Art and motherhood

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Dear Artist,

Yesterday, Cedar Lee of Ellicott City, MD, wrote, “I have a 10-month-old son. Before I had this child I never realized the level of freedom and time that I had. The demands are so all-consuming that they leave me with little if anything left to give to my work. I’m depressed about my career — at full speed a year ago, it’s now barely squeaking along. Do you have any advice for how to keep my creative flames burning, how to keep my professional image from slipping, and how to be productive during this time? What are the creative, financial, political, and practical dilemmas facing female artists with young children.”

Thanks, Cedar. Big order. Before I start in with my stuff about being more efficient, making time, getting help, etc., I need to ask you mothers to give me a hand with Cedar’s questions. Your best advice will be included in the next clickback. Live comments are welcome as well.

Also, I want to mention the extreme expectations that current parents have for their children. Children have taken on a god-like role and have become the focus for everything from prepping for stellar futures to daily parental companionship. Parents sacrifice their own lives for the potential brilliance of kids. For better or for worse, raising kids well is the new religion.

Further, I wanted to say that letters like Cedar’s come in here like leaves from a shaken maple. I’m conscious that many artists, both male and female, use the advent of parenthood as a scapegoat for failing careers. Artists in this predicament need to examine their true motivation for this popular complaint.

It’s been my experience that dedicated artists will always find a way. I’m also happy to report that selfishness need not prevail, nor need the baby lie unchanged in its crib. The creative mind is always working, even during the application of nappies. Household workstations can be set up and work can continue between feedings and other downtimes. The intermittent business may actually benefit the art — for many of us, contemplation is a much needed ingredient to our progress.

Cedar, exhausted though you may be, there is always recourse to the DMWH (Daily Manic Working Hour). This can be programmed any time, perhaps early morning or late at night. When performed as regularly as baby-feeding, you might amaze yourself with how much you can get done when you focus hard for one lovely little hour.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “You have no obligation other than to discover your real needs, to fulfill them, and to rejoice in doing so.” (Francois Rabelais)

Esoterica: There is an excellent book on the subject. The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood by Rachel Power. It’s well researched with lots of references and historical evidence. An excerpt is here.
There’s value in partnership. “To create art once you have children requires the commitment of more than one person,” she writes. “As novelist Eleanor Dark wrote, ‘The balance is elusive; the support crucial.'”

 


Who does she think she is?
by Jeanne Marklin, Williamstown, MA, USA
 

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“Seductive scarves”
dyed silk scarf
by Jeanne Marklin

There is an excellent documentary Who Does She Think She Is? about women artists who are also mothers. It shows the battles they sometimes have to fight to have spouses recognize the importance of their work — even when it isn’t bringing in a large income. Women talk about how they juggle parenthood, and their work.

 

 

 



There are 6 comments for Who does she think she is? by Jeanne Marklin

From: PainterWoman — Aug 23, 2010

Excellent recommendation!

From: Dayle Ann Stratton — Aug 24, 2010

What a dynamic film. I am going to see if our local art center (The Chaffee, in Rutland, VT) can acquire it and have some special showings. I thought about buying a personal copy, but decided I’d rather contribute that cost toward a copy the art center can use.

From: Chelsea Cordova — Aug 24, 2010

I purchased this movie last year and a friend and I showed it to a group of women to jump-start a discussion. As a result of that we have formed a group to support female artists in our community and nurture creativity through discussion and hands-on art projects. I highly recommend both the movie and creating a support group for women artists balancing family life and art. Ours is called FAB for Female, Art and Balance.

From: Jeanne Rhea — Aug 24, 2010

The Carolina Mixed Media Art Guild is having a showing of “Who Does She Think She Is?” this coming Saturday here in Raleigh, NC. You can read about it here http://carolinamixedmediaartistsguild.blogspot.com/ and this is a link to get your tickets. http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/119247 All proceeds go to a non-profit group SWOOP. Strong Women Organizing Outrageous Projects http://www.swoop4u.org/ If in the area, please join us!

www.jeannerhea.com

From: Shawna — Aug 24, 2010

I own this documentary. It is worth every cent. I invited female artists from a variety of mediums to my house to watch it. From there we started a small group (that we hope will grow) to support each other and to discuss art. One thing we all struggle with is a lack of community and once children arrive time to do our art. Having children doesn’t seem to impact males in the same ways at all.

From: Rachel Young — Mar 27, 2011

I’m trying to develop a community for Musician Moms:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Blog-of-a-Musician-Mom/162632660456874

 


Treasure the time
by Sarah Wimperis, Cornwall, UK
 

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“Alex”
watercolour painting
by Sarah Wimperis

Stop panicking! If you are a real artist you can’t stop your artwork. The way you make your living might change over the years; I became an art teacher and then an illustrator. Remember you have a delightful little model. The drawings that I did of my children as babies and growing up are my most treasured possessions. When the youngest left home I decided I would paint more to fill the aching empty space. I did and it worked. I am selling and exhibiting my own work very well. To be an artist you must always train, like being an athlete or a musician. He will be at school before you know it so treasure the time you have together.

 


Art will find a way
by Elizabeth Schamehorn, Washago, ON, Canada
 

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“Baby portrait”
pastel painting
by Elizabeth Schamehorn

Your response to Cedar Lee contained some finger-wagging that needs to be challenged. First of all, the fact that your art career takes a back seat when you have a baby is real, not “scapegoating.” The primary caregiver for babies is responsible for them every minute of every day all the time unless you have regular daycare. This is not “extreme” parenting. It’s just normal. However, your advice about having a handy work area that you can go to when the baby is napping is very good. Make long term commitments, such as setting up a show in two years. Build up your body of work slowly towards that deadline. Keep up your blogs or websites. Canadian artist Emily Carr stopped painting for fifteen years when her work wasn’t selling. She ran a boarding house, raised sheepdogs, and made souvenir pottery to support herself until the second phase of her painting career started. And when her health failed and she couldn’t go out into the forest painting any more, she became a writer. Art will find a way!



There are 3 comments for Art will find a way by Elizabeth Schamehorn

From: DA — Aug 24, 2010

Like your comments, love your art. Thanks for sharing it all.

From: Marney Ward — Aug 24, 2010

Your painting is exquisite, really transcendental in its lightness and delicacy, it captures the ethereal innocence and purity of babies, “trailing clouds of glory,” as Wordsworth said. And I agree with you, I stayed home with my two kids and have never regretted it, Marney

From: Anita Stephenson — Aug 24, 2010

I don’t think I have commented before….but just had to add my voice to these excellent things you have said. Well said!!! I agree with you Elizabeth 100&. Lovely pastel portrait as well!!!

 


Keep on drawing
by Theresa Bayer, Austin, TX, USA
 

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“3 Keys to the Loch”
oil painting
by Theresa Bayer

Years ago when I had a little baby to care for I did a lot of drawing. Times of heavy duty family obligations are an excellent time to amp up drawing skills and children make wonderful models. If they’re asleep or watching TV you can do a study, if they’re active you can do gestures. The other day I ran across old sketches of our son as a newborn. Like an old photo, it brought back sweet memories.

 

 

 


Inspiration of mommyhood
by Eileen Downes, Carmichael, CA, USA
 

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Untitled
mixed media
by Eileen Downes

When I first became a mom I very naively thought I could just put the baby on a blanket on the floor of my studio and keep working. That was not a good situation. Artists are always gathering information for future creative endeavors, and that is exactly what I poured my creative soul into for many years. I never totally gave up art when my kids were young but it was not my first priority. After my youngest entered kindergarten I had more time for the studio and I had tons of inspirational experiences from which to create. A life well lived, including “mommyhood,” makes for terrific subject matter of inspirational artwork. There will be time to pour your heart into your work later. For now just absorb life and create when you can. It is from that life that you will be most productive in your work. It is encouraging and quite a blessing to sequence things in your life. I LOVE being a mom, and I LOVE being an artist. This portrait of my daughter is made from BandAids, yep that’s right BandAids — because as mothers we are always bandaging little skinned knees and bruised egos.



There are 2 comments for Inspiration of mommyhood by Eileen Downes

From: Rosie Jones — Aug 23, 2010

Very cool BandAid portrait!

From: Jackie Bird — Aug 24, 2010

Thought that background looked familiar but couldn’t put my finger on it…wonderful portrait. Totally agree with what you say too. You don’t need to put your art on hold and you certainly can’t put your babies on hold either. Create whenever/wherever you can — I used to get up at 4 am. Later on those little fingers will create their own masterpieces right along with you. My children and their friends loved painting and doing papier mache projects along with me. Keep it up !

 


Small snatches of time
by Melinda Wilde, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
 

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“No Worries”
watercolour painting
by Melinda Wilde

I bet the cave woman of old was pining about the same dilemma as she tried to feed her children and take care of her man while giving up the time it took to scratch those amazing drawings on the walls of her home. As a mother of 5, blended family, albeit young when we got together, I can relate to your predicament. I learned to paint in small snatches of time — so much so that if I were given 8 hours in my studio now, I’m not sure what I would do with it! My oldest is now 27 and youngest 16 and I still paint in micro moments. The training stood me well in regards to teaching as I learned to demonstrate with much haste so my students get to their work quickly. I began to paint when my oldest biological was 1. He napped twice a day for up to 2 hours. I set up the paints on the kitchen table and we didn’t eat there again until after the divorce. OK, my painting had nothing to do with that, it didn’t even fan the flames of the separation. What it did do was get me through single-parenthood and new step-parenthood and new motherhood as an older mother. For me, the time I lost in the studio was gained many fold in inspiration gleaned from the leisure moments I was forced to spend doing “nothing” with my children. The bottom line is, raising children that emerge relatively unscathed by what you think is a crisis now, is such a blessing, lack of time in the studio is worth it — even though at the moment it seems an endless trial.



There is 1 comment for Small snatches of time by Melinda Wilde

From: Liz Reday — Aug 24, 2010

Yes! I totally agree with everything you say. As an artist-mother, it’s a wonderful experience. And now I have help carrying my easel across the beach!

 


My studio includes kids
by Vianna Szabo, Romeo, MI, USA
 

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“Shawn’s shadow”
pastel painting
by Vianna Szabo

There are benefits to combining motherhood and an art career. I began seriously painting when my children were infants. I was working in pastel and would set up a non perishable still life and keep the painting on the easel. I would work on the still life during nap time. When I would walk by the painting during the day, areas that needed to be corrected became obvious and I would attack those problems at the next opportunity. The time away from the painting gave me a fresh perspective when I returned to the easel. Another benefit of parenthood is having a built in model. I began drawing and painting my children when they were infants. At first the drawings and paintings consisted of sleeping babies. As they grew they learned to pose for groups and enjoyed the attention and money they earned. My children are now young adults and excellent portrait and costume models. I often use my daughter as a model when I teach workshops and students enjoy the unique mother/daughter collaboration. When the kids work for me I treat them as professionals and pay them the going rate. This is a skill that they can use to earn extra money in college.

 


Mom’s a terrific role model
by Sandra Bos, Cookeville, TN, USA
 

I was a very young mother of 6 children when I began painting. I painted in my kitchen while the kids ran in and out, and dinner was on the stove! I just fell in love with painting and painted when ever, and where ever I could. Some of my students are young mothers, and they complain that there just is NO time to paint. You are right Robert, when you love something enough, you WILL find a way. I feel that being an example is far more important than running the wheels off the car, delivering kids here there and everywhere. There used to be a saying “kids are people too.” Now we need to say “parents are people too.” If you love to paint, PAINT! Your kids will love you for it and be better people because of it.

“Follow your Bliss” (Joseph Campbell)

 


Kids enhance a creative life
by Laura den Hertog, Rosemere, QC, Canada
 

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“Annie Blooming”
oil painting, 24 x 30 inches
by Laura den Hertog

Motherhood can and will be a boon to your art career in more ways than you can imagine. While you do have to deal with time constraints in the very early years you have also gained an entirely new perspective on the world and your art. It begins with creating your first masterpiece (your son) and that work of art will infuse, inform and inspire much of the art that follows. For practical reasons you need to separate your art time from your mommy time, but that’s easily done. That’s what nap time and early to bed are for. Mundane tasks can be tackled while baby is awake but engaged in some all consuming activity like bellybutton surveillance. A creative life is enhanced by the addition of a brand new human being. You will probably find that you put your creative juices into new genres of expression, like child’s room murals, cake decorating, costume making, toy production, and on and on. All of these acts of creation will allow you to explore colour, form, texture and technique in ways you would never have done before. The real gift that your son can give you is a new set of eyes. A child can renew your sense of wonder in the world. As he discovers the world in his own way and reacts to all that crosses his path, you will be watching, teaching, encouraging and most importantly, rediscovering simple but profound things about the human experience. Kiss that child and thank him for coming along to help you!



There are 2 comments for Kids enhance a creative life by Laura den Hertog

From: Genny K — Aug 24, 2010

Exactly! By the way, I think your art is exceptional.

From: Jan Ross — Aug 24, 2010

Excellent points, Laura! I experienced other creative outlets while my children were young, including painting wall murals and backdrops for their plays/school productions as well as doing the displays in the school hallways, programmes, costume designs, and others.While I had set aside my time to paint, I had time to share and demonstrate to my children that giving of oneself is important, too. (Your painting of ‘Annie’ is lovely, by the way).

 


Befuddling the instincts
by Meka Zieger
 

My “art” is my kids. Although I homeschool my children, they aren’t my religion — more my experiment, an interesting existence. You’re quite right, our culture warps our relationship with our kids — we focus our worlds on them in a way nature never intended — in fact, in a way society couldn’t have supported until recent decades. It breeds self-centered children and resentful parents. But more, we separate our children from the things we love rather than passing it down. We put Child-Raising and Everything Else into different categories, and never the two shall co-exist. David Gutterson puts this idea best: “Ripped from the long-hallowed womb of Place and from the bosom of home and community, we no longer know where we are in relationship to anything else in the world. The tradition of parental and communal responsibility for the daily instruction of our own is denied us because teaching has become institutionalized, a convenience in a time of industry and profit when citizen-labors perform economic functions more efficiently without children present. Children suffer a loss of connectedness, a detachment from the web of communal affairs, a distance from the life and work of the tribe. Our instinct to nurture through passing down what we know is blunted because our children are elsewhere and what we know is too strange. If a parent can’t share who he is and what he does with the child with whom he feels driven to share it, a hole grows in him rapidly. The circle of learning, a kind of womb, encloses everything else. Most parents don’t have these moments often enough to gain sustenance, have quit looking to their children for emotional food, and have begun to search inwardly. The result: a dislike of their children on an order and of a scale that befuddles their instincts…”



There is 1 comment for Befuddling the instincts by Meka Zieger

From: MARTI — Aug 23, 2010

Checked out your blog site and LOVED it. We also homeschooled our 6 children…..all grown now (melancholy smile). I wish I had done more sketching of them…….but spent lots of time doing art together. We did everything from melted crayon drawings (which look wonderful framed on the wall, to egg shell mosaics of ancient Roman art, to sculptured bodies that we then made into mummies for our home grown sarcophagi. While I wasn’t DOING ART in the strictest sense of the word…I was learning everyday. NOw they are all doing art on their own….one is a computer animator one a professional photographer, one does sculpture and the rest keep their sketchbooks.

DRAWING was the most important….when I couldn’t draw with a pencil, I would just do contour drawings with my eyes. One does improve this way as you are still learning to see. Now that the kids are all grown I am actively pursuing a career, and I find that all those years of life experiences makes me a much better artist.

I wouldn’t trade those years for all the canvases in the world.

 


Guilt and daycare
by Connie Geerts, Canada
 

Before my son’s birth I tried to send out as many paintings to galleries as possible, to stock up for what I assumed would be approximately a year of dedicated full time motherhood, with very little painting. I was giving myself and my son the same time that I would take if maternity leave was available to me. In my mind the best way to keep working was to treat my creative career as though it was as demanding and predictable as the career of any woman who works outside the home. To some extent that mindset helped. It was impossible to concentrate enough to get paintings done while Axel was at home, so after a year, part-time daycare became the only answer to being a mom and an artist. It’s working for us, though I feel the same guilt and tear at my emotions that I’m sure most women feel when they drop their child(ren) at daycare. My level of production of work is not as high as before I became a mother, but that’s okay. I feel as though I’m still catching up, trying to get my career back to the place it was before I had my son. It will get there, though its importance in my mind is overshadowed by the need to be a good mother. I can’t see the struggle between those two needs ever ending. The best I hope for is a little balance.



There is 1 comment for Guilt and daycare by Connie Geerts

From: Carol Morrison — Aug 25, 2010

I very much feel for you. I was a dedicated research scientist at the time when I had children (life as a full-time artist came later), and after the time and effort it took to get my qualifications and a great job I had no intention of quitting my career. It took several years to make up my mind to have children as well as a career and, as you are finding out, it was a constant struggle to do both. The time when I would have liked more time with my children was not, however, when they were young and relatively happy as long as they were well treated, but when they were going through the agonising teenage years!

However, I feel it would be tragic for half our population to desert their careers to raise children. The next thing will be the attitude I faced in the 1960s — why bother educating women and giving them equal opportunity in the workplace. Maybe a better solution would be better and more affordable child-care?

 


Four guidelines for frazzled mothers
by Stacey L. Peterson, Littleton, CO, USA
 

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“Aspens and Wildflowers”
oil painting
by Stacey L. Peterson

I’m a professional painter and a mother to a sweet 4 year old daughter and 10 month old whirlwind of a son. I quit my stable chemical engineering job when I had my daughter so I could stay at home with her and paint. I didn’t realize at the time how much work making a living as an artist can be, nor did I anticipate the number of times I’d find myself in tears due to the stress of it all and the feelings of inadequacy I felt as I couldn’t be the best I could be at being a parent OR my painting career. Over the years, I’ve learned to just do the best I can do. I try to stay positive, I work hard, and I refuse to give up. Since I’ve had my children, I’ve been published in major art magazines, won awards at national shows, and been invited into galleries and shows. It’s possible to be a parent and a successful artist. And while I can’t say for sure, I’d like to think I’m a better artist because of my children and the creativity they bring to my life. My advice for Cedar Lee (and all the other frazzled artist-parents out there) follows:

— Paint when you can. Even if you can only carve out an hour here and there while the baby naps, or a few hours after bedtime, get in the studio and work. You need to adapt your working style to make spontaneous, short bursts of painting productive. If your baby goes to bed at eight, have a cup of coffee and hit the studio until 11. Sometimes those quiet hours at night are the best times to work.

