Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Painting Parent - Caesar Citraro

Painting Parent - Caesar Citraro

Still Life
How many children do you have? What are their ages? 
*I have Two Children… Ages Eight and Nine.

How did your artistic career begin?
*I graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1986. Soon after graduation I moved to Chicago and started work as an illustrator. About that time I also started working at the Art Institute of Chicago. I ended up working there for over 20 years. I was one of the people responsible for the care of works of art on paper. My official title was Conservation Technician and I worked primarily on the 19 and 20th century Print and Drawing collection. Part of my job was to travel to other museums and collectors homes working on their collections. Having such an up close and personal relationship with the objects, in a way, is really when my Artistic Career began.

What is your Parenting/work/art situation?
*I’m a full time Parent and a full time Artist. Both jobs never let me punch a clock or take a break… When the Kids were really young I would get up at 4:30 am and paint until they would get up. Then I would paint at night. I was a stay at home parent working out of my home studio. My wife works very long hours so I often was alone with the kids for weeks straight with no breaks. It was very fractured and not altogether healthy. Now that they are older and in school it’s much easier.

Tree Field
oil on canvas board
When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine?
*Unless I take a break during the day, I am in the studio from 8:00 am until late afternoon, 4:00 or 5:00 Summer and Fall I teach, either in my studio of traveling around for Plein Air classes… In the Winter, I paint in the studio almost exclusively.

Do your children get involved with your art?
*My children always know what I’m working on. I show them my paintings and we talk about them. I have to admit though, my studio is not the most kid friendly place. Lots of paints, chemicals and fragile things. I do have them set up and make art on occasion, but for the most part my studio is where I work. I try and imagine my profession the way a Plumber or a Doctor might, it’s nice to have the kids visit and understand what their parents do, but in the end it’s my job.

Do they inspire aspects of your art?
*I try every day to find that pure childlike vision… it’s really hard, but my children often remind me of how to look and see. This is something that I will forever be thankful for.

How has having children changed your artwork?
*I’m not really sure, I don’t know what my paintings would be like if the never came along. I do know that when they were younger, for years, I was making art with very little sleep. I’m also sure I’m painting faster now than I used to. Having a tighter schedule has forced me to figure things out faster. This and the childlike vision thing I mentioned above.

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?
* I tend to be very organized so I schedule lots of things and make lots of household plans. I do all of the shopping, cooking and manage the day to day stuff here at home. I’m also aware as a parent that having some flexibility in my schedule is a rare thing these days, that most parents only dream of. Making time for my career is doable as long as I stay a bit flexible.

Forest First Light
Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which ways?
*When they were very young it was really hard physically. Crazy hours with no sleep. Now that they are older, it’s much harder psychologically for me. They are growing up so fast. I only have one shot to see this and to be a part of it. The time I spend at work take time away from them.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic?
*They went to an arts based school for the last 4 years, but other than that, not much… but here’s the thing. Everything about our/my life is encouraging them artistically. My kids honestly believe all parents are artistic and that all kids are encouraged at home to be creative and express them selves artistically. There are musical instruments all over the house, enough art supplies to start an art school, Two parents that understand the importance of the Arts and a dad that can help draw the tricky parts of their monster drawings. Being Artistic demands such a broad range of developmental skills I kind of feel that if the Kids are brought up in an Arts loving, empathetic and hard working environment then we’ve set them on a good path, wherever their lives take them.

Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic?
*Nope. It’s just a fact that they are in an artistic environment and are being raised that way that is in the end important. They don’t know any thing different. , their lives lead them I think their exposure to the arts will have been valuable.

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?
*On occasion I see little references in their drawings to some of my paintings or subject matter and I try and give them little drawing tips and tricks. My youngest set up and old Plein Air easel in her room, so sometime she tries to paint like me.

In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier?
*As a parent my first priority is to my kids. This is a decision I’ve made. Having said that, so far I haven’t had to chose between them and my art and I don’t feel my work has suffered.

Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist?
* What other people think of me is none of my business.

Are there any other things about Balancing Painting and Parenting that you would like to share?
*For me, working consistently and keeping my eyes on the bigger picture is what is important. Nothing related to making art or being a parent is easy, sometimes it’s just less hard. Both careers can be insanely rewarding, so I just keep doing them.


To see more of his art please visit

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