Balancing Art and Life

It’s been a few months since I started this blog, and I felt like maybe it was time to share a little bit about why I started it in the first place (other than the obvious—because I like trying to make my home look pretty!). Truthfully, it’s only been hitting me recently that I really started this blog because of a dilemma that I have been wrestling with more and more over the last few years—how to balance “art” and “life”.

If someone had tried to explain this struggle to me 10 years ago, I would have had no idea what they were talking about, because at that time, I was a blissfully naive 19-year-old art student, and my entire life WAS making art. Literally. I didn’t have to cook my own meals, worry about paying bills, or wonder about what I should get my husband for his birthday. Art (specifically painting) was my number one top priority, and nothing came between me and my creative pursuits. Ironically of course, when I graduated two years later, I yearned for a fulfilling day-job that would actually allow me to support myself as well as a meaningful romantic relationship that was worth the investment of my time. Sooner or later, I was blessed with both things, and while my life has become infinitely richer, it has also gotten WAY more complicated.

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Almost immediately after I got married in 2016, I was invited to participate in a group art exhibition for which I had to make all new paintings, so I got to work in the studio, as I had done so many times before. What hadn’t quite sunk in yet was that, unlike before, I was now working about 30 hours a week at my day job, and I had a house to take care of and a marriage to maintain—not to mention other family commitments and friendships. I felt like there literally weren’t enough hours in the day—I was working 50+ hours a week just between my job and painting, and something had to go. Usually, what I ended up sacrificing was time with my husband and havine a clean house and home-cooked meals every night. I made my deadline, but I was miserable by the end.

Nevertheless, I did the same thing the following year and had planned to spend this entire year preparing for a large art show this fall. But I was burning out fast, and I started to realize that I was losing my love of painting. In the meantime, I also realized that there were so many creative outlets other than painting that I wanted to explore—things like decorating, gardening, and writing. By a fortunate twist of fate, it turned out that I sold so many of my paintings in 2018, that I realized there was no way I could honor my show commitment and be proud of the exhibition that I had put together. In 10 years of exhibiting my work, it was the first show opportunity that I ever pulled out of, and it was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.

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So at the beginning of this year, I found myself with no exhibition to prepare for (also the first time in 10 years that’s happened) and with a deep desire to find a way to balance different forms of creativity with my work and my relationships so that I wouldn’t burn myself out. I felt like it was time to try something different, so I started this blog as a way to pursue interior design more intentionally. For me, decorating is a creative outlet which feels more directly connected with my life (after all, it’s our home!), and it’s also something that’s easier to fit in between other commitments, unlike painting, which for me takes such all-consuming dedication and focus.

And yet, it’s been five months since I’ve actually painted (where does the time go??), and I miss it like crazy, so I’ve realized it’s time to get back in the studio. It still feels like an immense juggling act trying to balance work, my marriage, friendships, household chores, decorating the house, tending the garden, and actually painting, and I certainly haven’t found the answer yet for how to do this well. But surely, part of the answer is recognizing the struggle and giving oneself grace to wrestle with this journey. I have also learned a lot about myself; life is all about compromise, and I have learned that if I have to air on one side, I would rather air on the side of “living life” a little too much. Art is so important to me—it’s a passion and a calling, but I refuse to sacrifice everything for the sake of it. Building a healthy marriage and raising children are just as important (and it’s also enriching to pursue other creative outlets like decorating and gardening!), and I believe that as creative people, our lives are richer for this struggle of trying to balancing “art and life.” It can be hard and discouraging at times though, so I’d love to hear other’s stories and suggestions for how they have navigated these difficult waters. If anyone has any thoughts to share on this topic, please feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!