Carving Out Time for Art with Dana Barbieri

I was re-introduced to Dana Barbieri’s colorful and fun artwork on Instagram, and remembered her work from Flickr years before. She is friendly, talented, and someone I would want to hang out with to paint, chat and knit.

When I came up with my own version of interviewing artist parents, I saw that Dana had done a similar series a few years back focusing on Art Biz Mamas. It’s a fantastic series, and if you enjoy reading about these types of interviews as much as I do, you will not want to miss it. Dana is also doing a fun project called 2 x 2: 2 Artists, 2 Sketchbooks with her friend, Anne Butera.

Thank you so much for your time and wisdom, Dana!

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Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?

My name is Dana Barbieri. I’m an artist and crafter living in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains two hours north of New York City with my husband, two children and little kitty. I’m passionate about painting, knitting, crochet, color, pattern and design. I love artists and I’m curious about many things. Currently I’m working on a Daily Sketchbook project for 2015.

My children are 9 and 7. My kids are in school full time and I work as a sub at their school.

COTFA-Dana-Barbieri-5Has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?

After having my son back in 2005 my whole life changed including my approach to creating. In the beginning when he was really little I enjoyed having a creative outlet as a way to relax after mothering all day. I was into making scrapbooks, collages (one I made was featured in Somerset Studio), blogs were just starting and I even remember starting one (didn’t last) that I just shared a bit about my son.

COTFA-Dana-Barbieri-2Is it easy or difficult for you to find/make time to create? Did you have to give anything up? Do you have advice on what works for you?

I’ve always made it a priority to create. Of course when my kids were really little I had less time but even then I did many crafts/painting/drawing etc. with them. I gave up housework many times in favor of creating. I would never be happy not working on something. And if I’m not happy that isn’t good for the kids. Now that they are bit older, more independent and in school there are more chunks of time for creating but I still love when my kids want to be involved with creating with me. That can range from picking out yarn for something I may knit/crochet for them or painting with them. My son has learned to knit and crochet. He hasn’t stuck with it but I treasure that time we spent working on it together.

My advice: If your kids are babies then use nap time to work on something. If they are older and curious create with them. That time will soon pass and they will be onto their own interests. Give them large sheets of paper to paint on. Don’t worry about the mess. It’s all a part of the process. Buy them their own supplies. Take them to the art or craft store and let them pick a sketchbook and paints/pencils, etc. Have fun.

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How does being an artist make you a better mother to your children? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you? 

Doing something that brings me joy absolutely makes me a better mother. Kids want to see their mother happy. I believe that my kids see me being passionate and curious about many things and I believe that it teaches them to live their life in the same way.COTFA-Dana-Barbieri-5Where do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve? Do you ever create art with your kids?

Right now I mainly paint in our play room and I knit and crochet all over the house. Perhaps someday it would be nice to have a whole room to play in but right now I enjoy the way I create. I like being involved with the family. And yes, as I mentioned above I do create with them.

COTFA-Dana-Barbieri-8Do you have any tips to streamline / delegate / outsource household and childcare activities so that you can focus more time on your art? Has your lifestyle changed in any major ways?

If you can get some help with the housework I say do it! Otherwise I think it’s good to relax about it. One of my favorite sayings is, “A perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life.”-Mary Randolph Carter It’s a book too. Once your kids are able, have them help with the housework too. They need to learn it anyway. I can’t say I’m so great about that last bit though.

COTFA-Dana-Barbieri-6Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?

I will share a couple. Since I’m a former fabric designer I really would love to have my own line of fabric. Also, I always wanted to design dinnerware. Those are just a couple.

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Dana also referred me to the book, The Artistic Mother: A Practical Guide to Fitting Creativity into Your Life”. Neither of us has read it yet, but it may be helpful for others looking for more guidance on finding time to create art.

Don’t forget to share your own moments on Instagram using #carveouttimeforart. I would love to see how other people are creating time for themselves!

