My truth: I chose to become a mother late in life and now I am living my dream as a 47 year old artist/mother of a spritely 5 year old son…and all the joy, frustration, exhilaration, exhaustion, beauty and messes that encompasses motherhood. I did not choose to be an artist. Creating is something I have always done as far back as I can remember and I have learned to accept it as a way of life. If I don’t do something creative every day, I feel out of balance, like I can’t breathe. It is not a hobby, it is a physical need. That said, sometimes just the act of making a book for my son is enough to fill me. (click to see a slide show of the book – beautiful!)
Still, when I feel compelled to make art for artsake or to take on a larger project, I schedule the time I need to work on it with my family. The biggest shift that took place for me in becoming a mother was the realization that time was no longer my own, but shared with my family to whom I am heartfully committed. In the past I would virtually disappear, unplug the phone and work feverishly until I was finished. I had to find a new way of being which I now liken to a slow simmer.
Before I became a mother, my art was my life, but now it is the other way around…my life is my art. For this I am grateful.
It may sound like a trite altruism, but living artfully is very much like making paintings: it’s messy, invigorating, exhausting, you step back to gain perspective to see what works and what doesn’t, you make mistakes, mend them if possible, try to learn from them or learn to live with them. It’s soulful work, or call it what you will, devotion, dedication, passion.
As a mother I would like to see art retreats that nurture the whole family. I feel more inspired and joyful with my family present, than I would feel if I were to attend without them. And I believe it’s powerful mojo for our families to experience that side of us and be part of it. The creative process has many layers and can be particularly healing and transformative on levels that we never imagined possible.
Even so, the Arts are taking the biggest hit by school’s counter-intuitive budget constraints. Our society needs more opportunities for creative gatherings. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Imagination opens us to limitless possibilities and it is vital that we nurture this. That said, it is our duty to do what Sabrina Ward Harrison suggests, “create what we most need to find”.
Her words have become one of my many mantras and I have applied it to all aspects of my life.
Mother & Artist, Wendy Cook has been exhibiting her work since 1986. She has been published in the US, Canada and the UK. Her work has been sold at charity events such as the “Postcards From the Edge” benefit for Visual AIDS of NYC; Northern Virginia Family Service; and The Fund for Women Artists.
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