Thursday, July 21, 2016

Painting Parent -Tina Garrett

How many children do you have? What are their ages?
I have two really lovely children. They’re just great people and I’m a little partial to them. My son is 16 and my daughter is 14.

How did your artistic career begin?
 My artistic career began as a graphic designer and illustrator in 1994. I had always wanted to make great paintings but my parents pressed me to go to a college near relatives so I could live with them during my two-year college experience, so I went to the Colorado Art Institute, which taught me QuarkXPress and Photoshop. 
Immediately after college, I began work as at the Kansas City Star laying out ads on the night shift.  Within 6 months I was working as a graphic designer/Illustrator at a local not for profit. Just two weeks before my first child was born in 2000, I began working from home on a freelance basis for a local woman-owned PR firm and by 2001 I had several clients.
I was able to work for myself as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator for over 10 years with my largest client being the children’s curriculum and music divisions of Nazarene Publishing House. It was around 2010 that I saw a serious drop in the work from the publishing house. By 2011 the work was essentially gone. Children’s workbooks and crayons had been replaced with iPads and Ipods. Though I was successful at creating a few animated videos and apps for the company, I let the work go. I didn’t feel like an artist anymore. I felt like a computer programmer. Faced with the decision to either go back to school to be competitive in something I didn’t love doing, go back to school to learn a completely non-artistic career or finally peruse my life long dream of painting like the masters, I took an incredible leap of faith and applied for a scholarship to the Scottsdale Artist’s School. In 2012, they gave me the first of two scholarships and I began learning how to oil paint. 

What is your Parenting/work/art situation?
I’ve always worked at home throughout my child raising years. Many hours have been spent at the computer or drawing table with a baby or two on my lap. Today it is second nature to my children. I taught them from a very early age to respect my privacy when I was on the phone or in a meeting, just as they would want me to not interrupt them if they had a play date over. Just the other day my 16 year old left my studio saying, “I know, I know, I won’t bother you unless we’re both on fire.” (A saying I coined when they were young…my husband is a full time fire fighter.)
Do you now or have you ever worked other jobs while pursuing your art. How to you preserve time and energy for your art. Are there ways that your art benefits from your other job?
No, fortunately, since I was the breadwinner in my freelance years, my family easily respected and supported my switch to fine art. My husband worked three jobs at one point so I could have the space and time I needed to learn how to paint. In the few short years since I began oil painting, I’ve pursued it tenaciously and with the intention of making a living. If you are intending to make a living with your art, there isn’t any confusion about how many hours you work or how much attention your work gets, it’s your work. If it isn’t your work, it’s a hobby and hobbies are always negotiable, second place and even eligible to be dropped all together.

When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine?
I plan my week out on Sunday and aim to use Monday and Tuesday for any administrative work, errands, framing, private lessons, promoting my work, etc. I try to reserve Wed-Friday for painting. This is my framework, but if a client can only meet on a Friday, I may have to be flexible. Or, if I’m feeling the groove on a particular painting, I’ll paint on Monday and Tuesday and stop for a private lesson, but not to run errands. My calendar is set for a year in advance for workshops, open studio events and reminders are set for competition dates and shipping dates. This is my job, so I’m not only the Creative Manager/painter but also an Office Manager, PR Director and Sales Manager…I leave the accounting to someone who can actually operate a calculator.

Do your children get involved with your art?
Yes, both my children have posed for me during workshops and private lessons or just to make a painting that I’ve dreamt up. They’ve been super-supportive from the beginning! They both pass the kitchen to enter my studio and cheer me on all the time. They’ll happily go to art openings when food is involved and the whole family is traveling to Maui next month for my 3-Day workshop and family vacation. In April 2017, my daughter will travel with me to Limoux, France as my model for my 10 day Painting the Figure in the Landscape workshop. She’s thrilled since she’s been studying French for three years. I’m happy to have a model I know can do the work beautifully and has to show up, we’re staying in the same boutique hotel after all!

Do they inspire aspects of your art?
My daughter in particular has been a great inspiration in my work. Her coming of age years have touched a special chord in my work and recording her changing body and the growth of her spirit through oil painting has been a priceless experience.

