Thursday, January 8, 2015

Painting Parent - Brandon Douglas

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

One, three months, Beatrice Ruth Douglas.

How did your artistic career begin?

I’ve been drawing my whole life, but didn’t start painting until about 7-8 years ago. My job affords me a lot of time off and painting was a fun way for me to fill that time.  I think my hobby began to turn down the career path in 2010 when I took a workshop with Mia Bergeron and then really kicked into gear in 2012 when I started painting with Seth Haverkamp. Having such amazing artists close at hand for inspiration and guidance has been huge for me.

What is your Parenting/work/art situation?

I have been a firefighter for about 12 years now and a parent for 3 months. Up until Beatrice was born I had tons of time to paint due to my work schedule of 10 24-hour shifts a month. Now that the little one is here, things have scaled back. My wife also works full time, which leave me (happily) watching Bea all day on my weekdays off. But thanks to having such a supportive and understanding spouse, I’m still getting in a few hours of painting in the evenings after putting the kid down to bed.

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

My prime studio time these days is usually later in the evenings, 4 or so nights a week, as well as all day on my Mondays off thanks to my mother-in-law. However, I always keep a sketchbook with me and will occasionally work on small paint sketches at work on a slow day.

Do your children get involved with your art?

Na, she’s doesn’t quite have the motor control to hold a brush yet. But I count the days until she’s old enough to do all my grunt work, priming panels and such ;) Actually, she’s inspired me to child proof my studio out of fear of her getting too involved with my art. I’m stuck on using lead paint and hazardous mediums, so I modified a locking work bench/tool box to enable me to lock up my paints and brushes away when I’m not home. I even cut holes in the tabletop portion for medium cups and turp jars to avoid accidental spills.

Do they inspire aspects of your art?

Absolutely. Seth has always said his favorite subjects to paint are his children and I totally understand that now. I’ve just completed my first painted portrait of her and am already working on the next. I have a Strathmore tan toned sketchbook dedicated to little drawings of her sleeping and playing that I plan to continue throughout her childhood.

How has having children changed your artwork?

I don’t know that it has actually changed my artwork, aside from giving me new subject matter, but it has definitely changed how I approach creating work. Before Beatrice I could afford to tinker around with whatever little thing I felt like, or allow myself to get lost on the internet on days when I felt less than inspired. Now my studio time is more limited so I have to make an effort to keep myself focused on what I’m working on and make the most of my time.

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?

Spending my late teens/early twenties growing up in a firehouse, I’ve always had the view that work comes before play. Even if, as in this case, ‘play’ is work. I never go out to the studio when there are chores still to be done. Before Bea maybe that was vacuuming or wiping down the kitchen, now days its washing the day’s bottles and making tomorrow’s batch.

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

She’s only 3 months old so I don’t have much to analyze here, but certainly her sleeping better has helped. The first few weeks I was too tired to do anything but sleep when she slept. Now that she’s on a better schedule and is (almost) sleeping through the night it has helped a lot with getting studio time as well as a reasonable amount of sleep.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic?

I plan to encourage her to be herself. If she’s artistic, great, if she’s athletic, that’s great too.

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

The only pressure I feel right now in relation to my life as a parent and as an artist is continue to make time for my pursuits as an artist. I feel that setting that kind of example while inspire her to chase whatever dreams and goals she may have, artistic or not. If she decides she wants to draw and paint I’ll certainly do whatever I can to gently encourage her and give her whatever instruction and guidance I’m able to provide.

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?

There’s a painting I did of my wife hanging in our house that Beatrice loves to stare at, if that counts.

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

I don’t know that specifically being an artist has any effect, but I believe any parent who is committed to something their passionate about, be it painting, writing, woodworking, exercise, whatever, is going to have a harder time as far as time management goes, especially those of us who’s passions don’t pay the bills. However, I think that part of being a well-rounded, happy human being is pursing the things that make us happy and give us an outlet. And to be a happier human, I feel, makes one a better parent.
Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist?

I don’t know. I don’t really know how I’m perceived as an artist as it is. I don’t feel like I perceive other artists with kids any differently than those without. My hope is that my work is what influences people’s perception of me as an artist.

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