Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Art of Being an Artist and a Parent

Prior to Felicity and I becoming parents to our two fantastic children, we had all of the time in the world to dream up beautiful images, create fantastic art and think of ways to expand our creative landscape. 

We used to take what we had for granted and time fluttered away like leaves in the wind.

Of course, with every significant lifestyle change, there are compromises to be made.

This year I decided, things had to change. Our son is now in school and our daughter is headed for kindergarten. Even though time is still limited, the kids are now getting old enough to comprehend that their parents have needs too.

With time – changes in lifestyle are inevitable for everyone.

Felicity and I chose to be parents, and we are extremely grateful that we did. Without doubt it is the best decision we have made together. Rewarding and fulfilling.
There are only two major compromises that made a significant impact and they both appear obvious in hindsight.
The first was the loss of time.  What was once a fairly bottomless resource soon became incredibly finite.
The second was flexibility. No longer could we stay up all night mixing paints, prepping canvases and doing print runs.
This was particularly difficult for Felicity, as night was when her creativity popped out to say hi.

Everyone expects that when they have children that there are going to be constraints on their time and flexibility. But I doubt that many prospective parents realise just how much an impact children will truly make on their life. Nothing prepares you for it.

For quite a long time, Felicity and I put our art to the side - and found to our dismay that not only had artistic creativity become secondary to the needs of our children (as we had somewhat anticipated), but it had eroded almost overnight.

Of course, I still took photos - but with a lot less regularity. Painting and printmaking had become non-existent. For six years our creativity had rescinded into nothingness. During that time, we knew something that was truly fundamental to the core of who we are had been severely compromised.

So I have started painting again, doing a record number of paintings this year. I have expanded my photographic portfolio threefold. Without doubt, I have enjoyed every minute of it.

I found that time management works wonders. Half the trick is realising that you can be creative, spend time with the family and work a full time job. 

If I have a spare half an hour, I can prep a canvas and start cutting stencils. If I have nothing scheduled for Saturday morning, and the weather is permitting, I can get out and start painting. If I have the kids on bed at night, I can do some post processing on photos.

In all sincerity, I think that the trick is to stop making excuses - to yourself mostly. It can be done. You just have to make the effort to include it in your busy schedule.

Lucky for me, I paint and photograph. I carry my camera with me pretty much all of the time. I do this for several reasons. One is that when I see a shot, I need to capture it before the opportunity passes. And secondly, if I didn't have my camera with me, then I would have to return to the location at a later date and hope that what I wanted to shoot was still there.

So in short, I found that there were two lessons to be learned from this. One, to take the opportunity when it presents itself. And two, be prepared (and before you ask, no I was not a boy scout).

And so I try and take this philosophy with me wherever I go. So far, so good


  1. Good post. When I feel like that I always remember a quote from Robin Hobb, "You will never have more time than what you have now." --She said that at a conference after talking about how she wrote her first bestsellers while looking after young kids while her husband was deployed. It's a matter of priorities. And it's hard, but doable. The magic moment never happens unless you make it minute by minute.

    1. Thanks Kathleen for the comment ;)

      You know, it often takes a moment of realisation to appreciate the essence and value of time. Now that I have the clarity and sense of perspective, there is no looking back!


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