Friday, December 4, 2015

Just Paint

Many artists talk about the importance of painting from life. They say you have to paint from life. Only by painting from life can you really capture the form and the colors. They even seem to suggest that if you do not paint from life you just shouldn't waste your time.

While I agree that painting from life if the best way to paint and that many important things can only be learned from working from a model in front of you, I just have to disagree that anything else is a waste of time.

You see I did not start my painting career until I was pregnant with my third child. In fact I had only done a handful of paintings before that time and had never had the opportunity to paint from a model. I had been focusing on my Architecture career and only painted as a delightful diversion while working on my Architecture major.

With two kids at home and very soon after another on the way, and my Husband's crazy work schedule it was impossible to go to model session to practice my painting. I painted at night once every one else was in bed. I painted with crappy lights and from photographs. I painted in the only quiet moments available.

And that is what is most important to improving your painting, JUST PAINT. Paint whenever you can even if the situation is not ideal. Because believe me in my life the situation is never ideal. I paint when I am exhausted and there are piles of laundry and dishes to be done. I paint when I have to chase kids back to their beds multiple times. I paint in the weekend moments I can capture. And while I still have a lot to learn that I am sure would benefit from being in front of a model, I have come a long way baby!

I also take every opportunity to paint from life in my head. I may not have moments with my easel and my paints where I can observe the way light plays over a face but I can certainly study it and think about how I would paint it.

These days I am constantly painting, but often it is all in my head. I think about what colors I would use to capture my co worker's hair or the way to glaze a mist over the hills on my way to work in the morning. I plan my paintings for hours while commuting back and forth.

I am still getting to the canvas at nights but not quite as often, it is a hard transition to go back to work after staying at home with my kiddos for 5 years. I am also studying for my Architecture license exam, coping with my husband's new crazy work schedule, and loving on my three precious kids. I am enjoying everything individually but the balancing act is a struggle.

In it all I find I can truly feel satisfied when I find time to JUST PAINT.
Detail of a commission in progress. (photo was taken at night with the crappy lights)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Painting Parent - Christine Miller

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

My son Donny who is 5 yrs old.        


How did your artistic career begin?

My Grandpa, F. J Miller, was a painter.  I remember running into his house, straight to his studio to see what he was painting, then asking him to make room for me to work on something.  He believed in me.  I remember being amazed at the possibility of drawing something that looked real; I was always motivated to reach this goal, since I was a child.  Although I was going to College for Painting, my gift really began when I gave my life to God, during that time my son was born.  I was fortunate to have come across an amazing teacher, Constance Payne who told me drawing what I loved; my son would be the greatest teaching tool and motivation towards excellence in painting.


What is your Parenting/work/art situation?

I am a single mom. Currently I paint about 2 or 3 days a week when my son is with his father.  This past year since I’ve started my business in portraiture, I’ve had steady commissions and still have done my own work.

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

It is a more regular schedule now that my son started kindergarten this fall.


Do your children get involved with your art?

Yes, my son is the best critic of my work, especially portraits of himself.  He reminds me how important emotion is in the painting.  His first reaction is what he feels, what he thinks the person in the portrait is feeling.  I’ve learned a lot from him that’s been preparing me for the future.


Do they inspire aspects of your art?

Yes, I’ve done so many portraits of him.  My son’s best friend and cousin, autumn, I painted recently and titled ‘Princess’.  I’ve also painted the teddy bears they each had when they were born.  I hope my paintings speak to the value of children.  The faith, honesty and wonder in the eyes of a child are indescribable.  Jesus says ‘Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven’.  My son spends a lot of time with his cousins who call me Aunt ‘Tine’, which also inspired me now to sign my work as ‘Tine’.  Check my website blog for more info


How has having children changed your artwork?

I believe my son, a gift from God, is why I am doing portraits today. If it weren’t for him and the Lord, I would not have continued to paint and grow with such motivation.


