balancing life as an artist and parent

My art group was recently talking about how having kids impact your art career, and Cynthia described it really well:

“It requires discipline and a letting go of whatever idea that you have in your head about what being an artist is all about.”

Trying to be a professional artist while raising a family, especially with young kids and babies, is a challenge. The romantic notions of life of an artist — spending every waking moment making art, attending shows, and hobnobbing with the art scene — takes a backseat to the more practical concerns of sleep schedules, diaper changes, and the eternal stress of trying to make a living. I came into my art career late in life, leaving my job as a creative director just a couple years before my wife and I started a family. So my growth as an artist has gone hand in hand with my growth as a father. Even the style of the art I create has been framed by the needs of family life. One of the main reasons I primarily photograph dried leaves and plants is because it is something I can do in my home studio (which is above the play room), and easily step away from whenever my son wants to play.

However the limitations on my time can be frustrating. I have so many goals and plans, but only so much time or energy. I’ve had to give up classes and workshops because they were too far from my family. Even one photo shoot can get spread out over days, or even weeks, filled with contant interruptions and little emergencies. And macro photography, where the slightest vibration can blur your subject, gets challenging when your three-year old is stomping around below you. But these limitations have also been the source of inspiration for some of my best work. The slower pace gives me the time to really concentrate on a subject. And knowing I may be interrupted at any time forces me to quickly focus my attention. I just try to remind myself that life as an artist/parent is a balance of priorities. This means that my career will develop slower, and success (whatever that may be) will come later. But that’s ok. At least it’ll be more fun getting there.

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