Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Judy Takacs Painting Parent and a Chick With Balls!

Judy Takacs

Painting Parent and a Chick With Balls!

Cancer Honeymoon
by Judy Judy Takacs, artist
How many children do you have? What are their ages?

3 boys, 19, 16 and 15

How did your artistic career begin?

In 1986 I got a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art. I majored in Illustration and Portrait Painting. My first job out of school was as a graphic design assistant at a big 8 public accounting firm in Boston. Lots of pasting up graphs and charts, lots of typesetting, and as much illustration as I could possibly squeeze into any job I did. I also did any and every freelance design/illustration/portrait painting job that was offered to me. I also painted on my own time, taking life drawing and painting classes in the evening to ensure that I’d have access to live models.

The Introvert
by Judy Takács
What is your Parenting/work/art situation?

I paint 6 days a week for about 6-8 hours a day. I develop themes and paint series of work based on whatever theme I happen to be working on. I bounce back and forth from themes, working on one for months at a time until it’s time to freshen up and do another. Right now its my Chicks with Balls series, painting unsung female heroes, topless, holding balls. I find working on series keeps me from waking up and wondering what the heck I’m going to paint. I always have about 6-7 in various stages of finish so, there’s always something that’s dry enough…or still wet enough…for me to work on.

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

Now the kids are in school all day, so, I’d like to say that as soon as they are off I run upastairs to my home studio with my coffee and start painting. Actually though, I spend an hour or so (sometimes more) taking care of my administrative stuff…marketing, updating facebook posts, entering shows, responding to emails, writing blog stories…I call this stuff “paintenance.” Then, with those odds and ends put to bed a little, I’m more free to focus on the painting.

Do your children get involved with your art?

I make them pose for me, from life and photos, I also have had them help me hang shows, transport art, carry stuff. I will teach them framing at some point too…THAT would be useful! One of the things I’ve done with their many MANY toddler drawings that I hate to throw away is incorporate them into paintings and life drawings.

Sweet Sloth
by Judy Takács
Do they inspire aspects of your art?

Absolutely. Nothing like painting what you know best. I made two paintings of my oldest son as he left for college, one was called, “Sweet Sloth” with him sleeping in various positions. This also played into my Seven Deadly Sins series. Then I painted another one of him called The Introvert. I blogged about this one too.  
How has having children changed your artwork?

For me there was no distinct before and after children, because before I had kids it was the late 80s and my life and the world in general were very different from what it is now. So many things have changed since then (technology being the absolute main one), that I can’t really pinpoint the changes that were made by having kids. I do know that when I got pregnant with my first I had already stopped oil painting because I had a very busy freelance graphic design/illustration business which was essential to our family as I supported my husband through his schooling, and there wasn’t any time left over for my personal art. And then once I had my first baby, and then the other two, there wasn’t time left for personal hygiene, let alone personal art. I continued to do the design work on a tapering freelance basis, but by the time I had 3 kids, I was a full time mom and my husband was able to support the family instead of me, so, I made the kids my full time job for about 8 years or so.

That said, I did try to use every single opportunity for creativity I could. I painted pottery, I designed sets for school music productions, I did our neighborhood newsletter, I designed brochures on a volunteer basis for lots of the organizations I was involved with, but I didn’t pick up an oil paint brush for a good 10 years until the elementary school asked me to paint a portrait of the retiring principal…as a surprise…from his school photo. I did it though, because opportunities are opportunities. I also continued to attend life drawing classes religiously.

Nina is grace under fire
by Judy Takács

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?

I have a cleaning person come in once a week to do the major cleaning. I do cooking, laundry, and all the zillions of other maintenance items that living in a house with 3 kids and a husband involves. In the summers I have kids do dishes and other chores, and I never EVVVVVVER do housekeeping stuff during painting time. I act like I have left the house and its not possible for me to do a household chore. I say this, however, as I am about to jump up and put laundry into the dryer, so even that mindset is only my ideal and guiding principle. I’m still the mom, and I do the house stuff and the kid stuff, but I love the art stuff the most, so it pulls me back. My husband works full time, and supports us all, so I hold up my end by taking care of home stuff…though

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

Yes, I generally wasn’t able to make art while they were home when they were little, plus, I didn’t have a dedicated creativity space. I used their pockets of time in school to make art. When, back in 2001 I had my first day where my two little ones were in pre-school for two hours a week, I made a commitment to do art during that time…and only art. The very first day they were in preschool together, and my older one was in kindergarten, however happened to be 9-11. Right as I was leaving the preschool, the parents were gathered outside talking about how one plane hit the world trade center. Then the director came out and told us a second one just hit it… so that kind of ruined my first two hours of creativity time in about 5 years. Now they are teenagers and would totally leave me alone all day if I didn’t wake them and force them to spend time with me.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic?

Back when they were younger it was very easy. I had art supplies all over the place, I kept cardboard boxes, tubes, plastic stuff, boxes of just about anything. I had hot glue guns for everyone, including friends and they’d build forts and hideouts for their action heroes. And for boys, the idea of using a gun (along with the danger of the hot glue) to make art was the best. And of course some creative paraphanalia never got much action (painted glassward, shrinkydinks, weaving kits), other stuff was a hit. With three, and sometimes a friend or two over, they had to be on their own with the art stuff, so I never really made it for them or even with them. The results weren’t magazine-worthy, but they were their own, originality was king. I did try to make them clean up, but…you know how that goes. And often the cleanup time was more than the actual art time. I remember a horrible marbleized Easter Egg dying experience I had with my 2 year old…really what was I thinking?

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

Some, but, none of them is committed enough to art to make it a career. And that’s a good thing. My older two are computer guys and are very into programming now ( not just playing video games, but that’s a gateway drug for programmers…just sayin’). I try to encourage a creative spirit and creative problem solving and thinking outside the box. They don’t actually have to wield a brush to be creative.

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

For me it makes it immensely easier. I have my studio right at home, so from a flexibility standpoint I function as a full-time mom. And sometimes if they have a school project or poster to do they will do it up in the studio with the exacto knives and my drawing table. And whenever they need posterboard, I have it. Same with colored pencils, gold markers, a paint brush…I have it. And if they’re home sick, I’ll let them curl up on my studio couch and snooze while I paint. Those days are always special. And snow days don’t bother me a bit…I actually love them!  

I remember when I just had one child and I was able to finish design projects and cook dinner and get my photo albums done and take him for a walk and nurse him 7 times a day, I felt like this parenting rock star. Then at about 5 months old he “woke up”…and was awake more and more and more and suddenly the world changed and I was this babbling idiot that couldn’t accomplish a single thing. So I said the hell with it and had two more and threw myself totally into the child raising for more than a few years. When I accepted that I wasn’t going to be a great artist at this point in my life, and that my kids were only going to be little for a short time, it got easier. I just stuck with my weekly life drawing class and immersed myself in the parenting, without always jumping up and trying to paint a bit, and feeling like I was cheating both. And now that they’re teenagers, I’ve still hopefully got some 40 years to be that “great artist” so that’s what I’m doing now…full force! Until the grandkids come of course!

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

I’m trying to make it the new cool to be an artist/mom actually.


  1. Debby, thank you so much for this wonderful arcticle! You are a total painting parenting rock star…raising three little kids, two still at home and painting every night, taking commissions, selling work, and now writing this awesome blog that benefits everyone. You'll accomplish even more amazing things when they're all at school. Love your can-do attitude! And, your timing couldn't have been more perfect, with my Chicks with Balls show opening tomorrow night at the Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke!

    With much gratitude!


  2. Love this, Judy and Debby! Judy, your sense of humor and intelligence always make me smile!