Carving Out Time for Art with Michelle Armas

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When I started contacting artists that I admired for this series, I knew that I wanted to know what Michelle Armas would have to say on art and motherhood. I’ve been a fan of her for years – and not just her art. Her home is beautiful – she could have a career as an interior designer if she ever wanted to. Her family is adorable, and she is the most loving and fun mother. But what I like most about Michelle is that she’s so open to discussing personal matters in a genuine, open and positive way. She’s had her struggles (as most of us do in various ways), and she makes you realize you’re not alone with your own issues. She’s hilarious, truly one-of-a-kind in an internet that can feel repetitious at times, and she knows when to throw in some good swear words. I know you guys will love reading this as much as I did. I personally threw my fist in the air when I read her response about bad-assery (technical term). You will see. Thank you so much for your time, Michelle!
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COTFA-Michelle-Armas-9Tell us about yourself. How old is your daughter? Where can we find you?

I started painting a few years ago to battle the stress of my corporate branding job (ok, I was an intern, you caught me), but it was still really stressful. I have a bachelor of International Relations, and a post graduate degree in Graphic Design and Branding from the prestigious Portfolio Center in Hotlanta. I lasted about one year in the New York branding world before I threw in the towel and started trying to make a living by painting, and now you are reading this, so I guess I made it big time!

I paint in acrylic and oil, large and small, abstract and sometimes portraits too. I also create collages, consult on design and art projects and print textiles and license work to companies all around the world.

I live in Atlanta with my husband, daughter and two sweet doggies.

COTFA-Michelle-Armas-7Has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?

Yes, it has all changed. And even if I hadn’t noticed it, everyone is pointing it out to me! I am more focused on work when it is time to work. I either have Alia and then she is the most important thing, or Alia is at her nanny and I make that time count. I also paint at home at night, if the mood strikes. I have learned that I have to be in the right head space to paint and now instead of beating myself up if I don’t have enough of those days, if I feel like painting then everything else stops, and I paint. Inspiration comes from everywhere, all the time. That part hasn’t changed.

COTFA-Michelle-Armas-5Is it easy or difficult for you to find/make time to create? Did you have to give anything up? Do you have advice on what works for you?

I have child care. I can take Alia to her nanny, a woman who watches three little girls in her house near us five days a week 7am to 5pm. They listen to jazz, watch hummingbirds, do baby yoga, play and sing songs. Usually she goes from 9 or 10 am to 4 or 5pm. Some days I don’t take her, if I can tell that I won’t paint, or work then I keep her and we spend the day together, or she runs errands with me. I thought that I would just get a nanny who would be home with us and I would see Alia all the time, but it just didn’t work out that way. I really hate the idea of having a schedule, of doing the same thing at the same time every day, its death to me. But having a schedule has helped us, also keeping the house German level organized and clean and always doing dishes or laundry right away has really helped us keep our sanity at home. I have given up sleeping in, but she wakes up at 7am, that’s not too bad really. Also my husband and I divide tasks, we always know what we are supposed to do. When its his time to take care of her I let him do whatever he does. If I disagree when what he is feeding her, or how she spends her time I don’t say anything because I need time off, and also if I tell him what to do all the time he won’t learn for himself and I will just be constantly doing it all. That is for sure not going to happen, so I don’t micro manage, or I try not to.

COTFA-Michelle-Armas-6How does being an artist make you a better mother to your children? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you? 

I believe that being an artist makes me see how everything can be a creative adventure. I give her plants, or a towel or her sock to play with, she doesn’t really have many toys. I show her things like leaves and trees and the skyline and I tell her to watch the way the breeze moves the branches of the big oak trees…she doesn’t understand yet, but I can’t help myself. 

I think of creating art as my job, because it is. I never think of it as something I squeeze in because I have to do other things. No, its my full time job. Creating, maintaining my business, working with clients, expanding, making connections, and honing my craft is my full time job. When I am working, that’s what I am doing, and I am not having any guilt that I am not with Alia. I hope that she sees how normal it is, and would never even question that she has the right to enjoy the same privilege to pursue her passions with no limits. I don’t want her to say my mom is a real woman bad-ass because she had babies AND worked! I want her to say of course my mom worked and had babies, why on earth would that be exceptional? oh and by the way she is a bad-ass.COTFA-Michelle-Armas-8Where do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve? Do you ever create art with your kids?

