The visionary art of artist Chrissy Foreman Cranitch is beautifully inspiring. Created in mixed media - acrylic, inks and collage, each of Chrissy's paintings take the viewer on a spiritual journey of vivid colour and intricate line. Self care, spiritual growth and mindfulness are important parts of Chrissy's practice and she encourages others to walk this path with her. Chrissy shares her process and her experiences as a mother artist in this Artist Meets Mother interview.
Tell me a bit about your art. What inspires you to paint?
For me, art-making is an incredibly healing experience. I call my style, ‘Creating with Feeling,’ which is a fusion between intuitive art-making, personal therapy, self-care and spiritual enquiry. Using colourful mixed media acrylic paints, inks and collage on paper, canvas or journalling; I hope to share what it's like to live with an open heart and create a meaningful life as a Wife, Mama, Artist + Spiritual Being.
Can you share anything of your journey as a mother with us?
Mothering for me has always been a double edged-sword; full of dichotomy. There are days when I adore being a Mama and nurturing my son and other
days, full of exhaustion and frustration at the lack of time I have for my own personal endeavors (Art making!). After the first 18 months as a stay at home Mama, my husband lost his job and we decided to swap roles; with me being the breadwinner through my Art career + teaching, while he was the stay at home Dad. Initially I was so excited to have supported and allocated time for my Art-making! However, I was still experiencing post-natal depression and acute anxiety, which eventually in 2014 led to a nervous break-down. During this time, everything within me broke apart and I could barely function some days. It was terrifying. Yet during my recovery, I had the rare opportunity to rebuild and mindfully choose how I wanted to recreate myself and my Life. Since then, I’ve incorporated a great deal of self-care, meditation and mindfulness into my daily practice and this healing energy has flowed into all areas of my life; including my art, mothering and teaching. I’m still a work in progress - as we all are - yet I am finding more peace within myself on a more regular basis these days. I believe my son is more understanding, empathetic and connected with his own feelings as a result of our experiences together.
How many children do you have?
One (and done)!
Do you feel that motherhood has changed your experience as an artist?
Most definitely! Early on as a Mama I realised that with the reduced time I had available for my Art practices, I would really need to make each moment count. Before children, I would sit at one large painting and work on it over one or two days until it was complete. Now, I work on multiple Artworks in snippets, maybe an hour or two at a time, over weeks or months depending on the size of the piece.
I have also grown to be able to recognise that need-to-create-feeling in my body and express it in other ways with my son. For example, when he was a baby we would go on afternoon walks with each other to the beach and I would make nature mandalas in the sand, or take photographs of inspiring
shapes as we went. Now he’s just started school and for the first time since becoming a Mama, I’m experiencing an allocated day or two a week for my Arts practice. I think this is going to be a productive year because of everything I’ve learned about focus and time management these last 5 years!
Tell me a bit about your process. Do you involve your children in your art at all or is your time spent creating time for yourself?
I have tried but it’s only the odd occasion my son wants to paint with me! Sometimes I’ll ask him to do some expressive finger painting with me in the
first few layers on canvas or I’ll cut up his hand prints and collage them into my work. I’ve shared a couple of videos of Max being involved in painting with
me [an example of which can be found HERE] - he loves being in front of the camera and often asks to create his own videos reviewing his toys! But most of the time, Art-making is my refuge from the demands of Motherhood. It’s a process where I go within and really refill my cup. I come back to the family after an hour of two of painting and I’m a much better Mama and Wife because of it.
Describe to us your workspace. Where do you create?
When we first moved to our home, I created an awesome, fully enclosed studio under the house equipped with cupboards full of resources, proper
lighting, painting storage, my computer desk, art library and my easel was always set up. It was awesome! But you know what …? I found it too difficult
to always negotiate stretches of time with my husband or parents to care for Max while I was shut away downstairs! So now, I’m more opportunistic; with my studio against the wall upstairs in our open plan lounge-dining area. I’ve got my computer-desk-come-art-table with two sets of iIKEA drawers either side, filled to the brim with all my creative essentials. I absolutely adore creating here - my little guy can be in the room right near me watching a movie or playing lego and I jump right in and take advantage of a spare half hour or two this affords me! People often ask me how I’m so prolific and this is how … lots and lots of small, golden moments of opportunity builds up over days, weeks and months into lots of Art!
What positives do you feel being a mother brings to your artistic practice? What challenges does it bring?
Positives: My increased sense of empathy and capacity for feeling since becoming a Mama. As an Intuitive Artist, experience is all fuel for expression which translates into Artworks that feel much more deep, honest, authentic and real. It’s like Artistic medicine for me.
Negatives: An undercurrent feeling of rushing to get my stuff done, laced with occasions of resentment when I want more time, and guilt when I’m creating
while Max wants me to play with him.
Being both a mother and an artist can be a difficult balance. How do you try and manage this?
• 5-10 minutes of Meditation and Mindfulness practice every morning - this focuses my mind, grounds my body and settles my heart
• Taking opportunistic snippets of time when I can to create - this builds into completed Artworks over time
• Allocating special child-free time to paint each week - while partners, family, friends, kindy or school keeps my son safe and happy
• Asking for help - it has to happen, we can’t do everything ourselves without burning-out (so I’ve learned!)
• Writing creative tasks down and ticking them off when they’re done - this takes the overwhelm down a few notches and helps me feel I’m actually finishing something!
• Breathing into the feeling that I’ll never get it all done - and learning to be okay with that
Self care is important as a mother. Do you feel that being an artist benefits your parenting in any way?
Hmmm … I would say that being an Artist enables me to naturally problem solve and apply this to my self-care needs. As I mentioned, this means being
opportunistic and taking time when I can, but it also means being real and honest with my family about my capacity and needs as a Human Being.
I think that being flexible and modelling good self-care can only help my son as he grows into his Life; understanding that everyone has different needs
and that self-care and refilling our own cups within, makes for a healthier, happier life.
Where can we see more of your artwork?
You can find me on my website. Instagram. Facebook or on Youtube.