Posted on | May 3, 2012 | 3 Comments
An honest and insightful guest post by illustrator Anna Ducos!
I’m pretty lucky. Most of the time I think that I’m not, but on my good days, and today is a good one, anything is possible, I hold fast to my dreams, and I tend to enjoy all that I’ve already got. I wish I could feel this way all the time, but I’m a very temperamental artist (crazy!). I don’t always enjoy the job of being a mom of three because it’s in my nature to be a bit selfish, but on my good days, I can see clearly that there is nothing more important to me than my children, and my being a good caregiver to them in all capacities. So today I’m here to talk about how I’ve given up a large part of my favorite thing (drawing and painting) to motherhood, while still trying to build this dream career at 37 years old with the little critters running between my legs.
I went back to school at 28 to learn how to illustrate. I had previously studied sciences at university and having done basically nothing with that, I decided that illustrating was what I wanted to do because for one, I had always been good at drawing, and because I had a three-year-old to inspire me, to whom I read beautifully illustrated picture books every night. In sharing this time with her, I fell in love with the idea of making stories like these for a living. It seemed doable then, before the reality smacked me.
Back to school, I saw very quickly that my artistic skills weren’t as fabulous as I had thought and also that there were a lot of other extremely talented people out there working or trying to get work in that job market. I also had my little girl to take care of, and although I had childcare for her during the hours I was at school, I had to be a mom when I went home because I was very devoted to that, and so the time put into my work outside of class was never what it should or could have been. I always felt like I had turned in unfinished pieces. I couldn’t figure out my style, and I didn’t feel enthusiastic about any of the pieces I would create. At the end of the program, my portfolio hadn’t developed enough to send out to art directors or publishers.
As I didn’t find a job right out of school, my husband and I decided to leave Canada and go back to his native country, France, where I had lived before and where he had a job. A hurdle for me both personally and career-wise as we were not moving to Paris where everything is happening, and you can’t really get away with speaking English in the French provinces. I had lived there before, and I really wasn’t thrilled with coming back to Europe and feeling isolated and foreign again, with in-laws similar to those you may have seen in the film “Le Divorce”, and a general feeling of disdain towards a culture I had experienced in my youth to be extremely ethnocentric. I became a bit of a hermit the first year back, keeping a certain distance from the people and trying to further develop my portfolio, trying to find myself in my work. Then I fell pregnant. I was happy at the news, as I was coming into my mid-thirties, had wanted another child, and I still felt like I could build my career with one new baby. This could have been fact, but life didn’t exactly turn out that way. I did however, while pregnant with Margot, finally find myself in my work.
Instead of one, two babies have arrived in our life since we’ve been back in France…not quite as expected, but they’re here, a boy and a girl, now two and three years old. My youngest, Jules, was very much an accident. I was visiting my sister in-law in Normandy at the time I figured it out. I had my little six-month-old Margot and eldest daughter with me, it was Halloween, and I can remember drinking coffee, which I’m completely addicted to, and it was tasting really off. I joked about being pregnant, not knowing for sure, but my body was definitely telling me things. The thing of it though, is that just before this I had my birth control all ready to go after having stopped breastfeeding my six-month-old, but I had missed taking the pill the first day or so of my FIRST period since that pregnancy. So I thought I’d wait, be careful and start them the next month. Didn’t happen.
Being pregnant with a young baby in tow was a big pain in the butt, plus every one of my children have been over nine pounds and I just get enormous, so hauling around the one baby with another giant one in utero was not a thrill. We didn’t want to know the sex of this one. We had already had two girls, and figured he’d be another girl, but he was a big surprise upon arrival. That kid’s birth was an amazing moment in our lives and the beginning of big changes. We had wanted a boy, and well, now we had one. Admittedly I had always wanted three kids before I’d hit 35, and although it really wasn’t the greatest timing, I now had them all. I’m done!
So after two and a half years of hauling my two giant babies in and out of cars, strolling them around a middle-aged town in France with bumpy, winding streets in a very long double-stroller (not as romantic as it may sound), a thousand diapers, runny noses, bed wetting, destruction of couches and other nice things we used to have, and just the general complete flip of what we were used to living, things are cooling down a bit. I am still, almost six years out of school, struggling to get into the business of children’s illustrating but the work of being a mom makes doing artwork very difficult right now. I have contracts here and there, but I’m not at the place I do still dream to be. My work is also not very commercial for the current market, I’ve been told this several times, but I want to keep it that way and I hope I can eventually get my foot in the door and be distinctive. But boy does it take a lot of energy and extra work on top of just the painting, and then there are those kids–those kids that take precedence over everything else.
