I remember the smell of fresh oil paint, the floors covered in clay dust, the walls splattered with paint and posters. It felt calm and serene; I could hear the sounds of an Enya album playing in the background. I remember her hands covered in charcoal and oil pastel as they worked their way gracefully across the paper. She had an obsession with crows and intertwining tree branches. The palette was rich with bold, warm reds and oranges. I wanted to be her. I wanted to mimic everything that she created.
While she worked on her art, she could have found a babysitter, grandparent, even an aunt to care for me. Instead my mother chose to include me into the world of art, the world of beauty.
I remember at a very young age going to the open art studio of a local college to watch her and work on drawings with her. We would spend what felt like hours working on our masterpieces, exploring the studios, and frequenting the school gallery. This was her introduction to me to what she most treasured, and to what would bring me joy for the rest of my life, as well. I am sure no one is surprised that I am an art teacher and long to be painting in a studio.
Some of my most cherished memories are of when I was included in the creative process with my mother. That is why I now include my daughter.
I am often asked, “How do you find the time?” Simple. I invite my oldest to join me during this time. I see myself in my daughter and how I longed to create side-by-side with my mother. My daughter likes to get messy by mixing all of the colors of the paint together. She loves working with a variety of materials to create the perfect piece.
I see that it brings her joy to be working next to me.
To show me the progress of her paintings or sculptures.
To compare artwork.
To discuss the images that we have created.
To be included.
To feel needed and wanted.
This is our bonding time. It’s unique, it allows her to explore new ideas, and it gives her a way to express herself freely.
I recently came across a video about how other artists have included their children within their art processes. Their children were helping with the creation of work or being photographed as the subjects within their mothers’ piece. It was beautiful to see the creative interaction between mother and daughter or mother and son. Instead of worrying about the deadlines, the constant mess, the interruptions, they allowed the chaos to occur and fostered the memories that were occurring.
Of course it would be easier, and at times, quieter to lock myself in my studio and work alone. But when you are a mother of two, you need to find a happy balance, and that is including my children within this process.
I have also found that motherhood has influenced my work and brought on a whole new perspective. I feel that my work brings my emotions to a new level. I think deeper, and the process humbles me. These feelings and ideas are ones that I never had before I became a parent. I feel mature and comfortable about my decision-making. Some of my more meaningful pieces include the images of my children. I love the look on my daughter’s face when she sees herself painted on a canvas.
By allowing them to be a part of my hobby, my journey, and my happiness, I am allowing them to see the true me and be a part of something wonderful.