— Get help. It’s easy to think that you must be there for your child 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but it will benefit you and your son to find a way for you to have a few hours of kid-free painting time on a regular basis. Find a relative or a neighbor who can babysit a few days a week, or find a school or daycare center that you trust. My kids go to preschool a couple of days a week. They love being with other kids, and those days are my days to paint, paint, paint! We all end up happier on the days we have together.

— Set your priorities. Are painting and motherhood your main priorities? Then drop the other things you’re trying to do. I used to blog regularly, and loved doing it, but after I had my son I knew it was ultimately cutting into my painting time so I set it aside. I try to limit my internet time. My house isn’t as clean as I wish it could be. My husband doesn’t get a home-cooked meal every night of the week. But I spend a lot of quality time with my kids and husband and my galleries are stocked — those are my priorities.

— Focus. When you have time set aside for painting, make sure you paint. Don’t check your email, don’t return phone calls, don’t clean your studio — just paint. You can do all those other things with baby in tow, so don’t waste precious time procrastinating.

Having children has brought a sensitivity to my art that wasn’t there before. Try to stay positive and stay in tune with the ways that having children can change your work for the better. And know that it gets better — that ten month old that gets into everything right now will soon be a four year old who loves to set up an easel next to you and paint, and before long that four year old will be in school every day and you’ll be wondering where the time went. Don’t focus on the dilemmas facing you as a mother and an artist — focus on solutions instead, and be grateful every day for the two wonderful and fulfilling jobs you have as an artist and a mother.



There are 7 comments for Four guidelines for frazzled mothers by Stacey L. Peterson

From: Brian Bastedo — Aug 23, 2010

First of all, I LOVE your painting…my eyes move from the details of the aspens into the wonderful middle and background…Well done! I just wanted to say that I really agree with your suggestions to any artist facing major life-changing stuff that affects creative time priorities. When I became a single dad of 3 kids aged 7 to 12 I wondered if I’d ever draw and paint again, and had to carve out smaller pieces of time that I jealously guarded! My mother is very wise, and she told me that “balance is the goal”. That kept me from trying to spend 20 hours every day trying to be both mom and dad to the kids, and to take some time for me, else the family would suffer. Now they’ve grown up, and I am having my first art show on Sept.11th. Both the art and the kids turned out pretty good!!

From: Karen R. Phinney — Aug 24, 2010

That’s great advice! It is about finding a balance, and it sounds as if you have succeeded. Others who wrote have, also! Am sure it will inspire and lend support to those out there who are Moms (and Dads, too) who have these issues…… they need to decide what their priorities are. Happy painting and babies, all!

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Aug 24, 2010

wonderful advice. I wish I had someone like you around many years ago when I was trying to balance children and painting. You must have a very supportive husband, something not mentioned at all here but it is also so important to have supportive spouse or friends!

From: Sandy Donn — Aug 24, 2010

Stacey. . .a sensitive comment with real practical advice + inspiration. Perfect for Cedar to read and keep. . .it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re a new mother, isn’t it? Well done.

From: Stella Reinwald — Aug 24, 2010

Stacey, I never had kids so I don’t know first-hand what conflicts that imposes, but I think I know the ring of truth when I hear it.

You really should write a book (illustrated?) about this subject as you explain yourself without self-righteousness or judgment. Kudos to you.

Stella

From: Flora Pinkham — Aug 24, 2010

Stacey, I’ve been following you for quite sometime (miss the blog posts, but now I understand!) and you have been an inspiration, and even a source of support — I emailed you a long time ago and you pretty much gave me the same advice then as now. I can’t say that I’ve done art or mothering perfectly, but I can’t imagine my life without either. As you say, when I spend my time on painting wisely, the time I have with my son is richer and more engaged. Thanks for your honesty and desire to help others on the same path!

From: Nancy Laliberte — Aug 28, 2010

Very well said Stacey! A tip given to me by another professional artist mother was to work small. It works! You keep your skills fresh, your creative juices going, and you have the gratification of finishing a piece in a short amount of time. I also sketch while my child plays in the bathtub. Be creative and utilize those moments of time, no matter how big or small, to work on your art.

 

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 Featured Workshop: Plein Air for Camphill 2010

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Plein Air for Camphill 2010
 
The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 

 

 

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082010_georgia-abood

House of Refuge

oil painting
by Georgia Abood, Stuart, FL, USA

 

You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Elfrida Schragen of Victoria, BC, Canada, who wrote, “Life will never be the same as before — once you have a child your heart is changed forever, and they are always a factor in whatever you do.”

And also June M. Perry of Annapolis, MD, USA, who wrote, “I found myself painting from the time the boys went to bed until 2 or 3 in the morning. Of course I could only do this a few nights during the week. I was selling at several galleries but I did not feel pressure to do more than I could comfortably do unless I was preparing for a show. My motivation was more for sanity than for salary.”

 

 

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Art and motherhood

 

 

From: Cathy DeWitt — Aug 19, 2010

Wow, Cedar, what a beautiful studio you have! You’ve done a great job. You know, it seems to me that being an artist is one of the best occupations/vocations that a new Mom can have. You have flexible hours, and a wonderful passion that you can even soon start to let your son enjoy too. Spread some butcher paper on the floor, give him some non-toxic paints, crayons or whatever and let him go to town! Soon, you will be able to train him as to which supplies he can play with, and which supplies are just for Mom. In fact, in the long run, you won’t believe how quickly the time of his infanthood passes. You have a great opportunity to enjoy this time, more than many who have to go back to the workplace and be gone all day before their children can even walk. I see this turning into a wonderful time of growth and joy for you.

From: Faith — Aug 19, 2010

This should open a can of worms.

What a good thing that only women are responsible for the upbringing of children.

Would most men even contemplate stepping back from their own careers? What a good job there is a tiny proportion of fathers prepared to do this. A large proportion of male procreators hardly notices or is in denial about what is happening to the mothers of their offspring.

The solution for the average woman is still relatively medieval: get on with the child-rearing and leave the career to someone else (preferably male).

We can reduce this to the formula: It is right and good for a woman to lose sight of her personal career, wishes and needs for the benefit of society.

THIS IS NOT MY OPINION

but it was my experience, unfortunately.

The problem is that it is extremely difficult for most women to “find”, let alone promote themselves during those years of intense motherhood. One consolation is that motherhood is creative in the literal sense, but if you are a creative person, it isn’t enough (even admitting that is considered shameful in some circles).

From: Sandra M. — Aug 19, 2010

Cedar you have a beautiful son and a great space to work. I can only speak from my own experience. I actually got into my painting as my full time occupation (and sole income of the household) because my son was born 6 years ago. I was on maternity leave, and was laid off. It was as if God was kicking me in the rear end to finally use the gifts I have been given. And I took my “hobby” and part time job of painting to a new level because I could work fully on it, during naps, which when they are young are more frequent and at night. And when he was up I put him in the exersaucer or swing. It can be done, and yes, it is very time consuming and draining to be an artist and mother to a young one. The full-tilt exhaustion and that all-consuming feeling you are experiencing will pass. It will get better. I think we are fortunate in that we can be flexible with our hours so we can be home with them while they are young. I was so honored to be able to watch him grow in those first years. Being laid off was the best thing that happened to me! Also you may just want to seek out some help, even if it for an hour or two just to rejuvenate and re-fuel. Between being a mommy and artist, there is a lot of output so please be kind to yourself, and try not to feel too guilty about giving yourself some time alone to refresh, so you will be better for you, your art and most importantly your son. Some days I just have only a few hours to paint so my time is very focused and I think it allows me more concentrated time and less time to ponder and deliberate how a painting is going to be. You might find you produce more quality work in less time. Lastly, I always show up in the studio every day even if I don’t get much painting done that day, or if I’m painting with my son, I’m still there in it. That has been really important work habit for me as I learned how to organize my time with family and an art career. I hope this helps you and please enjoy this time with your baby boy because, like mine, he will be 6 years old in a flash, unable to hold him like you did, and all that time you will still be an artist.

From: Bea Gonzalez — Aug 19, 2010

I started a home-based business (not art) on the side when my daughter was 6. I found I could only work when she wasn’t there or after she went to bed. By the time I had my second, I was working full-time from home. The only way I could work was to get child-care outside of the home. When I was trying to work and look after children at the same time, neither was getting my full attention. You may have experienced how your perfectly happy baby will suddenly fuss when you get a phone call….when your attention is on your work, they notice and don’t like it. Your studio is lovely but not childproof. As soon as your baby becomes mobile, you will be amazed how fast he can pull all those books off the shelves to say nothing of the painting solvents – YIKES. My advice from my experience, set aside time regularly to have your baby outside of the home so you can focus your full attention on your painting. Then when you are with your baby, you won’t feel divided.

From: Anonymous — Aug 19, 2010

Hi Cedar…beautiful baby and studio space…

I had both my kids by the time I was 24…always made dollars as a creative…one thing I realized…you can always go back and redo a career…you can only raise your family once…

From: mommyceo — Aug 19, 2010

I don’t think a stay-at-home mom can be really successful at any “career” during certain years of parenting, and still give her children adequate supervision and care. My children are finally reaching their teens, and I have more time now, but when they were small, I was too tired, too distracted and/or too overwhelmed by the physical demands of parenting to produce any art worth saving. The up side of all this is now I appreciate every second I get to work on my art, and I give thanks that those lonely, artistically unproductive, child-focused years are behind me, and now I’m playing “catch up” to get to where my male colleagues are. They, of course, have wives at home taking care of their children.

From: Kathy McCartney — Aug 19, 2010

Hello and Aloha Cedar,

Your son is so beautiful and happy. What a blessing to be able to stay home and pursue your art career too! It is good you got your art career started early on. I love your studio and art work.

I don’t know your personal situation but if you have a supportive spouse/boyfriend, family and friends, this is very helpful as you will need to call on them.

I am/was a single mom longing to be a professional artist for many, many years. However, I could only spend time on my art as a hobby because I had to work in an office to pay the bills and support me and my son full-time. It was so hard doing it on my own. But I managed. If there is a will there is always a way. Raising a new baby is very demanding but he can also be your source of inspiration.

I found time to paint during the evenings and often times I worked until 1am. I also found time on the weekends. Needless to say, I had to be creative and frugal with how I sliced up my time in my 24 hour pie. Be careful of people who have nothing to do but chit chat or e-mail. You will need to take control of your calendar. I scheduled dates with my friends and often times tried to see my friends in “group” situations (to conserve time).

Like the other writer I too was laid off and this gave me a chance to give more time to my art, but it was scary when you have bills to pay so I sought a part-time contractor job and did the art part-time.

I was really able to take off with my art career in only the recent 2 years because I now have a loving, supportive boyfriend. I can not emphasize the importance of friend and family supporting your dreams and of course having that ambition and fire within no matter what the obstacles to keep that engine going. If you really want something you will find away to achieve it while being a responsible and loving mom. It is not an easy road to juggle it all but it can be done.

Today my son is 17 years old so this is another reason it has recently gotten easy for me as he is independent.

As a new mom, be sure to take the time to stay balanced and find quiet time to be inspired. As your son gets older it will get easier. You can also network with other parents and take turns babysitting each others kids. This is helpful if you do not have family nearby. You will need time to create your art, get rest, and keep your relationship alive with your significant other.

I wish you the best and I see you are already off to a good start. I think for you it is just getting adjusted to a new routine. You can do it!

Kathy

From: Janet Summers — Aug 19, 2010

Motherhood is an art unto itself! While your child is so young you need to spend time together to bond, but this does’nt mean constant contact. The addition of a playpen in your studio is a must! Also, playing music while you are working should stimulate the baby try new age music stimulating but soothing. Turn your easel so you have eye contact with your baby and while working talk to her. I live in Greece where the mothers run around after the kids to stick a spoon in thier mouth, the children here are so coddled that even when they grow up they are still babies, proven by the fact that almost all live at home until married even 35-40 year olds live at home. They have little self dicipline and are lacking in skills to take care of themselves. Anyway, children need a space for discovering things on their own and if given the opportunity can quite easily entertain themselves! Your time schedule if steady will become the babies, routine is the best key.

If for instance you set aside 3-4 hours every day at the same time to paint and it coincides with an approaching nap time you should have some real painting time.

From: Laura — Aug 20, 2010

Your studio is just beautiful Cedar, wow! What a gorgeous little boy you have too, I love the perfectly timed smile on camera!

I have a 9 month old baby, and a 2 year old so I know a little about the challenges you face! To make things even more tricky I work in oil, with solvents, so can’t even have them in the same room with me while I paint.

I’m afraid I don’t have any great solutions for you though! I paint in the evenings after my husband gets home from work, at weekends, and on the rare occassions that they both nap at the same time during the day. I probably average about 15 hours a week total painting time. The biggest help to me (not in terms of productivity but in terms of my own sanity) has been managing my own expectations- starting a day on a mission to get both my boys to sleep at the same time in order to paint, or planning to put in a marathon session in the evening generally ends in complete failure with all the frustration and unhappiness that goes with it! Babies can always be relied upon to scupper the most carefully laid plans!

When I find myself feeling grumpy with my children for ‘spoiling’ my painting time I know it’s time to take a step back because ultimately, right now, they are my most important job. My first two years of motherhood have FLOWN by so fast. Before I know it both of mine will be in school and the precious time we have together now will be a distant memory. I have the rest of my life to dedicate to my painting so I’m not too worried about a few ‘lost’ years, and find when I’m not trying so hard to juggle everything I get the time to get more done anyway!

So yeah, I’m not much help! Good luck with it all.

From: Bunny Griffeth — Aug 20, 2010

I worked for 25 years as a nurse, had 4 children. I managed to find some precious little time to paint, but not as a full time occupation although I would have loved to. I did not have the support of my (then) husband. I took an early retirement to take care of my 3 grandchildren (19 months, 4 and 7) – what a joy they are – and have been pursuing this great love of mine – painting. I paint in the evenings – I have a small studio- and even though I have the whole house to myself in the evenings, it is my place of refuge… I was interviewed last week by a local paper http://www.cranstononline.com/view/full_story_news/9207927/article-Local-artist-turns-hobby-into-career?instance=home_news_2nd_left after publishing two children’s books. Sometimes we may have to put aside our dreams for a while if we don’t have all the necessary support in place – but never abandon them.

I hope this encourages Cedar and anyone else out there struggling.

From: Heather Haynes — Aug 20, 2010

Hi Cedar,

I’m a full time career artist and I have to thank my kids for teaching time management. Before they came along I would wait for inspiration to hit. Once my first son was born 13 years ago, I had such a creative boost. Although he rarely slept and I was exhausted I found I couldn’t put off the need to create. What I did was nurse while I painted, paint while he was in the jolly jumper and when he was old enough to walk and hold a paint brush I let him help me paint the under paintings. I was still early in my career when I had my first son and he gave me permission to play and take my time to get better before really hitting the art career path. I had another son 4 years later and at this time, things were picking up for me. I actually couldn’t wait to get back in my studio when he was born. One week later and I was at the easel. This has been the best therapy for me and it’s also justified. I know I would get frustrated at times because I wanted to spend more time in my studio, maybe this pent up creative energy does have a chance to explode when finally given the opportunity. Balance seems to be what I am constantly striving for. I fall over sometimes but this is when I need to re shuffle my priorities and probably tend to things I have been putting off. I know people say that kids grow up fast… but they really do! Keep putting along, don’t give up your work because it is great, you are young, committed and ambitious. It’s not a race so enjoy the view! (these are all things I have had to say to myself over the years) Honor yourself and the rest will fall into place. My husband and 2 boys respect and support what I do. This is the best kind of roll model you can be to a child.

Good luck and keep at it!

From: kim d. — Aug 20, 2010

As a painter and the mother of four teenage sons, I would agree with the posts so far that raising your children in a loving family is the single most important thing you can do. Painting should definitely be down the list a bit while your children are young. You will also learn lots about time management as you go along!

What I have learned is this: There will be time to paint…maybe not all the time, but if you want to – you will find time! I don’t have to have the ‘perfect’ studio…just a little time and space to do some good work. (trying to keep things ‘looking pretty’ all the time can kill the creative spark) Also, if you can find time to take a class/workshop it helps to keep you connected with other artists and keeps your work progressing.

Honestly, when I look back at work I did when my kids were very young…I know I enjoyed making the work and some of it is good – but the memories of the fleeting moments I spent with those little boys is much more satisfying then any painting I could ever make.

From: Sally — Aug 20, 2010

Cedar,

Don’t miss the golden opportunity to draw and paint your son. It may be a completely different subject for you and a great way to expand your artistic life. Grab that sketchbook and pencil while he’s sleeping. Use a camera. Does he interact with your cat? There are a lot of possibilities and 20 years down the road you will have the most precious art memories. Good Luck!

From: Jackie Knott — Aug 20, 2010

One of the axioms that finally sunk in from the women’s movement was, “You can have it all, just not at the same time.” There are times our children require more attention ” it’s a given, and there is no getting around that. Embrace it, cherish it, and deal with it. Your son will never be this age again and you will never have the privilege of forming another human being as you will him. And if that isn’t the grandest art project of all, nothing is.

You stop work to cook, to clean, to do laundry, get the car serviced, and to shop. Please don’t dump your son’s needs as excessive demands. His are just one more. Consider those other things worthy of a housekeeper, a reasonable expense for an artist. I would be more inclined to hire those activities out before I would ever would childcare. Guilt has a price as well.

When my girls were little, my studio was across the hall from their playroom. I had two five foot square Plexiglass windows in both walls and I could continually glance through to see they were okay. I hardly had to lift my brush from the canvas. Proximity reduced my running back and forth and losing concentration. My kitchen was also ten paces away if they needed a drink or snack.

You have the luxury of space in your studio. Redeem some of that space and make it your son’s corner: a flow blown playroom, changing table, with food, crib, whatever, so you never have to mount those stairs for anything he needs. Have him look forward to his play area as you do your artwork, his destination play day with Mom.

Granted, I have less to show of my artwork, writing, or a military career because I was a Mom. But my daughters are successful well adjusted women who I hope will bless my name after I’m gone. And guess what? Now, at sixty-one I’m free to engage my passion. I don’t regret any of it.