How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?

I’m always prioritizing to be most efficient and productive with the time I have, balancing time for my son, my work but most of all open to the unexpected, remembering God’s plan always prevails.


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

When he was a baby and slept a lot I used to stay up late and do a lot of work.  As he got older, I didn’t stay up as late.  I needed my sleep for all his energy during the day.  So I work during the day now mostly and when he’s with his father.


How do you encourage your children to be artistic?

I teach him how to draw things he’s interested in and I use drawing, building, following instructions, understanding nature and appreciation of Gods creation as teaching tools for his life.  I encourage the importance of an artist’s skill to help in any direction he takes in life.


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

No, but I think Art is where learning begins as a child.  Drawing everything can help them grow in memory for learning and help them in many different ways.  Motivation, work ethic, knowledge and understanding nature, humility and admiration before our creator, the joy of art in expressing love and enjoying everyday life. I would not pressure him to be specifically a visual artist, but I do believe we were created to be creative, if we understand ourselves and value our individual qualities, they become gifts from God and we can change the world.

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?

Yes in ways I didn’t expect.  My son seems to have a photographic memory and he is good with math, which I am not good with.  Although I believe it has to do with how I teach him with images and drawing as clues for his memory as he grows in learning.  He picks up a lot from my artwork like being concerned with light and shadow when he’s painting and mixing colors.  He even goes painting plein air with me sometimes and he has incredible focus and patience to work on something for hours whether drawing, painting or building.  He is very unique, driven, creative, caring and smart little man.  It’s a struggle with the public school, which encourages a different approach.  I know he will do great things in his future.


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

It’s harder and better at the same time.  With God at the center, I don’t become obsessed with my work that I lose sight of my son or in the opposite case, lose the motivation to paint.  I rely on God to help me as a parent and as an artist.  I only have one child, so it could be different with more but from my perspective, it seems incredibly hard to do, but relying on the power of God, It is a joy, you cant have one without the other.  My son and our life inspire my work and our work inspires him, love and life.

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

Some think I am too busy because I am a parent, but I don’t understand what the problem is.  I love the parenting part as well as the painting.  Other people are surprised at how much work I’ve accomplished at my age, as well as being a mom, but I didn’t do it alone but with the help and power of God.  I don’t try to please everyone, but to please God and give Him the glory. 


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

I believe this is the answer to the struggle and all life’s problems when you put Gods expectations first, you strive to a higher level in your own worth and in others, you know how to love your children through Gods eyes and give God your struggles as an artist.  As artists our heart goes into it and when selling work it’s hard but if you’ve done things for God first then you are not stopped by other rejection.  Everything happens for a reason and He makes it a continuous joy. 






Saturday, June 6, 2015

Painting Parent - TJ Cunningham

How many children do you have? What are their ages?
I have a sweet, little one year-old.
How did your artistic career begin?
A small gallery hosted a solo show the summer after I graduated from college. Those first few patrons have supported and promoted me since then.
What is your Parenting/work/art situation?
It is very important for me to spend the bulk of the day focused on my work. I am very thankful to my wife who shoulders most of our son’s care.
When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine?
These days I am starting in the studio around 9AM and painting until 5PM. I usually work after dinner as well.
Does your child get involved with your art?
Not yet. He is still at the stage where he would be happier putting the paintbrushes in his mouth.
Does he inspire aspects of your art?
Yes, he certainly does. Having a child has changed the way that I see things. In a way it has encouraged me to evoke my own childhood as I create.
How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?
I paint full-time, so I try to get the household tasks finished in the evening or on weekends.
How do you encourage your child to be artistic?
I would be happy if my son became interested in art, but I am much more eager to teach him to simply see and appreciate the world around him. He will grow up in an increasingly screen-focused world. I hope that he will see what millions miss.  
Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your child to be artistic?
I really want him to be his own person without feeling pressure to follow in my footsteps. However, I would be delighted if he does show an interest.
In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier?
I think that the added pressure to provide has helped in many ways. My wife resigned her job to be a full time mom which means it’s up to me to sell enough work to take care of everyone.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Painting Parent -Alia El-Bermani

Cygnet 30″ x 20″ oval
How many children do you have? What are their ages?  I have two children.  My daughter just turned 11 and my son is about to turn 9.

