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.