Artist Residency in Motherhood

I was doubting how much this “Residency” would help when I signed up. It’s almost just a self-encouraging plan which may or may not work all depends on the artist/mother herself. And if it works, I’m not sure how much it is because of the Residency or just the mother herself is strong with or without the Residency.

However, last week, when I got and reread the questionnaire I filled in early September when I signed up to this Residency, I suddenly realize that things are getting better from that time. And that, somehow, gives me a warm feeling and encouragement. Also when I search the #arim and see all those other mom-artists, I feel happy for them and hopeful for myself. Therefore, it maybe too early to doubt/judge this idea. Even a loner as I, it does help. And let’s see how it goes.

Here attached the questionnaire I did. Those are well designed questions. Good for not only moms, but also anyone who is facing a huge change in one’s life.

1. Describe where you are currently with your creative work: I use to work 8 hours per day if productive, now I can hardly work an hours per day.
I work at home studio. I feel comfortable about it. I wish to have a studio somewhere else for oil paintings but now with newborn, at home is the best.
I do watercolor painting and oil painting.
I almost do not have anytime to work. Even when I have time, I am so tired that I almost can not hold a brush.

2. Describe as specifically as possible, anything about your current situation that makes your creative life difficult: Firstly, time. He wakes every 2-3 hours, needs to be feed, needs to be nursed, needs to play together, change diapers, etc. That will cost 1-2 hours. Which mean I can hardly drink or eat, no matter to paint. Secondly, energy. Taking care of him takes so much energy that I can hardly focus on anything after that. I need to do research, to draw, to think, before painting. Now I talk slower because I think slower. Thirdly, pain. Right after the delivery, my body hasn’t fully recover yet. Because of taking of him and trying to practice art, I feel my body is recovering even slower. Back pain, shoulder pain, head pain, wrist pain, all these problems show out day after day. I hope, eventually, it will get better. Last but not least, stress and anxiety. As a painter at 34, I am worried about my career as everyone else. Moreover, as a mother, I am worried about whether I could work hard and become a good example for my child.

3. What do you need that you don’t currently have?

#1 Time.
#2 Community.
#3 Sleep.
#4 Childcare.

3b. For each of the items on your list, what would you need to get each of these things?: #1 I have to work at every gap of taking care of my child. Try to catch up every fragments of time.
#2 Push myself to reach out to other artists, galleries, friends. Even tho I am a little bit anti-social.
#3 Well, I don’t know. It kind of against the #1.
#4 Maybe I can send my kid to a daycare, that depends on the cost and space of the daycare.

4. What do you like to do differently during your residency?: I want to do baby/motherhood related paintings and drawings, from a mother’s eyes. I think that is true and natural, as a mother and female artist.

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The First Painting

Time flies. I checked the calendar and saw I posted almost a month ago. No doubt I was very busy. However, things are getting into orders and I, finally, finished first painting.

It seems that I can’t get enough time for sketching and planing. So I just go ahead and pick up my oil brushes. The good thing is because I am thinking about drawings and paintings all the time, and I am observing Ethan all the time, so I “sketch” in my mind all the time, which might help.

Now looking back to when I started the Artist Residency in Motherhood, reread the qestionnarie I did, I feel things are getting better. 🙂

Here attached my manifesto for myself as an artist @ARIM.

In the past, many artists told me that I should not have children if you want to be an artist. I understand why, and partly I agree with them. However at the same time, I disagree. Because becoming a mom is also one of my dreams. I do not think my dream of being an artist is against the dream of being a mom. I want to be both, and I want to be good at both.

Now, with my son in my arms, there are moments, I feel so calm and confident, like the time stopped, like the whole world did not exist. I feel so powerful and so insignificant at the same time. I hope time flies and time freezes at the same time. I am so exhausted but so excited at the same time. I am grateful to life and awed by life at the same time. For all those feelings, I believe they can help me become a better artist, a better painter that I wish to be.

Therefore, I will undergo this self-imposed artist residency in order to fully experience and explore the fragmented focus, nap-length studio time, limited movement and resources and general upheaval that parenthood brings and allow it to shape the direction of my work, rather than working against it.

Qing

09/06/2017

More paintings are coming. :))

The divergent week

This week I got less time to do watercolor sketches, because of job hunting, finding daycare for Ethan, contacting galleries for exhibition opportunities, and the last few steps of our moving.

However, I got more time to think. What is the direction of my new works? Yes, I want to paint baby, not only because of Ethan. I have this wish for a long time. It starts from a painting by Gerhard Richter  Moritz by Gerhard Richter.