On a last note, I just have to say that my work has developed to a different level since I’ve had the two babies and I don’t know if it’s because with age I’ve gained some wisdom, the fact that they have triggered my imagination, or that I have just become more comfortable and confident with my work, but I will give my children credit for having kept me inspired all along the way. I give them the best and worst of myself, and I already see what the good stuff has done with my eldest daughter who is now eleven, and an amazing young girl, and in return, they give me motivation, inspiration, unconditional love and many moments of pure joy. Life in France has also become more tolerable since we arrived back in 2006, although I don’t say this a lot on my bad days. But whether it’s age or motherhood that’s changed my thinking, I seem to better understand than I did in my youth, or even just a few years ago, that there are great people out there everywhere, you just have to keep your eyes open. Stay away from the bad ones, and appreciate and nurture the good ones.
My youngest children have changed our lives so much. They make me laugh, cry and they do things that I didn’t get to experience with my eldest (massive destruction and mischief), she having been an only child for eight years, but I couldn’t imagine my life without them now. I love them all more than anything in this world, and with all the sacrifices I’ve made to have them, and I will admit that at my very selfish moments I feel like all I want is to be alone for a while, I know being a mom has made me a better person, and I truly believe it’s the most important job a woman can have.
Jana says: I went to school with her and she was an awesome mom and artist. So there.
Posted on | February 24, 2012 | 3 Comments
If you haven’t stumbled upon this blog yet, let me give you a little push.
Expecting illustrator Brie Spangler draws her way through the cravings, fears and joys of her first pregnancy and at 37 weeks, the ending has yet to be revealed!
Thanks for sharing Brie and hope all goes well in the remaining weeks of your pregnancy!
PS: This one was all too familiar. *Snort*
Posted on | February 1, 2012 | 3 Comments
Here is a guest post by designer and first-time mom to adorable daughter Kenzie!
There comes a time in every woman’s pregnancy when she thinks about what kind of mother she wants to be. I had plenty of time to ponder this and came up with many ideas of what I wanted to do, versus things I would NEVER do.
This all turned out to be quite the list in my head: Read more…
Posted on | January 27, 2012 | 2 Comments
Celia is the artist behind bedeliadesigns.com where meticulous ink drawings rule the hours where she should be sleeping (for Pete’s sake.)
I don’t mean to lose sight of you,
it’s just so beautiful outside right now.
This drawing so accurately reflects my attitude toward work lately that it’s amazing it’s finally done. Those bright orange leaves blowing in the door? I drew this while the colour on the trees was still drifting to the ground. Now the season has turned; we’ve been tossed through Christmas and have stumbled into a new year. The leaves are frozen piles of mulch, and still, this drawing sat unfinished.
And sure, we’ve spent a lot of time outside, in the forest or at the beach, but it hasn’t all been fun and games around here. The truth of it is that after moving to a new house last Fall, I had a really hard time getting back to work. The annual Celia Calendar was due and the pressure was on to get some serious work done. 2011 was supposed to be the year I finally started selling calendars in earnest, but my blog and website were getting further behind as the months zoomed by. Time was running out, I had to DO IT ALL RIGHT NOW!
And that was it! My head was exploding, my mood atrocious, something had to give. So I took a time out and spent December unwinding and mostly ignoring the holiday mayhem. The break was awesome. I highly recommend it.
I realize now that I had set myself a rather large goal, and given myself an arbitrary date by which to achieve it. It might be good to mention here that I set these goals before the birth of our youngest boy in April. Turns out parenting two kids is harder than I thought! (Doesn’t help that the older one closely resembles a tornado.)
So what if it didn’t all come together in 2011? All I can do now is try again this year, and perhaps learn to strike a better balance between work and play, because as fun as it is to dance the days away, life gets a little boring without a good challenge.
Visit Celia’s site and bookmark it to get your calendars for 2013!
(Is it here yet?)
Posted on | January 19, 2012 | 6 Comments
Lori Joy Smith is an artist and illustrator. She lives in Charlottetown PEI with her husband, 2 daughters and 2 kitties.
While I pregnant with my first baby I was so full of uncertainties. I had no idea what to expect from motherhood. I was worried whether I would be able to handle all that it would throw at me, whether I would still have time for art. I was pretty much freaking out. Read more…
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