Saturday, June 25, 2011

The art of balancing Motherhood, Job and Hobbies

It is very difficult to balance motherhood, a full time job and artistic hobbies. There are thousands of women out there who are trying hard to do it successfully. Meet Avni Patel, a busy mom of a three year old boy and the artist behind Always10..not to forget she also has a full time job. How does she do it..Here's her story in her own words:

The Background:

"I have been drawing since childhood. My earliest memories of drawing were with my grandmother and my father. I remember my father teaching me a little technique on how to draw a palm tree, shading, using watercolors, and my grandmother would teach me how to draw a peacock, huts and other things. I stopped drawing when I moved to America and have recently rediscovered this part of my life".

The inspiration:

The rich cultural heritage of India is widely reflected in Avni's creations. The dances, the folk-lores and the beautiful ornamentation reflect momentum and happiness.

"My inspiration comes from India, the sounds, the pulse, the people, I love everything about India and I reflect that through my art. My inspiration comes from the many forms of art in India, designs of rangoli, mandana, mehndi, the traditional paintings of Madhubani, Mithila, Warli, Pahari, Kalamkari works. Artists like Jamini Roy, Amrita Sher-Gil, many other Bengali artists including the famous photographer Raja Ram Mohan Roy are my models for creating art.
"I am drawn to the stories of miniature Rajasthani paintings of Radha and Krishna. I am very romantic and I love the romance and the mischievous behavior of Bal-Krishna. I made the two paintings: ‘Secret Lover’ and ‘Waiting for Her Lover’ based on the stories of Radha sneaking out to meet Krishna. That inspired me to paint the Goddess of love Rati".

Although Avni never learned the art of traditional Indian dances, she is  tremendously inspired by them. Her watercolor painting ‘Kathakali’ expresses her love towards the dance.Her other ornate works are inspired by Rangoli, mandana, and mehndi designs that are very popular forms of art in India.

The creative Process:

"First I read books on Indian art and scour my scrapbooks for images from the past. Once I get motivated from the materials, I sketch and sketch. When I feel satisfied with one of the sketches, I trace it onto archival paper in ink, and paint it. As I only have few hours to work during the night, I save the painting part for last and paint all the pieces together. The entire process takes about 3-4 days to finish each piece"

The guilt:

"When my son was born all I wanted was to spend time with him, feed him, care for him, protect him, watch him grow and teach him. But like many mothers I went back to work after three moths of maternity leave. I was lucky, I was able to bring my child to work the first year of his life, where I nursed him and cared for him while I worked full time. 

Completing a task at work while taking care of a newborn was a major accomplishment and I failed to realize that at the time. It can be challenging to have two very extreme careers and try to blend them together. When my son Pallan turned one, he was mobile; I had to enroll him in childcare. I felt I had failed as a mother; I was going to lose my child. I cried everyday for a month or two when I dropped him off at daycare. 

There were many times when I felt I was carrying a mountain on my shoulders, when all I had to do was share that burden with my husband. Communication is the key. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. My husband, an art teacher, was quick enough to point me in the right direction, the therapy I needed; art. That is what I set off to do. At first, when I was motivated to paint and draw, I would leave my husband and son alone for hours, almost abandoning them. I would lose myself in my basement studio, while my husband cooked, cleaned and cared for our child. I had no self-control, which of course led to many quarrels between him and I"

The Balance:

"Everything has its own importance and to balance it all is not only painstaking but also a very emotional journey by itself. There are lots of sacrifices, compromises, tears and hard work involved.

The only time I can work is late at night, as I work full time and do the household tasks and errands the other half of the day. Creating art is my outlet and my therapy; it is the counterbalance.

Working a full time job, continuing my art discipline and being a mother require many of the same skills. The most important foundations to being a mother, an artist and having a thriving career are imagination, creativity, patience, and understanding. 

I developed a routine. My husband who is also an artist got a few evenings during the week to work on his projects and I scheduled the alternate evenings to create my art. I was flexible towards any hurdles that came my way like the stomach flu that was like an epidemic in Colorado in 2010 or the economy that slowed down the sales in the art industry, or my husband’s meetings at work that ran late when it was my ‘my time’. 

The most important thing I learned was to prioritize; I even got my boss to prioritize her work so I could be more efficient and be able to accomplish important tasks.

We are women.. we are expected to multi-task, cook, clean, care and love, provide, etc. in the midst of all the chaos we forget who we are. We have to remind ourselves what is important to us and for that my mantra is -I am not just a woman I am a mother".

Kudos to Avni for being such a great artist and a perfect mom. Balancing work and motherhood is very challenging as we all know but her story can inspire many young women to are trying hard to do so. I for one am greatly inspired. You can view her fabulous artwork at her Etsy store always10 


Meredith Quenzer said...

Avni. You are truly an inspiration to moms and a reminder to me as a new mom to not lose myself. I admire all that you do and create.

Meredith Quenzer said...

Avni. You are truly an inspiration to moms and a reminder to me as a new mom to not lose myself. I admire all that you do and create.

Anonymous said...

oh! the poor must be hard..

Jane said...

What a great article! I can hear your voice in this piece and you sound so wise and balanced. Awesome. I'm so lucky to call you my friend.

Monique said...

Avni, love your story and you inspirations.

Tell me, have you ever seen the movie Jodhaa Akbar?


Reshma at said...

This is a lovely feature! Great work Avni!