How has having children changed your artwork?
Many times over the years when I was illustrating, I’d lamented over the choices I had made that kept me from being a professional painter. Now that I’ve actually made that leap I can see that it never was ‘having children’ that kept me from being the artist I wanted to be. It was my own lack of courage. You see I never would have taken the leap to becoming a professional fine artist had the children’s publishing industry not imploded…had my income not depended upon it. I was complicit in my dreams just staying dreams. I imagined the life of a ‘painter’ meant you had to live aloof, alone and in some small apartment in NY or Paris, eating paint and take out. Ha! That is such a lie. Real, successful women painters have beautiful full lives as parents and spouses. We cook, and clean our own houses and we even have friends we get to have coffee and see movies with once a week!

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?
Okay, I have to admit…I did just hire a housekeeper two weeks ago to come twice a month and clean the things I am clearly not addressing. It’s not as expensive as you’d think, and it has really eased a little guilt for me in the “I’m supposed to have that done.” department. The fact of the matter is, as a businesswoman who works more than full time hours, it is okay to hire help with anything that needs to be done which I simply cannot get to. Next on my list is to hire an intern to keep my palette and brushes clean. Just kidding!

Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which ways?
No, as I said, my children have been raised to behave in a disciplined manner around my working schedule. In reality, I’ve been far more available to them working from home all these years than any other parents we know. They’ve never done day care aside from camps and moms day out stuff, and they’ve both told me that seeing me work from home makes them proud and inspired. I wouldn’t do a single thing differently.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic?
I really haven’t encouraged my children to be artistic per se. I’ve always want them to be who they are and follow their own passions so I paid close attention to them when they were young. They both gravitated to the dress up clothes and puppets much more than the crayons and watercolors so I followed their lead and enrolled them in children’s theater and took them to plays at an early age. They are both gifted musicians and actors and public speakers. The benefits of art, the calming, focus and ability to be in tune with your self are true across all artistic endeavors. I love that me kids participate in theater and music. I don’t have an ego that drives me to push them to be visual artists just because that’s what I am.

Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic?
I receive a lot of questions about it, but I don’t consider it pressure. My husband and I are confident in our parenting together mostly because we have wonderful mentors (friends with older children) from whom we receive advice and direction from often. And so far, we’ve raised truly beautiful people, which is what is important to me most as a parent.

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?
My children are so involved in their own work, acting, debate, travel and school. They are both very creative and funny people. They are charming and ambitious and we are often complimented as parents, which always feels great. They have expressed their pride in me, and inspiration by me, but I think that comes more from seeing me be happy and persevere as a professional than specific to my artwork. So I haven’t’ seen them mimic my artwork as much as emulate my example of how to make their own dreams come true.

In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier?
I definitely claim space for myself that perhaps other working parents aren’t as finite about. My door may be shut for hours and my music may be loud enough to drive another person in the house crazy, but that’s what headphones are for. I imagine any parent working from home, artist or otherwise, has to have a similar boundary. I wouldn’t say being an artist makes it harder, though, it’s just different. There are jobs that would be much harder to be a parent while doing that job, like a soldier overseas. Parenting as an artist is cheesecake compared to that.

Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist?
Perhaps, since I have painted my children, people may consider my being a parent when they think of my work, but I would be saddened if their thoughts bent either positive or negative about the fact. I want my work to stand on it’s own merits, to be considered and appreciated and judged on it’s face, not by me, my working methods, my materials, my life choices, marriage, children, pets. It all seems irrelevant when one is faced with a great work, or a bad one. I stood in front of Sargent’s “Madam X” last year at the MET and never once did it cross my mind, “I wonder if he was a good parent”.