There is something, now let me roughly say it is half-human half-animal, of a little baby. Not saying it is the direction I want to go to, painting little animal-human, just it catches me, and stays. I want a real model, like Ethan, not some photos, to observe, to paint from live. The close observation and spending time with is so important that it is the only way that I can bring out truth.

So happily, at least now, I think I got the sense of what direction this is leading to. I will be upset and depress soon, as soon as I start to sketching for the paintings. But at least now, let me enjoy one flash of happiness.

Next week will be Ethan’s first week in a daycare. I feel very sad and very guilty about it. I want to be with him, especially when he is so young, only two and half months old. However, at the same time, I understand that a better career, can bring him much more than what I am giving now. And I need time to paint.

Wish he will understand and forgive me one day. I love him so much.

Reading while Breastfeeding

Recently, I find that breastfeeding is a good time to read. I have a kindle, which helps a lot. You can use one hand to manage everything, read, turn the page, highlight, quote, even share it online. Ethan enjoys a quiet time to have his meal for usually 30 to 45 mins. I enjoy a quiet and not short time to read, can finish several pages, and mark all the information I need. Both of us are relaxing and happy. 🙂

From today’s reading:

“I always thought, that an artist’s was the hardest life of all. Its rigour – not always apparent to an outside observer – is that an artist has to navigate forward into the unknown guided only by an internal sense of direction keep up a set of standards which are imposed entirely from within, meanwhile maintaining faith that the task he or she has set him or herself is worth struggling constantly to achieve. This is all contrary to the notion of bohemian disorder.” – says LF from Man with a Blue Scarf.

The first week in my Artist Residency in Motherhood (09/17)

Ethan has already go to bed. I checked several times. He looks so perfect, which melts my heart. I got a little bit time for myself now, and I am not sure if I can have any personal time in the rest of this week. So I decided to write something done.

English is not my mother language, and I am too tired to think clear. So forgive me if you read “odd murmurs” here.

The first week of my residency has went fine. I tried to catch every nap time to sketch, late night for watercolor mainly. Works here:

08262017head copy

Head

09012017babyhead

Side

09052017baby

Baby

09052017red copy

Red

Whoa! The last head looks huge! 🙂

I enjoy doing these watercolor sketches. The thing bothers me is what are they going to be. I knew I will do oil paintings later, if I can get more time, which seems hopeless now. But, let us put time issue away, just optimistically wish I got enough time and enough space to do it. What am I going to do?

Another question is, obvious in these sketches, I am only interested in the head part. Why? I do not know. I look at his head and his face most of the time. I look at him, and I am fascinated by his face, his head, his chin, his mouth, his eyelash. I might hold his hand all the time, but my eyes, my gaze, go to his face. As soon as I painted the clothes part, I lost my interest. Tho I bought so many clothes, too many for a little infant, for him. I have no interest to paint them.

Also, as contemporary art, I have several ideas behind these drawings/paintings, or statement I can make. However, for some reason, I want to keep it simple, keep it pure, this time. Only paint, only draw, just between I and him, just what I saw, what I feel. Because when I am holding him, the whole world disappears, time stops.

I have to go to bed now. Need sleep to keep my brain working. Night. Night.

Q.Song @ Residency in Motherhood

After having Ethan, my son, in late June, I was anxious about my career as an artist because of those huge changes happening in my life. I looked for help and was introduced by a friend to this self-directed, open-source artist residency for artists who are mothers – An Artist Residency in Motherhood. After some research, I feel this residency idea is beautiful, helpful, and inspiring, and decide to take part in.

Therefore, here I am, starting and structuring A Residency in Motherhood for myself.

Qing @ Residency in Motherhood will start from Sept. 11th, 2017, and end till June 27th, 2018, when my little Ethan is one-year-old. During this residency, I will “fully experience and explore the fragmented focus, na-length studio time, limited movement and resources and general upheaval that parenthood brings and allow it to shape the direction of my art work, rather than working against it.” (Residency in Motherhood manifesto)

This blog will be my residency working diary, in which I will weekly update my thoughts, plans, sketches, etc. And here is a rough weekly goal for Sept, 2017:

  • 1 working diary;
  • 3 painting sketches;
  • 5 drawing sketches;
  • finish the sketches and start the first oil painting in Sept.

Okay. 🙂

Talk to you later.

And here is an inspiring article you might like too: You Can Be a Mother and Still Be a Successful Artist, By Marina Cashdan.

Ethan, Sept. 9th, 2017

Ethan, Sept. 9th, 2017