Sometimes I get a big block of time to paint, but more often than not I find myself painting during small moments each day. Today was definitely a small moment day. As a mom, an artist, a blogger, and a household manager, I am constantly being pulling in multiple directions. There is always never-ending work to do and always a few surprises interrupting my routine.
Today I woke up to my first sale of the year on Etsy (yay!) and instead of sitting down to write like I usually do I got my jewelry piece ready to ship. I had an appointment to get an X-ray done on my foot (I dropped a sheet of plywood on it about a week ago and it’s pretty bruised) this morning so I knew I would be pressed for time to get my jewelry shipped to its new owner. Due to the snow we’ve had, and now the melting snow turning our road into a mud pit, we haven’t been able to drive up or down our road for the past several days. I knew I would need to get to the Post Office on the same trip. Hiking up and down our road with a banged up foot was not something I wanted to do twice today. I also had to get Tiny-Small ready to go to the babysitters to play with her friends. It was hectic, but most of our mornings are, aren’t they?
I had to squeeze in my painting and writing today between other activities like laundry, dishes, shopping for a car with 4 wheel drive, helping Jim do some computer work for his business, and making a few phone calls. As I was moving between one chore to another I started thinking about how motherhood has impacted my art-making. Even though I am busier than ever problem-solving (how can I prevent this kids from spilling her milk this time?) I am surprisingly producing more art pieces too. I think I’ve learned to take advantage of the quiet moments and to work in mediums that fit into my busy lifestyle. That has made a big difference in what I am able to accomplish on a daily basis.
I had started out painting in oils. I couldn’t even imagine painting in acrylics. They dried too quickly! After my daughter was born I couldn’t take the smell of the oils and the drying process was too laborious. I bought my first set of acrylics and never looked back. I had always liked watercolors, but never had any professional grade paint so I found them a little frustrating. Once I got my hands on good paint, and high quality brushes, watercolor painting became ideal. I could paint a line, a wash, anything really, and come back later to keep going when I had the time. It dried quickly, but the paint could dry out and get wet again so I could work a lot or a little depending on my schedule. There wasn’t any problem with mixed paint drying out and becoming unusable (like with acrylics). It was liberating because I was toting around a baby. I didn’t have the time to baby a painting too.
Mixed media was also easy to leave and come back to, as long as I didn’t mix more acrylic paint than I could use in a few minutes (another trick I’ve learned along the way). In fact, with watercolors and mixed media, having time to let things dry was really helpful. An hour, two hours at the most, and I could be back in the game. If I needed something to dry quickly I just pointed my hair dryer at it. Now I find that when I only have a few minutes to paint I am running to my alcohol inks. They dry so quickly that I can just keep going, but I can also leave the painting for a long time and come back to it too. It’s a medium I am particular grateful to have access to, especially on days like today where I am busy, but have also committed to painting a painting each day.
I hope if you are a busy mom wishing for a few minutes to be creative that you get your hands on some alcohol inks or watercolors and set up a little space of your own to work. Even if you just paint a stroke or two in between carrying your laundry from one room to the next, or while waiting for your kids to put their shoes on, you will eventually end up with a completed painting. You don’t need a fancy studio and a big block of time. You just need a small space and a few moments each day. Don’t think it is impossible to paint with small children. Just keep your expectations in check and let go of having to finish anything you start on the same day.