Are there any other things about Balancing Painting and Parenting that you would like to share?
Only that I hope women painters in particular are not burdening themselves with undue work/life/parenting questions, or letting anyone else place those burdens on them. Parenting is difficult enough as it is, and 10 times more so if you don’t have a loving partner and lots of support to raise your children with.
I wish for all artists who are also moms, to give themselves permission to do both jobs beautifully. Pull all the resources you have to give your kids beautiful childhoods and give yourself the time and space you need to make the best work you can make. Be unapologetic about your art if it is your work. Demand of yourself and your environment the same standards any job from home requires.
If painting is your hobby, accept that hobbies are hobbies and they don’t and shouldn’t’ garner the respect that work does. I wouldn’t support my husband in racing remote control cars for 20 hours a week, but I’m happy to see him enjoy the hobby when he has time and I’d love to see him go to an RC Car Race Workshop once a year so he can really hone his skills, meet up with some other RC Car nerds and come home refreshed and excited about life!
We should all live the life of the kind of people we want our kids to become. Be happy, productive and kind and your kids will be too.

Tina's bio and workshop info can be found at

Friday, July 1, 2016

Painting Parent - Rachel Alvarez

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

2, 3.5 and 1.5

How did your artistic career begin?

I majored in fine art, painting and photography in college, but it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago, that I really got serious about painting as a career. I am a SAHM but, thankfully, painting has turned into a wonderful part-time job for me.

What is your Parenting/work/art situation?

Right now, I paint only during nap times for my kids. I work on marketing, paperwork and website things after they are in bed for the night.

Do you now or have you ever worked other jobs while pursuing your art. How to you preserve time and energy for your art. Are there ways that your art benefits from your other job?

I have not been working a traditional 9-5 job since pursuing my art, but I did have a long career before becoming a SAHM. When I was working in that career, I always looked for ways to be creative on the job. I worked retail management, so I was able to do displays, web maintenance, product photography and promotional events- all of those things provided an artistic outlet for me, which I definitely need in order to be happy and productive.

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

I paint nearly every single day; sometimes it’s for 1 hour -sometimes for 3, depending on nap times.

Do your children get involved with your art?

My 3 year old son does. Earlier this year I did a series of watercolor food paintings called “toddler snacks”. He helped me choose my next subject, photograph the plate, and then gave me his opinion once the piece was completed. I don’t think he minded one bit when we got to the donuts…

Do they inspire aspects of your art?

Yes. I am painting with watercolor ONLY because of my lack of time. I usually work with oils, but that is just not practical for me at this time. I got over my fears of the medium, and now I really enjoy the challenge. I like to paint colorful, lively things. This is a little way for me to celebrate the energy and joy that my kids have brought to my life.

How has having children changed your artwork?

It has certainly inspired me to produce MORE. I am not as afraid of messing up as I used to be. My subject matter has reflected them, of course. Before becoming a mom, I wouldn’t have painting celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins on top.

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?

For the household chores, they just have to be done with help form the kids. I am glad that they see me working in that way, and I’m happy that I have a way to refresh myself while they are doing the same. If I didn’t paint, I would most likely just be doing the dishes. Now, my son helps me with those things and we make it fun.

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

It has become more difficult to paint now that my youngest has started to walk and is only taking one nap. I just have to be even more efficient in my paining, and that’s probably a good exercise for me in the long run anyways.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic?

We sing, color, and imagine together. I talk about my art and what I am doing with it- eve if it’s just packaging something to be shipped. They see all aspects of what being an artist means.

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

Not really. I feel like those interests develop. I was in 4th grade when I really got into art. And, although my entire family is fully of professional artists, I never felt pressure to be artistic. It became my own interest. I’d like it to be that way for my kids, too.

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?

I think so. My son loves to draw and use his imagination. My daughter loves to sing just like me. It’s really great to see them excited about the things that I love.

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

I think it’s sometimes harder because I have a real need to produce. Some of my parent friends don’t have that need, and so they don’t feel unproductive, per se, if they haven’t finished a project every day. I would feel so weird if I didn’t try to complete something art-related every day.

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

It might, but I try to celebrate my motherhood in my art. My etsy shop, for instance, is called TheNapTimeArtist. It’s an upfront reality that I am an artist and a mom.

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

Love both and don’t get upset when one has to be put on hold for the other. It’s a real balancing act.



