Where are we now? Ramblings a year later.

Well since I last posted a lot has happened, and a lot hasn’t.

I now have a nine month old daughter, in addition to my two year old daughter, my heart is full, but my sketchbook is not.

However, with the current pandemic crisis my studio has been actually getting a lot of use, as a home office for my husband. It is nice to see life and work being done in the space on a daily basis even if it is not my own. This has helped/forced me to clean up my space and make it more habitable (it is in the basement) so there has been some benefit for me in the long term. It also has renewed my interest in the space, seeing it in use rather than vacant and abandoned.

Life with a new baby is starting to settle into routine, and has sparked inspiration for new works I never had the guts to do before. It has taken me a long time to embrace being an artist and mother, and also what that means for my creativity. It means work is slow or non-existent for years, but you know what it doesn’t mean, that I quit. I don’t quit. I won’t quit and I am grateful to everyone I speak to who tells me not to quit, it is inspiring. So I’m going to do the same for you now… Don’t quit. The world needs your creativity and the beauty and wonder that comes from it. Don’t quit.


Big Sister, Good Share

In the beginning of April I shared some news that we are expecting our second baby! YAY and OH GOODNESS! Hahahaha. I am due in mid-August, and I know the road ahead will be filled with new love, joy, sleeplessness and problem-solving regarding making art.

I have been spending these last few months trying to wrap up some commissions I took on and photographing some new reference for new works before this baby arrives.

I never realized how much time I had in a day with N.C. (now that she is on a pretty consistent schedule) to work on things for myself, until I start thinking of the road ahead.

I don’t know what new issues I will have, but I cannot imagine them being much different than my current issues, just bigger.

I look forward to documenting those thoughts and solutions for you, but for now I found some inspiration from another mother artist that I just thought I’d like to share and put here for future reference.

Anna Rose Bain is an artist working out of Colorado who has blogged a lot on the subject of motherhood. She has recently had her second child and still discusses the struggles of caring for a child and creating. She assembled all her blog posts about the first months as a mother artist into a downloadable short book. I got some great inspiration from her story and hope someone else will too.

Here is where you can find her book and here is her website.

I hope this post finds you all well and creating, and I wish you all a happy easter!

– Monica




Are we all lost?

All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
— J. R. R. Tolkien

Since November my life as a mother and artist has changed greatly. I quit my day job to take care of both my daughter and my creative career. The latter hasn’t received as much attention as I hoped.

As it goes my artistic life is going through another drought. I seem to keep making good headway and then a monkey wrench is thrown in the works and I am forced to a standstill. I still haven’t figured out how to navigate these roadblocks.  I think part of it is I never get the ball fully rolling, before it stops. I just keep feeling lost.

The roadblock i’ve been struggling with for a decade now is a big one; what to paint? I feel lost in thinking that the art I make is fruitless and kitch. This ‘throw my hands in the air’ “WHAT’S THE POINT?!” attitude has kept me at bay for many years now. However, you pair that winding road with that of motherhood and *BAM* a perfect storm of whiteout proportions anyone could get lost in. Not only do I find it difficult to come up with my paintings, but the act of getting the time and energy to complete them is an epic task.

At times like these thoughts of quitting used to be the first thing that would come to my mind. Now that i’m past that stage, my first thoughts are “what?” or “how?”. Finding answers to these questions don’t leave me any less lost feeling though.

I’ve really started to embrace a more specific instagram community in the past few months, following moms who are entrepreneurs or business women (mostly catholic, I as a catholic appreciate how they tie their lives and decisions to their faith. Follow who inspires YOU). I thought that these women would have so many answers, but what I keep finding is the recurring theme, we (all of us moms who want to do it all) feel lost, A LOT. This is both a comforting and frustrating feeling. I just want answers, I just want to be told what to do. But, no one can tell you that, but you.

Remember, this is just the frost. You are still you. Your roots are still there. You can weather the storm and find your way.

We are entering into a period of thaw here in Vermont. For me, I’ll be ‘celebrating’ Lent, a time of waiting and thoughtfulness for us Catholics. Even if you don’t celebrate the same, think of this time between Mardi Gras and Easter as a time of thaw for your roots. Think of one thing that you can do for you, for your art, for your productivity for the satisfaction of your soul, and try to implement it. Spring is coming, and those warm days go fast. Spring and summer can fly by with no time for art or personal growth as we become more busy with our families and friends. Try, try, try to do something to work towards finding your path. No more thoughts of quitting, just thoughts of wandering and finding your way.