Nest 8″ x 8″
How did your artistic career begin?  My career started in California after graduating from Laguna College of Art and Design.  At the time I was working in a gallery part-time to pay the bills, and keeping 4 days a week sacred for the studio.  A wonderful gallery in Santa Barbara named Sullivan Goss Gallery took a chance on me by including my work in a few group exhibitions which led to several solo exhibitions in the years to follow.  I currently am represented by Haynes Galleries in Nashville, TN and Thomaston, ME.

What is your Parenting/work/art situation?  Now that my kids are older, I have more time than ever in my parenting life.  They attend a year round public school – which means they go to school 9 weeks and then have a 3 week break all year round.  It is very different than a traditional calendar school year, but it works well for our family.  Instead of having a 2-3 month break over the summer (which tends to be high season for getting works created for fall and winter exhibitions, the breaks are spread out in more manageable chunks.  Also, when they are “tracked out” on their break, there are plenty of enrichment and care options within the community to squeeze in more studio time if I need it.  So these days, I have about 6 hours a day in the studio. 

Paige at Mirror 36″ x 24″
When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine? I do have a regular routine – I think that is key for me in finding balance and having a clear focus of how I need to use each day.  Tuesdays I volunteer in my kid’s school for about 2 hours, so I have gotten in the habit of making that day a business day.  I return emails and phone calls, deal with packing/ shipping works and any other computer heavy business on Tuesdays.  Otherwise, the other days are for research and painting and that is all.  All household chores are done at night or early mornings before school.

Do your children get involved with your art?  Do they inspire aspects of your art?

Sienna As Archer 48″ x 36″
Both of my children have been wonderful subjects for me to paint.  My daughter is currently at this awkward age of transition between childhood and adulthood.  I think we are both using my art as a way to explore and figure out this age of transition.  I was a natural parent when they were wee ones and toddlers.  I had an innate instinct about parenting these young children.  But this advancement towards teenage-hood seems daunting, uncharted and frankly, I have payback coming.  Painting her in this age has helped me better understand her and her current needs.  I recently did a painting of my daughter Sienna as an archer.  It was such a wonderful experience to see her gain confidence and empowerment as she saw the work being created.  I did a blog about the experience which you can read here:

Guardian 48″ x 36″
As for my son… he had a very rocky start to his life.  He had a rough delivery which left him with hemiplegic cerebral palsy.  Those early years of his life were the toughest years for our family.  I gave up teaching at a college to devote my time to his care and advocacy.  That in itself was a full time job but I don’t regret a thing.  At nights I would paint and I somehow managed to keep my career as an artist alive.  Though the physical, occupational and later speech therapies seemed arduous and unending, that diligent work quite literally changed his life.  His original diagnosis predicted that he would never be able to run, or play on a jungle gym.  I think now, the lay person would have no idea that he had any issues.  I can happily share that he is now a pretty mean, left back, defensive soccer player, as well as talented hip hop dancer.  But that time in our lives and my feelings of inadequacy (at being able to do it all, and be his best advocate) and the deep sense of loss of myself haunted me for years.  Those complicated feelings all manifested in a painting of him titled Guardian.  This work features him at about age 3 ½.  By that age, he had already overcome much, but still you can see his tenuous right hand awkwardly being hidden and in his left hand he holds a rock.  At his feet is a flightless crow.  It appears that the crow has a broken wing.  You aren’t sure if he caused an injury to the crow or if he is protecting the crow.  And then if you know something about crows, you may know that they often will feign injury to lure predators away from their young.  It is ambiguous who the guardian in this unlikely relationship is. 