Monday, June 6, 2016

Beth de Loiselle and Hans Guerin - Painting Parents

"Love and Comfort" 16" x 12" Oil" By Hans Guerin
How many children do you have? What are their ages? One, 13 Months old

How did your artistic career begin? Members of my family (Hans) have been artists for 6 generations
including my brother and me. Both of us, my brother and I, both went to college studying subjects other than art but we decided without coercion to study at our family atelier, The Schuler School of  Fine Arts.
Ornate Magnolias by Beth de Loiselle
My wife, Beth, is the first of her family to endeavor to become an artist. She won a scholarship to the
Schuler School’s summer program in 01, fell in love with the school and me and the rest is history.

What is your Parenting/work/art situation? Right now we are still struggling to find studio time with
trying to be very active in our little boy’s life. We arrange it so that if I’m not teaching I watch the little one so Beth can paint in the daytime. I paint at very late/early hours when I’m not catching up on otherwork for the house, our art business, or the Schuler School.

When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine? Somewhat. The days we teach are scheduled. My time at night is available to me if I’m not too tired or don’t have very important duties to address. Beth paints when I am home unless we decide to do something else as a family.

Do your children get involved with your art? Yes he doodles on pads of paper while we prevent him
from putting the pencil into his eye or his mouth, the cats, the furniture, etc.

"Mother Earth", 48" x 36" Oil by Hans
Do they inspire aspects of your art? Yes, We both have ambitious compositions that involve him in some aspect but further, our paradigm of life has changed. We are more optimistic, nurturing and  more outwardly expressive of love outside of our personal and very private lives together. That definitely comes through in our art

How has having children changed your artwork? A little early to tell, Beth has been painting mostly
commissions and I have only produced a limited amount of artwork since his birth, most of which was already planned beforehand.

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks? The amount of work, non-art, has increased but we still make time to keep the house clean and maintained. I don’t sleep as much to help get it all done. The time for artwork has suffered, especially for me. It’s getting better as our boy is less fragile and we are finding better arrangements for others to watch him.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic? Our Art is very much a part of who we are; it has to translate into the way we interact with him. We teach and play with him instinctually and things like color, composition, spacial relationships and attention to detail will come through. We make sure that events for him are well decorated and fun for him, like his Winnie the Pooh themed first birthday party and Christmas. Most of the people outside of us are also artists in some way; his artistic influence will come from many directions.
Sentinel of Beauty by Beth

Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic? None at all. I was never
pressured into the arts. My parents and Grandparents only encouraged us when we tried art but never
pushed it on my brother and me; my wife and I will do the same for our boy.

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork? A little early to say; my wife and I think he’s brilliant but he is very expressionist in his technique.

In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier? Easier in that we can push and pull work hours to better accommodate his needs. Harder in that when we sacrifice time for our art we suffer financially and with our reputation/relevance. A household of both parents with a variable income is also difficult especially with planning for his future.

The Nocturne, 24" x 16" Acrylic by Hans
Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist? I think so, artist have a
stereotype of being daydreamers, slackers and leeches, making objects of beauty or treatises on
humanity without the rigmarole of real world experience. Even though in reality that description doesn’t really apply to my wife and me, not even most of the other artists we know, being a parent can add relevancy and relatability. It also changes our artist’s perspective on life; caring for a child might make the artwork relate to the art-viewing public whether they know you are a parent or not.

Are there any other things about Balancing Painting and Parenting that you would like to share? I think there is a stigma against professional artists that don’t prioritize art over all and can’t put in a full time schedule. I think that dismissive attitude is bs. I prioritize my family over my artwork and feel whole doing it. My and Beth’s work remains relevant in that my recent work has been recognized and awarded; Beth has been killing it with commissions. The amount of work may have suffered and the quality would most likely be better with more time painting but life is more than that; an aspect that I appreciated before my son was born but reinforced since.
Baker Dogs by Beth

Spotted Great Dane Miniature by Beth

You Can't Take it With You
Oil on Canvas Panel
By Hans

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Painting Parents - Rob and Lina Liberace

A watercolor of Ava by Rob, 9”x12"

How many children do you have? What are their ages?
Celia 15, Ava 13
How did your artistic career begin?

