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A Denver artist's blog of projects, misadventures and pinterest fails. Enjoy.

A Year Review: Trying to be an Artist and a Mother

Cecile Elliott

In the last year I've been adjusting to being an artist and work-at-home mother. It's been really challenging, not that I didn't expect it to be, but in ways that were difficult to anticipate. 

I expected when I became pregnant to begin to establish myself as an artist full-time; to begin an inventory of work, figure out my creative voice, make contacts in the industry and seize this opportunity with vigor. Needless to say, the first 5 months of pregnancy was spent struggling with antenatal depression and crippling nausea, bringing my ambition to a screeching halt. 

I'm clearly thrilled she's getting into everything now

I'm clearly thrilled she's getting into everything now

The second half of my pregnancy was easier physically but my creative progress also hindered by the impending arrival of a newborn. The first 6 months of parenthood was a blur and also a much needed time to establish ourselves as a family. Liv was so tiny and developmentally delayed, her slug-like demeanor made it relatively easy to care for her despite the weekly physical therapy she required. She slept a lot and slept through the night early on and was a gentle, sweet baby. I was able to do contract work for my old company on a very part-time basis during her naps as well as do at least a small, daily sketch that allowed me to experiment as an artist and still work toward my artistic goals. 

Once Liv started to become more mobile and especially after she dropped her second nap it became nearly impossible to get anything done during the day. For me as an artist, I have days of almost manic inspiration and then weeks in a cloudy lackluster haze, making it impossible to "turn-on" that inspiration in the short hour or two I wasn't chasing an infant around the house making sure she wasn't eating rocks or trying to drown herself in the toilet.

I've found the creative process to be a frustratingly slow evolution. I have a list of tasks written on my tablet sized legal pad and for the last 4 months that list has changed very little. My goal was to do 1 thing, just 1 thing weekly on the list outside of keeping a baby alive, and I came to the conclusion that I needed more time to myself in order to get anything done. With this realization, I hired a nanny 1 day a week and even just a few hours of quiet creative reflection have made a resounding and positive change in my attitude.

I am still selling cards on Etsy and that is going well and is a passive source of income, but haven't had the time to brainstorm or create new card ideas. I started taking a welding workshop which has been a fucking godsend and allows me to not only get out of the house, away from the family for a while but gives me an outlet to make things without interruption. 

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For a while, I would think, "why even bother with this art thing, I'm 36 and what kind of career can I really have when there are people out there who already figured this shit out." And that's when I realized this isn't a competition and I need to stop comparing myself and my process to others. I'm raising a child and navigating my life's purpose and neither one of those things is easy.

I'm going to start posting my more recent work and projects at least weekly on this blog.

I will eventually figure this art thing out, one legal pad check mark at a time.