Carving Out Time for Art with Eva Magill-Oliver

“I now listen to my instinct a lot more, which in turn has helped to instill a certain confidence in my work. My son has given me a new source of energy and motivation to create despite the daily stresses of being a mother. His imagination and thirst for discovery are infectious and I try to channel that into my work EVERY day.”

I found Eva Magill-Oliver through a snapshot of rainbow colored fall leaves on Grace Bonney’s #dscolor feed. I originally reached out to Eva for an interview but through a typo, she never received it. Thank goodness we figured this out, so I can share her thoughts with you and connect with Eva. Her recent work is stunning. I like how she uses big expanses of white space with the color and marks on the perimeter, almost as if it were cropped. She uses white and neutrals in a way that others use color, and I find it refreshing and serene. But she also infuses these textural marks and bolts of intense color that go straight to the part of my brain and heart that creates intense joy translated as childlike glee. I hope that makes sense to everyone else. I also think this will make more sense as you read about how her son inspires her work.
I think this interview is important because she speaks so eloquently about how her art and motherhood are intertwined, cannot be separated, yet how they both make each other better. How lovely is that? Thank you so much, Eva.

Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?
I am an artist currently living and working in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC. I have a son, Bay, who will be 4 in January. I have been painting and drawing since I can remember. Since I have always been somewhat reserved, creating art has always given me a voice and a medium to express myself. In essence, it’s my release valve. As with anyone who has a passion can attest to, I am compelled to do it and always have been. My work can be found in several galleries in the Southeast as well as my personal site (which I just revamped) and various online art boutiques.


Has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?

Since having my son nearly four years ago now, my work and approach has certainly changed for the better. It’s funny how children force you to get laser-focused and efficient at whatever it is you do. And trust me, “laser-focused” is not an adjective I would have ever used to describe myself. Part of that and probably the biggest change has been simply staying on task and “creating” on a schedule – something that you’re just forced to do with children. Basically, I now listen to my instinct a lot more, which in turn has helped to instill a certain confidence in my work. My son has given me a new source of energy and motivation to create despite the daily stresses of being a mother. His imagination and thirst for discovery are infectious and I try to channel that into my work EVERY day.
Eva Magill-Oliver, Storm, 40″ x 40″

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?

Now that my son is older, it is a little easier to find time to work. He spends a lot of time in the studio with me. The total amount of time I have is less, but the time I do have is precious and I am grateful to have even an hour of uninterrupted time to paint. I usually give Bay a project to do with me and he has his own easel just next to mine.
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? 
A fellow artist and friend gave me some great advice when my son was still an infant. Basically, she said — “Always do what you love…your children will see this and respect you for it and it will teach them to do the same in life.” I think it’s so true. Finding that balance is a huge challenge, but your passion in life is such an important part of your identity. Actually, being a mother and an artist are symbiotic. I’m better at both because I do both.
Where 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 love to create art with Bay, maybe more than he does. I try to give him a project at least once a day and he usually dives right in. I’m a little biased, but his work is an inspiration to me. My studio has been set up in my garage for the past two years, which is fine for now. I’ve had studios inside and outside my home and I’m starting to prefer them at home. When I have an idea, I can put on a layer of paint and there’s no time wasted. And as any parent knows, it’s all about efficiency. Honestly, my garage is larger than most studios I’ve had in the past anyway.
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?
My lifestyle has changed, but not drastically. Basically, I have less time to accomplish an equal amount of work. It goes without saying that daycare has been a huge help. I can plan around those days when I know I will have a significant block of time to work. Other than that, it’s just been about structure really. Gathering my thoughts and ideas so that I can put “pen to paper” at naptime or when I have a 20-minute window. In terms of delegation, I try with my husband…but that can be hit or miss. Ha!
Eva Magill-Oliver, Storm, 36″ x 48″
Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?
First and foremost, I want to continue to grow as an artist. That is what I always strive to do. I’d like to continue to make progress with my business as a result of that as well as find new creative avenues that serve as a natural conduit for my work. It has really only been in the last five years that I have concentrated on marketing and selling my original work. This period has been a steep learning curve, especially trying to balance family and work.
Eva Magill-Oliver, Break, 12″ x 16″

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