I have a really great studio a few miles from my home, and I also have a shared office space with my husband where I can paint on off hours. I have to be able to work when I can, or want to. I love that my studio is so bright, and spacious. It has concrete floors and is located in a part of town that has easy walks to get lunch, coffee or see friends. At home my husband and I made a very concerted effort to maximize our needs out of our shared office. We designed a wrap around the room, shallow desk with storage so that there was maximum work space, and maximum room in the middle for me to paint, lay things out and move around. Ideally I would have my own home studio, and that’s the ultimate goal. The entire upstairs, with huge skylights and a little deck with plants and hammocks and big sofas and rugs, and everything painted white! I see myself working on a painting while an older Alia plays next to me, hopefully she will be interested in art!

COTFA-Michelle-Armas-10Do you have any tips to streamline / delegate / outsource household and childcare activities so that you can focus more time on your art? Has your lifestyle changed in any major ways?

My husband and I decide what our drop off-pickup schedule is every week. Lately he has been working much longer hours and I am the one who does everything for Alia. We had a family meeting, we decided on this delegation of duties, and how long it will last, in this case two months. Then we re-group. Its working out pretty well. I am very busy now, but I know that I will get a break in two months, and he misses being with Alia a lot, but its temporary and this really helps us deal with these kinds of situations. Also we divide work at home, who does what and also we have a deal that the kitchen is always clean. You have to leave it clean every time you go in there, and the dishwasher gets a run every single day, no matter how few dishes are in there, b/c the formula making things need to be cleaned. We used to go out more, but now we do this thing were on Friday night we put Alia to bed, and I make us some cocktails and he goes to pick up a full take out dinner from some place nice and then we plate everything, and light candles and have a romantic date at home. Now that its spring we eat at the marble coffee table on the little porch outside of our bedroom and we chat and laugh and its just like having a fancy date out, but we don’t have to go out!

COTFA-Michelle-Armas-4Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?

Yes! I see us as a family living in Mexico or some other place that we love (Chile!) together as a family while I paint for a local gallery there and we live in a little house and explore. Maybe we can do it every summer while Alia is in school? Its going to happen. By the time Alia ready to go to College she will have traveled the world! That’s my big goal, for her to experience the magic of travel, or meeting people so different from you and realizing how we are all the same, and how small the world really is.

COTFA-Michelle-Armas-11All images courtesy of Michelle Armas.

Carving Out Time for Art with Brooklyn Lamb

I first heard of Brooklyn Lamb through Bianca Bello’s inspiring “Makers To Know” interview series on WildHumm. I instantly loved the photos of Brooklyn painting with her little girl, and reached out shortly after. Painting portraits is not my forte, so I especially admire people who can do it well. She is so talented at capturing the joy of childhood in her portraits of children, and the personality behind her subject’s eyes.

My favorite part of this insightful interview is this line: “I’ve found that it’s pointless to only work when I feel “inspired”. Read below for more wisdom and a peek into Brooklyn’s world!

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Tell us a little about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?

I’m Brooklyn Lamb, lover of imagination and portrait artist. I have a 22 month old little gal and another little gal coming next month! I am full time hands on mama, trying so hard to not blink.

COTFA-Brooklyn-Lamb-4Has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?
Being a parent changes the route of your brain neurons in an exciting way, so yes, I can confidently say I am so much more inspired to create now. I’ve come to appreciate that art isn’t just duplicating an exact copy of what you see, it’s about creating an emotion. I’m hoping to be more free in my work from here on out.

COTFA-Brooklyn-Lamb-5Is it easy or difficult for you to find/make time to create? Did you have to give anything up? Do you have advice on what works for you?

I’ve found that it’s pointless to only work when I feel “inspired”. I plan my schedule, and I stick to it. Honestly, I’ve been able to create better work by just being consistent. Most of my cleaning gets done when my daughter is awake. She loves helping and I think it’s important to teach her these life skills in a fun way. But when I can’t “do everything”, I’m OK with the laundry waiting for me, and etc. My husband is a huge help with cleaning so that is a huge bonus. I really don’t watch much TV, or read as much as like I would like to, but I don’t really feel like I’ve had to give anything up because I’m doing everything that I need to do for my well being.

COTFA-Brooklyn-Lamb-7How does being an artist make you a better mother to your children? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you? 

