Creating with kids

I never had a fixed routine for making art at home; and since it was (still is!) just a hobby I used  to squeeze in some time only when I felt like it. Of course things have changed tremendously since having kids, and funnily enough, my desire to paint has increased as much as my spare time has become almost not existent.
Recently, I have been browsing the internet trying to find out how people with kids manage to find some time to dedicate to their hobbies or interests, without neglecting their children. I asked some artist mums for advice and they told me the key is to either work while they are asleep or involve them too (or call a sitter!). 
Working in the evening has become more difficult as the only thing I’m able to do after the never ending and exhausting afternoon is to just sit and watch some tv or go to sleep.  Early morning rise is not really an option…waking up even earlier than 6.30am is just cruel. So what I have been left with is my littlest’s nap times while my eldest is at school. This worked out great until the school holidays! Now that they are both at home, using that time has necessarily meant involving my daughter in the process too.

Unfortunately this option doesn’t always work; kids get distracted easily or sometimes they are just not interest. But it’s always worth a try, so more often than not I give it a go.

On a regular day, as soon as her brother is down for a nap, I ask Olivia if she wants to do dome painting with me. Most of the time she gets excited enough to say yes with no hesitation. I normally set us up on the big table in our dining room where we spend a good half hour painting, drawing and colouring. She usually works on her own piece, while I work on mine, and although I have to deal with few interruptions, most of the time I manage to get something done. Of course this is not always the case; sometimes she asks me to do stuff together, either me colouring on her book or her using my tools. But that’s ok too, it gives me that peace of mind to recharge doing something I like.
There are other times when her brother wants to join in, but that’s a different story which I still have to figure out how to tackle!
A few tips I want to share with you that I learned along the way:
1. prepare your own stuff first and then your kids’s otherwise by the time you are ready to start, they are already bored and want to move onto something else! 
2. Create an area in your house where they can keep all their painting stuff ready so that they can create whenever they fill like. We use a small coffee table in a corner of our living room where she keeps an easel, her colouring books, pencils, paints, etc.
3. Let them use your tools once in a while. I found that my daughter loves to copy what I do and that of course means using the exact same materials. That doesn’t include my expensive brushes or watercolours or paper, but I have a few sketchbooks, old brushes and paper scraps that she’s allowed to use when we paint together.
4. Let them explore different mediums and techniques. They get more engaged if they are trying something new and might stay focused for longer.
Hope you’ll find this useful!

What works for you? Do you have any useful tips you’d like to share? 
 Happy creating!

On letting go

I never had many problems in letting things go when it comes to physical things. I’m one of those people who likes to gather stuff, and keep them for any possible future use (you never know when you might need this or that!). But also, I’m one of those people who like a big clear out once in a while, especially when my space reaches saturation point. And when that happens, I throw away everything I have never used, everything I’m not using anymore, everything I will probably not be using in the near future.

Physical things are very much replaceable and, although moneys are involved, if you really need something you have thrown away you can always buy it back (thank you ebay!).
Where I’m not very good at letting go is opportunities.  I have always struggled to make decisions when choosing between options, could it be school, career, friendship or artistic path. I’m always afraid that if I choose just one option than I will deprive myself of the opportunity to try something different.
I always tend to pick the solution that will give me more options to choose from later on. The more wide and generic the choice is, the better. So I often end up with one foot in two, or more, shoes and basically delaying the real decision at a later date. I always thing I’m missing out on something if I choose one thing over another. But what I’m really missing out is the opportunity to give that thing a real chance and the freedom to really focus and put my effort on just one thing.
Some people might argue that it’s always better not to put all the eggs in one basket. But from my personal experience this is true up to a point. Diversification is probably great if you have already achieved something in a specific area; if you have, than nothing stops you from trying something new and, if it doesn’t work, to go back from where you left.
If you, on the other hand, are just getting started on something, than you should really give it the best shot…”put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket!”
I like trying new things, but then when a little more commitment is required I pull back. Not because I lose interest or I’m afraid to work hard, but because that would mean closing the doors on things that seems brighter and more intriguing from the outside. And what if I get stuck in that specific role forever?
To give you a practical example of what I’m talking about, over the past 10 years, more or less, I have been experimenting with lots of different things. I started with traditional watercolours, then outdoor sketching, moving on to botanical painting, to making mini-books and sketchbooks and trying lino printing and hand carved stamping. Adding some knitting, crocheting and quilting in between.
Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy learning new things and experimenting, but at end of the day, I have been distracted by so many things that I didn’t have the time, or the courage, to take any of them seriously. I switched from one subject to another before giving myself a chance to become good at it, and to fully explore. So after 10 years I really can’t say I excel in any of the areas above. And worst of all, my confidence gets shaken up every time I see somebody’s work and achievements only to find out that they have been doing it for only a few years.

