Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?!
I am Megan Gray. Artist, mother, and currently a full time RV dweller in NJ. I have three children ages 8, 7, and 3 (who are also all homeschooled). My husband Brian is my number one supporter and I honestly couldn’t be the artist I am today without him. He keeps me going and puts up with my self doubt/mother guilt more than anyone, and I love him for that!
I also need to say that my answers to these questions are all true. However, I have hours, days, and even weeks where I forget what I truly believe. Where I forget what I have told myself over and over again. Days where I feel immense mother /parent guilt for not being the “perfect parent,” which does not exist. Hours where I mentally put myself in a fetal position and have a pity party, with my self doubt as the honored guest. (FYI this pity party happens about once per month.) And I can’t tell you how many times I have yelled at my husband that I think I should just give up on art. So, with that said, I advise you that no matter what answer you are looking for, or from where these answers are coming from, above all have compassion for yourself and your craft. Listen to the answers and know that they are not an end, but a constant practice.
- Website: www.megangrayarts.com
- Facebook: Megan Gray Arts
- Instagram: @megangrayarts
- Twitter: @megangrayarts
I love connecting on social media, so please come and find me. Don’t be shy!
Has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?
I never realized how much I needed to create until I had my own children. I grew up surrounded by creativity and always gravitated towards being an artist, but the motivation to get artistically moving kicked into high gear once my oldest was born.
I have always had paints around and honestly painting is my true creative love. I also chose to pursue a career in portrait photography once I had kids because it was less messy, and I saw a way for it to pay for itself. After a bit of a hiatus I am finally getting back into my photography business again. It will be a bit more balancing to do, but it’s great because I can schedule sessions when I need to.
During my hiatus from photography last year, I threw myself into oil painting. I had no idea what I was doing (probably still don’t haha), but I have been learning, and loving it, ever since.
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?
I think time is always there, it’s just whether you make art a priority for that time or not. My biggest hurdle is not really having the time as much as it’s having the energy. At night once the kids settle down I easily have a couple of hours to paint, but sometimes the day gets to me and I just don’t have the energy to create. I’m still learning to be okay with that. To be okay with relaxing and watching a million Friends reruns because really I just can’t get enough LOL! I think learning to let go and relax is part of the creative process. Learning to listen to that is the hard part, for me anyway!
How does being an artist make you a better mother to your children?
It makes me a better mother because creating brings me joy. It makes me happy period. When I do not get a chance to let the creative muse have its turn it makes me cranky. It’s not fun for me, or for anyone else around me. It is truly how I connect with the world and life in general. It is a meditation and a release all at once. I am a better person all around when I let art have its turn.
What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you?
I hope my kids learn that they need to follow their passions, even if it’s just something they do on the side. I hope that in seeing me make space for my creativity they will not be afraid to make space for what they love.
Where do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve?
Right now my workspace is a tiny spot on the couch in our travel trailer. The last year we have made two major moves across the country and back again. We made crazy decisions and wonderful memories. It has been two years of learning, loving, and major transitions. Now, we are back in NJ settling back in. Slowly, but surely. One day I know I will have more space to paint, but for now I am enjoying the small yet productive little spot I have here. Also, when the weather is nice I get to take my setup outside, so I can’t complain.
Do you ever create art with your kids?
My boys go through spurts of wanting to create art, and my daughter loves to create. They have always had their own easels and supplies to use whenever they want. Sometimes that is right alongside of me and other times it’s when they want to. Right now my daughter is the most interested in art, but my 7 year old wants to take pottery classes
this winter. I usually create best at night when everything is quiet, so when we are actually creating all at once it’s pretty special and usually when I have the most patience for it.
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?
Because the kids are homeschooled it brings on some more challenges in finding time and energy to create. Sometimes it is really stressful, but I see how well the kids are doing. How much they are learning and growing. How close they are to each other, and how their creativity shines. It makes all the crazy worth it. I also work part time at a local gallery two days per week. One day my husband has off and the other day the kids go with their grandparents.
It took a while to settle in to our new schedules especially with all of the moving. The one thing though is that the kids and my husband come first. We all come first for each other. I couldn’t do anything without the support of my family. I lean on them, and when I need it, even though it’s really hard to do, I ask for help. Yes, I resist help 99% of the time, but when I really need it I know it is there through friends and family. Never be afraid to ask for help. EVER! Even if you don’t work outside of the home, or the kids go to school, asking for help is something you just need to do. You don’t have to go through life with the weight of the world on your shoulders, so don’t. You also should never feel bad for taking time for yourself. Take it. It will make you a lot happier and a more pleasant person for others to be around too.
Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?!
My goal is to just always have my spot where I can go paint, and for those paintings to always find their perfect home wherever that may be. I don’t like holding onto my art. I feel that my paintings aren’t really complete until they find their new homes. So, as long as I am always able to create I’m good with that.