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!


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.


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.



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!


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