My studio is now his nursery. I now have two loves (...and my husband lol)

Posted by Caroline Valpied on

I've just applied for an award created for parents who are also artists or writers. Or perhaps it's for artists or writers who are also parents...this will be my last blog post (probably) about the juggle of parenthood and creativity/starting a business because I have other way more interesting things to talk about. :-) Below is the final part of my application. It's a bio, a description of how I came to be a working artist and how having a child has inspired and challenged my art and self. If there's one bit you read, make it the last paragraph.

Sustainable Art Fund Award info

Toddler eating mango at my easel art life artist kitchen family painting acrylic painting beach australia landscape seascape

While I was on maternity leave, I decided to make a career out of my love of painting. After moving to Australia from Britain in 2014, I worked for three years as a teacher assistant at the local Special Developmental School. I was free to paint every afternoon, but it took having a baby to give me the motivation and courage to pursue my dream of an artistic career.

My son is now two years old. He is fun and fast and in the time it would take to stand my easel up he would have asked to play, grabbed my jeans to pull me away, knocked over the easel or all of the above. When he was a baby, he was not easy. Due to reflux, he cried and vomited and would scream if he was put down, so painting next to him as he gurgled on a floor mat was not possible, nor was painting during naps as he’d only sleep on me and for 20-40 minutes at a time. We don’t have any family support.

So, despite the decision to commit to art, I barely painted during his first year.

Then there was daycare. He attends three days a week and I get to release my energies onto the canvas. He seems happy with this. For me I just wish I could have two lives: one how it is, but with a bit less ‘daycare guilt’; and one where I can paint more, not being constrained by drop off and pick up.

Currently I also work on my business – painting, online marketing, framing prints, etc. at night to achieve all I want to and still there’s not enough time.

Another small challenge is that my studio is now his bedroom. I work in the garage next to the garden tools and bikes. The car has been relegated to the driveway. During winter days I move my equipment into the kitchen.

One thing I’ve recently picked up again is volunteering at Warrnambool’s community run arts precinct, The F Project. I help behind the desk and I’m on the shop sub-committee. Before my son was born, I was the Vice President. I find volunteering incredibly rewarding and I hope to demonstrate the power of giving and kindness to my son so he will one day give back to his community.

I hope that my son will be proud of me because I have followed my dream and I want that to be an example to him: that anything is possible and you should always give it a go. I’d love for him to see me painting, and to grow up creating, feeding that essential part of himself. Being a parent definitely challenges my artistic career, but it’s a dynamic and exhilarating journey and I wouldn't have it an other way (unless there was a way to clone myself).

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