Rob received a baseball scholarship to attend George Washington University and graduated with an art major then went on to get his Masters there as well. He was teaching even before he graduated and soon branched out from there with teaching, commissions and gallery work in the DC area. I graduated with a marketing and art degree from Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana, then moved to DC and became a full time illustrator, working mainly for magazines at first, then doing both corporate Illustration and children’s books.
What is your Parenting/work/art situation?
Fortunately we both work from home when Rob is not teaching, which allows us to spend a lot of time with our kids. We both have studios here at the house.
In a Dual Art Career family how do you each support the other's artistic career?
It helps to have a solid marriage where we both respect one anothers opinions as well as one another's artistic abilities. That and wanting the best for everyone goes a long way. We have always been super supportive and do what we can to help each other find the time for creativity.

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

Rob keeps busy with teaching and painting, but is very good at dividing his time between work and family, where he is very much a hands-on dad. I only illustrates occasionally these days, turning down bigger projects, and fit in sculpture and painting when possible. We tend to take on too many extracurricular projects (we’ve done three home renovations since we were married 19 years ago) so there is never enough time to do everything.
Do you Lina, wish that there were more time for you to focus on art pursuits or do you feel content with the current balance?
Like many mom" artists, I would definitely like more time to focus on art pursuits. It is not uncommon while raising a family and keeping the household going. However, I put the much of the blame on myself, since I seem to have too many interests! The good thing is that most of my interests involve creativity, and I am able to release much of that creative energy by doing things such as tiling a mosaic floor patterned after floors I’ve seen in old Italian churches, designing and building a playhouse or even creating a flower bed. While the artistic fulfillment might not be exactly the same as painting or sculpting, it seems to satisfy that same need for creating things. I also tend to do a lot of the business side of things, which is the bane of every artist!

Do your children get involved with your art? We have always encouraged them to draw and work on their skills. It is inspiring to see them grow and their artwork progress.
Do they inspire aspects of your art? Rob has enjoyed using the girls as models from time to time since they were little. They are wonderful, natural models who seem to instinctively know how to pose. 
How has having children changed your artwork?  Rob has an extensive amount of work which focuses on the girls and never ceases being inspired by them. It got me off of the full-time illustration track, but I think was ready for that change.
How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?
Rob tries to keep to a routine of painting during daylight hours when possible, and then has his evening open. He is better at switching gears more easily than I am.Most non-art related projects and work get done on the weekends if possible. I tend to work intensely on projects and finish them quickly, but end up spacing them further apart then Ilike to, with all that needs to be done with the house, kids and business.
How do you make decisions about division of family, household responsibilities?
I think we can safely say that we both give it our all. There are things he doesn’t do well and things I don’t do well so we compensate for one another and we both do what is needed. Rob tends to be the fixer and I tend to be the cleaner. I help the kids with their English and he helps with Math and Science. Rob will step in and make dinner any time I am obviously working hard on any project, artistic or not. By the same token, I try and lessen his burden when he is busy.
We can each be a bit scattered at times, but we figure that is the way artistic brains operate so we are very forgiving of one another when something gets overlooked (which happens more than we’d like to admit!). Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a secretary and housekeeper!

Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which ways?
As the girls get older, they are more self sufficient and there is more time for artwork. But even though we’re no longer changing diapers, the years of slumber parties and rides have taken over, so it is still not easy to find large blocks of time to paint. It all still requires time and energy, but in different ways. We both feel that having spent so much time with our kids earlier is paying off now, in that they both had a lot of love and a solid foundation. So while the teenage years certainly bring on new challenges, the ride so far is not as rough as it could be - knock on wood!
How do you encourage your children to be artistic? We encourage by example, although we have no need to try. Both girls seem to have it in their genes. They are always creating something. We are a family of mess makers!
Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic? It is a nice bonus that ours are artistic, but you never know when a child will be interested in art or have natural artistic ability. Our youngest made miniature models of all sorts of things when she was younger, and our oldest even made a dress out of newspaper one time. They are definitely self motivated. We are lucky that both our girls are natural artists so all we do is gently encourage them to develop their skills. We will have occasional family drawing sessions, which is always fun and inspiring. And, of course, Rob is a natural teacher, so his opinions are always in demand. We certainly do not feel pressured to do so. We have the philosophy that the girls should do what makes them happy, whether it is art or something else.
Ava’s copy of an illustration from the book “Giants
Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?   Like most artists, our children are inspired by artwork, whether it is ours or from seeing art on the art museum trips we take each year. When they see something that pleases their eye, they want to emulate it. Or not… once we were at the MET and the Rob had the girls doing some drawing. Celia was busy sketching a copy of some 15th century great master’s drawing and Ava was sitting next to her finishing up a nice likeness of Spongebob Squarepants! 
In addition, both girls are asked to “illustrate” their assignments at school regularly (it seems to be stressed due to the fact that it helps children memorize the material) and take great care to do a high level of work, even if it is just illustrating cells for a science class. It has definitely helped them with good grades and certainly hones their skills. 

