Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Painting Parent - Meredith Andersen Hannon

Meredith Andersen Hannon

How did your artistic career begin?
I am self-taught artist and began my career in college by turning my bedroom walls into a canvas. Inspired by impressionist masters, I decided to try my hand at painting a full-sized mural of an Italian seaside village, and with the encouragement of family and friends, expanded into painting walls across Northern Virginia. Over the years, I've switched to working almost exclusively in oils on canvas as a full-time artist.

How has being pregnant affected your art making ability?
I found out I was pregnant right before I had my first solo show (thankfully my brand new dress fit for the opening!), which was perfect timing as I had a large number of pieces stocked up. While I have been blessed to feel good enough to paint throughout the entire pregnancy, I took for granted how much physicality is required in the painting process. As a result, I've slightly reduced my actual painting hours, but in the meantime used that time to focus on organizing, researching, and creating a strategy for running a business with a baby!

Georgetown Skyline, oil on canvas, 24"x36"
When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine?
Painting is my full-time job, and so I try to keep normal business hours (as normal as they can be running your own business). During the weekdays, I get up with my husband, we eat breakfast together, and when he leaves for work, I go up to the studio and start my day. Given that I maintain my studio in the home, I usually start dinner and wrap my day up in time for when he returns home. Of course, there are times when I am working on the weekend or attending art events in the evening hours, but I find it important to maintain a routine that mimics corporate world hours since I lived in that world for several years before quitting to run my art business full-time and therefore am accustomed to those hours.

Has pregnancy affected your painting inspiration? Have you felt more or less inspired?
To be honest, the whole idea of having a baby is exciting but very overwhelming at the same time, and a cluttered mind does not help the creative process. So there have been days when my inspiration to paint has been quite low. That said, I love Stephen King's quote “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” The same holds true for painting. Sometimes you just have to get up and start painting whether you want to or not, but on the flip side, the idea of showing my daughter that she can be a loving mom and wife and run her own business at the same time inspires me in incredible ways to get past any mental blocks.

Have you made any changes to your painting process because of being pregnant?
I tend to paint large pieces, so framing and moving pieces has become more cumbersome, as well as the things you don't think about like how using an air compressor and staple gun to stretch canvas isn't probably good for baby's developing ears. I may or may not have once strapped a pillow around my waist to muffle the noise! Thankfully there was no adjustment in the materials I felt comfortable using as I have only ever used non-toxic paints and mediums, so the only real change has been in my overall productivity levels due to the physical demands.

Capitol Glow, oil on canvas, 24"x36"

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?
It was a huge disappointment in realizing that just because I now worked from home did not mean that my house would automatically be pristine. Actually quite the opposite...being away from the home is the only sure fire way to not be creating a mess in it. That said, being pregnant has forced me to create the habit of spending more time keeping the house organized because I realize that a baby is the ultimate way to bring a house from order to disorder if you let it get away from you!

In what ways do you think being an artist will make being a parent harder or easier?
I think time will be the biggest factor in making things harder. Especially having a studio in my home, it will be harder to separate my work life from home life. That said, I think being a parent will be a great motivator in pushing myself since I want my daughter to be exposed to the art world and to see that it is possible for her to run her own business one day if that's what she feels called to do. My mom ran her own business for years from home and I grew up watching that and always admired it.

How do you plan on working your art back into life after the baby is born?
I have set goals for myself for the rest of the year based on creating realistic expectations in talking to other mothers. I am very blessed to have both my parents and in-laws very close to home, so have a lot of help if I need to meet deadlines as well. In the long term, since I'm due in October, I plan to address how to ramp up to full-time status again once the new year begins and I come up for air after getting out of the newborn phase!
Villa Cipressi, oil on canvas, 24"x36"

Do you think being a parent will affect the way you are perceived as an artist?
Yes and no. Being pregnant in and of itself has been interesting as it's made me realize who takes my career seriously and who thinks painting is a glorified hobby. It's amazing how some people will make somewhat hurtful remarks about how painting will become a distant memory, whereas you'd never hear them make a comment like that to someone whose plan is to go back to the corporate world after their maternity leave is up. That said, others have been incredibly supportive and have made the assumption that my studio will just be a little bit more full of baby things once she comes along! At the end of the day, I realize that with the support of my family and the direction of God, I forge my own path and cannot allow myself to care the way I'm perceived whether positive or negative. Painting is what I am called to do, and while my life won't look the same today as it will a year from now, I know that both my painting life and personal life

No comments:

Post a Comment