From: Dianne Levine — Aug 20, 2010

All that “You can have it all” is pure garbage! A baby takes up most of your time and energy and that is the way it is supposed to be. A baby needs all of your focus to develop normally. You can try to work during the down times, but it won’t be your best work. My advice is to cut yourself some slack and use the time to play and experiment. The time the baby needs all of your focus is a relatively short time in your life. The dicipline and focus you learn from caring for an infant is something you can use in the studio for the rest of your life. I know that it seems as if it will be forever, but nothing is ever lost. You will return as a more mature artist and value the time in the studio more, because you know how it is to not be there. Good luck!

From: Carol Dayton — Aug 20, 2010

Having a child takes up most if not all of your creative juices, though it does not satisfy that drive. A painting teacher, male of course, once looked me in the eye and said “if you want to paint, don’t have a child.” He was right. Here I am 40 years later, finally w. the time after raising my son alone and working,still stuck frozen at the easel. It may be too late for me, but then I had no encouragement from family or friends for so long. Like embracing your dreams, if you push them away for too long, they may not come back when you DO “have the time”. And domesticity may not support the kind of radical thinking that painting requires to be more than pretty and lyrical. Don’t want to discourage you, but it may not be possible to have it all. You have chosen and I hope your child grows up to honor the effort you might have put elsewhere. Mine hasn’t.

From: Norah Bolton — Aug 20, 2010

You have certainly created a studio that anyone could be proud of. I’m sure that this didn’t happen overnight, but was the result of a vision that you brought to fruition. A single painting or work of art isn’t any different. But you might realize that expending energy on the creation of the studio and caring for your lovely son have probably taken their toll in terms of energy. Whatever we do in life involves choices. As a mother of four I had to sequester a certain amount of time that was solely my own. Sometimes it was as little as 20 minutes but it built up over time. Sometimes projects can be combined. My six year old granddaughter completed five or six paintings working along side me recently before I was able to complete a small water colour sketch. Get as much rest as you can, carve some time for your art when the baby naps – hire a teen for an hour. The toddler days ahead are going to be even more of a challenge. Work fast!

From: Lyric Montgomery Kinard — Aug 20, 2010

I’ve had five babies during my career – they are intensive and draining. The happiest my artist self was happened to be during the last two when I chose to take “sabbatical” and focus on the child rather than my career for that one year. They grow – quickly. They are also the most important work you will do – raising good world citizens will have a lasting impact on the world.

And guess what – the exhaustion lessens. The creativity returns. The best breaks in my career have come on the heels of those sabbaticals.

I kept a sketchbook and great art books nearby when I nursed and had a plethora of ideas and inspiration ready for me when I returned to the studio. There IS a time and season for all things.

From: kd — Aug 20, 2010

Hi Cedar,

Looking back to when I was about your age I was sometimes sad that after having children I didn’t have enough time for my art. Over time though, we hopefully settle in and realize that there is (or at least that there will be) enough time for everything that is important. If your art is important to you, there will be time for it.

My advice is to be patient. Sons grow up quickly…make no mistake – enjoy your time as a Mom and be the best Mom you can be. Lots of people feel the urgent need to make some art and blog about it and get out there and sell it. Give your son and yourself and your art time to grow and mature. And enjoy the ride! Best wishes.

From: Jean M — Aug 20, 2010

You are truly blessed to have a healthy child and that wonderful space to create. Trying to paint and be attentive to your child is extremely challenging. It will change constantly. Do your best to give yourself the time and energy you need AND give yourself permission to spend to just be a mom. Sometimes we moms only have creative power surges of 10, or 30 minutes.

From: Suzette Fram — Aug 20, 2010

Lots of good advice here, however there is one point that no one is touching on. It the art is more of a hobby, then it can go on the back burner for a while and she will find time for it as best she can. However, is the art is a source of income that she doesn’t want to, or can’t, forego, then it’s like any job. She needs daycare. And that means Dad during evenings and weekends, or Mom, or a hired sitter and/or daycare. There are many working mothers out there and they all need day care of some sort. You can’t do 2 full-time jobs at the same time.

Good luck, Cedar. You hae a beautiful baby, and studio.

From: regrets — Aug 20, 2010

Dear Cedar, you are a mother and an artist, and you will figure it all out, so many others did, and you are obviously a smart cookie. But, in order to increase the chances, you should focus on the third factor – your marriage, or relationship with the child’s father. Speaking from my experience and many of my female friends artists, the lasting marriage is what broke or made the children be happy and good people. When it all gets really tough, you may need to drop one of the 3 things – don’t make it be your marriage because your spouse is the only one of the 3 who can help with the remaining 2 things. To be a single mother is a brave and dignified path, but extremely difficult, and the child often gets lost on it – one of mine did, and I don’t think that more of my art would have saved it, but more of a happy marriage maybe would.

From: Tracey — Aug 20, 2010

Take a leave of absence from your art career, much like others do for an administrative career. When I did that, I returned to my art after three years (and two beautiful daughters) with new ideas, new media and waiting buyers. It was a positive transformation.

From: Susan Kellogg — Aug 20, 2010

I did not have the ego strength or salesmanship to do more than paint around the edges of my life as a wife and a mother, though I maintained my identity and seriousness as an artist, and the work kept me sane.

Being shy, I had difficulty presenting my work to galleries. One critic snorted, “Well, if you can’t cut the mustard…” Another, presented with collages I made using visual not verbal connections between images, told me to go around to the other galleries, and look at other people’s work!

As my two children grew, I painted, in the yard, on the back porch on snowy evenings, at art centers, I taught, did portraits, graphics, etc. I played floor games with my children, and developed a philosophy I called “creative passivity” in response to their intrusions on my time and on my paintings(!). The shrug…it is always the same day when you paint, so I never missed the time. When they went to school, I missed the electricity in the room! Eventually they grew up…one is a singer songwriter and the other a graffiti artist whose work makes me think of Giotto. I see them at work in their difficult professions and am happy to see that they have the ego strength to fight the dragons of the art life.

A long time ago, due to my winning three prizes in local shows within a month, a curator came to visit me at home. I am not sure what he expected, but as he entered, he became a bit craven and apologized for his old car. He left shortly after, saying to my husband (at the time), “Now you make sure she keeps painting!”

Curators seem to have a heavily outlined biographical template in mind for artists, and have trouble getting beyond it. For women artists the template has not been updated since the Renaissance, even in specialty museums. I know that is a ridiculously general statement, but for women artists in particular, it remains true. Outrageous people like the (late) Rossilyn Drexler, the (late) Bad Boy Abstract Expressisonists, extravagant personalities make it into their field of attention. Curators flounder in the presence of really good and even original art with no personality story line.

I am not presenting myself as a failed artist. I love my work and my art life. But they are my observations over 50 or so years devoted to making things and finding beauty.

From: Darla — Aug 20, 2010

Cedar, you have asked the same questions I asked when I had my first child. When my daughter was born my art career suddenly took a back seat and she became center stage. For awhile I was in shock. I quickly learned if I was to still be an artist at some capacity I needed to change how I worked and what I created to fit into my child’s schedule. I used to oil paint and draw in charcoal large scale, which needed large chunks or hours to progress successfully. This was now no longer possible. My self expectations needed to quickly change. I switched to another love, photomontage, which I could mentally pickup and drop in an instant, wasn’t messy, and was more portable. This media could also come to bed with me, seriously; exhausted from nursing and changing diapers, I could still cut and design while laying down. I also set my alarm clock to wake up an hour before I knew my daughter would stir in the morning and go straight to the studio. It was only an hour, a mere fraction of what I once set aside for painting, but even 30 minutes or an hour wasn’t wasted; I was able to fill my need to create before the busy day swept me away. The other key component is I have kept the mantra, “everything has its season”; right now my daughter is my first priority and art second, but this would not last forever. Though the galleries want to see more paintings and drawings now, they can wait a few years, it won’t be the end of my career. I always think of Matisse who didn’t get the ball rolling until he was in his fifties.

From: Barb — Aug 20, 2010

What do you mean when you say your career was at full speed? You have a picture perfect studio and lot of cheap little canvases with flowers on them. Are you sure that you don’t need a reality check? Maybe you are just a child who would rather play then be an adult? There are many ways for a professional mind to get things done – but you have to grow up first.

From: Carol — Aug 20, 2010
From: Carol — Aug 20, 2010

Whoa, Barb. I get the point but maybe you need something that no one can give you.

From: Liz Train — Aug 20, 2010

This article totally resonates with me, it is exactly where I was 23 years ago when my first son was born. I would grab a few minutes here and there to make art, occasionally hire a babysitter or trade with a friend. When he grew older he had his own work table in my studio. His work was pretty inspiring! Then I had a second child and really had no time for art. I discovered that the joys of motherhood were in spending quality time with my children and that the kids were a creation far more valuable than anything I could make to hang on the wall. I made a lot of art about motherhood and made a lot of art with the kids and their friends. I miss those days and the wonderful companionship of my boys! In no time at all they were all grown up and off to pursue their own careers. Maybe I would have had a more successful art career if I had not been a mother but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Enjoy this special time of your life and keep making art whenever you can find time.

From: Brian, Upstate NY — Aug 20, 2010

Interesting, many responses from women who have done this and now I am the first man to say something and have input. I work freelance at home so I have time for my son, my wife does as well. Previously however, I stayed at home with our son and was his primary caregiver while my wife was in the traditional workforce. Time is very precious when you have it, sometimes the only time you have is that 1-2 hour nap they take during the day and of course by then you just need to sit and recharge a bit and the idea of art is very daunting, I know I dealt with it! I also see many comments about focusing your art on your child and such and that might be a distinctly female focus, I’m not sure since I haven’t really had that occur.

A good friend of mine once said “To be an artist is to be selfish” meaning that you have to want it for yourself, not anyone else. You might have to make other sacrifices to get that time you need for your art. My wife, doesn’t whole heartedly agree with the idea but she is willing to accept that a little bit of selfishness isn’t a bad thing :)

From: Anne Elser — Aug 20, 2010

What a beautiful question. Becoming a parent made me take a closer look at making my schedule more efficient and acutely aware of my own needs, now that I was in charge of making my son’s life happen as well as my own. I’ve heard it said before that if you need help from someone, ask a successful busy person. They are busy doing what they love and have found a way to schedule in time for themselves.

Motherhood inspires my work and my work inspires my mothering. I get up early in the day to make sure I give to myself first before anyone else needs my giving.

An artist makes art in everything they do. Lasting proof of their creativity appears on the canvas, paper and sketchbook. But we are always creating. Gardening, organizing my child’s toys, scheduling activities, actively participating in play…. it’s all a part of the work. Even while you may appear creatively dormant, your mind is still churning and saving up energy for the next series of works.

You are the center of your universe and rightly so. Selfishness gets a bad rap. You’re not any good to your family unless you’re meeting your basic needs first. For me that means getting up earlier than everyone else and sketching, etc. I’ve also gotten better at using pockets of time during the day where I can do something just for me.

Experiment with what works best for you and feel into every moment and opportunity with an open heart.

From: Sharon Lynn Williams — Aug 20, 2010

There are many ways to remain creative while raising children, but they may not be what you are used to! Keep a sketchbook and pencils near you while you are watching your baby play. Taking time to jot down ideas for the times when you will have time will set you in motion as soon as your life frees up a bit. Having only one child can get boring at times, so use those times to think and dream. More than anything, do not let your self esteem come only from your role as an artist. You have so much more to give the world in a healthy, well adjusted young man who doesn’t have the feeling that his mother resented his being as it held her back from her art. Being an artist is only part of who we are, so take the time to find out what else you are as a woman. Your art career will wait for you if you have what it takes. Perhaps this time of simmering ideas and working through concepts will result in an increased maturity as an artist. Besides, you have already made the most beautiful art one can possibly make, take the time to nourish that. Look forward to being inspired by what your son eventually produces as you play art with him. Set your mind on receiving all the joy that this very short time in life brings you –cultivate and attitude of gratitude for each and every day and situation you find yourself in. And get locking cabinet doors for all those open shelving units!

From: Gavin Brooks — Aug 20, 2010

Motherhood is not the same as parenthood.

Even in modern marriage, the difference between a male artist and his female counterpart amounts to the day to day asset of having a “wife”

or significant partner managing the household. Having children affects career dynamics and women often have to choose between nurturing those children and pursuing their own artistic journey. This has been the case for decades, not the result of any current trend towards over-involvement in childrearing. The demands of time management affect male and female parents differently. The only exception is when a father stays home to raise the children in the primary role.

According to the film documentary “Who Does She Think She Is?”, “Half of the trained artists in the United States are women, yet only 2% of the works in the entire National Gallery of Art are by female artists.

Women

remain equally under-represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many galleries in New York. Consider these successful women in modern culture : Amelia Earhardt, Talullah Bankhead, Georgia O’Keefe, Edith Horton, Emily Dickinson, Janice Joplin, Eudora Welty and Lillian Helman. Not a single one had children.”

The gender gap remains steadfast in fine art. Consider the predictable

“positioning” for male painters and sculptors by curators who are conditioned by a history that mostly ignores women artists. That condition continues to influence exhibitions in top museums worldwide.

In my early career I had to make a choice about the complex dynamic that motherhood would play in my life as an artist, I attended the same painting venues of male counterparts, many who had partners managing children and household duties while they painted. Others had dedicated “assistants” in wives or significant partners. I’ve never had a groupie, an assistant or a partner toting supplies or marketing

my art in the background. I traveled the path solo, many times

leaving children home with a paid sitter who was relieved by my husband who worked full-time. I missed birthdays, recitals and moments I can never get back. Constant presence, quality work, and networking are part of the emerging artist’s life.

I can’t imagine the luxury of having a “wife” during my early career especially as my choice was to be a wife and mother who was often missing.

There was guilt, there was exhaustion and often a sense of impossibility for success.

I discovered long hours. I painted late into the night at a studio easel after kid filled days interrupted by carpools, errands ,laundry and grocery shopping. I framed, stretched canvas, packed crates and shipped in a foyer shared with sports equipment and school book bags.

Motherhood in the arts is best defined by the word “overtime” . That is the only route that might compensate for the disparity of gender in the arts and the female role in parenting.

Today,I have work in galleries where I am the only female artist on the entire representation list. I also recognize what a rare honor it is to have two of my oil paintings in a museum permanent collection.

Having my work hanging in a museum came directly through extra determination, constant focus ,presence and sacrifice . I gave up a lot of quality time with my children in the early years but they also grew to appreciate their mother’s dedication and success.

gavinbrooksart@aol.com

From: Hiram R — Aug 20, 2010

Please excuse me [spanish speaker]. I am a male ceramist-home cooker -2 sons, taxi driver-ceramic teacher-husband.; at least 12 solo expositions ,more than 30 collectives. Desparation with love works as a motivation to work more. We can be more creative when we met those full of imagination little magicians.

mpulepr@yahoo.com

From: Joyce Durkin — Aug 20, 2010

Well, Cedar, your studio is lovely but you will need to revamp it seriously in a short while. Your baby will be crawling soon and all those power tools and toxic supplies are within easy reach of a curious baby. You have a potentially very dangerous situation on your hands that needs to be addressed soon. As a former pediatric nurse and mother of six, I can tell you that the first thing a baby or young child will do when they get hold of something is to put it in their mouth!

Robert’s advice to just set aside an hour or so each day is probably the best you can hope for. Please remember that your baby will only be the age he is once – then that time is lost forever. Cherish it and realize that motherhood can be a creative experience if you approach it as such.

Best wishes to you and your darling little one!

From: Sandra Lee — Aug 20, 2010

My first reaction was that you were too harsh calling this a scapegoat, but I fear you have really pegged it. I am at the opposite end with an aging mother to care for as I approach retirement, to finally do my art. After work I have 15 hours of changing bed pans and cooking meals (she broke her ankle and cannot walk for the time being) so do precious little creative, but think of what I will do soon.

Before it was school, the children, career building . . . the list goes on as I took classes and never really produce art. Each excuse was time consuming and took energy but the truth is each was a scapegoat. I hope Cedar does not let it become a habit. Those few times I have made room for my art I found I had more energy and was better at whatever else was going on in my life.

Thanks for the cold reality check. I plan on starting tonight right after dinner, between bed pans. Tomorrow I look forward to being much more warm and fuzzy with my mother who too often thinks I am angry when all I am is bored and tired.

Los Angeles

From: Ana Guerra — Aug 20, 2010

In response to Cedar’s complaint, I would advise her to worship the time she has with her child. The years go by way too fast and before you know the child will be going to school when Cedar will have some more time available.

These are the questions that should be asked before one commits to motherhood. Who said being a mother was easy. It takes all the energy we have to raise a child well raised. If Cedar would have asked me these questions before she got pregnant I would have informed her that if she thought that there would be lots of time for her career or her alone time I would have told her not have children. But there is nothing that she can do now, she must make sure that her child’s needs are met first above all things. She made the decision to become a mother; now she must fulfill that obligation to the fullest. The effort and time she puts into raising her child may be the most important work she will ever do. I wish Cedar luck and patience.

From: Jeanette R. — Aug 20, 2010

Hi, Cedar: Judging from your video, it looks like you’re already doing a whole lot of things right. Both your studio and your art are beautiful, and your son is one of the happiest little guys I’ve ever seen. Trust yourself.

From: Mary Hagerty — Aug 20, 2010

I would add that while this mother is focusing on her loss of “pre-parent” perspective and the work she generated from that standpoint, she is utterly missing out on the entirely new perspective one is thrown into when they create the greatest art possible…life.

She fails to realize or embrace the new work product she is now capable of because she is so focused on her loss of identity. True art is the ability to lose one’s intellectual fixations in order to manifest genuine emotion through a chosen medium. She needs to tap into the raw emotion that only parenthood can give birth to. She may find that she is now a far superior artist.

From: Loretta Puckrin — Aug 20, 2010

This wasn’t an accident — you chose motherhood now embrace it. Babies sleep and play a lot — time really shouldn’t be a problem. Energy and interruptions are. Try doing your sketching, research, planning etc during the more active of baby’s times. These activities can be interrupted without creating major frustrations. The actual painting can be done in stages as well — background (if you do a colour “primer”), sketching etc. can all be done at different times. I found that the final painting was always better if done at one time without interruption — there were times (I had 3 children and worked full time) when I woke up at 3:00 am to get something done without the children interrupting. If it is important you will find a way that works for you. Sounds like your artwork is paying more than the costs — so consider a day a week babysitter to give you solid painting time. If you plan for it, I agree with Robert, you can get a lot done in this time. In fact the pressure of limited time tends to make people of all walks of life more productive. Now if the problem is that you just love to play with your child — which is great — accept that you might be taking a couple of years off for that purpose. It will give you new perspectives and might create a major change in your work. There are so many options open to you in today’s society you just have to determine where your priorities lie and then work towards those goals.

