producing, creating, parenting

by G
I’ve had the most interesting time lately make art with my son.  It started at his insistence and I was merely humoring him. But as we went along, drawing and painting on the same sheet of paper, I got really really into it. He was making these complex structures (he calls them forts) and I found myself completely absorbed in working around his images.

Here’s the thing, I’ve been slugging through a bit of an artist’s block not finding much inspiration in my own images and to suddenly be caught up in the innovative lines and shapes made by this five year old was intensely satisfying. Inspiring. And the thought I had was this: I’m a real selfish bitch sometimes.  I can get all sorts of resentful about the enormous amount of time and energy demanded by caring for a child and sometimes blame him for my own inability to get any studio time. But when I am honest with myself I have to recognize that the labor intensive experience of being his mother has also been a tremendous source of  creative impetus.
I need to give him his due.
And keep making these forts, those are really fun.


  1. I’ve found myself feeling a little resentful (look at all I can’t get done!) lately, so this is a great reminder to work/play with my kids and the potential of doing that.

    But, can I admit here that I’m a bit annoyed that Asher has seen the picture of you guys painting and is proceeding to get out our paints? 🙂

  2. I’m inspired! I would love to create things like this with my kid. A big problem, unfortunately, is that I have little artistic ability. But I love the idea of just playing off my kid’s work and being creative.

  3. ha! so I spoke too soon.
    The last couple of times son and I have sat down to paint together he loses interest way faster than I do and is on to other things (that of course require my undivided attention) while I am still completely enmeshed in our project.

    The little jerk. can’t he tell we’re supposed to be making art!?!


  4. I constantly struggle with feeling that I can’t do what I want to do (not “art” but adult stuff that I feels defines who I am as an individual) because I’m a mom. Not that I don’t adore and love my children and am so grateful for them, but I struggle with substituting one creativity for another these days. Even though I know they’ll grow up and it will be easier later to do what I want to do, I wish I could be more content with the creativity of motherhood these days.

  5. Rose, what are the things that you miss? Can they be expressed creatively in a way that is uniquely you, outside the usual mothering box but within your current mothering life? I had a mother who was an art historian. She was a full-time mother while I was growing up but she mothered in ways that none of my friends’ mothers did; we had changing exhibits of historic prints in the breakfast nook and time-lines wrapped around the livingroom ceiling. She would get art books out of the library to prep us for trips to see exhibits of the work of the Paul Klee and collect stacks of art postcards which we played with, talked about, sorted, flipped through, tossed about and which made it so that when we encountered our first Michelangelo, Cassatt or Renoir, it was like seeing an old friend. I remember a four year old in our family wandering around a Rembrandt exhibit, clutching 5 Rembrandt postcards that he was trying to match with the paintings on the wall. She’d found a way to incorporate him into the work she loved.

    When I had my first child her advice to me was “see every difficulty as a challenge to your creativity.” I realized that I’d seen her do that all her life.

    One of the best things I learned as a young mother was that mothering children was not keeping them entertained and playing with them or keeping them clean or occupied with kid stuff or anything any other mother was doing with her children, but instead incorporating them into my adult world as much as possible and letting them incorporate me into their child world in ways that were mutually communicative and conducive to growth for both of us. (That’s a complicated way of saying cheerfully work together, not play together, whether that work is child work or adult work.)

    I see G’s experience with her son as an interesting example of a mother and child working together. That particular activity is not something that my mother ever did. It wasn’t in her “line of work”. But it dovetails nicely into G’s work. What sorts of things are your work?

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