I know what I will be working on, my “what”. I’ve had some feasible ideas recently that I just need to get to courage to ask my friends to pose for, and then i’ll see if I can solve the “how’.

Happy creating.

— Monica


New Year, Still a Mother


I rang in this new year sick with a sick child, so I didn’t get the jump start I wanted. It’s just another reminder that having children changes our plans. What I don’t subscribe to, is the thought that they change our plans for the worse.

Adding to this, I was also sick with a sick baby which wasn’t fun, but it does allow one extra time to think about things, like, “What would I like to accomplish this year, really?”

The tail end of 2018 brought some big changes for me. One, I quit my day job. For the first time in my adult life I am not working as a graphic designer [or insert any other basic profession here] to pay the bills. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do this, but also, I feel very out of sorts. I have never not made money. My husband and I share our finances mentally (as in it is all ours collectively) but because of all our moves and different life status we have still mostly been operating with a “you pay yours and i’ll pay mine” actuality. So in other words, the money I spent, I paid for. Now, as I don’t have a day job, things will have to change. But there is one thing I don’t want to change, and that is making some money. This time with my art.

Another thing happened too, I participated in my first art show in years! I


“Lettuce take a stand.”

made a painting for the Swains miniature show. My piece called “Lettuce take a stand” was the first painting I have made expressly for the purpose of sale in at least two years. I am also happy to say that it sold! In addition to selling this piece I had two other much older pieces sell at the same gallery just a few months before this. For me, these were all small victories and reminders that I am doing what I should be doing. That this life of being a painter is not a figment of my imagination but an attainable goal, that I can set my eyes on realistically.

Speaking of being realistic, I also am still, happily, a mother. I feel like I have spent more time with this reality the end of this year than ever. This is my world. But I need to be not only a mother but personally fulfilled. I need to complete my mission. Glenn Close recently said it perfectly during her Golden Globes acceptance speech, “I feel what I’ve learned from this whole experience is that women, we’re nurturers, that’s what’s expected of us. We have our children. We have our husbands, if we’re lucky enough, or our partners, whoever. But we have to find personal fulfillment.”

This year I vow to make real strides in my workflow. I’m not going to shoot for too much, but I will figure out how to get as much done as possible while keeping my family life happy. This probably means a dirtier house and more instant food (thank goodness for Trader Joe’s!). But I must keep praying and working towards the mission I was given on this planet. I know this is who God has been preparing me to be, I just need to step up to the plate and take a swing at it.

So, I hope this year treats you all well and I hope that you have set and achieve some great things for yourselves. I wish you such great luck and I hope I can send some support and encouragement to you this year! Happy new year and happy painting!

– M

The Bounce Back

I feel like I hear a lot about the “Postpartum Bounce Back”. Do a quick google search for “bouncing back after pregnancy” and you will yield a ton of articles on pelvis binding and postpartum exercise to regain your pre-baby physique. You will also see things about how to regain some “me” time, quiet time you had before baby and other absurd post-baby life desires. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I will ever “bounce back”.

Why do people feel they need to be the people they were before they had a baby? I mean, no one expects you to be the kid you were in high school after you’ve graduated college. If you fall in love with someone. you aren’t asked to be the person you were before the relationship. If you lose a loved one or move to a different place, take a new job, make a major lifestyle or diet change, everyone expects that you WILL change and hopefully grow from each of these life experiences. But after growing then caring for a human, somehow we are supposed to become our pre pregnancy/motherhood selves?

Having a baby has changed my whole life. I am physically, mentally and emotionally changed. My entire being has, like a boat on a lake being rocked by the ripple of a ship sailing by, been affected. Eventually the waves will get smaller and my daily life will not be as moved by the S.S.N.C. but I will be ever changed by her.

