When you gazed into your baby's eyes for the first time, you knew nothing would ever be the same. What you probably didn't realize is that sleep deprivation and the constant demands of caring for a newborn would leave you wondering if being a good mother means losing your sense of self. To answer this question, pick up a copy of Shona Cole's book The Artistic Mother: A Practical Guide to Fitting Creativity into Your Life (Compare prices).
The Artistic Mother serves as a guidebook for reclaiming some of your creative energy after giving birth. Cole, a mother of five, encourages women to avoid feeling guilty or selfish if they want to devote some of their time to taking pictures, writing poetry, or making mixed media collages. Everyone, even mothers, needs to take time to relax. "No one-not us, not our children-benefits if we become burned out, miserable, or exhausted," she writes. "In order to avoid traveling down that stressful road, we need to bring some balance to our lives and keep the batteries of our souls charged. Taking time to create art can help."
The Artistic Mother begins with a discussion on the meaning of creativity, tips on finding time in your schedule for artistic projects, and advice on organizing your workspace. You may be tempted to skip through this section to head straight for the featured projects, but there are many tips in here that mothers of newborns are likely to find quite helpful.
After an overview of the creative process, Cole provides an introduction to each of the three creative areas featured in the book: photography, poetry, and mixed media. As a new mother, you'll want to pay close attention to the section on photography. Cole provides a short overview of composition tips to ensure great snapshots of your children, as well as examples of some simple image editing techniques that you can use to give ordinary pictures a bit of "pop" before adding them to your projects.
Projects for Artistic Mothers
The second portion of the book is organized as a 12-week workshop outlining a series of projects you can make to nurture your creative spirit. Since the focus of the book is on helping mothers reclaim their creative energy, it's no surprise that many of the projects are designed to incorporate images of your children. If you have 50 photos of your baby arriving home from the hospital, here's your chance to make use of them. Some of Cole's wonderfully creative ideas include:
- Make a fabric tote bag incorporating scraps with sentimental meaning, a favorite photo, and pretty ribbon trim.
- Create an altered storybook from an old board book, incorporating your favorite photos of your child and some of your best stories about his experiences.
- Design canvas wall art that pairs a special baby photo with a saying that reminds you of the importance of motherhood.
- Use a portrait of your child to make a nameplate for the door of his nursery.
The projects in The Artistic Mother have a sophisticated look, incorporating techniques such as collage and photo distressing to make meaningful art objects. Although many of the projects appear complex at first glance, Cole's instructions are easy to follow and her methods can be duplicated even if your last creative experience took place in your high school art class. If you follow her advice and break each project down into a series of manageable steps, you're likely to be quite pleased with your final creations.
While the projects in The Artistic Mother are beautiful to look at, many readers will find that the best part of this book is the profiles of women who have successfully managed to combine motherhood with a vibrant creative life. Rebecca Sower, mother of three, is well-known to scrapbookers and rubber stampers for her gorgeous vintage designs. Susan Tuttle, mother of two, is the author of Digital Expressions: Creating Digital Art with Adobe Photoshop Elements. Other women profiled include homeschooling mothers, former business executives, and mothers who have turned their artistic pursuits into activities the entire family can enjoy. Learning how these women juggle the demands of raising children with their need to create will give you hope that you too may someday manage to find that sense of balance.