Obviously, being a good mom is my first priority. But with that said, I find that by carving time out to paint, I am able to be a better mom. By working on my craft, my soul is able to escape and breathe for a little bit, and it actually gives me the physical and mental energy I need to run around with a toddler all day. I hope that my girls can see that it’s important to do what makes you happy, whether it’s what I do or it’s with music, like my husband, or something else. And to be able to be creative in a way that creates a positive atmosphere for others.

COTFA-Brooklyn-Lamb-6Where do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve? Do you ever create art with your kids?

I recently gave up my light-filled white walled studio for baby #2, so now I paint in my finished basement, and I sketch wherever I am in my house. Yes, having lots of natural light is awesome, but it’s more important to be happy working wherever you are, and whatever time of the day or night that is.

COTFA-Brooklyn-Lamb-2Do you have any tips to streamline / delegate / outsource household and childcare activities so that you can focus more time on your art? Has your lifestyle changed in any major ways?

It’s always nice when my mom watches my daughter for a few hours so that I can focus during good daylight to work on a painting. But really, I like to spend as much time with my daughter as possible, so I’m happy to work when she sleeps during the day or at night.

COTFA-Brooklyn-Lamb-3Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?

I want to go bigger. I really want to paint on large scale canvases and focus on body movement and color. I have a project in the works for this next year. Stay tuned!

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Thank you so much for your time and thoughtful insight, Brooklyn! Wishing you the best of luck with a healthy 2nd baby and balancing those changes into your work!

P.S. Her short and sweet Vimeo video linked above is definitely worth watching!

Carving Out Time for Art with Maria Kamara

I remember finding Maria Kamara’s art a couple of months ago, and instantly scrolling through her Instagram feed to see if she had any children so I could email her immediately for an interview. She is a home educator to her 4 children and finds time to create such beautiful abstract art. I find her to be so inspiring as an artist and a mother with her positive with her words and insight. I know you will enjoy her sage wisdom and great attitude towards life, art, and motherhood. Thank you for this glimpse into your life, Maria!
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Tell us a little about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?

Hi, I’m Maria Kamara and I’m an abstract painter. I’m married to a really great guy and we have four children ages 16, 11, 7, and 2. I home educate our children so I’m with them most of the day and they are in and out of my home studio.
You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus (links below).

COTFA-Maria-Kamara-2Has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?

I started seriously painting after having children. Before children I was so wrapped up in my music, first getting my Masters and then beginning a career, that I had no room for my artistic aspirations. It was only after children that I began to have pockets of time where I could explore my art.

COTFA-Maria-Kamara-6Is it easy or difficult for you to find/make time to create? Did you have to give anything up? Do you have advice on what works for you?

It’s definitely not easy for me to find time to paint. I schedule it into my days and I make it a priority similar to exercising or one on one time with my kids. Organizing my time is key to making sure important things happen. Spontaneous painting doesn’t occur very often but when it does it’s lovely. The more space my art business takes in my life the more I have had to let go of house work. Not always easy because I’m a visual person who likes a neat and tidy home, however the trade off is worth it 100%. What works for me is prioritizing and scheduling. Having a list of daily tasks I must do in order to feel good about my surroundings keeps me focused on my values which keeps me feeling centered. Don’t sweat the small stuff is a great motto.

COTFA-Maria-Kamara-5How does being an artist make you a better mother to your children? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you?

It’s important to me to show our children that I’m are being brave and truthful with my life. I want my children to know they can pursue their dreams and face fears they may have while pursuing their goals and they need to see me doing that as well. Hopefully my kids will remember seeing me being passionate about my art and will see how it fed me and that it was glorifying to God.

COTFA-Maria-Kamara-1Where do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve? Do you ever create art with your kids?

I work from my home studio. First I love that it’s right in my home and secondly I love the space I have and the light. I do create art with my kids. It’s one of my favorite treats. You spread out everything on the floor and my boys, baby girl and I just experiment with color and shape. My youngest son loves to sing as he paints which reminds me a lot of our oldest daughter who did the same. She is also an artist and we like to create clothing together. She’s a seamstress and I’m her official ironer but we think alike and really love working together.

COTFA-Maria-Kamara-9Do you have any tips to streamline / delegate / outsource household and childcare activities so that you can focus more time on your art? Has your lifestyle changed in any major ways?