Mourning Dove, Innocence 12″ x 9″
How has having children changed your artwork?  Before children, I was creating works that exploited the psychology of my sitters.  I seemed to be attracted to their angst or neuroses.  It was fashion to paint the ugliest bits of people.  After having my daughter, I almost immediately realized that I did not want to highlight that part of our humanity.  I wanted to shine a light on the beautiful aspects of being human.

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?  Our home is a mess and I try to be ok with that.  All household tasks are secondary to art.  My husband too is an artist and we both understand and respect the urge to create over all other aspects of life.  There will always be laundry and dishes, but ideas are fleeting.

Becoming 24″ x 24″
Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which ways?  Yes indeed.  As I stated above, the young years of especially my son and the special care that he needed was the most difficult time to make time for my artwork – but I did have the dedication and drive to make the time I needed to continue.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic?  My children are both naturally gifted.  My daughter has an incredible wrist and can draw amazingly realistic images from her imagination.  She seems to understand perspective better than most adults.  While, my son tends to be more sculptural and think and create in 3D.  It’s fascinating to watch their development.  I have tried to make Sundays a studio day for them.  My daughter has taken to it well, learning how to draw from life in charcoal.  My son seems too loose interest pretty quick though.  I am hoping this is more of an age/ developmental thing than a real disinterest in learning from me. Really though, I can’t blame him – most times I’d much rather be outside playing too. 

Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic?  No.  I actually have purposefully resisted pushing them in any direction.  They are their own people and my biggest goal for them is to find their own happiness.  If creating makes them happy, I am so ready to help them – but I have no need to push them into it if it’s not in their heart.

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?  I think I have seen my husband’s art actually influence my children more.  He is a character designer for video games as well as a comic artist.  For my kids, drawing monsters is way more appealing than painting another nude or still life.   

As He Worked 12″ x 9″
In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier?  Financially having both my husband and I as artists can be a disadvantage to parenting.  We have made it a priority to live well within our means so that we can afford to make art that is meaningful.  Often that means we have to say no to birthday parties and the various activities they would like to participate in.  But in other ways, being an artist means that we are creative problem solvers and can easily maneuver the varied aspects life with children can throw at us.  We are fun to do homework with, and dinner out always includes a draw-off.     

Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist?  I’m not sure how others perceive me.  I think maybe especially as a woman painting my children could be dangerous; could be seen as merely a sentimental (and therefore less valid or worthy) act.  But I don’t really give a hoot.  I am living an honest and fulfilling life and I am grateful for the beautiful family I have and the perspective it grants me. 

Are there any other things about Balancing Painting and Parenting that you would like to share?  Well, back when I was in the midst of the care for my young son, I wrote a blog about motherhood and Art.  In it I shared this quote by Andrew Wyeth. “One's art goes as far and as deep as one's love goes.” I think that ‘love’ Wyeth is talking about is as much the love the artist has for her subject and process as well as the love that’s put into the artist from those around her.  Having a loving family has been a wonderful thing for my life as an artist. 

Here is a link to that blog post in full:

Space Between 36″ x 48″

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Painting Parent- David Cunningham

How many children do you have? What are their ages?
4- 10, 8,5,4

How did your artistic career begin?
I always loved to paint, draw and make things…I just never stopped. 

What is your Parenting/work/art situation?
I have my kids half of the time, so I do a lot of the work on the “off” weeks.  I am a professor too so during the summer and breaks is when I am most productive.

When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine?
Nights after bedtime, but usually on my off weeks or during the day over the summer

Do your children get involved with your art?
Not really.  They come to openings and like to see what I am working on, but other than that not really

Do they inspire aspects of your art?
Well, I do like to make work that they think is interesting.

How has having children changed your artwork?
I have had to let go of my perfectionism both in my work and in my work schedule.  I just do the best I can when I can…If I waited for the stars to all align to work and have to have everything “perfect” I would never work/finish anything.