From: Dar Hosta — Aug 20, 2010

My art career was just taking off when my two children were only 1 and 3 years old. Rather than playing WITH them all day long like many of my friends did with their children, I would set up their stuff — legos, blocks, paper & crayons, whatever, put on some music or NPR and then we would work side by side together. The first time they ever went to one of those tumbling classes, the instructors were a little surprised that they didn’t know how to play the game, duck-duck-goose, however, they were great at occupying their own time, together or alone, and they understood from the very beginning that Mommy’s job as an Artist was real and could not always take second place to their needs.

From: D. Brower Watts — Aug 20, 2010

For Cedar, there are actually a few good options…She will be surprised how much she can work into the time her little guy is napping. She can find an extra hour or two before he is up or once he’s in bed. She can trade babysitting duties with another young mom a couple days a week. She can turn him over to his dad (if he’s in the picture on some weekend days or half days. Children don’t have to take the fall for failed careers. Cedar is a creative person. She just needs to get creative about finding time.

dbrowerwatts@cs.com

From: Pat Morgan — Aug 20, 2010

Dear Robert, one suggestion I have for Cedar is to consider some swapping of baby sitting time with another mother or someone else who could use her help. That would keep the costs of child care down and if a regular schedule were arranged, Cedar could get back to work. Good luck. Yes, this a tough one.

From: John F. Burk — Aug 20, 2010

Your advice about the “one lovely hour” is perfect. It will usually become 2 or 3, and a lot can be done in that concentrated time.

“What happy few” we are, to quote Henry V.

From: gail caduff-nash — Aug 20, 2010

hi, i can understand your frustrations. however, i have an artist friend, who just after giving birth to her #3, suddenly threw herself into her art in a frenzy of creativity that became quite successful, leaving me to wonder just when she had time to do this stuff. now she’s had #4 and the same thing, another frenzy of creativity and a direction of focus that is amazing – and i’m thinking her children must be suffering from some inadequacy. but they seem to be ok, if only out of dishes that never seem to get washed. so maybe it’s about picking your frenzy. ignoring the dishes and going after the canvas. i doubt Robert’s got an answer to this – altho’ maybe he’s raised a kid or two himself.

From: Shirley — Aug 20, 2010

Give it up lady. Wait until you have the time and energy. You have so much of your life ahead of you, and only these precious moments with that baby. I put things on hold until kids were in school. I still remember a wonderful moment when my youngest came in and I was backing off looking at a painting, and he said “mom, that one looks good up close.”

From: Sue Zelko — Aug 20, 2010

I aspired to be an artist, and indeed have always done some kind of creative activity all my life, but I married and had four children within five years. Believe me, I know what it is to be exhausted! But when the creative spirit is in you, it will find a way to manifest itself. You may not always be able to create the same art you are doing at the present – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We all need to grow, change and evolve or we become stale.

When my children were still young, I also had to get a full-time job. I managed to do all the school things, carpools, dentist appointments, music lessons, sports activities, etc., as my children grew, but I still made time to paint, sew, design, teach and even take some additional art classes myself. While I had to put an art career on the back burner, I always kept in touch with art and creativity.

I can sense that your art is a great part of who you are as a person. This need not change because you have a child to care for. In fact, juggling both careers (art and parenting) can force you to become even more creative. Embrace the opportunity to grow as an artist and a person. You have everything going for you right now.

From: Lois — Aug 20, 2010

Naptime! Have yourself a power nap with the baby for the first 20-30 minutes (NO longer), then get up and work while he sleeps that other

1-2 hours. You’ll be amazed at how much more efficient and less exhausted you will be.

When he gives up naps, get him his own art supplies and let him paint beside you.

Don’t get fanatical about house cleaning … keep it sanitary, but let things go a little bit so you can enjoy both the baby and your work.

lobo119@bresnan.net

From: Martha Ginn — Aug 20, 2010

Cedar isn’t being very realistic if she thinks she should be able to just continue on with her art as before. She has a beautiful studio but it is not child-proofed–too many hazards. While Baby is young enough to sit in the swing, he may entertain himself a while, but this stage passes in a few short months. Motherhood is something that takes time and attention, and she can savor and enjoy it or be miserable and feel deprived. She can have it both ways if she will make arrangements for childcare at times so she can work in the studio.

Some of us face similar situations when caring for a spouse with health problems. Our freedom to create has to be fitted in with our other responsibilities. It is important to make opportunities to continue our art if at all possible.

Hattiesburg, MS

From: Paula Timpson — Aug 20, 2010

to be an artist

is to be a mother,

creating

‘babies’

all the time-

to be a real mother with a son and an artist, both… is full time

love, hope

sacrifice,surrender

and tenderness

of a fulfillment

unknown

before

From: Carolyn Rotter — Aug 20, 2010

Having and rearing children is a difficult situation for a person with any career. Believing in the importance of creating art work as a career is the first step. Once you accept that then it becomes easy to consider the options available to young mothers. Seeking reputable day care (it might be offered at daddy’s work place) is a viable solution as is hiring a nanny or if finances are an issue there is always the grand-parents who would babysit. Young mothers have been facing this dilemma for more than 50 years, ever since they became visible in the workplace. There is no shame in relinquishing the duties of motherhood in order find time to paint…..not if you take your painting career seriously.

From: Silvia Vassileva — Aug 20, 2010

When the right time comes, everything will go where it belongs!

I raised two children in three different countries — I had no help, no studio, no hope that I will ever go back to painting. Life without painting felt like part of my body was missing — I have been studying art since early age and I had graduated from two art schools, I had a promising future and great dreams — then I found myself across the world in a small apartment the size of an average American kitchen — I was full time mother and a housewife and I didn’t see light in the tunnel. My frustration became so big that one day I contacted a gallery, paid the rent and decided that I will make a change. I had less than two months to prepare for the show. I started painting every evening at 9pm when both my 10 months old baby and my five year old were asleep. It felt weird after the long interruption moreover I have always painted on natural light but I had no choice. Around midnight I was collapsing in bed just to be awakened two-three times during the night. The first few days everything was a blur — I was exhausted from the lack of rest and the approaching dead line. The more I painted though, the more excited I felt — I was actually PAINTING and I had a goal! My grueling regimen did not seem so impossible anymore. The show was unbelievable success — 21 of the 24 paintings that I created, were sold. It was such a boost for my confidence and such a lesson — I knew that I CAN be an artist when the time comes, so I focused on raising my children.

Now they are older and I am a full time professional artist. I can paint as much as I want and I am happy that I made the right choice back then. If you are a real artist, who doesn’t want to live without the creative process, sooner or later you will find your balance. Now focus on your baby, because he is more important than anything else! And don’t forget — we are in so much better position than violinists or ballerinas, who must practice every day in order not to loose their shape. The more we observe and the more energy we accumulate- the better artists we will become.

San Diego

www.silviavassileva.com

svassileva@san.rr.com

From: Amy Markham — Aug 20, 2010

The best key answer to Cedar’s question that I know is TIME ORGANIZATION. A certain day for this, a certain day for that.. set up in advance & not very flexible. Example: Monday for bills, Tuesday for appt.s, Thursday for Art (sitter’s word set in cement, with a back up plan B), etc.

Organization of duties & obligations is THE most important key to helping me stay in a flow, & confident that I can accomplish things. If I know I for sure have Thursday to make art then I look forward to Thurs, & plan out my day, my workload. ….. I also set aside secret time,… like if I finish one obligation up earlier than expected, then I can slip some studio time in…. BUT I always have that Thursday FOR SURE.

From: Julie Chickoski — Aug 20, 2010

I think your whole “balance is elusive” comment really has been the story of my life. Now as a grandmother who spends a lot of time with her children and grandchildren, it is still elusive, but I still force myself to find that time for creativity. At times it is very hard, when the child is small, or sick or comes with other difficulties.

But when I do that, fight for the freedom to have that time for myself, I believe I am a BETTER mother and grandmother. Yes, raising kids well is also kind of like trying to produce a good work of art, but if I feel more fulfilled as a person, they seem to then respect and admire me more as a person with gifts, an individual. I want to be proud of who my family is, but I want them to be proud of me too. Not using a gift you have been given is almost a crime! It would be like planting a flower that never opens past the budding stage. The beauty comes with using our potential, bursting into bloom, and blessing others as a result, plus honoring the One who gave you the gift to use in the first place.

cchickoski@sasktel.net

From: Jane McElvany Coonce — Aug 20, 2010

Hire a teenager to be a mother’s helper. It’s cheaper than a baby sitter because you aren’t leaving the house. The mother’s helper plays with the kids and entertains them while you work in your studio. You hire them to come once or twice a week for two to three hours at a time. It can be someone who is 12 years old who isn’t really old enough to baby sit. However, since you are in the house in case something comes up that needs a mom’s attention, you give the mother’s helper a little spending cash without breaking the bank. You find that you can get a lot done with just a couple of hours. You learn to focus and work fast.

From: Allison LeBaron — Aug 21, 2010

I am a mom of an 18 year old and a 13 year old. I have a different story. In the 80’s I was an art student looking for meaning in my life and was basically not very excited by my art work and not very excited to work at any thing at all. I was bored and lonely. When I finally got married and had my first child at 30 for a while I was so happy to have a family but the mundane demands of housewifery started to take a toll on me. I was desperate to have something to do that wasn’t cooking, diapering, or waiting for my husband to come home from work. I finally got serious about my own work, my art. My freedom to roam, and my intellectual opportunities had vanished from my life with the advent of the baby. So, what I did was put my project on the living room floor, put my baby in a bag on my back and worked for a few hours each day. I signed up for a couple art shows each year in town. My motivation to make money skyrocketed as family expenses mounted. I am now a big artist in a small town, my kids are healthy, happy and smart and I am proud of my art and having finally acquired ambition for my own work.

From: peggy appleby — Aug 21, 2010

I started painting when my first child was a few months old. Her sister was born 16 months later and I never stopped painting. What I did was to paint outdoors someplace where they could safely play. I had two more children and now have four grandchildren and I’m still painting. Don’t give up! It’s hard, but you can do it.

From: Gloria Mout — Aug 21, 2010

Perhaps Cedar could have a look at Carol Marine’s, blog, daily website and daily e-mails. Carol started doing a small (6×6) painting a day in 2006 when her son was one year old. This might give her some inspiration. She could also sit down with pen and paper and logically go through her day to find where have more time for her art. There is always time if your desire is great enough.

From: Allison LeBaron — Aug 21, 2010

I am a mom of an 18 year old and a 13 year old. I have a different story. In the 80’s I was an art student looking for meaning in my life and was basically not very excited by my art work and not very excited to work at any thing at all. I was bored and lonely. When I finally got married and had my first child at 30 for a while I was so happy to have a family but the mundane demands of housewifery started to take a toll on me. I was desperate to have something to do that wasn’t cooking, diapering, or waiting for my husband to come home from work. I finally got serious about my own work, my art. My freedom to roam, and my intellectual opportunities had vanished from my life with the advent of the baby. So, what I did was put my project on the living room floor, put my baby in a bag on my back and worked for a few hours each day. I signed up for a couple art shows each year in town. My motivation to make money skyrocketed as family expenses mounted. I am now a big artist in a small town, my kids are healthy, happy and smart and I am proud of my art and having finally acquired ambition for my own work.

From: Suzanne Joubert — Aug 21, 2010

Cedar’s honest question hit me straight at the heart as well as that of Rachel Power: “Why didn’t anyone tell us what it would be like?” Most well known women artists have had no children or a single one. There are a few who were blessed with relatively successful motherhood AND an honourable artist’s or writer’s career. The balance of us have often been torn between love of family and the strong call for self-accomplishment; guilt at not spending more time with the children, and frustration at not spending more time in the studio. Many have lost their man along the way when husbands wouldn’t touch a diaper or cook a meal and resented their wives leading a career of their own. Many years ago, I was sent a questionnaire aimed at “achieving women” by Canadian Council for the Status of Women. One question in particular struck me hard, not only at the time I answered, but even more so when I received later on the announced results

among my peers. Here is the question: “Was your mother an ally and did she encourage your aspirations?” Unfortunately I had to answer NO, while my colleagues of all trades had answered YES to the level of 95%! I believe this statistic to be all important and a mother’s approval to be a major asset for any young artist. If you got this approval, you began life as a winner.

From: Rebecca Gottesman — Aug 21, 2010

When I graduated from art school, the motto was if you want to be an artist, don’t have kids. I never imagined my life without children and thought I am going to have my cake and eat it too. Well, 22 years later, I could write a book on the journey of being an artist, a mother, and keeping life creative. There are hundreds of books out there about how to be an artist, but only a couple address mothering and having an art career. Being a mother is an art that can match no other. I can promise you that parenting and creativity go hand in hand. But there is only so much energy in the universe to go around, and unless you are wealthy enough to afford a baby sitter while you make your art, you are just going to have to find your creativity in other ways for a while. Raising children to become emotionally and physically healthy human beings, who give back and leave a positive footprint on our planet, is the most important work you will ever make. It is a life time commitment that can be full of creativity. The beauty of this journey is you will get to experience life’s treasures all over again with adult consciousness and this will feed into your artwork like no other lessons could. It is a longer class than the one’s you signed up for in university, but it is a wonderful one that will give back to you beyond your imagination.

From: Patty Oates — Aug 21, 2010

Cedar Lee would be wise to be grateful for the wonderful space in which she has to work, and the organization skills with

which she is gifted. Nothing is out of place, and that saves so much time; so she can accomplish much in the time she

can give herself. You are right, Robert, that nowadays children have almost taken a god-like place in parents lives. I believe

that idea should be re-examined, and a balance found so that parents and children will have equal time in the family life.

It is important to enjoy every minute you can of your childrens lives and of your own.

From: Kathy Hill — Aug 21, 2010

I see my son sacrificing everything for his girls. I have not heard much said about this phenomenon and I am dismayed at this “new religion”. I always felt, when raising my own children, that parents should set a good example to produce good adults. In other words, live your own life—don’t center it around the kids. I’m afraid there will be a whole new generation of “me” people.

From: Melinda Collins — Aug 21, 2010

Dear Cedar-Good luck! I had three kids in 5 years after a 10 year very productive art career. I found infancy the easy time. Toddler through teen years were the hardest. It’s not the physical work or presence (at least for me), it’s the conflict between the needs of parenting and the needs of creativity. I felt pretty drained by the kids’ needs combined with creative thinking, which for me goes on all the time, even while grocery shopping. I finally pulled back on the art because the kids were a more important responsibility. I did go back to school during this time, easier than balancing creating artwork with child rearing. To me, art is an obsession and when my mind is not free to devote to it, I can’t be fully engaged with it. I did lose twenty years of career development, but when I went back to full time painting, my abilities had not been affected at all.

From: Margaret Stone — Aug 21, 2010

I would have wept over having a space to work in like I saw in Cedar Lee’s PR video, but then again, perhaps not. It would have separated me from the family and it is very possible I would not have spent much time there. It would have been a lot like leaving to go to a job. My work space was usually where I could see what was going on and also made me visible and available. Quiet time? When children were playing or asleep. I was showing with several galleries and exhibiting nationally. I created over 400 works in approximately a 12-year period, and sold well having only six left on hand from that period. I had friends who were both mother and professional artists and they were doing quite well. We pooled resources and shared some household help.

Carrying and birthing a child is the highest form of creativity. Tending what one has created is part of the process. As we create children and tend them, so can we create artworks and tend them. It does not have to be either/or. Both can be nurtured. It is possible to be a good mother and a good artist. Energetically the two are inexorably connected coming from the same center. If a person wants to create artwork, they will find a way to do so. No excuses. Changes will have to be made, obviously, but one can be creative about that too!

From: Ellie Lee — Aug 21, 2010

> Um, Barb, what is the point of this comment??? Cheap little canvases? What’s the point of belittling Cedar with your mean-spirited comment? I have greatly enjoyed all the wisdom pouring forth from all posters, sharing with Cedar their hard-won understanding of how to balance creativity and motherhood. Your comment is a thorn among roses.

From: Melanie Peter — Aug 21, 2010

It’s tempting to imagine that I would have become a “great” painter if I hadn’t become a mother, which is a retroactive ego trip. However, I wouldn’t likely have been a better a painter if I hadn’t been a mom; I would not likely have been a better mother if I’d given up painting. I painted because I didn’t know how not to, and I was Brian’s mom to the best of my ability. There’s never been enough time for everything, and never will be. It was all one; it just never occurred to me to think of myself divided into mother and artist.

From: Sheena Lott — Aug 21, 2010

Having three young children and being forced to stay home most of the time was the best thing that ever could have happened to my art career. Early on I decided to get a degree in physiotherapy so as not to be a starving artist. Art was always my main passion. With the advent of three children it was difficult to go out and work at the hospital on a regular basis. I decide that while at home I would hire a babysitter in order to have time to paint. I had to justify the cost of the babysitter which made me paint much harder . The babysitter worked 9 to 5 and I painted 9 to 5 . This made me more disiplined and whether I felt like painting or not I painted. The added bonus was that I had three young painting models readily available. So far I have illustrated 9 childrens books

From: Anne Ward Sures — Aug 21, 2010

I was broadsided by the demands of motherhood. I was so frustrated not being able to paint with a baby and my friend Dan McCaw gave me the best advice of all. He said to paint every day in my head and that I could always be composing and drawing in my head and when possible to grab a sketch pad to do a quick sketch. My kids are older now but I still try my best to ‘paint’ everyday. Whether or not I actually touch a brush is another thing. I bring my ipad with me where ever I am as it allows me to take chances with color and subject matter that would take valuable precious hours in the studio. It allows me to consider a subject/design before the brush ever hits the canvas. The most important advice is to create a system that allows for an acknowledgement of your time constraints as a mother, an ease of access to your subject matter/materials and a daily commitment to seek clarity as to why you are painting what you’re painting. I feel the blessings of motherhood gave me the luxury of searching for this. When school begins I’ll have time to take the subjects I’ve looked at indoors to paint outdoors in sunlight on big canvases which I love.