My art has been affected too. Not only has the way I create art, like my working hours, changed but what I want to paint has changed as well. I must embrace this. If we cannot get over how our children have changed us personally and professionally, then we will capsize in their waves. We must work with the disruption of water and turn our bows into the waves to face these changes head on, rather than not turning and being unable to see what is coming, risking losing in all. When I work with my daughters schedule and needs my painting days are not as productive as they once were. On those stormy days, I can barely sail forward, but wishing the storm away has no effect and brings my mood down. If I hold onto the need to have more time than I can give I will get depressed and that only hurts my productivity further. I will weather this storm, as many others, and my good days will come. I try to be productive as possible on those good days, and this makes up for any losses I may have had, as well as refilling my cup.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I want to work on my physique too! But I will work with what I am now, not what I was. Just as I do with my art.

As my mother once said to me when I told her I would pay her back for all the money she gave to help me while in college, “don’t worry about paying it back, pay it forward to your children, I don’t need it.” The love you give your children now, they will pay forward.

So, forget about bouncing back, just sail forward.




Serial Makers

A few nights ago, my husband and I were straightening up our basement. This was following a long day of organizing, cleaning and purging our home of items that were cluttering up our mudroom. Since having a baby, our modest home seems to be busting a the seams with STUFF. In our efforts to keep down the clutter, this is a constant battle we fight, loose and fight again. My general thought while tidying, and deciding what stays, goes, or is stored, is MY things are the easiest to whittle down (since we plan on having more children, the baby stuff takes priority and gets stored). As soon as I start to assess the situation of my things, one thing becomes very apparent, I have a lot of stuff to make stuff.

Rewind to a few months ago, I was shopping with N.C. and I saw the cutest felt hair pin, that was five dollars (!). I thought to myself, “OH, SO CUTE! Ugh, five dollars. I could make that.” Fast forward to a few nights ago and tidying, I stumbled upon a package of felt, box of threads and hair clips, that I acquired to make the felt hair pins for N.C.. I explained the items to my husband, why we had them, and what their intended purpose was, his response was so spot on, he said, “You just have this innate need to create.” I never REALLY realized this. I mean it’s SO obvious but this is how I have been as long as I could remember so I understand why I never had this realization.

I started to tell my husband about being a child of six or seven and being taught how to use a sewing machine, so I could use my mothers sewing scraps to make bedding for my Barbie house. How when I was about eight or nine, I asked my mother to teach me to knit so I could make scarves. Also, we stumbled upon a fabric print of a penguin decoration that I had hand embellished with beads, which was a phase I went through too. There are countless other crafts and things I did as a child and that has continued to adulthood. Our house if FILLED with unfinished projects and their materials. However, in saying all this, when I looked at this felt for hair pins, something I try to remember when telling myself, “I could make that…” is, we only have so much time in a day.

Being a serial creator is both amazing and distracting from a painting career.

Now, I have no desire to tell anyone to stop creating all their things. I really enjoy all my crafts, but sometimes you have to remember to focus on one at a time.

Being able to create a lot of things has lead me down some real rabbit holes. I have been a graphic designer for years. It has been how I’ve fed myself (mostly) for a decade, which I am so grateful for, but something my teacher used to always tell me is, “Don’t let your side job become the main job.”

The need to create is so strong in us artists, that sometimes, especially while mothering, if we don’t feel we have the time or emotional bandwidth to do our main gig, keeping your creative side alive with crafts or other things is wonderful and necessary. But just remember to not let it become the main event.

For me, painting is near the top of the creativity pyramid. My daughter is the first thing I put my effort into nurturing, but painting is my second. All of my other crafts can be done, but not a the cost of painting. If I can paint in that small window of opportunity I get to create, that is what I should do. But also, don’t starve your creative side if the main event can’t be tended to. Creating is so incredibly important to my being, that depriving myself of doing other things is also not healthy.

Remember too that our children are part of our need to create, and nurturing them is part of our creative side. Art and motherhood seems to be so beautifully intertwined as a sort of divinely given master act of high art. This realization makes me feel more full when all I get to do is care for my daughter in a day. I used to get more upset, when her needs would override my painting days, but now, I feel more connected to the act of caring for her as food for my creative side.

So, to my fellow #motherartists, know that what you are living is the ultimate act of creation in the life of a serial creator. Motherhood is not interrupting your creative life, but a beautiful part of it. Keep on creating.