Friday, March 13, 2009

Kids and Art

I'm currently listening to my kids talk to each other through the window, one playing hockey outside asking the other one to watch what he's doing: the conversation is hilarious with all the little things they are saying and commenting, rooting each other on in their boyish way!
I've been having a little dialogue over at the Sycamore Street Press blog under the post about me and my work about having kids and doing what you love. A comment that made it sound really idealistic kind of got me on the topic and I feel like it is something worth talking about. I think there are a lot of parents and artists out there- people who make their living doing what they love and juggling kids along the way. For some people parenting was a 'happy accident'- such is my case, and the timing of kids wasn't totally planned, for others, they are planning their kids around their work. Any way you slice it, it is a big move to make!
My boys are my biggest joy in life. Creating is something I am very motivated to do because it's who I am. I had my boys fairly close together and was mostly full-time at home for the first 4 years- I taught art 4 times a week at the local community center when my second was 8 months old. All the while I made arrangements to be able to do a little clay work at the local pottery studio at the community center where I also taught, just to feel like I was growing as an artist.
When my youngest was 2 I hit a cross-road. I had outgrown the community centre studio, was starting to sell a little to my community connections and felt like I needed to try to see if I could make a living as an artist. It was too hard for me to just ignore my passion and call what I do a 'hobby'.
It took a little while to find a suitable studio space, access to a kiln, get my paintings into some shows, get my work looking professional enough to sell, especially because I was cramming in time to do this in between my creative child-care solutions. For a while I did a swap with another mom who is a photographer, to watch each other's kids one day a week for each other. I had my mom come out for a while and stay with us for a day. We shared a nanny with another family one day a week for a while, and then there were weekends, when my husband was 'mostly' around and I would go to the studio to cram in some time.
The other thing I did was get myself into a government funded Self-Employment Program, where they paid you $300 a week to 'start your business'. There were things involved in getting into and being in the program-not everyone is qualified, but for 11 months, this helped tremendously! It gave me the ability to move from my part-time hours into full-time and really jump started what I do.
That program ended about a year ago, and my oldest son started grade 1 in fall so my childcare situation is slowly improving. I'm still figuring out how to get enough work done every week to make do, but slowly my work is getting out there and people are starting to look for it. I have to really believe that this is the right thing to be doing because my kids are worth so much more than all the things I make. Yet we all have to make a living somehow and I would rather be doing what I am passionate about than do a 9-5 job that pays the bills but that kills my creative spirit. I just hope that I can afford to do this long-term and that I don't kill the love for what I do to make that happen!


Eva / Sycamore Street Press said...

thanks for being so honest and up front about this. honestly i don't know how i'm going to do it, but i know we'll figure out a way somehow, because we do want to have kids, and we run a small, creative, family business, and plan to keep doing that. it's inspiring to see people like you who are able to make it work.

dahlhaus said...

Eva, I think you are going to do an amazing job of running a business and having a family- honestly, I think if you want it to work it will. I look forward to seeing it all unfold for you down the road!:)

Sharon said...

Thank you for the pep talk. I am right where you were- with a 2.5 year old little boy and a 5 year old who has just started kindergarten and I finally feel I can take wing...a bit. I have mommy-trades and a bit of daycare to paint now and need to find some venues to show. Although I love having so much time with my little ones I so envy you having two in school! Thanks for sharing your mom/artist experience. Its what I write about in my blog.