From: Lora Madjar — Aug 21, 2010

Hi! I just starting writing on the topic in a blog. This is the full article/reflections on your topic.

ABOUT EDUCATION, CLASS, AND MOTHERHOOD (UNEDITED REFLECTIONS)

What do you want to be when you grow up? “A grade school teacher, like Mrs. ABC, “ my classmate would respond. “I want to be an artist, ” was my response. This simple conversation taking place on a walk to primary school, is coming to mind, some 20-ty something years later. Even becoming a secretary, which now I understand is far less important than being the boss, would have been considered a professional success of sorts in the eyes of my blue-collar family. I was even stirred away from the Art High school, because, there is little you can do with art. I was accepted at an amazing Math School with French emphasis but Art somehow had found me there as well.

WHO ARE WE KIDDING? Contemporary, postmodern, educated women with aging uteruses? Sure, we are not fighting the fight of “Rosie the Riveter” but are we as liberated as college feminist courses encourage us to believe? No, feminist ideas were not pertinent to me. I was free. I felt no discrimination. What arcane problems were they addressing?

None of this pertained to me until now, celebrating my wading 30s with my 18 month old as a stay-at-home mom! Things could not be getting any better after finishing my masters and finding a part-time teaching job rather quickly. I did not feel in peril when I talked with my boss over reducing my load to one class while I was going to give birth – I even had my husband cover for me for the two weeks I was recovering. I have never missed a day nor was I late. Enjoyed faculty development and participated in teacher circles aimed at new faculty improving their teaching skills. It came to me as a surprise when there were no more classes for me.

Sometimes I wish I did not get any education past high school. What is the point? No, I did not pursue a trade or an economically promising degree. I did follow my curiosity and threw myself at the mercy of a Liberal Arts degree. So, I must take personal responsibility for my love of literature and Art. After all, I have indulged in critical theory, philosophy and paint. None of which have prepared me for the housewife life. I am not talking about inability the keep a straight house and cooking – I do that very well and with pride. What I was not prepared for was the intellectual challenge to be away from academia. Teaching part – time satisfied that educated part of myself while at home, I was enjoying the more primal urge the play house and raise a babe.

I was semi-comfortable asking about “an appropriate place to express breast milk.” I am sure using my office, after checking with my office mate, was o.k. Now, I am wondering whether my “changing needs” as a mother did play any role in loosing my job. It is a state institution and the law has been followed to the t. It seams to me that there is a very powerful, invisible kind of law I am no privy to exist as much as an institution prides itself of transparency and union power. I lack the insider’s knowledge, cultural tact and my tongue is as straightforward as a newly sharpened arrow. I feel as if I am too smart to fit in a community college and too stupid to figure out how to keep employed in one at the same time. Since, there was no formal evaluation or reproach about my teaching have been made, in my eyes, the only thing that have changed was the ten extra pounds I was totting about, the breasts that were fully functioning lactating machines, and the fact that now, I, too, was a mother. (I was a mother like many of my younger and older students, for whom there are plenty of accommodations and programs to help them be more than housewives – the glory position that I just have adopted full time. You would think, having a young female professional that balances work and parenthood is an encouraging example for some young mothers and fathers but in real life institutional priorities do take the lead.)

Do I sound already bitter and angry?

I do love being at home, seeing all of my son’s milestones and amazing leaps and bounds. The domestic sphere has always been a personal oasis. I do not miss the tedium and invisible politics of academia. For God’ sake, a century ago, I would not even have the chance to experience this existential turmoil! Yet, the fact that, I can easily be replaced by a great housekeeper, a loving nanny, wet nurse, and a …. , is of no comfort to me. Any additional life experience and knowledge only pains me in the current circumstances. After all, I have been in school, have loved being in school, and thrived in academic environment longer that I have been lactating.

I do ask myself, do I want employees of mine to have personal lives, families and children? Do I want my employees to be human? Do moms have a place in THIS 21st century’s employment battle ring? Do nursing moms have the TRUE support, not just this lactation law on paper, that encourages them to feed their infants and toddlers? (In Minnesota, women have the right to express milk in the workplace up until the third year of their child’s birth)

Perhaps, it is safe to say, you are more attractive to an employer if you either had children long time ago, have put idealism where your mortgage payment is and your student loans rest, or, don’t have children and don’t plan/want to have any, a.k.a – you got your priorities straight. After all, it is your choice to breed and have offspring. So, why do I, your boss, care about you feeling warm and fuzzy inside while you think about spending a full weekend with you family instead of formulating a killer rubrique administration would love, your colleges will hate and your students will not comprehend?

Ok, now, this is not just bitter and angry. Now, I just gave you straight as an arrow spiteful.

ENDING IT ON A GOOD NOTE

So again, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Artist? How about, housewife, anyone? Who would have guessed that at 30 that would be my official title? True, I am an artist too – have my private space at home in my well lit sun room but somehow not having this regular paycheck, the numerical value to my efforts lacking is making the title “artist” – a profession unwittingly I have chosen for myself in grade school, less appealing and way unglamorous.

Why so much anger and resentment? Where is the gratitude for the wonderful supportive husband that begs you to stay home and discourages you from getting just any job? So my lady, you got everything you wanted and still feel less? Our culture has it cut pretty tough for all you women. Children, no children. Husbands, families or singles? It could never be “the right” choice, so it seams.

I almost envy my great grandmother that stayed home her whole life and according to my mother, never worked an honest day in her life. Did she have any aspirations outside of the home? The times were different, I know. Yet, what has changed? Me, at home or minimal wage job and daycare for my child. After we add it all and subtract the comings and goings I would end up with grey hair and hours stuck in traffic. Plus, I do want to take care of my babe and continue our nursing relationship! So far, in over 1285 words I have been trying to convince myself and give myself the permission to ENJOY my family. So what did the feminists fight for all these years if I end up where my great grandmother started?

I am trying to end it on a good and positive note but somehow my recent job loss and sudden sedentary lifestyle is making me restless. Yes, my little poop machine will start school at some point and I will no longer be as a vital part of his life. I will continue my creative endeavors meanwhile, read books I did not have the time for in grad school, stock up on major feminist writings to comfort my hungry soul, and some day be able to devote hundred percent of my time to academic life.

http://loramadjar.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/33/

From: Doris E. Weed — Aug 21, 2010

Sorry, it sounds like you can’t have it all! Sounds like you have it all, but can’t handle a baby in your life. Sorry, you seem very selfish at this time. Didn’t you think about this before you became pregnant? You are very fortunate that you don’t have to work outside of your home. Sorry I couldn’t see your studio and your son on my computer for some reason, but take in the fact that your life if very good and quit your “—–ing”

From: Denyse Milliken — Aug 21, 2010

I struggled with finding creativity time when my now 8 year old daughter was a baby. Heck, I struggled with finding time for a shower, let alone time to be me.

Parttime daycare sent me back on the road to freedom when she became 18months old. I was told a good support network is essential. I didn’t have that. No family living in the area.

The fact that amuses me is no FATHERS with grapple and juggle with career time and baby demands ;-)

From: Kathleen Lenshyn — Aug 21, 2010

Hi: First time commentor. I have 3 adult children. While our hearts and society scream that we can have it all, I think that we as women cannot have it all. Is it fair, no way! What I would like to suggest is that you arrange for your son to be looked after, out of the house some days. Those days you can be devoted to your painting etc. and not feel guilty, as has been mentioned before. Then hopefully at the end of these days you will be recharged emotionally to spend time with your son. I would also like to stress, as has been mentioned before, that those solvents etc. must be made unavailable to little fingers. It is amazing how soon this must be done, as little ones tend to be able to be into everything too fast. Motherhood/housecare, is still the domaine of the female unfortunately. That said, there is nothing so joyful as raising children and learning how to play again.

From: Miriam Ruberl — Aug 22, 2010

The child is not the problem, and I would ask ; what do you want your child to learn ? Children learn by what we do, not by what we say.

Unless your child has special needs of some sort that you don’t mention, let him/her be your inspiration – to be excited, creative, innovative, productive …and, I think Robert mentioned the dreaded O word – organised; sleep when the child sleeps, or paint when the child sleeps, either way works – making the decision is what counts; and I am certain that the majority of artists out there are not all fresh as daisies, had 12 hours sleep and 3 solid meals cooked by someone else before they can start creating !!

From: Marie Timbers — Aug 22, 2010

I discovered painting at the age of 40 when my children were 4, 8, and 12. Without going into details I became a single parent within 5 years. By that time painting had become my solace, my escape and my salvation! I continued to paint. I woke at the earliest light and descended to my studio in the basement – kids sleeping. So quiet – I really could create in that short space of time between dawn and bedlam!

Very early on my kids would send me to my studio when I became a totally un-nerved, irrational and CRAZY mom!

They are now somewhat mature adults, no longer on the “payroll”.

They have pushed me to hike the highest peaks – Opabin and beyond! To ski black diamonds and to cherish all that is wonderful in this life. I truly miss their daily support.

I would not change that for all the un-interrupted studio time.

To Cedar Lee, I say, your child (children) will value your talent and dedication to your art. Include them and they will be your most avid supporters.

All is possible!

Still painting and discovering who I am as an artist.

Grist Mill Studio, Plainfield, ON

From: Bobbo Goldberg — Aug 22, 2010

Might a male parent, father-type person weigh in on this? First, congrats to Cedar on what will be her greatest work of art, bar none.

In reading Cedar’s letter and feeling her distress, many questions arose for me. Cedar, are you a single parent, or is there a partner involved who can help take up the slack? Are you experiencing post-partum (or other) depression during these 10 months? Do you… or could you… recruit more help with your baby? When my kids were small, I was a very involved and active dad. I changed my share of diapers, got up for nighttime (bottle) feedings, and later coped with my fair portion of the joys and labor of raising little ones. There was always time to do my work. I was in the audio arts rather than visual, and elected to have my studio in the house, rather than in an office outside the house, so I could be there for the kids when they were home from school. After their mom and I divorced, we shared joint custody and I was the responsible party for a great deal of the time. It always came first to me, but there was always time to do the other important things in my life.

So to my original questions: Cedar, if you think you might be depressed, seek help. Overwhelm is optional. If you have a partner, practice partnership, which includes making time for your art. If you’re on your own, take an inventory of your assets: relatives, trusted friends, grandparents, who can provide *regular* respite and opportunity for you to practice your art, communicate with galleries or patrons, etc.

It may not seem so now, but as your 10-month old boy grows, he will be learning much from the way you live your life and treat your day. Your art is a vital component of who you are, and there is no greater gift you can give your son than teaching him to value his gifts and make time and space for them. Your question shows such concern and character that I have no worries about your neglecting him. Is it possible that you are overestimating what you must do as a mother, at the expense of other parts of you? Please remember that a vital part of your service to this new life is not neglecting yourself.

We now turn this broadcast back over to the artistic moms in the house.

From: Helen Zapata — Aug 22, 2010

As a mom myself, and now a grandmother, I can relate to Cedar’s dilemma. Trying to balance anything with the demands of motherhood is challenging and exhausting. But if you truly love your art, you can make it work.

As a new mom, I simply began drawing and painting my daughter. She was a ready model as she slept, with her expressive mouth and tiny fingers. As she grew older and was eventually joined by her younger brother, I continues to draw them. These images found permanent residence in their baby books and they never fail to remind me of those exact moments when I drew and painted my children. A snapshot is fine, and it’s fast. But your art slows you down into the moment, and you never forget what it felt like.

When the kids were older, I made myself schedule time to paint. I set up my easel and paints in the kitchen. Not on the table, but next to it. I painted while the kids watched Sesame Street. I painted after dinner. And I painted after the kids were in bed. It wasn’t my ideal studio, but I have always looked back at that time as being one of the happiest I ever spent as an artist. Busy, full, and rich with family and love.

It’s worth making the extra effort.

From: Marta Pelrine-Bacon — Aug 22, 2010

Juggling motherhood and art isn’t easy. My biggest challenge is the exhaustion. But when I feel frustrated that my work is getting nowhere, I ask myself what I want my son to say about me when he is older and talks to college friends late night in the dorm). Do I want him to say, “My mom had a dream but gave it up.” Or would I rather him say, “My mom never became a successful artist, but she never gave up.”

Of course, he might end up complaining that I didn’t pay attention every minute of the day or that he hated my art. I’m no fortune teller. All the same, one of those statements is possible. Which do I prefer? Would I want my son to give up his dream? No. So why should he see me give up mine to take care of him and end up watching TV once he is on his own?

I make time where I can. I accept that once in a while (not every day or anything but sometimes) he will get to watch too much TV so I can work. It will not end the universe. I accept that I can’t be perfect. I am the mother he has. I do my best. I accept that I won’t make art at the rate I would like and remind myself that even single and child-free I wouldn’t make art at the rate I would like.

I don’t even have a studio. I make art in the corner of our living room. My son goes to art shows with me. He thinks making art and selling art are normal things to do. Sometimes he eats dinner at my work table and talks to me about what I’m making. And at 7 he is old enough that I can say, “Play on the Wii for thirty minutes while I finish this piece.” He is okay with that.

It is hard to parent. But it is hard to give up art as well.

From: M Chapman — Aug 22, 2010

Interestingly few men have commented. As a wood turner in my new life, former life not very artistic. I find a studio with out windows not to my liking. I could not work in a basement. As Robert has said many times there is creativity and there is work. If you keep your mind open you can create at anytime even in the middle of the night (keep a notebook). Ideas, Ideas, Ideas, all are good. Actual work of painting or “wood turning” is physical and does require time. If the ideas have been going round your head the work goes faster and you can get the work done in a more efficient manner. Enjoy the life of your child, don’t be consumed by it. Enjoy your own life, as your partner will enjoy you more. Good Luck

From: Maxine Wolodko — Aug 22, 2010

I agree with Robert about one lovely little hour. I have a 6yr old and a 4yr old and for years have been painting mainly between 9pm and 10pm (sometimes until 11pm if I can make it). You can do so much in one hour. Sometimes I think about and plan all day what I will do in my art hour.

Now that the children are a bit older, I can also involve them in the process, although that has its own challenges. I invite you to read my recent blog post on this topic: http://maxinewolodko.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/small-reminders/

From: Anonymous — Aug 22, 2010

Baloney, Mr Genn. The spiel about parents being too absorbed by their kids is of no relevance to the artist mother asking your advice.

From: Wendy Patterson — Aug 22, 2010

Motherhood can be nourishing, if one can accept and work within the limits that frame your life. Acceptance and not resentment is a key. When my children were small I kept a small sketchbook with me at all times and drew from life at every opportunity. Three times a day for 30 minutes, I allowed myself to work on something at hand, with baby/child sleeping or playing, nearby. Flexibility is essential, but accepting and working within the limit of 30 minutes, 3 times a day was do-able. Eventually, I was able to get up an hour earlier than the family and work. It gets the juices flowing and I still do it. Then, other opportunities arrived that I was able to use. Keep the thread of art in your life, don’t let it drop out.

The other important thing for a mother to remember is that the child will grow up, soon, sooner than you can believe. Enjoy that time, use that time with them. It is a powerful life source, which you will need in your work, always. Eventually, you will have your time to focus on work for hours & hours. In the meantime, keep it simple and consistent. The child accepts the pattern of Mama working.

From: Mina Pratt SWA — Aug 22, 2010

Having taught for many years, I found with our grandchildren that I had a new and wonderful experience. I found that I could teach them at a very early age about color. They loved it and were like little sponges. I could look at an object and name all the colors that I saw and they could do the same. I could teach them how to mix and apply color and they could do the same. Children love color and accept the variations readily.

Later I told them when they didn’t know what to do during the day, they could think color and name the quantity and enjoy that experience.

They got very good at the critique and it was fun to share that time together.

I also added classical music and now that high school and college have appeared, the “pay-off” is many awards and a deep appreciation for the arts.

Science and math have become exciting and rewarding I believe due to these introductions at a young vulnerable age.

From: Christine McMaster — Aug 22, 2010

Hello Cedar,

I admire your determination to continue a creative part of your life. Really this applies not just to artists but to any mother. As mothers who love and devote so much of ourselves to our children and husbands, we can so easily lose ourselves in being a good mother. In fact it can provide so much fulfillment and all consuming demands and satisfaction also that we can feel we are doing what we are meant to do in life. And maybe for some it is enough and that is great. For the mothers who have a niggling yearning for something more or rather something also, I highly encourage you to find a small corner like artist Tasha Tudor in her kitchen or Cedar Lee’s studio or a night course, online course or whatever interest you have. If we don’t continue something on our own, we lose a part of ourselves that does not develop and grow. There is time although not much and not easily found. Someday you will wave your child off to kindergarden, or university or marrying someone across the country and you will have part of you that is not leaving and you will find how much you have grown along with your child. Like the quote of Francois Rabelais says we have an obligation to ourselves to discover our real needs and to fulfill them. It feels as big as if some cosmic truth is realized or as small as if some part of our brain is sparkling, our breath deeper and easier. You are worth it!

From: Meka Zieger — Aug 22, 2010

My father forwarded me your article likely for several reasons. Because my “art” is my kids–I draw them daily. Because though I homeschool my 4 children, they aren’t my religion – more my experiment – an interesting existence.

You’re quite right, our culture warps our relationship with our kids – we focus our worlds on them in a way nature never intended – in fact, in a way society couldn’t have supported until recent decades. It breeds self-centered children and resentful parents.

But more, we separate out our children from the things we love rather than passing it down. We put Child-Raising and Everything Else into different categories, and never the two shall co-exist. But David Gutterson puts this idea best:

“Ripped from the long-hallowed womb of Place and from the bosom of home and community, we no longer know where we are in relationship to anything else in the world. The tradition of parental and communal responsibility for the daily instruction of our own is denied us because teaching has become institutionalized, a convenience in a time of industry and profit when citizen-labors perform economic functions more efficiently without children present. Children suffer a loss of connectedness, a detachment from the web of communal affairs, a distance from the life and work of the tribe. Our instinct to nurture through passing down what we know is blunted because our children are elsewhere and what we know is too strange. If a parent can’t share who he is and what he does with the child with whom he feels driven to share it, a hole grows in him rapidly. The circle of learning, a kind of womb, encloses everything else. Most parents don’t have these moments often enough to gain sustenance, have quit looking to their children for emotional food, and have begun to search inwardly. The result: a dislike of their children on an order and of a scale that befuddles their instincts…”

From: Leslie Bishop — Aug 22, 2010

Lots of excellent comments. To see a response of a different sort, check out this fabulous blog, http://milasdaydreams.blogspot.com/ (sorry, I don’t know how to link in this comment box) put out by a new mother in which she shares her precious way of being creative. Best of luck to you, Cedar.

