OH MY!!! So, I spent all of September doing the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge and I DID it. As you can see, I didn't post here every day. The truth is, I was so exhausted by the time I finished at the end of the night I just went to bed. I found that getting my camera out, taking a nice photo, editing it, uploading it and doing a blog post was just too much to do in addition to the painting itself. I DID post each painting briefly to my personal (although it's not private) Facebook page. Luckily, the challenge was about CREATING the work and not about posting the work! SO, what did I learn?
1. You CAN paint even with 3 little kids around your feet! But, it takes A LOT of planning. I would decide on what kind of piece I wanted to make the night before and then I'd plan out all the colors. I'd also make a little "to-do" list in the morning and tackle each little item one at a time as I found pockets of time to do it. I would keep my supplies around me in the kitchen so I could lay down color whenever I could. Is this ideal? Nope. BUT each task added up to a finished painting in the end, so it WORKED!
2. The previous point leads me to the fact that to paint consistently with children you have to be FLEXIBLE. I like to paint in large chunks of time. Give me 4 or 5 free hours and I'm a happy camper. Since that's just not possible these days I have had to find a new way of working. Now, I break the process of painting down into smaller steps and I do them each one at a time through the day. I use one or two colors at a time and just try my best to do what I can in the 10 minute window I have. If I waited for timing to be perfect I would never paint. I've had to take charge of my productivity and be as disciplined with my time as possible. My windows of time were 10 minute chunks. (blah).
3. Work smaller...if you can. I was able to easily complete my paintings when they were a smaller size. I saved my larger pieces for the weekends when my husband was home. That worked out really well!
4. I gave my kids little projects to do that kept them busy and focused for a half hour; and that was a big help. I would also wear my infant on my back in the carrier...he liked being able to see what was going on and he would eventually just fall asleep there.
5. I edited my painting style to be more gestural and free. This allowed me to have more whimsical strokes and more movement in my work. It also worked better for me since I could work more quickly and get more finished. I'm happy with that!
6. Don't rely on nap-time. My kids are unpredictable with naps and I always ended up frustrated and angry. I never was able to do what I'd hoped to. SO I focused on doing my work while my kids were awake. When they did nap, I would take my break...eat, shower, breathe, throw some laundry in, etc.
7. The evening time is for your spouse. It's easy to say "The kids are in bed, I'm gonna get my work done!" But, my marriage has to come first above everything. Without that, the whole unit crumbles. There were days I focused on work in the evening; but that was usually when my husband had things he wanted to do/things he wanted to watch on tv. If he was ok with it, then I would go ahead and paint. But, I always made (and continue to) sure that we had our time together after the kids went to sleep. If I need to do computer work, then I bring my laptop into the family room and sit next to him on the couch while I do it. At least we are near each other!
8. To piggy-back on point 7, it also applies to the kids. I found that if I spent good quality fun time with them for a while, then they were content to leave me be to let me work for bits. So, we had a pattern of play, work, play, work. They were happy and content to do their own thing once we'd had quality time together. Then, when they ran out of "gas" playing alone, I would "fill up the tank" again with quality time together again. If I wanted time to paint, I needed to GIVE my time FIRST.
I hope these tips make sense! I'm not a writer; but I figure you get what I'm trying to say! Ha! Being an artist while parenting is difficult. It takes a lot of planning, initiative, effort, and discipline. But it feels so good to get work done in a consistent way and it IS possible! Keep expectations realistic and know that this kind of pace is difficult to keep up every day. Pace yourself and adjust accordingly. Be gentle with yourself...you can only do so much. High fives all around!