Artists (and not just the jugglers) often have many balls to juggle. They have their creative work, often with more than one creative project on the go, sometimes even several creative passions each with their own related projects. Many artists have other work to produce additional income which must be balanced with these creative passions. Then, of course, many artists also have families and must fit karate and hockey into this already complicated mix.
I embarked on this particular adventure myself less than two weeks ago and find myself completely consumed by the new little one in my life. I came to wonder, and not for the first time, how do they do it? With that question in mind I started up a conversation with the multitalented Lisa Pijuan-Nomura, multidisciplinary artist and Mama of Max.
Pijuan-Nomura reminisced about her early days of parenthood and her first creative endeavor after Max's arrival. Although she recognized that any creative work within the first year is especially challanging, she was able to present some of her work at the One of a Kind Show just six months after Max's birth. She credits this achievement to having a very clear plan as to how she and her husband Dave would care for Max - a plan that included time each day to do her creative work. Planning is key.
However, if there is one thing that I have learned during my short time as a parent it is that plans are all well and good but very often must be changed, and sometimes dramatically. Pijuan-Nomura too recognized that flexibility is extremely important in both art and parenting. That and being kind to yourself, which Lisa highlighted as the most important advice for both parents and artists. She summarized her top three pieces of advice thusly:
#1 Be kind to yourself. This is different from "don't be too hard on yourself." Think about a four year old. Would you tell him that he was stupid or wrong or dumb? No, you would be gentle and kind with him. So it's like that with babies and yourself when you are making art. Just be kind and gentle with yourself.
#2 Have a plan of some sort. This could be as simple as deciding that you want to have a shower today. Or it could be that I want to draw a picture. Or that you want to write a monologue. Or go for a walk with my baby. Just one plan that makes you happy.
#3 Be Flexible. Because you know that plan? Yes, well, for the first few months or year or two, or ever, things won't go as planned. So, be flexible about it, go back to #1 and, eventually, you will find some sort of way to do things.
New parents get a lot of advice but this is some of the best that I have heard. There are many ways that I imagine the challenges of parenting can inspire the creative process and I look forward to exploring them.