From: Jim Larwill — Aug 23, 2010

Art and Fatherhood

I was at home with my three boys for ten years. I was starting a career as a playwright. IT DROVE ME NUTS. A writer needs a lot of private contemplative time and for 10 years I couldn’t sit on a toilet in privacy or without someone desperately calling my name. (My kids could never understand that it was okay to kill their bother…. AS LONG AS THEY DID IT QUIETLY!)

The solution? I stopped writing and put everything in the garbage.

(Ruthless editing never a bad idea.)

I focused all of my attention on my children and being the at home support system for a family for those years. It was the right choice. Smartest thing I ever did.

It has had its economic down side. BUT! Children are here to teach us. Rather than putting all my energy into forcing them into capitalist patria-linear time, I went back to living at the human pace of children. They showed me how to see the world again outside of the frame of language. And they grew up in an instant. Empty canvases and empty pages will always be there.

Yesterday I became a grandfather again. And I even have the time to write this silly letter.

From: Peter Brown — Aug 23, 2010

There is no way a parent can get around the fact that an infant requires long hours of your time and attention in the first couple of years. In my experience, however, there are a few simple strategies that will nurture your child and make your experience as a parent much easier and more joyful. Start out with a good system, and you will soon reap the benefits. This was my basic program as a dad, and my grandson was raised in a similar way.

Little or no exposure to a television screen.

Little or no sugar. Make your own baby food.

Speak to your infant constantly in adult English – no “baby-talk,”

and no euphemisms.

Read books to your infant.

Take your child everywhere, spending as much time as possible in the natural world.

In the first two years of a child’s life, their brain is growing and creating neural pathways, particularly that set of nerves relating to vision. Think of the false perception of a TV screen. It will show a panorama, and then a close-up. To do this in reality a person must change the focal distance of his or her eyes. While watching TV, one’s eyes do not change focal distance. In young children this creates what is called “vision lock,” which is a common symptom of autism. There is no evidence that TV causes autism, but there is a lot of research that suggests that watching TV puts young children into a trance-like state which mimics autism. There is an on going

controversy about how much TV is reasonable, for me it was none.

When I watched television, I sat my boy facing me so it was a radio show for him.

The sugar thing is probably obvious. My grandson recently went through his Terrible Twos, and they weren’t terrible, at all. This was a quite a contrast to the behavior of his peers. I believe this had much to do with his sugarless diet.

I was something of a single father with my own son from his third year. I made the choice that we would both have a life. He went to dinner parties, art openings, restaurants, outdoor painting sessions, back-packing, everywhere. He adapted to an adult world, and was never afraid of “strangers,” or new situations. One anecdote illustrates my point.

When my boy was about four, we went to a museum opening, a Diebenkorn Retrospective. He was in a stroller parked in front of a lithograph, I was talking to a friend. An older woman, a docent-type, leaned over and asked my boy in a child-like voice, what he thought of Mr.

Diebenkorn’s work? I just watched. My four-year old, looked up at the litho for a moment, turned to the woman, and said, “I think I like his oil paintings better.” The docent’s jaw dropped.

Too many parents under estimate the capabilities of their children.

They over-pamper, over-protect, and live in dread that their child might have to face even one moment of unstructured time. These parents sentence themselves to years of an endless schedule of play- dates and soccer lessons. This leaves little time for a child to develop his or her inner resources – resources like a vivid imagination, or an ability to spend quiet time with a book.

At 3 1/2, my grandson can spend hours in the garden turning over rocks and searching for bugs and worms. He has a myriad of ways to occupy himself, but he seldom plays with toys except when other kids are around. On his own, he prefers his books, puzzles, his drawing board, and his yard which on any given day might be an imaginary zoo,

a jungle full of lemurs and aardvarks, or a biological study center.

This was not an accident. It was how he was raised.

From: Barbara Sherman — Aug 23, 2010

I found when my children were babies that, as adorable and interesting as they were, their care did not require my full attention at every moment. While sitting in the playground I was able to think about a painting, so that when I got to the studio I had already worked out what I would do and there was little need to wait for inspiration. I had a teacher who said; “every time you have ten free minutes–do some work–it’s money in the bank!” I also have a husband who believes in work, who has always pushed me to the studio, and a mother who gave me $200.00 after the birth of my second child and said, “This is only to be used for baby sitters.” Now that my son and daughter are adults living on their own I have plenty of time to work, and I have to spend a fair amount of it seeking inspiration–the time that was once taken up with diapers and runny noses. Those years with the babies were amazing periods of growth for me.

From: Dave C. — Aug 23, 2010

I watched Cedar’s video and was just a little jealous of the space that she has at her disposal. I am confined to a small corner of a 10×10 bedroom, which is also my office from which I work. But, I guess it isn’t the space available, but how you use it.

The only concern I have for Cedar and her baby is that I didn’t see any systems for managing ventilation in her studio. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any, just that I didn’t see it. Working in that enclosed space I would think that ventilation will be more important than anything else in that studio. Cedar, do NOT ignore this one safety feature just because you have a wonderful space available to you. Especially considering that you have your child with you in the studio.

From: Melinda Copper — Aug 23, 2010

My personal experience was three years to get back on track, and it was less a time constraint (although the challenges there were overwhelming) than an emotional one. He just used me all up. If I had had a magic hour (can’t remember even fifteen minutes that were mine alone) I would mostly likely have spent it staring at a wall and trying to regroup. Once I had to go in for surgery when he was eighteen months old and my mom came to help for two weeks, I got six paintings done while she was there. One had footprints where he walked across it, but hey…. Today, thirty years later, I’m going through almost exactly the same thing with an aging parent that I’m completely responsible for, helpless as an infant. My husband has been handling all the artwork for several years. I recently got hospice help and am furiously working on small things when they are here… my paintings are now 3″x4″. Something that you can keep in a box.

From: Linda Saccoccio — Aug 23, 2010

I was completely blown away by the reality of having my first baby. I couldn’t have fathomed the intensity of a 24/7 commitment to a dependent beautiful baby. One thing that gave me some solace, that was planned during the pregnancy was to keep a room in my NY apartment as a studio for when I could work. I didn’t get back to it until my first daughter was one, but when I did the focus I had was as my friend said like a surgeon’s. I went in and got right to work for the 3 hours or more that I had while the caregiver took my daughter to the park. During the first year I submitted work to a few shows and exhibited the work I had. After the second child 2 1/2 years later it was trickier. I had to get a studio out of the apartment, it took 2 years. Then I had to face my own identity. Who was I then? Big questions arose but new work did too! It was fresh. What I have learned is that my daughters have given me strengths, depth, stamina and clarity, most of the time. It is a bit of a tight rope act and one has to learn flexibility and self-respect. The old adage, “If mama ain’t happy, no one is happy,” is very true in my life. My girls are very supportive of my work, so they never begrudge me the time I spend in the studio. I think it is great for them to see I am a whole person not just a support system for their every need. We are both learning in this process. My biggest piece of advice to someone in Cedar’s shoes, is know this too will pass, your life will change, and acceptance and creativity of this new path are crucial. Be patient and enjoy every moment, knowing you will work again and the potential is up to you and the dance you choose to dance.

From: Margaret Bremner — Aug 23, 2010

A few things I remember distinctly from those years of being an artist and a mother of very young ones:

1) When the children were sleeping or safely occupied, I would tear tabs of masking tape (this requires two hands) and stick them around the edges of the painting I was working on. When I needed to be carrying the baby, I could still go into the studio, have a good look at the work, write notes to self on the masking tape and stick it at the appropriate place on the painting: “more yellow here”, “define this edge”, “window?”, etc..

2) One day I went to my drawing desk and looked to pull a pencil from my pencil holder. A spider (still present) had built a lovely web all through my pencils and such. I took a photo so I’d recall how little time I had sometimes for my art making.

3) Where I lived at the time there were a number of art groups with semi-annual shows and sales. My husband was a big help to enable me to participate in those. Over the years I sold a lot of work and kept my name out there.

It’s trite and sugary and has been said before in other ways, but seriously, I do believe the greatest art you can create is bringing up the next generation to be happy, moral, and positive contributors to society. Part of that includes making sure you, the mother, are able to do those things too, and I’m sure that means being able to do your art, to whatever degree.

From: Angela Savoy — Aug 23, 2010

I have found my three and a half year old son, Luca, to be a constant inspiration to my creative mind. A child is seeing the world for the first time and with an awe inspiring sense of wonder, and in this wonder my own senses are reawakened. I have found Luca to be a window into my own childhood when I can recall how precious it was to find something new I had never seen before. The first time he saw the Manhattan Mica Schist in Central Park he asked if that is where the stars sleep during the day (because of the rock’s sparkly surface). The other day he asked me “Mommy, is a birch tree ticklish?” I asked him why he thought it was ticklish and he said “It tickles me when ants crawl up MY bark”. Maybe they are ticklish, who knows? Very few adults will ponder that question. Even before he could walk or talk, everything he experienced was amazing and new and I have taken this newly awakened sense of wonder to my studio. Time management is indeed much more difficult, especially during the first year, so have a sketchpad tucked away in your diaper bag and put to paper any new amazing idea that comes to you while you are with your little “window”. Your hours in the studio may be fewer for a while, but the inspiration will be overflowing and when you are able to capture those few precious hours to put brush to canvas you will be utterly amazed how much your art will flourish.

From: D Gail Mazer — Aug 23, 2010

One time when my boys were little we went to a car club dinner. The speaker was a “famous” female race car driver. I never heard of her, but she was in there with the big boys on the track. After she told her story she asked for questions and I asked her how she was able to get so far in racing with all the demands of family and children. She flatly told me she had no family or children. She had devoted her life to her driving. That’s one way of doing it.

Babies are all-consuming. First when they can’t walk, and then when they can and they get into everything. Although not wild, they have such curiosity and energy that you must be handling them in one way or another unless they are asleep. All 3 of my children (an older daughter from a prior marriage) didn’t nap and didn’t go to sleep until 11 p,m. For a time I had an advertising agency. The first boy stayed with me at work until he was old enough to go to a preschool. Try typesetting with a baby in your lap. I did get HUGE things done in the occasional 30 minute nap he would take.

I dragged him to my appointments and the secretaries would cheerfully pass him from one to the next. Luckily he was happy and cute and fun. He is quite the gregarious young man today at 29 years old.

My other son, now almost 24, missed the secretaries I am sorry to say. But he turned out great too. All 3 children have a high level of artistic talent. My daughter is 42 and I am still working full time 13 to 15 hours a day in the family business and not painting. www.magnificentportraits.com is my website. I’ve done 3 paintings in the last 6 years. I did 43 during a 7 month trip around the US in 2000-2001. I have 2 horses and never see them.

From: Kim Niles — Aug 23, 2010

I’ve been in Cedar’s shoes, sharing the same kind of concerns when my kids were younger. I actually gave up creating at all for quite some time and I believe it contributed to my years of depression.

The most important bit of advice I can give Cedar is something that took me far too long to figure out on my own… If a MOMMY doesn’t make it her TOP priority to take care of her needs FIRST, then she’s simply not going to be the BEST Mommy she can be! MAKING time for your mental health is no less important than making time for your fitness and nutritional health. If you’re an artist who feels compelled to create, then creating is essential for your mental health.

If you want your baby to be raised by a happy, healthy Mom, then you have to set aside a regular amount of time each day (or at least a few times each week) to work on your art. I know it can feel as though you’re being selfish with your time but really, if you DON’T give yourself what you NEED to be fulfilled and happy, all you’ll end up doing is preventing your baby from having/loving/learning from and emulating the best and happiest Mom possible.

From: Diane Overmyer — Aug 23, 2010

I believe it was the successful missionary William Carey who once gave an answer for the secret of his success: “I can plod.” Those few words have helped me through difficult periods of my life when I yearn to be sprinting forward with my art career but my circumstances dictate otherwise. When I was a young mother I gave up painting altogether for a number of years, but I did sketch and those sweet drawings of my babies and my children are some of the most precious works of art that I have ever done in my mind. Cherish the moments, because believe me, it is definitely true that the time will fly by much quicker than you realize it!

From: Susannah Swanson — Aug 23, 2010

I am fortunate, there is no doubt. I don’t have to make money at art right now, yet I have to make art, I simply have to. I make time to make art. I think a widespread obsession with raising kids well is not such a bad thing. However, to raise healthy children it’s important NOT to obsess about their every moment; growing up for any person means learning that the universe does not revolve around oneself. I believe it’s better for my kids to come along on my adventures than to BE my adventure. I rather think my children benefit from knowing that I have a creative life that is nearly as much a priority as they are. It is good for a child, or anyone really, to learn about delayed gratification! That is why I don’t feel guilty for saying, “Love, I will get you more juice in ten more minutes, once I have gotten this bit just the way I want it.”

I don’t feel guilty for buying myself half an hour, or even an hour and a half sometimes, of time granted by the TV. They get plenty of reading, exercise and other activities. Let the guilt go! The kids are not going to be perfect, and honestly, they’d be boring if they were. More often than not, when I get going on a painting, my children want to join in (yes, I have let them paint on some of my bigger canvases, nothing like an energetic three-year-old for helping block in a large area…) or at least work on their own things. It can definitely be frustrating to have to share precious time by washing brushes that I didn’t even get to muck up. But, six years ago, when I dove back into oil painting after a 4-year hiatus, I found that the demands of small children forced me to focus my time. I discovered that I am capable of accomplishing a good painting in an hour or two sometimes, much as I have mastered the art of the two-minute shower!

My oldest child is going on ten years old; he is living his own creative life, full of guitar solos, Greek mythology and legos, occasionally tossing off paintings that dazzle and challenge me. I am so glad to be far enough into raising him to be seeing some fruit, and that sustains me as I contemplate the reality of starting again with another newborn this fall. This baby will be my last, and I will savor him as I have the others, but more than ever, I believe I will not lose my creative self in nurturing him.

Motherhood is full of sacrifice, but when I become willing to undergo the losses, I find them transformed. When I am pregnant, I do not paint in oil, acrylic, or any kind of conventional color. It’s not the fumes, it’s that the heavy metals such as cadmium, cobalt, zinc, titanium, are simply dangerous to a fetus. It sucks. But again, delayed gratification comes up. This is a fallow time, and when I return to painting in oil, my greatest artistic love, it will be sweet. When I got pregnant with my third, I had just started a commission, and my patron willingly waited for the painting till I was ready to take it up again. I spent those months drawing in graphite and charcoal; I got hungry for color, and made some of my best paintings so far once I got back to it. This time, I have worked throughout my pregnancy in children’s watercolors, the kind you can buy at the toy store in strips for a few dollars. Art snobs might snicker at that, but nevertheless I’m learning about color and progressing as an artist.

My best advice for new parents who love art is to connect with others of like mind. For years I have painted on Tuesday mornings with a group of women that has grown to include three older artists with all the time they want or need for painting, as well as two others like myself, striving to develop as artists even as we are in the throes of birthing and breastfeeding. We split the childcare costs, respond to each other’s work, encourage one another in art and all other aspects of life, and depend on that weekly time. This painting fellowship, as I’m fond of calling it, continues to be a creative lifeline for me.

From: clare aaron — Aug 23, 2010

No, a Daily Manic Working Hour will not work. That scarcely gives you time to get out your paints, mix them on your palette, figure out where you were last time you left off, put on just a few strokes, and then put away your paints and clean your brushes. There wasn’t time to paint amidst all those other things. Forget it.

Get yourself a baby sitter twice a week, 4 times a week, whatever/as much as you can manage, for at least 3 hours at a time, and paint on a regular basis. If possible, hire someone to do the house cleaning so that your time can be devoted to your art work and your child. Leave the household tasks to a housemaid. Make your work and your child the most important things.

I’ve raised 4 kids of my own, and 2 little brothers before raising my own kids. The art that your youngsters learn from you is a blessing and you see that you are now far more of an artist than ever before because of what you have passed on to them. It makes your art even more eternal than before because it continues generation after generation. When you see your 1-yr-old grandson taking you by the hand and insisting that you sit down on the floor at his over-sized drawing pad to make art with him……. Oh, the blessings of life.

When your 18-yr-old tells you that she will never do anything but paint and she will earn her living without ever having a job working for anybody, and you know that she can do it because she has learned from you how to make a living at her art…… (But I am insisting that she study business to help her with marketing her work.)……. When your elder daughter just has to have her wedding in a sculpture garden because she has to be surrounded with art even on her wedding day…….

Life’s blessings are seen in your children following in your footsteps. From me they have learned that we can earn our living by our own work and talent and creativity without needing to have a “job” working for someone else. From me they have learned that they can make their dreams come true.

But to show them all these things, to let them know that they can do it also, you must always make them a part of your art life. They must be part of the creative process and part of the business process. In doing shows, in working in a co-op gallery, my youngsters learned the importance of the business aspects of art, the catering to the customers’ desires as well as to my own need for expression and creativity. Art isn’t all about the artist; it is also giving to others what they want.

Be flexible with your work. If toddler son gets hold of the paint brush and adds to your work, when possible, let his work remain on your canvas. It adds even greater spontaneity to your work. Work around his strokes so that what he did adds onto your work. It teaches him his importance in your work.

One of the reasons I have always worked in oil is because it is more forgiving of kids, dogs, swimming trips, etc. When the kids were old enough to swim on their own without me being in the water beside them at all times, I would paint for a while on the river bank where I could keep an eye on them while they swam. After working for a while, I would go jump in the water with them for half an hour or an hour, then get out and paint some more. If the easel got knocked over by a kid running past on the river bank, guess what? It didn’t do any permanent damage!! Grass and leaves can be picked out of an oil painting. If they aren’t all picked out, well, …. so what! —Some of Monet’s paintings have grains of sand in them from when he painted on the beach. And if you get interrupted by an emergency or just someone needing you unexpectedly, your oil painting won’t dry out immediatedly as it would if you are working in water color or acrylic.

