Sunday, March 4, 2012

A mother or an artist first?

Have you seen the movie "Who Does She Think She Is?"?  It is really inspiring, especially if you are an artist and a mother.  Actually every woman should see it because it touches on something for all of us as women.
I became an artist after I had kids.  I thought it would be the perfect way to stay at home with my children and bring in some income for my family.  I thought it would be easy....haha.  What soon happened was I uncovered my deepest desire was this need to create.  Images flood my head constantly and I needed to get them out.  I did not know how much this was a part of me until after I had my children.  In my twenties I was pretty aimless.  I was happy waiting tables to make money to go out and see live music and drink a pint or two of Guinness.  I didn't have the depth and wisdom I own now, and I doubt my artwork would have held much meaning then.
I can't say I am not more than a little jealous of female artists in their twenties who are often single, but even when they are not they do not have kids.  I imagine them locked in their studios all day painting away with no one tugging on their shirt sleeve asking when dinner is going to be ready.  I guess it is just my fate that I didn't discover this desire to be an artist until late, but also I had another desire that hit me in my mid twenties....I wanted to have a baby.
I had my first child at 27, and my second at 30.  I didn't start painting until my youngest was about 2, so only about 5 years ago.  I remember when she was 2 I was working in soft pastels.  She always wanted to (and still does) draw with me while I was working.  I set up a little easel for her in my studio next to mine.  I remember once I wasn't looking and she decided to add a bunch of scribbles with a sharpie to a beautiful angel with a dove I just completed.  I think that was the first moment I realized I had a conflict within me.  What was more important to me, my children or my art.
Now that may sound crazy and selfish.  Of course my children mean the world to me, they mean everything to me.....and yet, they are not all of me.  They actually do not define me as much as my art does.  I have known a lot of my mom friends that do define themselves by their children.  I have watched them deal with depression as their children grow and they begin to realize they need another definition or they are going to disappear.
So I have this art, and yet I struggle constantly with guilt.  Am I ignoring my kids to paint?  Yes, and no.  They get to see a woman following her deepest desire.  They get to see a woman who will give up so many things to follow her dream.  And also, they get to see me struggle inside when they ask me to play while I am in the middle of a painting.....and just as many times as I say "not right now", they hear "okay".  I do give up painting a lot for them, but I say no to them too.  It is a fine balance that I struggle with constantly.
So obviously this movie has me thinking a lot about us mom artists.  I am toying with the idea of creating some kind of artist collective of mom artists.  I would like it to be a group of really good mom artists that are really making it as professional show the world it can be done.  It's just a thought.  But for now I am thinking I might start a little group on Facebook and maybe start another blog.  I am not very good at writing in this one, so that might be too much for me.  But I would like to start a blog that highlights an amazing mom artist each week with an interview that touches on subjects like I just talked about above.  You rarely hear that kind of personal struggle in an artist interview.  Most artists interviews are full of a bunch of intangible philosophical dribble that really doesn't inspire you.  I think it would help a lot of women to hear how an artist struggles everyday to balance her life, and yet still follow her soul's calling.
So please let me know what you think.  Would you like to read a blog like that, or maybe be involved in whatever comes out of it.

1 comment:

Patricia Ariel said...

i have watched the trailer and put the film on my Netflix list right away. the conflict mother x artist is legitimate, and i think it has a lot to do with the idea of perfection we have been conditioned as women. we have learned since forever that good women are good mothers and good wives, and even when consciously we fight against these ideas, they still guide us in silence. to tell the truth i am having a lot of trouble in identifying myself as a "mother artist" or a "mother anything". being a mother does not define my identity. i cannot separate myself from my art. this has been a path of a whole life. and one day, i happened to have become a mother. of course i delight in it; it came in a very natural way to me, but i don't glorify it or make of it my reason for living. of course Isobel is a priority and a lot of my artistic "routine" had to change. my time now has to be organized around her needs, so i had to adapt... my love for my child made it not to be a big deal. you mentioned the word "balance" and i think this is the key. before being mothers, we are women. and my art is part of the woman/human being i am. i sincerely think we are doing a deservice to our children if we give up a part of ourselves for them. they need the whole of us. and one day, when they leave the nest, we can continue being the whole, happy people we have always believed we should be. and we will also have set up a healthy example for them.

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