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?

I have an amazing partner that works part time and does a majority of the housekeeping and cooking which frees me up to work.  She is a life saver.

Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which ways?
It seems that the older my kids get the easier it is to make work.  The baby years killed me in that none of my kids slept through the night so when I got a break all I wanted to do was get a quick nap in.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic? 
 I draw with them…we draw on a dry erase board together….and of course there are trips together to museums.
Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic?
I battle this idea.  I want to encourage and equip them for their own dreams, but they do have abilities…secretly I would love for them to want to do the hard work needed to be really great but that hasn’t happened…yet J

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?
They have copied some of the doodles I do…other than that no.  They like doing their own thing.

 In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier?
I think that for me I have two jobs…teaching and as an artist.  I am really busy and sometimes I am pretty distracted.  

Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist?
Well, I do know that being a parent really has limited the amount that I am perceived.  I have to choose between time making work or promoting myself…making work wins most of the time.  I have also passed up a number of opportunities because of my responsibilities as a dad.

Losing Inspiration, and how to get it back

There seem to be triggers for me that cause me to lose track of my inspiration. When I was pregnant with my third daughter I felt a strain on my painting ability and applying for Architecture jobs has thrown me off track at least twice. My husband has been looking for a new job for over a year now and several times I have decided to send out resume's myself.

It always leads to doubts and fears about my painting and parenting roles. Will I still be able to make time to paint if I get a full time job. Have I been wasting my time trying to pursue a portrait career? Will I work long hours and miss out on important things with my children? Any major change raises so many questions. When I get to this point it seems like I suddenly forget what I am doing when I try to paint. I cannot decide what to work on and when I do paint it does not come as naturally as it seems to at other times. I get frustrated and start to question every thing.

The Question then is how do you get the feeling of inspiration back? The answer seems to be just show up and work on something. Even if it does not turn out to be my best painting ever or even if it is something I immediately wipe out and never let anyone see I have to do something, anything until it comes back.

I am currently delving into my Bargue drawings since I know exactly what needs to be done even if I do not have the process perfected yet. It is developing the skills I need and challenging me without bringing the frustration of not having an idea or a project to work on.

I am currently drawing in my Kitchen with dinner on the stove and surrounded by dishes that need washed and clothes piled in the laundry room that need folded. The kids have been pretending with Legos for hours on the dining room table. However the need to get back the feeling of knowing what I am doing is so strong that right now I just need to show up at my easel and wait for the inspiration to find me there. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Painting Parent - Stephanie Deshpande

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

I have one daughter, and she is 13 years old. 

How did your artistic career begin?

When I was young, my mother would sign me up for art classes at the Danforth Museum in Massachusetts.  I enjoyed painting, and it came easily for me. As a teenager I spent hours drawing and painting on my own. I painted self-portraits, still lifes, landscapes, and copied reproductions of John Singer Sargent’s work.  When it was time to decide what to study in college, I thought that majoring in painting seemed too good to be true; however, I figured, since it was what I did best, I would be most likely to succeed in the face of competition and challenges.

What is your Parenting/work/art situation?

Despite my optimism going into college and graduate school, once I graduated I realized that the job opportunities in New York City for an artist were limited. I found a job as a graphic designer instead of the teaching position I had envisioned myself doing. My daughter was born in 2001, and I continued to paint in my free time for a few years. But in 2005 I took a four-year hiatus from painting after feeling isolated from art world and not knowing what direction my art career would take.

What inspired me to start painting again was the vibrant art community I discovered on Facebook. After discovering all the talented artists whose work I admire, I realized I couldn't let go of my passion. I currently work full time as a Production Manager at a financial company, but this gives me the freedom to paint what I want and not worry about making a living exclusively by selling my art.

