I am delighted to kick off Carving Out Time for Art with painter and mother of 5, Beth Allen. I found Beth where I find everyone these days, on Instagram. I was drawn to her talent and beautiful work first, but really enjoy her insight on motherhood, and smile every time I see the supportive mothers commenting on her IG posts. She's genuine, prolific, and you're going to love her work if you don't already. Thank you so much for your participation, Beth, and for being an inspiration to so many.
Tell us a little about yourself, how old your children are, and where we can find you.
My Name is Beth Allen. I am a wife, a mother, and a painter. My children are 11, 10, 7, 5, and 2. I am home with my kids, I paint from home in my little studio storage shed.
Has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?
I feel more inspired, and I chalk it up to feeling like I know myself better. Motherhood has taught me more about myself than I ever knew before. Knowing who I am and what I believe in helps guide my art- and helps give me the confidence I need to put myself out there. Not that I have everything figured out, not even close, but I do feel like being a mother has helped me in those areas.
Is it easy or difficult for you to find/make time to create? Did you have to give anything up? Do you have advice on what works for you?
It is both, if that makes sense. In some ways it is hard because I have to be very flexible. I can’t determine exactly when I am going to work, because with small children, that is not always possible. Schedules change, little people need me. In other ways it is good because it forces me to take the opportunity when it arises instead of procrastinating or putting it off until later. I know that there may not be a later so I try to jump on the chance when I can. The nice thing about art is if I really really need to get something done, I can just have my kids paint with me.
How does being an artist make you a better mother to your children? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you?
It makes me a better mother because it allows me to do what I love, which makes me happy, which benefits everyone. If I’m not happy, I notice it carries over to the rest of the family. Plus, my kids see me working hard to try to earn money for the family and I feel like that is good for them. Especially my daughters, I want them to know that they can do anything.
Where do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve? Do you ever create art with your kids?
I currently have a small studio carved out of a storage shed off of our carport. It is nice to have, but I have outgrown it for sure! I also work sometimes inside on our dining room table. It goes back to the flexible thing. I have to take what I can get! I do create art with my kids. If I am working inside, at least one of them is painting along with me.
Do you have any tips to streamline/delegate/outsource household and childcare activities so that you can focus more time on your art? Has your lifestyle changed in any major ways?
We all pitch in as a family. My kids have their own chores and are responsible for helping out as much as possible. My husband and I split the housework pretty evenly. My mom often comes over and helps with babysitting and laundry. I have close friends that we exchange playdates with. It takes a community- or maybe just close friends and family. I couldn’t do it without them. My lifestyle has changed and shifted as I’ve had to learn to let things go and not think that I have to do everything. Someone once told me that if I try to do everything, I won’t ever me good at anything. It is a struggle for me to let things go but I feel like I am getting better at it.
Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?
I really want to do a mural with my good friend and talented designer Angela Hardison. I also want to put together a cohesive body of work to show at a gallery. Those are my main goals right now. I have a few other ones, but I am taking it one at a time. :)
P.S. I was fortunate to find another great series focusing on Creative Mothers by Megan Gray when looking through Beth's links. I can't wait to read more in my free time. Beth Allen's interview can be found here if you want to learn more.