Monday, October 25, 2010

Make Art or Make the Beds?

I have done very little serious painting since we welcomed our baby James into the family 11 months ago. Art and children just don't seem to mix. The new born baby stage is hectic, but the crawling stage is pretty intense too. My gorgeous 8 year old, Cleo, needs different parenting to the baby, and although Dad does his fair share, I can't seem to find the time or head space to paint. It does not help matters that we are also in the middle of selling our house. 

My good friend Chrisna tells me that she sketches in the car while she waits for her girls at their school. This got me thinking, if I want to paint, I need to have a plan.

Unable to juggle art and life?
Here are some strategies:

  • Lower your standards. (Huh? You've got to be kidding me - how low can you go?) Maybe I can't paint large, time consuming oil paintings at the moment, but there must be something less labour intensive that I can work on.
  • Experiment and learn. This is a great time to experiment, to try new materials, paint from life and hone my drawing skills. I don't have the time or inclination to put a body of work together right now, but I can still paint.
  • Go smaller - a smaller painting will only in theory, take less time, but even a small detailed painting will be quicker than a large detailed painting.
  • Change your medium. Acrylics take less time to dry than oils, and watercolours lend themselves to quick sketching.
  • Be organised. In your art and in your life. Have dinner planned for the week, get the grocery shopping done, carpool.
  • Make the most of the time you DO have. I set up to paint while James is awake, paint while he naps, and clear away when he is awake again. I try to be as productive as possible in that short space of time. 
  • Have your easel and paints ready to go. This works quite well if your studio is not the dining room table, and you are not selling your house.
  • Limit TV and internet time. (Except this blog!) These activities eat time. I get onto the computer at night when the kids are asleep and I am too tired to paint.
  • Don't fret about what you could be doing. Be present with your kids in their time, and present with your art in your time.

How do you juggle your art and life? Please leave a comment with your suggestions and I will keep you posted with how these strategies are working for me!


  1. Thanks for great advice Kerry.

    Painting with kids around sure is hard - I definitely cannot do it. It has to be while they are asleep and is mostly in the evening, then I can paint undisturbed for a goodd 3 hours.
    I find painting for less than that is a mission. Like you said, taking everything out, setting up, packing away etc.
    Even though I have a studio with everything set up I still cannot just do half-an-hour bouts - it feels the creativity just gets flowing and then I have to stop.
    And I agree, acrylics lend themselves to those irregular periods of painting opportunity.

    I am going to try and put the cellphone down, get a journal and sketch while waiting for kids etc.Drawing is one area I can keep improving on with little efffort: pencil and paper, how complicated is that to have handy?!!

  2. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, beingbasic!

    It's good to know that I am not the only painter with kids.

    I completely agree that drawing is a great option - so accessible. If I draw my way through this busy-mommy time, I should be a better painter when I get back to the easel.