Directly influenced by the power of nature mother artist Megan Gray paints inspiring oil landscapes Painting from her home studio Megan successfully balances her practice with being the mother of three. She shares with us today her mother artist journey.
Tell me a bit about your art. What inspires you to paint?
I am mainly a landscape painter working in oils, charcoal, gouache, and watercolor. My work is heavily influenced by my time spent outdoors, and my love for the natural setting. Sometimes I use photos for reference, other times I just let whatever needs to come out do so on the canvas.
Can you share anything of your journey as a mother with us? How many children do you have?
I am a mother of three children ages 10, 8, and 4. If you had asked me when I was younger if I would ever marry and have children I would have said no. Being a child of divorce I didn't think I was really up to the task. I thought I would be a failure. Then I met my husband and quickly realized that life isn't just about me. I knew that together we made each other better and stronger, and that I was confident that we could handle parenting successfully together. But hey, it's not over yet and the kids I'm sure will complain about how we were crazy parents!
Do you feel that motherhood has changed your experience as an artist?
They honestly made me the artist I am today. Without their presence I don't think I would have ever felt that push to create. I would have never realized how much I needed to make art. Seems once all the time in the world became shortened by other responsibilities I realized it goes fast, and I couldn't wait to make time for my art anymore.
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 tend to work smaller, though I'm trying to do larger paintings. Smaller paintings help me to work quickly and feel like I'm accomplishing more. My kids are always welcome to create alongside of me, my youngest usually is the one he chooses to do so. However, all of my kids will watch me paint and tell me what they think of my work. I also ask for their advice sometimes. They give great feedback on what they like and don't. We homeschool, so we all have work and hobbies that we do all day long. We constantly create, learn, and experience life at the same time. Sometimes it's messy and frustrating, and other times it all goes smoothly. I also work a lot at night when everyone is asleep. That way I can focus and don't feel I'm missing out with my kids.
Describe to us your workspace. Where do you create?
Well, we are currently living full-time in an RV, so I have a little corner where I paint. Another reason why I tend to paint smaller art. When it's nice out I take my set-up outside. It's nice because the kids play outside and I get work done at the same time. No guilt because we are all outside getting fresh air and having a good time. Not sure what the future holds at the moment. Maybe a house, or maybe we will actually use this RV to travel. Still figuring things out. Eventually we want to set down roots, and I wouldn't mind having more space to create.
What positives do you feel being a mother brings to your artistic practice?
Time management. Having kids has really helped me to make time for what is most important and to figure out what doesn't need to be done now, or maybe ever. I'm not perfect, and we don't have a set schedule really, but I know now what is most important to me. What my time is best used for.
What challenges does it bring?
Having patience with myself, life, and being a parent is my biggest challenge. Trying not to worry too much as well. It's all a constant learning and growing experience.
Being both a mother and an artist can be a difficult balance. How do you try and manage this?
Balance isn't set in stone. It looks completely different from day to day, person to person. Being okay in the present moment and listening to what we all truly need in a given moment is how I try to keep it level. When someone is sick, hurt, or needs more cuddles then that is what is most important. The art can always wait. My kids and husband come first. When I get frustrated I try to remember that at the end and I am not going to want to be surrounded by my paintings. I'm going to want my children and family around me. That reminder always helps me when things get tough.
Self care is important as a mother. Do you feel that allowing yourself the time to create then goes on to benefit your parenting in any way?
Absolutely! We all are better in my family when we make space for ourselves. When my youngest is creating I leave her alone unless she asks for help. When my oldest says he needs space we give that to him. I think all of us respectfully giving each other room to thrive helps me to give myself space. Of course my kids are getting older so it's easier now. When they were babies this was a major challenge, so there was a lot more nap time painting sessions and hours stolen late at night for my art too. Less sleep and more coffee. Again, it's all about patience and doing what needs to be done in that present moment. Being fluid and not strict with schedules has always helped me.
Where can we see more of your artwork?