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

I paint approximately one painting per month in addition to smaller alla prima studies. Since I juggle many responsibilities being a single mother, I let my mood dictate what I work on.  I usually work on a painting for a week or two, devoting all my free time to it until it’s complete.  Then I’ll take a break from painting and focus on my daughter, friends, and other interests.
Sleeping Child 30x24

Does your child get involved with your art?

Before 2005, I mostly painted my friends in narrative compositions.  I have a few paintings of my daughter as a toddler, but it wasn't until 2010 that she became my primary model.  She was nine years old at the time and had a knack for performance as well as a natural ease posing for me. “Child Sleeping” was the first painting out of a series where she is the main figure.


Does she inspire aspects of your art?

My daughter has a great ability to position herself in precisely the way I envisioned. Of course, being a child, it was sometimes hard to keep her engaged while I fussed with perfecting the setup.  Recently, however, I witnessed a new change in our dynamic.  Now she wants to contribute her own ideas.  In my painting, “Let the Cards Fall,” I originally planned on having her sit at a table holding cards in her hands.  As I photographed her, I could not get the composition to look the way I pictured in my mind. So, we tried a few other ideas.  Then out of the blue she suggested letting the cards fall on her while lying down.  This couldn't have been more perfect.  I was happy to have her rebellious nature break some of the safe conventions I had been using.

Let the Cards Fall

How has having a child changed your artwork?

I would have never thought to paint children if I hadn't had my daughter. My paintings, however, are not about children. The themes are about human pathos and derived largely from personal experience.

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?

Since I only have a limited time to focus on painting, I decided that I wasn't going to feel guilty about not being actively involved in other activities. My priorities are establishing myself as an artist and raising my daughter.  Although being more involved in my town or daughter's school would be nice, I decided it really didn't matter in the end.  I love having an orderly home because when everything is in order I feel more inclined to paint, but once I start working on a painting, all my focus is on it.

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

There were many factors which contributed to my 4-year break from painting that were not directly related to being a parent; however, now that my daughter is 13, it is much easier for me to paint since she doesn't need constant attention.

How do you encourage your child to be artistic?

When she was first born, I was determined to veer her talents away from art to math. I would sit in the park and review a math workbook with her, hoping it would increase her analytical skills. I thought it would be better for her to get into a more lucrative field.  She drew very interesting pictures as a toddler, but without any interference from me, she became more interested in gymnastics, singing, and performance.

Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your child to be artistic?
"The Fall"
Since painting is my strength, I did want to pass the skills I have on to her. A number of times, I encouraged her to paint or draw, but she wasn't interested. She has a talent for drawing cartoons and has a better imagination than I do, but she doesn't have the love for fine art that I had when I was a kid.

Have you seen your child take inspiration from your artwork?

I once heard on the radio that in a study of identical twins they found each twin developed unique skills despite their similar genes and environment.  It was hypothesized that when one twin was good at one skill the other twin felt compelled to find his or her own path.  Since my daughter doesn't have any other siblings and we spend a lot of time together, I feel like this dynamic is happening in our relationship as well.  She sees painting as my activity, and has never expressed interest in doing it herself.  She has many talents and skills I don't have, and I believe she will go in a direction that best suits her personality.

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

Being an artist may make it harder to be a parent because art is time consuming and often done in addition to another job.  Inadvertently, one may not focus on the child as much as a parent whose primary interest is raising children.  I hope having my own goals and ambitions allows my daughter to be self-reliant, and shows her the importance of following her dreams. 

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

At this point, most of my favorite artists have children, so I don't think it affects one’s perception of the artist.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Painting Parent -Terry Moore Strickland

matter deep publishing

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

Kyle 28, Carly 25, Amy, daughter-in-law, 28, Will, future son-in-law, 26

Amy, Kyle, and Carly.
How did your artistic career begin?

