We’re excited to launch the Vision of the Arts Blog with a guest post from Paige Crosland Anderson. Paige’s artwork incorporates abstract geometric patterns, hinting at a heritage of quilt making, the underlying patterns of our very genetic makeup, and the unseen order of things. Paige says, “The nature of my work allows my art-making to be meditative for me personally. I wish the same for the viewer.” We asked Paige to give us an idea of how she integrates making artwork with mothering small children. Here’s Paige:
My situation on paper as a mother and a spouse probably doesn’t look like the most conducive to being a professional artist. My husband works 10-12 hours days, my kids are young, I live in a home that’s 1400 square feet, and my extended family isn’t around the corner. But I’m grateful for what working around various constraints has taught me, and for what I have been able to make work. Below I share a few things about time management, resources for art, and creating a space to create–a few things that have worked for me.
It’s no secret that time is the scarcest resource for young moms. Because of this, mother-artists have to be especially disciplined with their time. When I have an upcoming show or deadline, I maximize my mornings. I’ve never been a morning lark. I’ve become a believer, though, in the magic of quiet mornings. Last summer as I was preparing for a gallery show in Park City, I routinely woke up at 5:30 so I could get in at least 2 uninterrupted hours in before my kids got up. Most mornings, they would come into the studio with me after waking up and we would listen to music and create together for another hour or so before breakfast.
I’ve learned to use 20-minute spurts of time. Mothers often don’t have the luxury of “getting in the zone” or spending time warming up before we actually get to work. I’ve
learned to be able to be in the game from the moment I enter the studio. Writing down daily or weekly goals also helps me get right to work when I get the chance.
That being said, I’ve also had to learn how to pull myself away and accept that some days
don’t go as planned. Some days my kids are more needy, or not feeling well, or not getting along. Learning to go with the flow of my day while still being productive is a constant and ever-changing challenge.
Money for Art Resources
“I hope you find a rich husband that can support your expensive hobby.” This is what one professor (not in the art department) at BYU told me when he found out I was studying art. So, partly out of spite, I’ve always wanted to prove that my art could pay for itself. Early on, admittedly, this went to the extreme of making very little profit on a painting to ensure my works weren’t a money sink. After I had my second baby, I shifted to smaller works and actually learned that selling small work frequently to pay for supplies was a good way to keep my larger works in production. I began selling regularly just through Instagram and Paypal invoices. I’d often sell these small studies for $30 or so when I first started out. This allowed me to save and eventually purchase big panels and frames that I would enter in juried shows and the works that ultimately got me in the door at a gallery.
Before moving into our current home, my “studio” was a corner in our apartment or a desk in our family room. I hung wet paintings over the couch to dry and I used my plein air easel so I could compact things down if we had company over. I worked on panels while they were hung on the wall because it was the only space they’d fit. I made it work in a small-apartment setting and that was actually totally fine for the time being.
Nevertheless, I imagined painting could be more productive and easier with a designated studio. This has proven to be true. I love my current studio ever since it became mine when we moved from the apartment. I sacrificed a lot of things I wanted in a home (hello teeny tiny kitchen and itty bitty bathrooms) for one that had room that worked well for a studio. For me, it’s a tradeoff that is worth it. Separating the kitchen table from the arts and crafts table meant that putting meals on the table and art making both had less prep/take-down time associated with them. Also, with a space set aside, I didn’t have to thoroughly clean everything up and could begin work right where I had left off.
Having a space in my studio for my kids to create has also been great. It has always been important to me to be able to share this part of myself with them. Having a space set aside for them to create with me allows me to spend some time crossing-over between mothering and creating easily. They feel like they’re a part of what I’m doing, and I’m able to keep a close eye. A space where they can come and create with me means I can squeeze in that extra 15 minutes when they were busy with their watercolors or play-doh. Sometimes it gets messy; but when it works, and we’re side-by-side creating, it feels like magic.
I don’t claim that anything I’ve shared is the doctrine when it comes to full-time mothering and creating simultaneously. I only hope to encourage mothers in their efforts by sharing what has worked for me and let them know that they can create under a myriad of situations. When I begin feeling discouraged after watching other artists—who don’t seem to have the same time or logical constraints as me—excelling, I find comfort in the fact that mothering young children is a brief season I’m sure I’ll long for when it’s over. I feel lucky I’ve found a way to strike balance and hope that if nothing else, young mothers feel empowered to create balance and art during demanding years. If there’s one thing I believe, it’s that we are capable of more than we think we are. Let’s get to work!
Thanks, Paige! View Paige’s artwork on her website.