I’ve found being an artist a very solitary lifestyle…it’s something I often do by myself. I could spend hours and hours at a time on my own, just painting and drawing, sewing, sculpting…creating. Often, I wouldn’t start a project unless I could devote three to five hours on it.
After I had my daughter, I found it difficult to find the time to carve out to create. I couldn’t have the hours and hours on end to myself–there was another little person there, asking, needing, wanting, and I enjoyed her very much. I still felt the tug to create, I just had to learn to enjoy it in smaller increments. To be able to put it down at a moment’s notice, and pick it up again quickly, when I got a chance.
People ask me all the time, “how do you find the TIME to do all these projects??” And the answer is that I didn’t much, for the first couple of years. I waited until bedtime.
But now that our daughter is four, the answer to that question is: DISTRACTIONS. She’s developed a love of art and crafty things. When we’re out of something (anything), she’s been known to say “well, let’s just make our own.” I’ve taught her that there are no mistakes you can’t fix. I’ve taught her about “happy accidents” (an artistic lesson my mother instilled in me when I was young, and Bob Ross reasserted). Now that’s she’s a little older and enjoys crafts and drawing and creating, I’ve learned that I CAN create with her around. I’ve learned a little bit about how to SHARE my time, which has always been difficult for me, especially concerning artistic endeavors… And I’ve learned that if I let her go wild doing something similar to what I’m doing, she not only enjoys herself, but she learns from me. If I’m painting on fabric, I let her paint on fabric. I don’t mind a mess (but I also don’t put her in her best clothes when we paint). Sometimes I let her use the “good stuff” (like acrylics and permanent markers), and teach her how to use them correctly. I remember being a kid and the feeling of using new paints, or having a marker that was dried out, or the difference between drawing on newsprint versus fine sketchbook paper. If she’s into it, I want her to experience all that, too.
Many of our trips to the craft store are spent with me getting my supplies and her picking a “project.” Sometimes they are the pre-made ones, and sometimes she comes up with projects all her own. This bird mask is a project she came up with all on her own. I mean , she knew exactly what she wanted to do:
We also subscribe to something called Kiwi Crate, which sends out a box every month full of 2 or 3 super easy, super fun kid projects. She’s always so excited to get them in the mail and get started on the projects. And best part? They require very little parental assistance!
…So this is how I do all the creative projects I do, now that we have a kid. I’m very grateful that she is so artistic, and I’m enjoying that for as long as it lasts. I know as a parent, things constantly change, at just the moment you think you’ve got things under control, but for now I am enjoying sharing my creative time.
I find that I’ve been far more successful creating •with• my kids than creating •around• my kids. I know I’ve grown artistically, and it’s creatively fulfilling too. Kudos to you!
Great suggestions! As an artist planning to have kids, it’s encouraging to see that the two can be combined 🙂
Thankyou! It takes some patience–I wasn’t able to do much til she was older, but it helps to know it does get better. You miss that time alone, but it helps to remember that there will be a time you WILL be all alone, and you will miss them!
Very true 🙂
I have a nearly three year old and experienced the same thing – except that I was usually too burned out and worn down by bedtime to work even then. It took almost two years before I got back in the habit and that’s actually what brought me to your blog : I also do collaborations with my daughter, but in the opposite order – she watercolors and then I add ink and whatnot after she goes to bed (I posted the Tumblr below if you’re curious – hee hee). It’s been the single biggest influence for me to get back into drawing and painting again. Because all my friends know about my project, I’ve received no less than ten emails, tweets, and Facebook comments tipping me off to your project. Thank you so much for sharing it! (I still have a hard time getting used to working in smaller time increments – it’s so tough!)
This is so wonderful how you are letting her create right along side you. My boys LOVE to be creative and I can’t help giving in to their desire for more paper (even if it’s the last of the ream for the printer. ;-).