Balancing the Roles of Artist and Mother

Guest blogger: Sandhya Manne
Happy Mothers’ Day tomorrow to all artist-mothers out there.

Sandhya Manne, Zen Chakra
Sandhya Manne, Zen Chakra. Watercolor and ink on paper, 10 x 8 inches. ©The Artist

Five years ago I quit my corporate job to raise my family and to take up my art career.
I quickly learned – out of necessity – to balance motherhood with studio time. I actually fed my child in between my painting sessions!
I made more art, learned new skills, created a page on Facebook, discovered new technologies and some best practices of the art world, connected with new people, established relationships, created a website, and I plan to start tweeting and blogging soon.
And yet, at the end of the day, I still I feed my children, change diapers, put them to bed, and catch the beautiful moments like watching those first steps.
When you love something, you will make time for it — whether “it” is children or art.
I have tried to be easy on myself, but I always take time for art. I so something in the studio or art office every day. Just like tiny drops make an ocean, I am slowly building my portfolio and taking many tiny steps, including exhibiting, toward expanding my art career.

A Mother’s Tips for Staying Organized

I stay focused by:

  • Putting things back into their places
  • Cleaning up after every painting session
  • Planning the next day, week and month in advance

These routines give me more space and energy to create and allow me to switch between my roles of artist and mother more seamlessly.
Rules for time, studio and boundaries . . .
Having a dedicated studio and business time has helped me immensely. It’s easy to get lured into doing house chores with a home studio, but I have learned to stick to the studio time.
I found it well worth my time to educate my children about studio/office boundaries. My 4-year-old knows the studio rules: No touching, No fiddling, No “just looking” at art supplies, and No throwing toys around.
With boundaries in place, my daughter (the older child) and I can enjoy our creative time together. It’s a pleasure to watch her get inspired by me. I love it when she says she wants to be an artist like me. I know she doesn't mean anything at this age . . . but it still feels good.
How do you balance motherhood and the life of an artist?
What are your boundaries for your children?
What are your secrets for success?

Sandhya ManneAbout the Guest Blogger
Sandhya Manne is an Indian artist living in Dallas,Texas. Since the start of her art career in 2007, her artworks have joined private collections in Canada, USA and India. She is currently exhibiting through juried shows in Dallas-Fort Worth area and serving as an artist role model to her kids. Connect with her on Facebook.

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18 thoughts on “Balancing the Roles of Artist and Mother”

    1. Thank you Linda for pointing it out. Actually, this is done on watercolor paper,watercolors and ink. But somehow I had put the wrong medium on my site. Changed it now.
      I am glad you enjoyed it.

    2. Whew, thanks for letting me know. I was getting a headache trying to imagine doing all that line work in oil 😉 Lovely piece whatever your media.

  1. Claudine Intner

    Oh, the joys of juggling motherhood and art making! The key for me is having a studio behind a door! Prior to the this year my art space was a corner of the family den, and I had a lot of trouble with the kids getting into things. Now that I have created a studio space in our basement, I have a lot less issues. I am much more productive now that I can leave my work out, too!

  2. Happy Mother’s day to you and all the mothers making art! My kids are grown now but I always kept studio time and stayed more or less on track with my career while they were growing up. Yes, setting boundaries is really important. It teaches respect for your work and lets everyone know what to expect.
    I think in the end it is very valuable for kids to grow up seeing their mother’s dedication to her passion, and I think my sons would agree.

  3. Pingback: Balancing the Roles of Artist and Mother — Art Biz Blog |

  4. Pingback: Artist-Mother Tips — Art Biz Blog

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  6. I love this phrase: “Just like tiny drops make an ocean”
    Sandhya, congrats on making the jump to dive into your art career. That in itself is a big accomplishment.
    Having routine is certainly key like you’ve said. I always find that I’ll develop a routine and it’s will be fine but then something throws a wrench in it and I have a little trouble getting back on track.
    How do you also make sure not to overwhelm yourself with all of the “to-do’s” ? Do you find it difficult sometimes to push things to the back burner for a bit?

    1. Vanessa,
      It is true that the “to-do’s” can get overwhelming at times…
      I sometimes pick the top 3 must dos and finish them before I go to bed..
      But most of the times I recall what Alyson mentions in her class…”Alyson says I can’t do it all”.. that makes me sleep better….

  7. Becoming a mother and finding a balance for work and motherhood was really hard for me! My lovely sister gave me a book to read…’Paint In Your Pyjamas’ by Cindy Wider, it was AWESOME!!! I have written a review in my blog if you are interested in the book here is the link:
    I set up a space for my 2 year old next to me or put on a trusty DVD so I get time to paint. A little bonus is that we are filling Maddy’s room with all the paintings she has done 🙂 I love her paintings.

  8. Jennie Rosenbaum

    I agree a routine is key. I feed my baby between sessions and my husband cares for her while i’m out in the studio. I have my routine with a little bit of flexibility in it but it’s well established and keeps us all happy! I only have one toxic paint pigment that I am careful with so I don’t risk contamination but my studio is off limits and behind two doors as well. I don’t use solvents and I take a lot of care to enjoy all aspects of being an artist and a mother!

  9. G. Murali Mohan

    Hi Sandhya…. you might be little surprised me being on your site. I am your papa’s colleague.
    Really impressed at your work. The way you have simplified the work of WARLI art makes blokes like me also to try my hand at drawing some thing. I had a boss who used to tell me that ” he will straighten the straight line drawn by me with the help of a scale. Such is my talent.
    My nephew ramu is also an artist and you can visit his work on toonrama.
    I wish you all the best both as mother and artist.
    God Bless you

  10. This is a great post! I’d love to see more perspective from artist-mothers as I am learning to balance these two passions. I’ve spent the whole weekend with my father and husband building my studio in the garage so that I can have a space separate from my house. I think I’m going to write a blog post about this too! Thanks.

  11. Pingback: Vocations: Mother & Artist, Learning to be Both « The PIECE

  12. Lovely post and good tips. You know i always struggled with a sense of legitimacy as an artist but the other day my 4 yr old made a film about his mum the artists and hearing him say my mum is an artist made me feel like one for the first time in my life.
    Cheers Amelia

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