Monday, April 25, 2016

Painting Parent - Diane Reeves

From Diane Reeves – Portrait and Still Life Painter

1. How many children do you have? What are their ages?
I have two wonderful children - they are 25 and 30 now!

2. How did your artistic career begin?
In high school, my social studies teacher, Mr. Kelly, gave me my first paid commission - to
create a copy of Picasso’s Don Quixote. Mr. Kelly’s confidence in me, a fledgling artist, was very
powerful. He planted the seed, but it would be several years before I returned to art. College,
grad school, marriage and kids came along. Finally, when our youngest was seventeen, I
attended Rose Frantzen’s workshop in Iowa – and those five days literally changed my life. I
went full time as a painter three years ago, and it’s been lots of fun challenges and enjoyment
ever since! Another milestone occurred when Kristin Hoerth, the editor of Southwest Art
magazine selected a detail image from one of my paintings for her “From the Editor” page in
December 2015, it was an unexpected and very exciting confirmation that my work was of a
quality that attracts the attention of editors, collectors and galleries.

Burst of Spring Detail
3. What is your parenting/work/art situation?
I squeeze in as much painting as I can between my classes and workshops. Since our children
are now grown and living elsewhere, I have much more time for creating art.

4. Do you now or have you ever worked other jobs while pursuing your art?
Yes, I taught for many years – both elementary and middle school, as well as college – and I
loved it. My last four years, I taught middle school students art, which was icing on the cake!

5. How do you preserve time and energy for your art?
I make painting a true priority – by organizing my studio, my home and my life to allow me to
make the most of my time at the easel. Conversely, forcing myself to pull away from the easel
to get sufficient sleep and exercise is also key! I handle the business side of painting in the
evenings (entering competitions, preparing for a show, shipping art, social media, etc.).

Three Rosebuds
6. Are there ways that your art benefits from your other job?
My painting, drawing and workshop students frequently remark how well I explain and
demonstrate concepts and skills, and how patient and encouraging I am – I’m sure those are
benefits from my previous teaching career!

7. When do you make time to do your art and do you have a regular art routine?
Yes! I find routine is key! On painting days, I wake early, down two cups of tea/coffee, grab a
protein bar and get going as quickly as I can. I take a short lunch break to put my feet up, then I
return with renewed energy to my studio and wrap up around dinner time. After dinner, I
sketch at my drawing table, which is in the family room – so I can still visit with my husband. On
teaching days, I rush home to paint while it’s still light!

8. Do your children get involved with your art?
As teenagers, they critiqued my art – and as you can imagine, they were quite honest. “Hey
Mom, the statue looks awesome, but the grapes are terrible.” Their honesty was a huge
blessing, I will be forever grateful they didn’t hold back!
Ana, portrait sketch
9. Do they inspire aspects of your art?
When I first began portrait work, I painted each of my children – the paintings aren’t nearly as
developed as my work is today, but they are still very special to me!

10. How has having children changed your artwork?
I found (at least for me) being a mom and a teacher required the greater portion of my time
and energy. Fortunately, during those years I read countless art magazines, discovered Sargent
and other amazing artists, collected mountains of paints and bushels of brushes, visited
wonderful museums, viewed excellent painting videos, and dreamed of the time ahead!

11. How does making time for artwork influence other household tasks?
I find simplicity is key – and my husband is very willing to pitch in, so it’s manageable.
Exquisite 16x20
12. Have different ages of your children been more difficult to make time for artwork and in which
I loved every age my kids went through – and each had certain pulls on my time. Sports, drama
rehearsals, club events and dude ranch weekends filled my time. I figured one day I’d get back
to my art, and I finally did when my youngest was in high school.

13. How do you encourage your children to be artistic?
We had kazoodles of art materials, for two and three dimensional creations. Both our children
loved to come up with crazy inventions, new games, and occasionally even some great art.
Though neither chose art as a career, they’re both very innovative in their thinking and problem
solving, and both have artistic skills.

14. Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to raise your children to be artistic?
Not at all. Every child has unique gifts, and although it would have been fun to have one or
both of our kids choose an art-related path, we’re glad they’ve chosen paths that allow them to
use their gifts, pursue their passions, and fulfill their desire to help others.

15. Have you seen your children take inspiration from your artwork?
Indirectly, yes. They’ve seen me stretch and grow in my desire to achieve a dream – in my case,
as a professional artist. They’re very proud of their mom – and I believe they take notice of my
example as they pursue their own dreams.

16. In what ways does being an artist make being a parent harder or easier?
For me, it made it easier, because I could help my kids get their creative ideas going (for
homework projects, story writing, science fair projects, bored Saturday afternoons, etc.).

17. Do you think being a parent affects the way you are perceived as an artist?
Not that I’ve noticed.

18. Are there any other things about Balancing Painting and Parenting that you would like to share?
As much as we enjoy creating art, I believe we need to understand there are MANY other kinds
of gifts that are tiny seeds in young children. If we search for those seeds, keeping in mind they
may be different from our own, we can nurture THEIR unique interests, talents and abilities –
and in turn bring fulfillment and joy into our children’s lives.