Be flexible, take your paints with you everywhere you go with the kids. You can paint at the picnic, the little league game, the swimming hole, the toddlers’ play date, ….. The kids learn that both they and your art are the most important things in your life, both important, both must share your time. It isn’t 100% the kids, nor 100% art; and thus, your children learn the value that art will have in their own lives.

You no longer have time for the shopping-just-for-fun trips, nor as much time for spending with friends, etc. You will have to focus on the two things that are most important in your life; and, by doing so, both your art and your kids will continue to grow and thrive, and you will be blessed with greatness in both.

From: Karla Pearce- Creative Edge Gallery — Aug 23, 2010

More often than not when I run an art class, three quarters of the students are women. It’s the same in most Art Colleges. There seems to be a lot of creative women out there getting degrees in art and launching art careers. But what happens to all that creativity when women start families? It’s a tough one because often artists feel as if their paintings are their children and the thought of having real children is a bit scary to them.

The act of having a baby is truly the most creative expression there is. The process takes over body, mind and soul. For many women, when babies come into their lives, they are so physically and emotionally drained all the time that the Art Degree gets put away and the art stops, sometimes until the children are grown. Many mothers that I talk to say they want to get back into art but simply can’t find the time or energy to do it. It’s totally understandable, particularly when your only sleeping a broken four hours a night and trying to run a home and make ends meet and the baby keeps crying….

I know all about it. I have three children, 5, 6 and 14 and I managed to make art all the way through and still do.

• The biggest trick is not to stop. Remember, an artist is who you were before the baby and is who you will be after the baby. Stay in touch with this part of your identity.

• Make time for art. Telling your self that you’ll do some art work in your spare time won’t work. There is no spare time with kids. Set up windows of creative bliss for yourself. Paint while the baby naps or get a sitter and join an art group. Remember creativity feeds the soul and without it we are even more exhausted than before. I guarantee that one hour spent on making something beautiful will energize an artist at least twice as much as a one hour nap.

• Don’t take on too much. If you get a phone call from the local art gallery wanting a showing of new work ready for next month, say no, but they can have one in six months. We are women and we can roar but there are limitations to what can be achieved when we are only sleeping a broken four hours a night and trying to run a home and make ends meet and the baby keeps crying…. Try to set realistic goals in terms of projects; it’s not a good time to take on that mural you’ve always wanted to do or paint for three days strait or even worry about your next art show. The goal is to stay healthy. There will be time for monolithic projects and fame and fortune later.

• Feed off your kids. Remember your children are made up of something wonderful and divine, a part of you. Be inspired by their very existence. Paint a portrait of them, or make a cast of their feet, write a story about something they did or describe how they make you feel. They are amazing little bundles of energy, enjoy what they have to offer.

Creativity exists all around us, in the way we sing, dress, eat, make love or garden. Some people say that artists are at their best when they are young. I don’t believe that for a second. Women just get better as we get older. The amount of personal growth needed to raise a family forces us to not only learn new tasks quickly, but to do many of them at the same time while managing to stay loving, nurturing and calm. This kind of growth takes dedication and work. But through it all we become smarter, better mothers and artists.

From: Leona Amann — Aug 23, 2010

Great ideas come from being a new mother. You slow down and start to see things fresh again. One winter I spent so much time nursing and rocking a colicky baby in front of a poorly fitting fogged up window. The fog on the glass would freeze and then thaw and refreeze. It helped me understand pattern and negative space like never before. A walk through a field of tall grass with a toddler opens a whole new way of seeing. There will be lots of light bulb moments and you will return to your work with fresh ideas. So don’t despair. Enjoy the late night feedings. Tell the art world you are on sabbatical. Create in your spare moments for yourself if you can. I don’t know what your financial situation is but I can bet you can still get enough work done for commissions or commercial artwork with judicial planning and maybe outside help. I took in other kids later and had a blast doing finger painting (which became body -etc. painting) and other arts and crafts with them. Not exactly high art but fun and it really loosened me up. Make sure the kids get some paint and paper too. During these early years it is just nice to be baby and mom. While they are at the easy to carry stage you can visit galleries and museums. Believe me it is easier now than when they get their legs under them.

The main things to remember about babies are:

That crazy full on OTHER career choice is not going to be full on for awhile.

This time is short.

You will have opportunities to rethink and resee the world and remake your voice in your artwork.

This is definitely geared to stay at home moms. Not all of us are so lucky or willing to be full time. Make the most of your situation.

From: Veronica Funk — Aug 23, 2010

I found that both times I had children were the catalyst for greater creativity for me…the birth of my first child introduced more vibrant colour into my work and the birth of my second gave me a greater sense of appreciation for and confidence in my work. I realized that my daughters needed to see me filled with joy so that they could grow to learn that they were better people for the joy in their own lives. I was a better mother when I woke early in the morning to paint before my children awoke…I began my days filled with peace and contentment. I let my children nap in my studio while I painted and listened to beautiful music. I left books about inspirational artists and their work anywhere that I might nurse my daughters. And I also set up a comfortable chair near my easel so that I could view my work in progress while I snuggled my babies. They grew up knowing their primary and secondary colours. And they also grew up experimenting and playing…one has become a young published poet and fabulous baker and the other a creative fibre artist. My first (grand) solo exhibit took place when they were 2 and 8 years of age. They have never know anything but a mother who is an artist and I believe that following my passion is encouraging them to begin to follow theirs as they are now 10 and 16. It hasn’t always been easy but it’s been a life filled with many moments of joy. In fact, their babyhood was probably my most productive time as all I expected from myself was to paint and love my babies.

From: gail shepley — Aug 23, 2010

Forty years in the art world and most of those as a mother of four children, some as a single mother, have given me a few personal insights. First, making art is like breathing, I can hold my breath for a while and then can’t stop myself from living. It comes down to a philosophical viewpoint, my soul will make art forever whether there is money or not. Motherhood will make me protect and nurture my children, no matter what. I became an art instructor for over twenty years and included my children in my classes. I have an artist’s resume in a 4 inch thick binder and for some reason never really made a lot of money at it even though I have two books of illustrations published with a local poet. Your studio is great, you are going to soon have to make access to dangerous chemicals difficult and baby proof. Make an area for your child to do some art work too and keep chugging along girl because you will anyway. My best advice to you is this, as much as you can, make sure you have security for now and the future, keep your home and save money, eat well and don’t worry if you can’t get everything done that you want to, trust me it will wait, love being with your child first because they do grow up and everything changes. Relax and enjoy the ride, you have a beautiful life and make beautiful art!

From: Debra Gow — Aug 23, 2010

Hmm I just opened my first Studio Gallery in my 55 years of painting, both my boys (now grown) wanted the space to move

back home. Not happening!

Here’s the scoop, my art is what I do, but motherhood is like art, you can be good or bad at it.

The baby’s going to grow so fast, reap in the rewards of that, take pictures, (ones you may want to paint at sometime).

Enjoy the moments with him, they are gone for ever, art grow in stages, you may have to put it aside or wind down a bit, or

you may have to paint at night instead of t.v. But you can not put your baby aside.

My babies lived in their play pin beside me while I worked, as they got older they moved to the table with their own art.

I worked a lot while they slept, some times you sleep or dream of your paintings, then create while they are in school. They will grow.

Keep your area your own. Moving things up and out of their reach helps, involve them in your art but don’t let them take over.

They have to know this is what mommy does.

They will grow up creative, my one son now is a wonderful tattoo artist, the other is creative in music.

Those years fly by so fast.

From: Sherran E Deems — Aug 23, 2010

It sounds to me like you just need to relax a little and not worry so much about not being productive. It is very easy to fall into what I refer to as the “Mom Trap” and think that a.) if you are not actively working in your studio you are a lesser artist and b.) that you were so incredibly productive prior to a child and will never be able to return to that level. Following are some suggestions of things I did when my children came along:

1 – Nap time was always studio time. Laundry, etc. can get done when they are awake.

2 – When my children started sleeping through the night I then began getting up an hour earlier than anyone else for studio time. A wonderful habit that I continued through their high school years.

3 – Changed the scale, subject matter, and mediums that I used. Just helped to make me a stronger and more versatile artist.

I dug through my files and found a drawing I did when my oldest child was about 6 months old. It’s in graphite, small, just a simple drawing of a garlic clove. Something I could produce in my nap time/ studio time allotment. I did a whole series of simple graphite/ink drawings that eventually became an exhibition and that sold well.

There are things you learn being an artist Mom that not everyone gets to discover. Time is a precious commodity so you learn to focus rapidly and well in order to be productive. Driving a car, waiting in car pool are wonderful meditative times to think about your work. Children’s music or dance lessons – great time to draw. Want to learn to do gestures really well – draw your child’s soccer team as they play. My children are now grown, both working in the arts although neither one followed me into fine art – one is a designer and one does visual effects. Did my work change – of course it did. But, that really is okay and it probably needed to change anyway. Did I become less of an artist – no, just a much more disciplined one.

From: Pat Kelly — Aug 23, 2010

The Art process can be fundamentally different for women with children. The adjustment to a new baby requires adapting to their schedule. We learn that our lives are more cyclical than linear. That begins to creep into our art. Our art becomes a natural cycle of time and seasons, as we watch others take off on a linear track of work, promotion, and success.

So we keep working, sometimes in frustration. There are breaks and interruptions. Like a field that lies fallow for a season or two, Art becomes more productive when planted again. Winter is quiet, then raucous growth in spring. We learn to count on this . Like an orchard, a career requires years to yield its best. Eventually a summer comes along when fruit is abundant and the harvest is good.

Post industrial, this is part of the new paradigm, the changing role of women, and our desire to find a way to live in harmony with the natural order of things.

From: Denise Williams — Aug 23, 2010

As parents we must realize that our children need interaction with other children. Thus she should not feel guilty in finding a good Day Care for her child while she pursues her art career. She should remember that we only help others when we tend to our own gardens first.

If she sacrifices all, she will not be a good mother, but a resentful one. If she takes care of herself and her needs first, then she will be a loving mother.

Which does she choose? Resentful mother who sacrificed art and has no room in her heart for her child or anyone else. Or, loving mother who takes time to create and then has room in her heart for her child who may then take an interest in art and excel at it and all else her child chooses to do.

My son graduated High-School a year early and tested high enough to enter Engineering School immediately at the University. During his youth, we not only created art together with me learning as much from him as he from me, but we also learned how to examine art together and always went to Art Shows together as well examining everything in detail. My son is absolutely brilliant as a result in many areas.

The truth remains when we stunt our own growth, we limit those around us. When we allow ourselves to flourish in things we love, those we love blossom far beyond our wildest dreams. It is a good time for this young mother to paint her own world and thus the one she would have for her child.

From: Sandy Essex — Aug 23, 2010

I am a metal artist, which means that I work with an acetylene torch and with acids. Not a good mix with very young children, so I had to put my art on hold when my children were very young, however, that did not mean that I did not create art, I just moved into a different field of art (calligraphy)for awhile. And the amazing thing was that when I returned to my metal work, I had an entirely new design perspective. Now, the majority of my work is inspired by letterforms. Had I not been forced to deviate from my original medium, I would never have found the richness nor the originality of ideas that I now employ in my art.

If the creative spirit is strong, it will always find a way to express itself.

From: Bev Rodin — Aug 23, 2010

Rather than finding having children limiting I have found them inspirational, sometimes in subject matter but more in creative thought. Children and young people in general add a perspective that keeps me thinking and progressing. It is not always about time, which is always in short supply but other aspects of art making and motherhood are valuable and I think people who have full lives create better art. It is similar to authors who make better writers in my opinion if they have had interesting and full life experiences. Lastly, I always thought that I would want to create artwork that my children would be proud of and that in itself has been very motivational. My children and family are my biggest fan club and I am very grateful.

From: Jennifer Conkie — Aug 23, 2010

Having my son was the best opportunity of my life to become a great time manager. And the best gift of all? Seeing that if I could love myself as unconditionally as I love him, that would be wonderful for both of us. I too started by creating my own physical space in which to do this.

I had big dreams and ambitions – don’t lose those! – and I had to learn to be as wise as possible about what that truly meant. I was crazy about my boy and could have lost myself in that, just as others lose themselves in their careers, their causes, or their golf games. Time management starts with getting frank about what matters the most and separating the truly necessary from the excuses ( I didn’t need the cleanest house on the block, for example). As is the case for so many of us, I had to be very practical. I had to earn a living. I was a single mother and a busy lawyer. I deeply wanted to carve out time for writing and my meditation practice, and I had no intention of sacrificing being a wonderful mom, a fantastic lawyer, having a rich social life, and volunteering for some causes I was passionate about. Ah, it was the “have it all” trap!

We all juggle slightly different variables. Embrace the pluses, strategize about any negatives, and be bold, confident and innovative, as well as practical. Jettison as much as you can. Get down to what matters the most for you, not for others. Get help where you can. Don’t be shy. Ask for that help, to allow you to carve out some time where you get to put yourself first. When you have a party, make it potluck.

I didn’t have a husband and my family lived thousands of miles away, but I could afford great daycare for a few hours every day, good friends who cheered and loved me, and a helpful co-parent who lived down the street. I got a couple of days and nights a week completely to myself! Instead of being sad or guilty about my career and my single status, I embraced the positives. My baby slept well and had no serious health issues, so I was lucky there. I grew to love the late night and the early morning, and catching up on my sleep whenever I could. I accepted the importance of being flexible about when the free hours might occur. Say goodbye to rigid schedules (“I must meditate each day at 6am” will be sabotaged for sure.) I kept the fire alive by enrolling in some workshops which – gasp – I attended alone, one a year.

My daily meditation practice saved me; it was the anchoring point of each day. My consistent journal writing, even when I couldn’t finish a poem or a story, was a sacred, beautiful garden I tended daily. I was proud and all the happier that I took the time then.

I am 52 now and working to complete my first novel. To my delight, I won the first short story contest I entered, when I was 49 and my son was 19. My son has turned out, well, amazing. He is a very talented musician, and I know that my commitment to my creative life taught him well. Check him out at www.tomhowie.com.

Think about the next twenty years, Cedar. Yes, you have restricted free time now, but take the long view and make a serious commitment to yourself, to keep your artist soul nurtured. Once your boy is 10 and then 15 and then 20, you should have a fertile garden to harvest for your art.

From: Ruth Rodgers — Aug 23, 2010

There are, of course, ways to fit painting around childcare, and I’ve certainly done that. But I’m questioning the premise–if art is your full time career, why would it be considered appropriate to squeeze it in between childrearing duties? If you were a doctor, a lawyer, a secretary, a teacher, an engineer–you’d go off to work and employ good child care for your children. Why should it be different for a professional artist? By all means, take some months at home with your child and put your job (art) on hold during that time, just as you would if you had some other job. Then, employ child care to the financial extent that you are able, and get back to work!

From: Gianna Robinson — Aug 23, 2010

For me, motherhood was not simply an “excuse” to evade creativity. My creativity was starved for ten years while working full-time and raising three children. If one is physically depleted that is one thing, but motherhood can, if allowed, cause emotional and mental exhaustion. Whether the parent is single or in an unsupported relationship makes a huge difference. When one is castigated for leaving the family to go to an drawing group, the fires may wane. However, leaving the home to work in a separate location may be the only way to concentrate and become revitalized!

A support system that values creativity makes all the difference. My mother, an artist, began to coax me out of my hole by helping to pay for a babysitter so that I could have a few free hours one day a week. I would take my journal to a local coffee house, listen to relaxing piano music and write. Writing helped bring back my mojo.

Cedar, you have an extremely beautiful, relaxing AND functional spot in your basement studio. It appears as if you have wonderful support; hopefully you get to use it often as you wish!! Do you have friends you can swap childcare with, to really dig into your work? Do you have a super-charged creative burst time period (perhaps 10-12 pm or 5-7am) just waiting to be discovered and utilized? My mom still creates her work from about 10pm to 6am, stemming from when my two sisters and I were young, and she has embraced this creative time…no interruptions!

Keep up the beautiful work!

From: Jane Carr — Aug 23, 2010

Three children, a goat farm, garden to tend, harvest, putting up for winter, teaching on the side, running the PTA, on the library board, visits to parents. Not much time left, but my HS art teacher told me to “put your hand to art every day”. A doodle while on the phone, paging through an art book, making play with the kids with paint, play dough etc. I am now in my 70s and have the freedom to paint every day. I still put my hand to art every day, and I suggest it to everyone I meet.

From: Leslie Pratt-Thomas — Aug 23, 2010

Yes, the demands of young children can be all-consuming – I remember only too well! I am a female artist of two now adult boys. I began painting when they were in school so I can’t speak from experience for those earlier years, but I do know that for you to be the best parent you can, you have to take good care of yourself first. So, as Robert touched on, I would suggest treating your work time like a job away from home. If you are part of a two parent family, negotiate what you need with your partner. If you can afford it get some help. Finally and most importantly, children learn most by watching what you do, not by what you say, so demonstrate living your passion so hopefully your child will learn how to do the same. Isn’t that what we want most for our children – to live happy lives following their bliss?

From: Alan Soffer — Aug 23, 2010

You don’t have to be a mom to sympathize with Cedar’s problem. For several years, when I was working full time, and trying to make art half-time, I just couldn’t do the really big projects that were swirling in my head. I decided to concentrate on small stuff, that I could manage in my little office next to the bedroom. I’d make notes, cut out photos of objects and artwork that inspired me, and make small quick drawings. Sometimes I’d outline big ideas for future development. It became and obsession, which I continue even now that I’ve got the time to do whatever I want to do. The JOURNALS, which some would call scrapbooks are actually artworks in themselves and something I’m quite proud of. Perhaps this is one little way to keep the juices flowing.

From: Sandra Merwin — Aug 23, 2010

A mother of four recently gave me the secret for a being a parent and having a successful art career. She said: Think your your life as a parent and an artist as a marathon not a sprint. In this marathon you have to plan ahead, conserve energy and have a strategy for finishing. Know you there will be times that you slow down at the hills. Know that you will have to push through some pain. Know that you must keep your body feed and watered. Know that there will be times when you just need to focus on taking one more step.

