Parenting Creatively

After a big break from writing here I’d like to offer you a peak into what life has looked like for the last while. I’ve been focusing on keeping up to date with my FB page @CreativeNatalya and more recently on Instagram @creativenatalya but it seems like the right time to get back in touch with this site.

Most of my energy the last few years has gone into parenting, being pregnant, working part time and my professional development. You can read more about the later over at my creative arts therapy practice page Creative Vitality. Fortunately I’ve been privileged to utilise the arts in my work with clients, colleagues, supervision and in my own self care.

Since being on Maternity Leave this year my creative opportunities have flourished. I have found many ways to integrate and appreciate the many different ways of living a creative life. There was the early newborn days in which I was able to journal, sew felt crows and fairy wings and have art dates with my 3.5 yr old when the baby had long morning naps.

As the post-partum period become more dynamic I have become drawn to gardening and cooking. When I’ve had the energy we have been having play dates in the studio and more recently we took the studio to a friends to do hand paper making. Recently we have been trying different types of printmaking both in the studio and on the kitchen table. We have been preparing for an upcoming arts activity I’ve nominated myself to run at my big kids’ childcare. We have been experimenting with monotypes – painting onto plastic bags and onto acetate. There’s a whole other post about this (over the years I’ve run a LOT of accessible printmaking workshops in the community with a very diverse range of ages).

What I love about these moments is that I can to learn new ways of printmaking from my kid. It also helps to keep me in the process part of the making. And another important thing is that I get a chance to make! On the weekend I started printing at the kitchen table and my kid joined me. She put layer upon layer of monoprints onto a single piece of paper and then added extra paint and collage elements onto it. Paint was flying everywhere but I was too much in the zone to clean up so my partner became art assistant and enabled us to continue undisrupted by the mess.

Being creative with my kids has taken a long time to ease into. There are a few things that impact this:

  1. Having offered art experiences as a job means it feels like work when doing it at home (ironic thing to say as parenting is work!)
  2. The mess freaks me out.
  3. The clean up freaks me out.
  4. My own expectations about what art should be or look like.
  5. Having the energy to facilitate art activities.

The element which has shifted some of the above has been my desire to live more creatively myself. Selfish possibly, essential yes.

There have been more and more moments that I have allowed myself space to drop into my own arts practice. As with my bigger kid, making art experiences it more accessible and integrated into our daily lives means there’s more opportunities. Sometimes I’ve painted in the studio during allocated “time alone” moments, sometimes it’s with my bigger kid while the baby sleeps, other times it’s at the kitchen table when the baby has floor time. The other thing that is important for me to do is let go of having to do “enough” art making. I have often felt like a failure because I don’t have a more dedicated arts practice or I haven’t had x,y,z exhibitions…blah, blah, blah. What my creative arts therapy training has taught me is that art is a way of being. It’s vital for my sense making and as an expressive outlet. If something bigger comes from the practice the  that’s great but I’m not going to beat myself up if I keep making for the sake of making.

 

So to summarise my experience of becoming more of a creative parent:

There’s something about the post-partum period which is deeply nourishing for me. It’s about slowness and it’s about a way of being that expands far beyond the typical 8 week period commonly prescribed for “recovery post childbirth”.

For me it’s about creating space for the whole family to be expressive, creative, slow, nourished… whether its gardening together, eating healthy yummy meals or making a big art mess at the kitchen table.

Our dream was to create a place to live in the country in which we could be creative and raise a family. At times we get bogged down with the banalities of domesticity but with reflection I can see that we are indeed living the life we intended to live. We are truly privileged to do so and have put a lot of energy to be at this point. Having a studio has been the most fantastic thing for us all and also having the flexibility to adapt our activities so that we can make in the house when needed.

I’m looking forward to finding time to share more in depth some of the processes and experiences we have been having so stay tuned! And in the meantime follow along with some of the above links to keep updated on our daily happenings. Stay creative!

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