My only tip is to just go ahead and delegate. For a long time I tried to do it all and it’s exhausting. Delegate and outsource whenever you financially can the things that you don’t have to do. I only recently started doing this and wish that I had started long ago, but you live and learn. Being able to work more on my art leaves me much more energized and happy.

COTFA-Maria-Kamara-4Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?

A goal of mine is to do more commissions. The process of creating something truly special for someone that holds meaning to them is very satisfying. Focusing on a moment in time or an experience that the client wants to remember always brings out the best in my painting. My dream project would be to paint a piece for the White House.

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You can purchase an original painting or commission a custom piece from Maria via her website shop here.

Carving Out Time for Art with Jenny Kersting

This week I am featuring the creative and lovely Jenny Kersting. Jenny was my childhood best friend, and I have so many wonderful memories of us painting, creating outlandish stories, and inventing games with our vivid imaginations. It has been so much fun to reconnect again on social media over our shared love of creating, painting, and being mamas to young kids. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Jenny. I’m so proud of all you are doing!

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Artist-Jenny-Kersting-PainterTell us a little about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?

Hi, my name is Jenny Kersting. I’m a painter mainly these days, although I also love knitting and making just about anything. I also work digitally sometimes and I’m super interested in pattern, fabric and wallpaper design, interiors and graphics.

I have two young girls: Gigi who is 2 and Ellie who is 4. I stay home with my girls right now (full-time).

Artist-Jenny-Kersting-PainterHas your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?

Yes! I have always loved making stuff (almost anything), but I have much less time and personal space as a mother of young children. I try to paint and craft as often as possible with them to make the most of the time I have to be creative and to introduce them to something I love to do so much. I’ve also become more open to different mediums that work better in small time frames and with minimal mess, like digital art and watercolor.

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Is it easy or difficult for you to find/make time to create? Did you have to give anything up? Do you have advice on what works for you?

So hard. I’m not great at being super organized, but I realized that if I wanted to find the time to myself to be creative, I HAD to make myself a schedule and get help with childcare AND that it was crucial for me to have an area separate from my kids to work in. I got lucky last year and had a friend offer me a room in her studio to use at my convenience. That was really a turning point for me in realizing how important my art is to my well-being and how worthwhile it is to spend my energy carving out time and resources to continue making it a priority. My advice to anyone else in my situation would definitely be to sit down and look at your schedule really closely and see where you could fit in a few hours here and there. Honestly, I probably only have 5 hours a week or so to paint, but that’s five hours I didn’t have last year, so I’ll take it and hopefully grow with it!Artist-Jenny-Kersting-PainterHow does being an artist make you a better mother to your children? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you?

You kind of already answered for me. I love that my kids get to see me doing something I love and that they see its important for me to have my own interests and space. I want them to always know not to neglect themselves, that its really important to make time for yourself, especially if you are lucky enough to know what you love doing.

Artist-Jenny-Kersting-PainterWhere do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve? Do you ever create art with your kids?

I used to paint with a friend in her studio and I’d really like to be in that type of situation again. It was so awesome to have a really comfortable spot to make things and someone you trust that loves you to bounce ideas off of and get inspiration from. The space itself was a room in an office building. It had big window with natural light and that was definitely helpful. I had two easels set up and I use TV tables to move around for my supplies. I also LOVED having an inspiration board there.

My current space is in a gallery where I hang my art, but the artists can also store their materials and work there. Its really good for now (and affordable), but I do have to put away everything aside from the painting as its. For me, it’s much easier to organize your materials when you can keep them all out in your work area. One day…Artist-Jenny-Kersting-Painter

Do you have any tips to streamline/delegate/outsource household and childcare activities so that you can focus more time on your art? Has your lifestyle changed in any major ways?

I think if you can, it’s so awesome to look at things in your regular day that you really enjoy and that you really DON’T enjoy. I would say to keep as many as the things you do enjoy and try to outsource as much as you can of the rest, considering your priorities of course. I do get a babysitter or my mom at least two mornings a week and one night.

COTFA-Jenny-Kersting-5Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?

I would LOVE to design wallpaper and fabric and get into licensing my art. I’m going to take a class in the fall to learn more about that.


Thanks, Jenny! I’m so excited to see what this next year brings.