced, and I am responsible for raising 2 kids.  I work full time in a field that is not at all related to art.  I’ve made a good career after my MBA, and it allows me to provide for my kids and exercise a very different part of my brain.  As an artist, I take every minute of my time outside of my work and away from my kids that I can use.  It makes prioritization a necessity, but you make it work because you really want this to work.  And yes, that means cutting on some time with kids – missing baseball games, to name a few, staying home with them after a long night of painting instead of taking them out, etc.  The guilt of it is something that haunts me constantly.  But it’s also something that keeps me going and pushes me to concentrate and to not waste any time.  I can’t afford to just sit around.  I plan everything I will be working on in advance, including the time I will be doing it, the supplies I need, etc.  I work on certain ideas and painting steps ahead of time in my head, over and over, arranging a still life or a figurative composition.  It saves time and allows me to work remotely, so to speak.  My goal is to be a full time artist, and I am taking steps every day towards achieving this goal.  Yes, there are days of frustration, when I don’t feel I am getting there fast enough, but I hope that’s what most if not all other artists experience.  Especially moms.

Do your children get involved with your art?
My sons are my models for several of my paintings.  My older one even demanded a % from the sale of his portrait.  Although he is 9, he is making very interesting remarks about what I should do and how I should market my work.  It’s obvious he thinks about it and wants to get involved.  On the other hand, he gets frustrated when I cut some of my time with him to finish a painting for a show.  Both of my sons are so proud when they see my work in a publication. The younger one draws and paints with such confidence that it’s so fun to watch. 

 Do they inspire aspects of your art?
My sons try to give me ideas for my future subjects, and pushed me to try a self portrait.  Plus without them I would’ve not met their nanny, Ania, who models for me regularly.  And my idea of taking a break from figurative and still life painting is to once in a while paint them.  I consider some of those paintings among my best works.  I want to record them growing up.

How has having children changed your artwork?

I’ve been questioning why art became such a necessity after my first son was born.  I’ve been painting way before then, but it’s after my first son was born that my artistic career took a different turn.  One, I have to admit, I think this urge to lock myself in the studio and go into that different world and state of mind was a way out for me, doing something for myself.  It helped me cope.  But on another much deeper level, I wanted to create things that would last and will be viewed and valued long after I am gone.  My kids would have a piece of me somehow.  My corporate career provides some answers for the businesses now.  But I wanted to build a legacy.  I started to feel that I was running out of time and I needed to rush to get my ideas out.  The more I was working and the less time I had, the more motivated I was to push through.  This was also the time when I discovered works of contemporary painters and when I clearly saw my limitations, so I worked hard to build the learning path to get there.  That was the time when it all started to take a solid shape.

 How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?

It’s all about planning and timing.  You make dinner early in the morning because you painted all night.  You make yourself be more tolerant to dust :0).  But honestly, with planning you find time for everything.  It’s really not the household stuff that I had to cut on.  I cut on social interactions and watching TV, for example. 

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

Obviously, when you have a baby/toddler, you can’t get away.  There are these cycles of life when they need you most.  I had to almost completely cut on oil painting when I was pregnant with my 2nd son, afraid that the cadmiums and lead paints would be harmful.  That was tough, but those days are long gone.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic?

Yes, there are supplies everywhere in the house. There are art horses and easels, a lot of paper and pencils.  That’s my way of encouraging it.  I ask for drawings as gifts for my birthday and Mother’s Day.   My older son is very structured, he wants the drawing to be perfect – he got very frustrated when his copy of Leonardo’s horse was not exact (he was 4 at the time).  That, unfortunately, discourages him from expressing himself.  My younger son says that he sees all of the ideas in his head and then just draws them – he is constantly at it, and prefers larger canvases and paper rather than small ones.  He hates coloring someone else’s drawing, which makes me very happy.   I take them to museums, talk to them about artists, examine paintings with them.  Once in a while they want a little drawing lesson.  Hope these lessons continue and evolve into serious discipline some day.

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

Not at all.  But I want them to be aware and to appreciate other artists’ works.  I show them how difficult of a career it is, how much work goes into it, and how much training it requires.  I want them to see that they can do anything as long as they do it seriously.  Nothing comes easy.  So I want them to see the discipline of it, and apply that to anything they aspire to do.  No matter what they choose, I also want them to have an outing, their own world, whether it’s playing an instrument, going to a concert, museum, or drawing.  I am lucky to have that, and I cannot imagine my life without it – I really hope they find their own way of expression, whatever that may be.

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

I covered some of it above.  In my case the hardest thing is that it takes time away from my kids.  Or being too tired after a night of painting and a full day of work to take them outside.

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

That I don’t know.  I hope not.  I may not be able to produce as many paintings as someone without kids, but I may be trying twice as hard to carve out the time and I will make it work no matter what.  I will push through.  So I feel a strong connection to artists with kids.  It makes me stronger. 


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