Making Art as a Momma
As an artist and mom, it is sometimes challenging to find/make the time to create. I find it is easier to blend the two together and either incorporate my kiddos into the art project in some way, or make it so that I can do art while they play (win-win!). Here are some of the ways I like to create balance in my life as an artmom/momartist:
First, it is totally OK not to make art everyday just as it is totally OK not to read books at bedtime every night. We as artistmoms can't do it all, and that's OK. :) When I find myself longing for more time in the studio or more time with my kiddos, I find that it is best to tell myself that the art supplies and my dream studio will always be there, however, my kiddos will grow in an instant and it's best to slow down and just BE and hang out with them as much as I can before they're all grown up! I've got 5 kiddos total (two are already all grown up and living grown up lives of their own!) and I can tell you that when I look back, I can honestly say that I wish I had spent more time with them! I'm sure I did, and we have plenty of great moments big and small, but looking back, If I had the chance to travel back in time, it wouldn't be to paint more, it would be to make a bedtime pizza out of them with blankets and pillows (something we used to do with the older two! The bed was the pizza and they were the ingredients, followed by sheets and blankets as each additional topping!), or to take more walks to 7-11 for Hot Cheetos and Slurpees, or to pack their lunches one last time. If I've learned anything from how quickly the first two grew up, it's that it's essential to take time with the last three because it'll go by in a flash!
1. Make art with your kids
This is super easy and can be a great way to get some down-time and non-screen time (um, yes, even you, mom!). It doesn't have to be complex or complicated. Just a few canvases, or art journals (or just loose pieces of paper) some simple art supplies and your kiddos. It can be an individual or group experience. I find that it can be a lot of fun to incorporate my kids art and writing into my own artwork, so a lot of the time, my canvas or art journal becomes a place for my kids to start a page and then I can go back and finish it, allowing some of their marks to show through. It's a collaboration of sorts! :)
It's also fun to do projects that correspond with a holiday or special event. One Halloween, I bought a couple of little pumpkins for me and my kids to decorate instead of carve. I got out some paints, brushes, and paint markers and we had fun decorating our pumpkins! I just threw a large piece of canvas down on the floor and spread out all the materials. It was pretty easy with minimal prep and clean-up and the results were really fun!
2. Make art near your kids
This can be a serious life-saver! I can remember when my second youngest was a baby and she did not let me sleep for more than 2 hours at a time for at least the first 18 months of her life. (ugh!) I remember yearning for sleep but also yearning to get back into my art journals. My solution while she was awake was to drag a blanket out to the front yard and spread out all my art supplies and just make art for as long as I could with my baby right by my side. Sometimes she'd be sleeping in the carseat next to me, or on warmer days, having "tummy time" or laying on her back, looking up at me or at the trees or at her older sister who also liked playing outside. Those early days worked best when she'd nap out in the shade next to me, but once she got mobile, I definitely had to adjust tactics! When she was a little older, that turned into trips to the nearby university that was within walking distance. I could pack two strollers--one with her the other full of art supplies! My older daughter would help push the other stroller and we'd walk to the middle of the university and hang out in the shade of the trees nearby a water feature the two could play in. I would set up a picnic blanket (an old sheet--ha! you can use anything!) and all my art supplies plus snacks, etc. It was a little slice of heaven!
Now that we live in the desert, trips to the park or making art outdoors can be a little trickier--three months out of the year it can still be up to 95 degrees at NIGHT, so, trips to the park might be out of the question, but that doesn't stop me from getting creative! It might mean driving a little up north for the day, finding a little shady spot in the grass in my old college town--that will be an adventure on my checklist this summer! Or, like tonite, I just put a blanket out in the backyard and enjoyed that last few minutes of daylight with my art journal while the kids played in the dirt making mudpies and sand castles!
3. Make art when your kids are asleep or at school
This is one I do often, for practical reasons. Especially when I just need long stretches of time (and silence!) to make art and just relax. This can mean getting up extra early before everyone else is up (me: nope. Not a morning person!) or while they're at school (if you are a stay-at-home-goddess) OR making art after everyone else has gone to bed (ding ding! This is my fave. I've always been a night-owl).
I like to have a place that I can spread my art supplies out and not worry about having to clean it all up or put it all away--it's always ready to go when I have some time (and energy!) to dig in and make something.
4. Plan to have someone else watch the kiddos while you make art
This can be hard if you are a single parent, but if you have trusted friends or relatives that live nearby or the other co-parent, they can give you a little break so you can create (or sleep! sleep is good, too! or just vegging--I do plenty of that! You'll find no judgements here!) My mom lives nearby us now, and it can be great to have her help with pick-ups or even take the kiddos for a night and that leaves me plenty of time to make art (and sleep and veg!)
5. Have a basic art supply bag ready with your favorite supplies
Something I also find very helpful is to always have a bag of art supply essentials ready to go at a moments notice, so that I don't spend too much time searching for all the right supplies OR (even worse) once I get out of the house and ready to make art, find that I'm missing ONE key element (like a glue stick! or water in the waterbrush! or a pencil sharpener! All, which have happened to me and while it's nice to improvise, it feels even better to have everything you need right at your disposal!)
What's in my travel art bag:
+5.5" x 8.5" Strathmore Mixed Media Art Journal
+Stabilo marks-all pencil
+Spray inks (Various: Dylusions, Hero Arts, DecoArt, Mister Huey's)
+Stencils & Masks (6x6" and smaller: The Crafter's Workshop, Stencil Girl, Dina Wakley, Artistcellar)
+Basics: kids scissors, glue stick, pencil sharpener
+Paint pens (Liquitex, Molotow, Sharpie water-based)
+Folded up packaging paper/paper bag or kraft paper (to use as a make-shift table protector)
+Scrap paper/collage paper/tissue paper/magazine images
Nice to have but not always in my bag:
+Acrylic stamps (I'm loving a bunch of Aha Arts sets with abstract shapes and fun marks)
+Acrylic paint (2-3 bottles in a few fave colors: DecoArt Americana)
+Mini stamp pads (like Ranger Distress or Hero Arts neon)
+Mermaid Markers by Jane Davenport (these are pre-filled watercolor brush pens)
I like to add that this is a perfectly safe bag to take on an airplane as your carry-on as long as you follow the 3-1-1 rule, which is that all of your liquids must be less than 3 oz each AND all fit inside of ONE quart-sized ziplock bag. I usually reserve that for my spray inks and then just fill up my water brush or mini mister once I've made it through the security check-point. Just be sure to empty the extra water before you go back through security on the return trip. Also, I've never had trouble with the kid scissors, as long as they are 5-inches or less in length. Just be sure to check with the airline and the TSA regulations in case they change. But as of the writing of this article, I've been able to travel with these items in my carry-on with no problems.
So, I hope some of these ideas help to inspire you, encourage you or just reassure you that you are a great art momma and you GOT this! (And that it's OK if you don't or at least don't FEEL like it, cuz that's how I feel most days, too! But it feels good to know I'm doing my best and that others out there are, too!) . I'd love to see/hear how you go about your creative day with or without your kiddos. I always love hearing how others create or what inspires you to create. Feel free to share in the comments!