 So after reading Ali’s assignments from the One Little Word® workshop last month, I thought it was really time to LET GO of something more meaningful than just getting rid of some clothes! Let go of all the noise, of all the things that distract me to really be who I want to be. It is not an easy task, and it will require a lot of work and inner search to actually understand what I really want from life, but hopefully I will get there.

In the meantime, and since we will be moving home soon, I made the decision to take with me only my watercolours and hot pressed paper (great for botanical work!) and have another go at it. It will be manic with a new house to furnish, a new town to get accustomed to, a newborn, a toddler at home and the summer holidays. But even more because the time will be tight, it will be good for me to just have one single thing (that’s an overstatement!) to focus on. And let’s see where I’ll be in September, when hopefully, most of the things will be into place, and I will have time to reassess.

ONE LITTLE WORD // March Reflections

March has gone by very quickly, hardly giving me time to pose for a minute and address what has been going on. I don’t feel like I’ve made huge steps forward, but surely things are evolving, and for the better. I have been feeling more and more tired in the evening, and when it happens, I feel very much overwhelmed and not ready to cope with any of the day-to-day things, let’s not mention dealing with my two-year-old who has also been dealing with her tantrums lately. 

My painting plans are going very well, although I seem to concentrate my efforts in just a few days rather than spreading it throughout the month. But this ok, too. I have been trying to change my relaxation time and slot in some time in the mornings, but that has not been happening as planned. 

Where I feel I have been making some progress is in reading and following my most favourite current book “Creating a life worth living”. I have been already talking about it last month (here), but the more I read it, the more I think is the book I needed at this time in my life. As per last month’s assignment, I didn’t do it as I should have. But I tried; I laid down some plans and took notes, but still wasn’t feeling ready. So, instead of giving up completely, I did it my way, I did what I felt was right; a mix of quotes, words, charts, definitions, all in my OLW book.

I found a lot of inspiration by just googling the word CREATIVE. While doing so, I stumbled across Alice’s website The Lost Girl and her work on creativity that really gave me some ideas and things to brainstorm on.

Already excited about April’s assignments! It will involve lots of pictures taking, but also working on something deeper and more meaningful. We are only four months in and this project is giving me more than I thought it could.
If you want to read any of the previous posts just click on the big banner on the right side of the page. 

ONE LITTLE WORD // February reflections

I went through the meaning of my word over and over during the past month trying to get a deeper understanding of the overall process and reviewed my intentions several times as a reminder of what the purpose of this word really means to me. But where I really made some progress was answering to two simple questions Ali set into the February handout: What did I learn about myself last month? And How did I best connect with my word? 

One of the biggest discoveries this past month has been the realisation that I can really achieve the goals I’ve set for myself if I keep my mind focused on my word, at any time, in any occasion.

Thanks to an IG artist friend, and fellow mama-to-be, I discovered a wonderful book called “Creating a life worth living“, and the more I read it, the more I can see things clearly.
The physical and emotional side of my word is not really going as planned. But a 5-minutes-a-day meditation time and a brisk walk to/from work are small reminders of the actions I set to accomplish.

ONE LITTLE WORD // January reflections

I have been enjoying working on the prompts for One Little WordTM over the past month. I didn’t really follow the rules and did was I thought would suit me best. I have said this before, I am not a scrapbooker, I tried, and sort of liked it, but soon realised it is not really my thing. Also, living in the UK, it is not easy to find supplies as those suggested by Ali, and so I decided to make my own OLW book using a scrapbook journal from Paperchase.
Here is my take for January 2014.

This past month I’ve taken a few practical steps toward my goal of living a CREATIVE life.

I’ve chosen a set of books I want to read throughout the year to help me release my CREATIVE self. I am currently reading working on 20 ways to draw a tree and Craft-a-doodle. Both are helping me going back to my art with a free mind, and no expectations, and I’m loving it!
I also made a plan for doing yoga exercises, just haven’t been able to fit it into my daily routine, yet.
I’ve succeeded in my monthly goal of creating a new item for my shop that reflects my new CREATIVE spirit and focus on one of the few things that I’ve decided to pursue this year.
I’ve also chosen 4 words that hopefully will help me make my art more cohesive and that I would like people to use to describe my work: nature.pattern.childlike simplicity. seasons.

I’m starting February with a new vision and a few new things I will try to accomplish.