Two of Celia’s self-styled outfits.

In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier? Rob is very good at dividing his time between work and family time. Lina has a more difficult in transitioning from one to another, so when she paints, which is not nearly so frequently, Rob will try and fill in to keep the household going. Being an artist is like any job in that it takes time. The good thing is that it is something we can do at home.

Some of Lina’s sculptural pieces.

How has having a spouse that is also an artist affected your career and also your daily life?

I think it affects our connection to one another, our home and how we live. Our lives are rich and full, in no small part from our artistic vision.
Do you draw inspiration from each other in your personal work? Definitely. It would be pretty difficult not to be inspired by Rob’s work. He is always surprising us with beautiful paintings, inkings and watercolors. On the other hand, he recently painted a lovely watercolor after seeing something I was working on, saying he was inspired by the sensitivity of my drawing. He also saw the quick pace I had to keep for illustration jobs and realized he didn't need to take so long to finish a painting.

Lina's oil painting of a wren, 9”x12"

Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist? Our family life is first and foremost. Being good parents is more important than being successful artists to us. As intense as Rob is with his art, he is probably even a more intense and caring dad. If we go to any sort of art related function, we bring our kids with us if it is at all possible. This may or may not always be the ideal thing for people who invite us, but with us, if you want us, that often means the girls will be in tow. They have always been well behaved and at home among adult artists so it never seems to be a problem. We’ve had at least one overseas art trip with students each year for the past decade. I think we all (including the students) believe having the kids along enriches the trips.
People who know us all often tell us that we have it all since we have a great family life but also the ability to work on our art. I think people respect the fact that we are putting so much of our energy towards our children, but still maintaining a balance.
Are there any other things about balancing painting and parenting that you would like to share?  In an earlier interview, I (Lina) said that “You can have it all but not all at once.” at least from the mom point of view. I still think that is mostly true, although as the kids get older, it gets easier to mix the two. All artists who are making their income from their art have to be able to juggle two very different elements - art and business. Having children just adds a third ingredient to the mix, which keeps us grounded in real life.

One of several of Robs paintings of Ava as a harlequin, 16x20

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Painting Parent - Blair Updike

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

I have two girls, ages 4 and 6.

How did your artistic career begin?

Although I’ve painted on an off since I was about 17, I’d say that the career/professional part only started 2 years ago. I hadn’t painted much for about a 10 year period because I worked, and then I had children. When my youngest was about 2 I decided to paint her. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I’d enroll in a portrait drawing class at the local college so that I would have some dedicated art time on a weekly basis. I started watching David Leffel videos and attended The Art of the Portrait Conference that spring and it just exploded out from there.

Alla prima sketch I did of a friend's newborn.
 Suzy painted him also.
What is your Parenting/work/art situation?

I have the girls with me full time because we homeschool. This is advantageous in terms of the big schedule because we can come and go as we please, so it accommodates my erratic travel schedule, but it’s also difficult in terms of the small schedule because there are really no extended breaks in my day. We school at the studio every day, so I am in my space, but there’s no chance that they’re going to leave me alone for any extended amount of time so that I could focus enough to paint.   