I was an illustrator/graphic designer with a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Central FL. My first career job was in the imprinted sportswear industry, think T-Shirt designs back in the heyday of screen printing, designing for zoos, surf shops, Sea World, Busch Gardens, Kennedy Space Center, the Smithsonian, and many others. My last commercial job was for a publishing company that specialized in board games and books. I had some interesting jobs in between, including courtroom sketch artist for the Thomas Blanton, 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Turning forty made me reevaluate my life priorities. I attended the University of Alabama in Birmingham for three semesters, to refocus on fine art. I began making large figurative work, entering regional shows and devoting myself to painting full-time. By 2005, I’d given up my commercial work entirely and have never looked back.

Did having young children influence when you made a career switch to being an artist?

Will as The Mariner
I made a career choice to go into commercial art because I knew that when I had children I could go freelance and be able to work a round their schedule. I switched to painting full time more for self fulfillment. I had always painted on the side but knew I had more in me that needed to be expressed, and that I deserved the chance to see if I could make it painting. I honestly did not know if I would like doing it full time. but I love it.

What is your Parenting/work/art situation?

We love our current parenting situation. Our kids are so cool! They are young adults and live nearby for now. We make the most of having them around by hosting a weekly family dinner night where we all get together, even the pets. Our dinner conversations are stimulating, touching on matters of art news, social issues, publishing, politics, feminism, pop culture and everyone’s latest project. In fact, in 2011, as a family we launched Matter Deep Publishing as a result of a dinner table conversation. We realized we had in the family elements of everything we needed for a publishing company, and we all had work we wanted to publish. Carly was graduating with an illustration degree, and Kyle had a professional writing degree, both from Savannah College of Art and Design. Amy, also a SCAD graduate, had written a young adult book, and I was working on The Incognito Project and wanted to do a book about it as the last element of the project. My husband, Dan is also a writer and we are about to publish his first novel. We’ve published Carly and Kyles’s children’s books, a novel by Kyle, and young adult novels and urban fiction by Amy. Will has written a children’s book; Carly has designed art show catalogs including from the Women Painting Women shows from the last few years.

Amy, as Athena
When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine?

I work every day, juggling the duties of a studio artist, gallery artist, painter of commissions, small business owner, teacher of two classes at Forstall Art Center, and Matter Deep Publishing CEO and editor.

Do your children get involved with your art?

They are beyond supportive, I would call them, and Dan, integral to the process. They are amazing models and I have painted them many times. They have a great eye for art and I rely on their critiques for concepts and painting. They have definite ideas about what makes provocative work and feel free to share with me. They don’t know how to fix a problem but see things clearly so i can tackle it. We all work together on everyone’s projects. Dinner night frequently evolves into brainstorming sessions about everyone’s current projects, our individual ones as well as Matter Deep’s. With some families, this might be too much togetherness, but from the beginning we have encouraged everyone to have identities and interests that are separate from the family.

Do they inspire aspects of your art?

Watching them change and grow has inspired many paintings. I’ve done work about coming of age, choices made in life and the inevitability of turbulent change. These are all things present in my life and made clearer by my observations of their lives.

How has having children changed your artwork?

Being a mother has given me life experiences, strong emotions and much to think about. All of those things, the good, the bad and the ugly get translated in to work. Motherhood is the great joy of my life, and about so much more than changing diapers, braces and funding their college education. It’s about the relationships with my children and now our growing family with my daughter-in-law and future son-in-law.

Husband, Dan in Mad Science
How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?
I delegate where I can, and make art a priority. I am in a sweet spot with the children grown as far as time to work on my career. I started seriously painting when they were in their teens, and they were thrilled to see me excited about the work. My husband has always been super supportive too and would take over kid stuff at night so I could work or take a class.

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

Of course the baby stage is time consuming but finding good child care is always an option. I was a member of a baby sitting co-op when my kids were young. It included many mothers who worked freelance or part time, and to this day my best friend is someone I met through the co-op. Having a partner in parenting is crucial. I was lucky to have a husband that never thought spending time with the kids was babysitting. His good relationship with the kids is a testament to that attitude.

