MOTHER SLASH ARTIST SLASH BUSINESSWOMAN
Posted on February 27 2018
I think it’s taken me over a year to really settle into motherhood. At first I was in a daze- recovering from a pretty gnarly first two weeks then the adrenaline took over and I managed to smash out an exhibition at 3 months (CRAZY PERSON). I think also I was so used to being incredibly productive that I just went straight back to that- “nothing really changes when you have a baby right?". And let’s face it- babies are kinda just blobs for the first 12 weeks anyway. Blobs that sleep a lot and allow you to get quite a lot done if you’re mental.
Then came the identity crisis and resentful anger that as a woman it’s given that you surrender 80% if not all of your career if you choose to have kids. Then I went back and forth between acceptance and anger for a good 5-6 months. And now thankfully I feel I’ve settled into a nice pace of life with Harry.
I used to prioritise my practice above everything else in my life. Any spare moment was spent creating or thinking about creating or doing the things (like afternoon naps and drinking wine) that helped my practice. Which was great at the time. I knew I wanted to set up a business that was manageable with children so I went like the clappers. The flip side of that was that I wasn’t amazing at maintaining relationships and I am told I gave off an air of aloofness because I was generally on a mission most of the time (clearly this is not true as most people think I’m LOVELY- obviously).
For the record: I rarely painted like this. Also check that head position- he's fine BTW.
But also I can see now that I was constantly stressed. My adrenals were shot. Most days were coffee, chocolate, eating out every meal, wine, more chocolate and panadol. I just wanted to get as much done as possible. Instead of being reasonable and trying to finish one painting a day I’d try to get 5 done. One week I painted 30 paintings. WHAT A NUTCASE. But it was great. It was exactly right for me at the time. I had a lot of energy for what I was doing and it felt like a normal pace for me. My husband is also an incredibly productive person so I was 100% caught in his slipstream- thanks honey!
But things have changed now. I have a 14 month old who craves my attention constantly. And fighting that makes everything HARD. Being stressed changes the entire mood of the house and frankly it’s not worth it. Plus I REALLY don’t want to look back and see that I missed my children growing up because I was looking at my computer. And look I’m certainly not saying I spend every moment playing with Harry - he may have taken a tumble while I was on ASOS the other day but hey he’s tough (and I bought some incredible shoes). I work 2-3 days a week and have an incredibly supportive husband who parents equally. I salute full-time mums as that is HARD WORK.
Creatively I have to say I didn’t experience any massive change when having Harry. I can see why mothers do- you have to become so in tune with yourself that that’s bound to have an effect on your creativity. I think there’s also a lot of quietness at home when you have a small baby so that can help with clarity. I was always pretty good at napping and getting quiet regardless of being constantly busy. I think the quietness and time restrictions have allowed me to paint what I really want to paint and not overproduce.
Also I think I used to try to get to the very core of myself and see what I could mess with for some kind of creative result. I didn’t have many people relying on me so I could really generally get pretty loose without many people noticing. But when you have a family I think it’s almost inbuilt that you create the most stable environment possible. That’s fairly at odds with being deeply immersed in your own bullshit so it’s kind of a relief for me to not go there. The act of painting is a pleasure for me- I don’t need darkness to do it. Ken Done is a lovely, happy painter and he paints with his grandkids which is ADORABLE. This is a nice little clip if you love the Done.
I think it’s taken me a year to really get comfortable with the fact that my priorities have changed. I still need to paint so I don’t become completely unbearable, but I don’t need to create every day. And it’s actually nice to have a break and lie on the ground - otherwise known as “playing”. And closing the Fremantle gallery has reflected this change. I realise now with my limited work time I want to be able to paint as much as possible and manage as little as possible. I’m happy to grow organically for a while and really put some solid hours into teaching my child to pump out proteas. KIDDING!!!
Read THE BIG BREAK.