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

I may prep or do quick fixes on paintings during the day, but I get most of my painting done at night. I drink tea or coffee before dinner, so I’m committed because I won’t be able to sleep after that, and then go paint after the kids are in bed. I like to start paintings on Sunday afternoons and then work a couple of nights during the week. I try and make a goal of getting home before the sprinklers come on at night, but I only make it about 10% of the time, so then I have to dart through the freezing sprinklers in the dark in order to get into my home. Last thing you want to do after a hard night’s painting.

Do your children get involved with your art?

I use my kids as models a lot. I’m more comfortable practicing techniques or new ideas on my own kids than on a commissioned portrait. I look forward to the days when they can act as studio assistants and wash brushes for me.

Do they inspire aspects of your art?

They inspired me to start painting again, but beyond that they reawakened my awe for the world as well as strengthening my empathy. I think studying your own child with such love eventually turns you into a better observer of people in general, so you catch the nuances of their character more vividly and can hopefully bring that across in paint.

How has having children changed your artwork?

I’ve gone sappy. I absolutely love to paint children in their element when they’re climbing, or splashing, or when they’re completely enthralled by something as simple as a bucket of sand. I’m not naturally someone who is drawn to either children or motherhood, but I’ve really developed a joy for seeing them in their element and trying to capture those sweet, free moments in paint.

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?

My house is constantly in a state of flux (but that’s partly because it only takes my kids like 30 minutes to destroy 2 rooms). I often have to choose between painting and a home cooked meal and painting usually wins. Fortunately, I have a husband who considers my painting very important, so he’s amazingly tolerant and accommodating.

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

It’s only getting easier as the kids get less demanding. My girls are already pretty self-sufficient and good at occupying themselves, but I look forward to the days when they’ll be able to sit and read for a couple of hours while I paint.

Suzy's first oil painting from when she was 5.
I had a still life set up and she painted at the same time.
How do you encourage your children to be artistic?

I don’t believe in training small children or giving them much direction when it comes to art. I haven’t really encouraged them beyond making materials available. We keep pencils, pens, crayons, paints (all washable) where they can get them whenever they want. We had to make a change over to bound sketch books because my floor was constantly littered with the reams of paper that they’d run through daily. They both draw for at least an hour every day with no encouragement from me.

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

I love the idea that we’re going to be like the Wyeth’s or something, but I don’t feel any pressure.

Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?

My oldest sometimes paints the same life models or still life set ups that I use, but generally they’re on their own paths.

Suzy with her painting of the baby.
In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier?

I think it makes parenting easier because we always have so many interesting ideas floating about. We meet people, go to historical reenactments, visit landscapes that I probably wouldn’t have touched had I been in some other profession. Because I frequently have historical or cultural subjects in my paintings there are so many other disciplines involved that my children have the opportunity to learn as they come along with me, whether we’re talking academic disciplines, or things or a more material nature like sewing costumes, or making props.

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

Laura's drawings. Age 4.
People tell me all the time that they don’t understand how I make time to do it, so obviously there is a perception that mothers have no time for anything else. Hopefully my life as an artist helps people change the way they perceive parenting. Having interests of your own is part setting an example to your children, so parents need to find that time to invest in their own development.

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

Everyone’s going to jump on me for this, but I have to stick up for the dads who paint. I hear a lot of women saying “I had to put my family first and spend all my time taking care of children, so I couldn’t paint until that was done, it’s so much easier being a man.” I think about what it must be like having painting as the primary source of income with which to support a family, and that does not sound easier at all. It sounds horribly stressful. I also think about the men I know who work normal jobs and then come home and try to find time to squeeze in for painting after family time. It’s not easier being a father who paints. It’s just different.  
Because we homeschool, and I can just haul them wherever I go. I have a lot of freedom to attend events around the country. This was from a plein air competition in Marble Falls Texas. I was awarded 1st place and the girls got to enjoy the bluebonnets and adventure around Texas.

A recent plein air study I did of the moon rise
while the girls played on the lakeshore

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Painting Parents - Anna Rose Bain

This weeks Painting Parent is
Anna Rose Bain

How many children do you have? What are their ages?  I have one daughter, Cecelia, 3 ½ months old.