Kyle as a knight for The Incognito Project.
How do you encourage your children to be artistic?
When they were young we did a lot of art projects with them, theater, writing, etc. We let them explore whatever they wanted to do. Now, with the publishing company we encourage the same thing.

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

No, we let them do their own thing, and encouraged them to be passionate in their pursuits. If anything, we know that being in an artistic field is a tough way to make a living but I think they are somehow hardwired with creativity, so maybe it was inevitable.

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?

Yes, it is interesting to see threads from our conversations show up in the writing, in one ofmy paintings or one of Carly’s illustrations.

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

It’s important to realize that we are in an age now where the younger generation is realizing that parenting is a a two person job. Men want to be part of the experience. I read Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg recently, and she brilliantly explained how it is doable for women and men to both have a career and have their lives enriched by children. Women can have children and not have to put their career life entirely on hold. For this to happen we must continue the important work for pay equality, healthcare for everyone, and family maternity leave for men and women. We must raise our boys to support the women in their lives, not solely as financial providers but supporting her choice of career. Girls need to be taught to expect and ask for those things as their equal right as a human. Being an artist is a difficult career, yes, from a financial aspect it’s tough. However, there is a flexibility in the life of an artist that lends itself to parenting.

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

Maybe, especially since I came to the fine art world late. Now however, I think the work speaks for itself and most people come to know me after knowing my work. I have had people tell me that they thought my work was done by a man. So maybe my gender is more surprising than my status as a parent.

How have each of your children felt influenced by your artwork and what they have learned from watching you develop your career as a painter?

Carly as The Seamstress
From daughter Carly: I think Mom's work itself has definitely influenced my own art. She tends towards realism and narrative work, and I think you can say that about my illustrations as well. I think the biggest influence on me though, was her willingness to make art *with* us when we were children. We'd sit at the kitchen table and paint one week, make clay sculptures the next. We'd talk and laugh and she'd teach us advanced techniques that we thought were super cool. It taught us that the act of creating is fun and collaborative. This is something I think we brought into adulthood with Matter Deep. Every project we make for the company has everyone's input and everyone makes their mark on it somehow.

The main thing I've learned by watching her career develop is that no one can read your mind. If you want something, an opportunity, a gallery show, a learning opportunity, you've got to ask for it. Take the chances you have. You'll never regret trying an opportunity, but you might regret letting one go.

From son Kyle: That's a really hard question to answer. To get at how I was influenced by my mother's work would be to imagine life without her. Art has become such a huge part of who I am because of my mother. It has helped me with critical thinking, creativity, and overall my appreciation for the beautiful and the sublime. Without being raised by my mother, I would imagine the world as a really dreary place. ( a link to Kyle book Mars 01 )

From daughter-in-law Amy: From the first day Kyle showed me Terry's work, I was in awe. So seeing Carly and Kyle walk up to a painting in progress and go, "Nice. The eye is weird" and watching Terry give a frustrated groan and then set to fixing it—I think that has made it much easier to give and take critique as a family. If someone so talented can gracefully accept feedback and make changes, and Kyle and Carly are never hesitant to give it, then I know that our family is a safe space to bounce ideas around and become stronger together.

From Will, our future son-in-law:
The primary thing that strikes me about Terry's career is that she never stops thinking about it. She loves her work so much that when she's not in the studio, she's fantasizing about being back in the studio. Any topic of conversation will relate to her paintings somehow. In fact, she turns every experience into a learning opportunity to further her development as a painter. For example, she found some spiral nails while gardening, which fascinated her with their texture of rust and caked earth. Unsurprisingly, those nails showed up in her smaller studies, months later. That kind of single-minded dedication to her profession is her most inspiring quality. It is clear to me that she has chosen her work because she finds a greater appreciation for life through it's practice.

Children's Book by Carly Strickland