From: Todd Bonita — Aug 23, 2010

Welcome to the hardest job you’ll ever love. As I’m writing this, I’m distracted by a crying child in the background…(not kidding). Max was born a year after I launched my fine art career, I understand your sentiments and share your experience. In the interest of time management, I’ll be brief. Here are five things you can do to balance life with your new baby and your art career.

1) Support: A loving and understanding partner or family member who is willing to make it all work with you is the number one key. Have a chat with that person and let them read your letter to Robert sharing your feelings and your desire to balance baby and art.

2) Time management: Make a plan, short term and long term for career and family. The plan should include all parties interest. When Max napped I had my small pochade thumb box ready to go. Keep a pallet with wet paint squeezed out in the freezer (if you are an oil painter). Acrylic painters use yogurt cups with lids.

3) Work smarter, faster…and maybe smaller. Creativity doesn’t start and stop at the easel..as a creative person, we have to find ways to be more efficient with our personal and professional work as well as other parts of our lives in order to make it ALL work. Here are a few things that worked for me personally: I worked smaller, worked in series, I also worked on several paintings at a time. Because I worked small, I taped six small (6×8″) wood panels to a large board and worked on all six collectively…”a little Cad Red over here and while it’s on the brush, I can see that this one could use some Cad Red too!” Not sloppy…smarter…I’m still thinking before I paint but being more efficient.

4) Painter play dates: Find kindred spirits. You’ll be surprised to find there are many artist who are new parents out there in the same situation. Once a week, I get together for a play date with a local painter and his son who is the same age as my Max. We meet at playgrounds, parks or beaches and in addition to toys and drink boxes, we also bring our paint boxes. We take turns. One of us paints while the other plays with the kids for an hour or more and then vice-versa. I never new this artist until I contacted him about the idea…I knew he had a son the same age as my Max and I knew he was an artist…I did the math in my head and figured he was in the same situation so I contacted him. To tell you the truth, I was almost certain he would love the idea…think about it…this could be revolutionary.

5) Dedication: I’m talking about the big picture here as well as your art. The challenges inherent in balancing a new child and an art career are real and require deep introspection..the hard core stuff…”what is life all about” and that sort of thing. The bottom line is, if you deeply want to make it work as an artist you will find your way. Let me add that it can be done without the sacrifice of “Not being there” for the little one. It’s easy to obsess over the art part but don’t forget the whipper-snapper in the process. Find a balance.

Cedar, keep your chin up. You are ten months into a profound life experience that will ultimately inform and influence the deep and unique qualities that make your art your own. All my best to you and your new family.

p.s. I saw your video of your art space. It’s lovely but he’ll be walking soon and you’ll need to get that drill off the lower shelf as well as those solvents, turps and varnishes. Your easel will have to be tethered so it won’t tip on him when he climbs it too. You may consider a separate space for him to play. Welcome to the first days of the rest of your life. You are blessed.

From: Kelley MacDonald — Aug 23, 2010

I, as a mother of 3 happy, well adjusted kids aged 26, 29 and 31 (not actually kids anymore!), would say to Cedar: keep in mind 2 things

1) you can never get this all important time back in the life of your child – the MOST important thing you do in this world is to give him a good start. There is a time for everything, and THIS time in your life will be tiny, compared to the rest.

2) Your significant other – or lacking this, your friends and family will, if prevailed upon, give you snippets of time – and you HAVE to be organized to be productive. And productive you WILL be. A good friend had a child, and she is a wonderful, successful artist as WELL as a big project director who works 40+ hours a week. Since her child was born 4 years ago her art has really taken off – both in terms of $$ and in terms of the quality of her work. I was amazed. When asked she says she gives up sleep, and gives you a big smile.

Do what you can… and when you’re with your child, BE with him. Give him your full attention, marvel at his growth, and teach him about the world. And then take your 2 hour break and POUR yourself into your art. I think you’ll be happier. And more productive! He’ll get bigger. You had him to love and enjoy him, right?

And no offense to Robert, but being a mother and being a father are different. Wish it wasn’t so, but it is. And yes, some men are more ‘mothering’ than their wives – that’s good as long as SOMEone is ‘mothering’ the baby… When nobody takes an intense interest in a child you end up with alienated children, who act out, in my experience.

From: Juanita Sim — Aug 23, 2010

General statements like, “Dedicated artists always find a way,” while true on one level, gloss over the complexity of the problem and fail to take into account the uniqueness of each artist/parent’s situation. The transition takes time, which you have precious little of. Figuring out your own unique solutions is what will help most, so serve up a heaping helping of blind faith and plenty of self forgiveness, for the days when you don’t meet the bar. Transitioning to motherhood was easily the most radical life change that I ever experienced, so fasten your seatbelt, it’s a long, strange, wonderful trip.

From: Cindy Michaud — Aug 23, 2010

Cedar now has to consider childcare costs as a supportable business expense just as she would supplies and marketing costs. I also think that life never goes “back” after the addition of a child (that’s another story) but that she needs to consider a new approach, whether it is smaller work, more portable work or some iteration that is a change in time and format needs. Child care may be nothing more than a designated block of time during the week…she might pay someone to come in or barter an exchange with another mother or even trade off her artwork. Also Cedar, don’t think only of the “now”….that gorgeous body of inspiration will be gone shortly and what you will have is lots of time and wonderful new ideas. The trick is to find the balance today that prepares you for the later…you can’t have it all but you can have a portion of both. Good luck, networking and creative thinking will provide the answer.

From: Jean Wilson — Aug 23, 2010

Finding a balance is always the goal, but, there is no literal way to *weigh* things, so you have to trust your gut. My advice is to not try to force your children into being artists. Sometimes, the child of an artist turns out to be the truly great artist, so maybe interacting with your child will sew seeds and you should not worry too much about your own career.

In my case, while I offered plenty of art activities, my daughter was engrossed with social life and numbers. She is very happy in her career as a CPA and it is where she belongs. I enjoyed seeing how she thrived on the challenges of math classes. Math can be very creative. My two boys were both drawn to sports and cooking. Again, I can see that supporting them in their pursuit of sports and cooking was the right thing to do. Sports can be a very right brained activity. I never enjoyed sitting and watching their games, but I took paper and pens and made portable artwork.

There were times when I crossed paths with artistic children and wished that my kids had been more interested in art, but now that they are adults, I am really satisfied that I did the right thing by letting them pursue their own interests. I carved out time for my own interests. When they were very young, I put the career on the back burner. Once they were in school, I had plenty of time to keep the career going. I never resented the time that they took away from my art. I looked at the big picture. The things you learn from being around children are valuable lessons for your art.

Jean Wilson

PS: Fussing about how your child is taking away from your art is childish. Grow up. You are a parent and your childish days are over. Nurturing is an art. Embrace it and quit complaining.

From: Michael Stephen Fenton — Aug 23, 2010

Cedar’s dilemma is not unusual. Whether it’s raising the children or coping with a demanding job, it’s always the painting that gets neglected. Let me share my own experience. I put my art on hold for almost thirty years while I built my career and raised a family. In the last eight years of my career I had to manage layoffs, restructuring, and mergers. When I finally retired my mind was blown and my body was so tight that I literally could not turn my head to back up my car. All this despite, retreats, massages, spas, and yoga. The week I retired my wife presented me with a new easel and fresh paints and brushes. I started painting immediately and within ten days my tension subsided, my neck loosened, and my attitude balanced. And, I loved painting and haven’t stopped. I’m so convinced that the power of art (in my case) had immense healing powers, and today I volunteer to work with others in art therapy programs. No matter what the pressure, find time to do something you love… music, art, whatever. I know a woman who does her art in the middle of the night. A single mom raising two sons. She says the quiet of the night and the hour she spends with her art, rejuvenate her. Even if you sketch early in the morning, late in the evening, at odd times…. do it, please. One of the big regrets of my life is that I pushed the pause button on my art because I thought other stuff was more important.

From: Lauren Kingsland — Aug 24, 2010

Congratulations, Cedar. You have a new teacher – your child. Together you can explore the wonder of life, and reflect that in whatever form your artwork will take. While my two sons were growing up I did get up to work in the studio at night, and keep the studio at home while they were teens so I could be around for them too. AND they watched me work, learn, struggle, install shows, deal with clients, handle rejection and success, and they have both gone on to be artists (a musician and a writer) themselves because they saw one way the creative life can be lived. My “advice” is to examine your definition of success. A certain amount of money? Hanging your work in a museum? A particular volume of creative production? Joy? I’m so glad I spent the years my children were at home with me doing what was good for all of us.

From: Rosanne Weston — Aug 24, 2010

It is not useful to be told that a REAL artist will find a way, somehow implying that if she stumbles along for awhile that she is not a true artist. What Cedar Lee is expressing is a reality for many, many women, corporate execs, stay-at-home mothers, sales clerks, artists etc. Having a child rocks your world, in the most exhilarating but also the most unexpected ways. The exhaustion and non-stop demands on time, thought and emotions are often surprising and, for some, can lead to a temporary loss of identity. It may take a woman some time to regain her footing and find her own way back to what she loves/needs to do.

It is also not helpful to be advised that hands-on parenting is not a viable choice in child-rearing. What is hyper-parenting to one person is an important value to another and people should not be judged on making these personal decisions. It is insulting to read the implied questioning of her motives in writing this letter — that somehow she is one of those people using the “advent of parenthood” as a “scapegoat for failing careers.” Robert, you write that this is a “popular complaint.” Well, it is popular precisely because it is one of the great dilemmas facing parents — and I dare say, particularly mothers — today. Balancing outside-the-home work/family life/ artistic endeavors is not an easy task, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Cedar, I am glad to see people are supportively writing in with ideas on how they worked through this problem. Some ideas may be useful for you, some not. I am sure you will find your way. But be kind to yourself. It’s good to know that others have trod these boards before, and that people in all walks of life are grappling with the “creative, financial, political and practical dilemmas” that you now face. Two organizations — MOTHERS (www.mothersoughttohaveequalrights.org) and the National Association of Mothers’ Centers (www.motherscenters.org) — have been exploring the impact of mothering for many, many years. Check out their sites when you have a minute. And, should you wish to reach another whole group of people, I invite you to post on the MOTHERS blog. I think you’ll get some interesting feedback.

From: Jennie Rosenbaum — Aug 24, 2010

I’ve been thinking about this a great deal, I’ve read the comments and was a little surprised at how many women believe it’s just impossible to do both. I worked throughout my pregnancy (despite many complications) and continue to work with my 5 month old baby. Part of it is luck, I have a wonderful baby and husband that help me out enormously, but part of it is also sheer determination.

The thing to bear in mind is that this is your career and if you are serious about it, then it needs to be treated with all the seriousness of any other career. I work from my home studio and fit my work, both studio time and the business side, around her naps and feeds- I actually use them to structure my day! I find that since having a baby my career has become more structured and disciplined. I have to set aside time to achieve my tasks, so I don’t waste it as much as I used to. my goals have coalesced more as well, I’m more inspired to create and more inspired to succeed because I want the best for my little girl!

a few notes.

-I don’t know what paint you are using, but I find that the water miscible oils are wonderful and fume free, I took to using them before I started trying to get pregnant and find them a great way to keep a safe environment at home- they work just as well. they also clean up very fast- great when time is an issue! I don’t use heavy metal pigments either, I don’t want to risk transferring anything through my breastmilk.

-pick techniques that you can fit around his schedule – small, bite sized chunks of work you can easily digest. that goes for your to-do list too! if you keep tasks to 15 minute blocks you can get so much done in very little time! (this works for cleaning too :)

-have a list of goals for your art, your marketing and keep them in mind. make sure they are achievable and excite you. set particular goals for each year. this year I am focusing on creating works and marketing online, I have stepped back on exhibiting, but I am getting my gallery list together and starting to plan my calendar for next year.

-keep a sketchbook with you for quick ideas and sketches. no matter what you are doing there is always time for thinking about art!

-I find it’s sometimes hard to get myself into the studio, I talk myself out of it, there is so much more I feel I should be doing. the 15 minute rule works well here too.

-getting up one hour earlier can work wonders.

-expressed breastmilk can help for long studio jags or when you are out at openings. knowing you don’t *have* to stop painting to go feed really helps.

My husband is very supportive of my career, he knows it is my passion and makes sure I have time. enlist help to ensure you get the time you need!

I am also worried about this new religion, it seems to be leading to a sense of entitlement and selfishness amongst children. I worry about women who lose their identities to their children. We are so lucky to work in the kind of field where we can be home with our families and still work. it isn’t selfish to want to pursue your career, or to take time out to do it. it isn’t selfish to be yourself – it will be best for you and your baby in the long run!

From: Carolyn Landers — Aug 24, 2010

Having been a professional artist for a glorious seven years, I knew when children came along my priorities would change. No more art for 37 years. My role then was wife and mother, period. I did have and interior design license which kept me somewhat creative. After the children grew up and my husband died, art was again my life and for the past 12 years I have had a rewarding career. Do only one thing at the time and do each well, you will never regret it.

From: Brian, Upstate NY — Aug 24, 2010

I have attempted to read the very verbose comments and have made a pretty good effort through most of them! What I don’t understand is why so many of you feel that you have to do one or the other and not both. That concept is beyond me as mothers and fathers the world over rear children and continue to do their jobs, their hobbies and incorporate their children.

From: Caroline Planting — Aug 25, 2010

I can speak to this problem! I had 2 within 20 months. I like your advice – about the manic working hour. Another thing I did was to take advantage of Mothers Day Out and preschool, which I coordinated so that both kids were taken care of. Then I went to the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria and took art courses. Of course, I had to get back by 12 or 1, so it was frantic city, but it was worth it. Partly to meet other artists and talk about something besides kids.

We also belonged to a babysitting coop, and I could use it to do art things (like go to the National Gallery) when I was about to explode. Good luck to Cedar!

From: Michele Hausman — Aug 25, 2010

I can remember my shock when my daughter was born and all my time was spent feeding, changing diapers, and sleeping. My husband had a demanding job which kept him away for 12 hours a day. Infancy is short, but I agree that it is so important for Cedar to schedule some art time every week. I hired people to come for brief stints and eventually set up a coop with other parents, as my family was all on the opposite coast. After an afternoon of artmaking, I always felt more refreshed and interested in attending to my daughter.

From: Anne Leith — Aug 26, 2010

As an oil painter mother with a 7 year old boy I advise setting up a safe arts area in the studio for the child. Just keep the toxic materials away from little hands and have good ventilation. Make art with them – collaborate. You will develop a very special connection this way if you start at your child’s age.

From: Valerie Seligsohn — Aug 26, 2010

Regarding motherhood, I have a PhD. in the profession as well as a BFA from Cornell, a Norfolk Scholarship from Yale and a MFA from Penn. Yet, nothing prepared me for the caring of my ten-year old son after he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, keeping my nine-year daughter from complete despair and my beloved husband from falling apart. I never stopped painting through their babyhood and early years. As a professor, I was fortunate that my college allowed me to take leaves of absence, a sabbatical and that my husband could support us during those periods. I also had some college students help me out on a regular basis. But nothing could help me get through those 9 tough years before my son died, except PAINTING. Without Art I would not have survived that time in my life, my marriage would not have survived and our daughter would have not blossomed into the wonderful, beautiful young woman that she is today.

For a true artist, there are really no excuses for not making Art. As I expressed in a lecture that I presented to MFA students at University of Pennsylvania some years ago, Art can save you if you let it. ART, PAINTING saved me.

From: Colleen Vandeventer — Aug 30, 2010

Had to respond to this young artist mother since I was once in her shoes. My advice to Cedar is that she approach her art like she would any other job, even if it means she uses a day care service to get the time she needs to create her art.

I had worked in a business environment before starting a family, and when I made the commitment to treat art as a full time job, I had two small children under 5 years of age. But I felt that if this was going to be my career, I had to treat it as such like I would have to if I were working on someone else’s payroll. Family and society may treat art as a “hobby”, but Cedar needs to educate those around her that this is not the case. It is employment, and in order to be lucrative, she must put the time in.

Initially I rented studio space from another artist/friend so that I would be forced to leave the house and head to my “job.” For me I needed to get out of my home environment to make it work, but if Cedar has the self-motivation to treat her home environment like a work environment it might just work for her as long as she gives herself the time needed to “get her done.”

From: Stephanie — Sep 03, 2010

This was also a problem for me. After the birth of my 2 children I found the same problems, along with living states away from any family and having a husband with a job that kept him globe hopping 3 weeks out of the month for the first 10 years of our children’s lives.

I myself took a little different route to keeping my art passions alive and stirring. I found a group of homeschoolers in my area and a small art center near by. I began giving art lessons to young people as many as 30 a week some weeks. I could take my kids with me. Or have lessons in my home in my art room. They grew up knowing art was my passion and seeing it happen in a laid back environment. I got to keep up on my eye by teaching others and completing art of my own along side students to show them how I would attack a problem or idea. Granted I did not complete as many pieces I would have done in total freedom I did keep my abilities fine tuned and the passion alive.

I know some people are not “kid” people. I was not before I had 2 kids of my own. Now I work with kids 5 weeks a summer in 5 art camps I help hold for our community through the art center here. My children are teenagers now at a school all day. I have homeschooled them up to this point. The have visited many, many art museums, centers and classes in the last 14 years. They have a love and passion for the arts of all kinds. They themselves are very talented and musically inclined. It all started with taking them and allowing them to watch, but giving them the freedom to go out and climb a tree while waiting for the lesson to get done. IT took work, but I loved every second of it. Now I am in a new season becoming what I now have full time to become.

From: Miranda Hersey Helin — Sep 07, 2010

It’s so inspiring to read through the wealth of shared experience here–especially the practical suggestions. With Bob’s permission, I invite mother artists and writers to visit www.studiomothers.com, a group blog devoted to the life of creative motherhood. We’ll be sending our readers here as well, as the landscape of words on this page speaks directly to our struggles–and successes.

From: Livisart — Sep 25, 2010

I have always enjoyed art and motherhood.

My daughter is and probably always will be my main subject for portraits.

From: Wendy Klein — Oct 21, 2010

I knew that the originating article would get *some* response! WOW….figures…my son is now 18 and I am re-assessing….again. One of these days I will get back to read everything here…after re-hanging the shelves by the jewelers’ bench and unpacking the studio, etc. (again)! Someone asked me if I knew what the opposite of struggle was. (I did not know it then). The opposite of struggle is :to thrive. I am sure that you will do way more than thrive, Cedar…Happy Creating.

 

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