"The Wait and the Reward (30x30")
How did your artistic career begin? I sold my first portrait when I was twelve years old, so I guess that’s when it began! I always knew I wanted to be a professional artist. I was self-taught and focused entirely on drawing in graphite and colored pencils, until entering college, majoring in art, and committing most of my time to the discipline of oil painting. After getting married in 2008 and moving from the Midwest to the Dallas area, my husband supported me in the decision to pursue a full-time career in painting. It started slowly at first (note the year: 2008!), but gradually took off as my name got out there and my body of work grew and improved.

What is your Parenting/work/art situation? My husband and I both work at home. My painting studio makes up 25% of our house and is the first room you walk into when you enter our home. There are pros and cons to this situation, as I can fully care for my daughter without paying a babysitter or daycare. I can also teach out of my home studio and paint at whatever odd hours necessary to get the job done. The cons are that I only get 20 minutes here, or an hour there, to spend focused on my painting. This makes for slow progress, and it’s difficult to get back into the “groove”, with so many interruptions.

When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine? My husband is able to watch Cecelia during the evenings and weekends, so I get a little more time to paint then. There is really no routine, otherwise. I paint whenever I can. I walk past my easel every day. Sometimes I paint, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I leave my palette and brushes out and make one or two strokes in passing—while holding a baby—after noticing something that could be improved…

"Cece at Three Weeks Old (6x8")"
Do your children get involved with your art? Considering my daughter is only three months old, YES – she has gotten very involved, by being my model several times already. It was easiest when she was a newborn and would sleep for two hours at a time. Now that she’s awake more during the day, I try to paint and sketch her whenever I can, but it’s a lot harder.

Do they inspire aspects of your art? All the time. As a commissioned portrait artist, I often paint children, but since having Cece, she has inspired a greater empathy and depth of feeling in my paintings. She has also been the subject of numerous alla prima studies, and I included her in a self portrait called “The Wait and the Reward” that went completely viral on the social media sites.

"Sharing Secrets (20x16")",
How has having children changed your artwork? I feel like my work has gotten exponentially better since becoming pregnant and having a baby. I can’t explain why, exactly, but there is so much more love now than ever before. Art was my first love – but now I have an overflowing love for this darling girl, and somehow it gets transcribed into my paintings. She is a permanent part of my world now, therefore, a permanent part of my art.

How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks? Well, the house is usually a mess. J I still manage to do dishes and a load of laundry here and there, but I’ve had to let a lot of things slide that I’m normally on top of. It’s a small price to pay.

"Lullaby" (22x16")"
Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which ways? Since my daughter is so young, I can’t really say yet. It’s harder and easier in different ways. For example, it was harder when she was a newborn because I had no idea what she was doing… but easier because she slept more. It’s easier now because she’s more predictable and I can read her cues, but harder because she’s becoming more alert and awake during the day.

How do you encourage your children to be artistic? Cecelia sees my paintings every day. She sees how much value art has in my life. She will be raised to appreciate art fully, and if she is so inclined, she’ll be an artist too.

Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic? No, not necessarily. My husband is an engineer, so I feel that our family has a good balance. She can be whatever she wants to be, and we will encourage her to develop her talents, just as my parents encouraged me.

In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier? It’s hard because I have a constant battle in my head. I love my daughter, but I also love my art. I’m always wondering if I’m doing enough for Cecelia, but then again, wondering the same thing about my art. In that sense, it makes being a parent harder because I have to constantly check to make sure I’m giving enough of myself and my time to my daughter, without letting the art take over my life and cause me to become a neglectful parent! One good aspect of being an artist and parent… I’ve learned how to be patient!

"Elegant Lines (22x28")"
Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist? When I first got pregnant, I was very worried about this. I thought that students would stop coming to me, that my gallery would stop asking for work, and that collectors would stop collecting, because suddenly I would become “just a mom.” But I have found the reality to be completely opposite! My art has taken off, as students, collectors, and commissioned portrait clients now have a new way to relate to me. It’s like becoming a parent has made me more “real” and approachable. It’s also made my work better, and people recognize that.