Art: Painting Again


You might not know from the content on this blog, but I got a BFA in painting and drawing nearly 5 years ago. I can’t believe it’s already been that long. It’s also been that long since I’ve picked up the oil paints.

Not long after I graduated college, I got pregnant with Penelope. I moved on to watercolor paints, because I love them, they’re less toxic and are ultimately less mess. In the last year I haven’t even done much watercolor either. I’ve pretty much stuck to lettering and all the other hobbies I blog about.

I hate that. I never wanted to be the girl who didn’t become a real “artist” after graduating with her BFA. It was always a big topic in my art school as it was about 80% women. Can an artist be a good mother? Can a mother even be an artist? I hated those discussions. It was like my art career was doomed because I was a woman and wanted a family.

I try to be a good mother. I really try. But laundry never gets done, I rarely do the dishes and my children get bathed twice a week if they’re lucky. More if they get really gross, but still.

I try to have artistic/creative experiences, too. I’m not planning on showing at a gallery in SoHo anytime in the near future, nor do I want to for that matter. Often times I feel the “high art” of our generation is not home friendly or family friendly, for that matter. There are a couple of contemporary “high artists” that I really look up to and would love to meet someday. But I feel like that particular industry is not friendly to my old-fashioned values and views on beauty.

This is why I love blogging. I can make it whatever I want it to be.

And now I’m picking up my dusty oil paints.

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    1. mandie says:

      I’ve been interested in oil painting for a long time, but seeing as I have absolutely NO drawing/reproducing images talent, I figured it’d be an expensive investment that would end up wasted. Also, I have no more room for another creative medium in my less than 700 sq. ft. apartment. :) One day, though….I suppose it’s in my blood- my grandfather is an accomplished painter and I love that I have several of his paintings…I must finally find a place for them in our not-so-new-anymore home. :)

    2. Heidi says:

      Okay, so I don’t really “get” art, but the colors in this painting are beautiful!
      I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who sometimes only baths her children twice a week. (Okay so that last child has only been here for a couple weeks, but still.)

    3. Katie says:

      So excited to see what you do!! I’ve been dying to take a painting class. Like this one:

      Next time they put it on I’m doing it! I definitely want to dabble more in the arts.

      And my girls bath twice a week. They have dry skin.

    4. Laura says:

      Long time lurker breaking radio silence to say wow I love that painting. Wow I kind of want it. Wow.
      I have a 14 month old, and sometimes it makes me all panicky that I spent 10 years studying Arabic and in my mothering life I don’t use it at all. Then I tell myself that it’s still informed who I am and how I am, and there’s a season for things. I won’t be in this stage of my life forever. There will be time to return to my other passions.
      In the meantime: 2x/weekly baths seems excellent to me. Not sure we always reach that.

    5. Stacey says:

      Lovely post, very honest and from the heart. I love these posts; where it’s more saying something to yourself than your viewers. That piece is beautiful, and your gift will always be with you <3 xx

    6. Deanna says:

      So glad to hear that you’re painting again! I just picked up my old planner today from 2007 and read about your reception. Yes, I believe an artist can be a good mother esp because you can teach your child creativity and to see the beauty in the world. I love James Faust’s address on the seasons of a women’s life:

    7. phil says:

      art and heart are in this blog for sure …

    8. Kate says:

      I love this post! I spent a lot of time doing art related things in school (I was an architecture major) and I’ve really struggled to keep that up just in the year since I’ve graduated. I really want to keep that up as part of my life, and I can imagine that it only gets harder once you have children! I love this painting, I can’t wait to see more of your stuff!

    9. I love your piece! And what an interesting topic – can an artist be a mom and vice versa. I heard a sorta similar topic on the radio this morning. In the light of Thomas Kinkade’s death they were discussing whether or not he was an artist or an artisan, and what makes an artist in general. Do you need a degree? Have to be paid for your work? Have to be totally invested emotionally in what you’re doing? Who knows. But I’m glad to see your beautiful work!

    10. kristin says:

      love this post and love the other comments – i’d agree that you are an artist even if you’re not an oil painter, or a “fine artist.” we find the medium (or media) that we love to work in, and that’s what we do. i’ve never been satisfied with how i draw, or paint, or sculpt, but when i sew, the vision in my head comes to life. so that’s what i’ve chosen as my “thing.” you are clearly an artist at heart and multitalented and creative, so just keep doin’ what you’re doin’, pushing yourself, and i hope you’ll feel it too. thanks for sharing what you make!!

    11. parscaeli says:

      High five for the BFA! I’ve got mine, too, and I struggle to return to the fine art that absorbed me back then. I’m glad you’ve returned. You’ve still got it, girl. I’m a new blogger mostly because I want to inspire myself to live more and be more creative, quirky and artsy but now refined, deeper, and more authentic thanks to motherhood. I love it when the harmony comes together. And I totally follow your blog because I see you as a great artist…can’t wait to see more of everything.

    12. Madeline says:

      This is beautiful. So glad you picked up your brushes again!

    13. HEY! you went to BYU, right? who was your advisor in the bfa program??! i did the same major at BYU, my advisor was wulf barsch. i can relate all too well with this post, except that i’ve tried desperately to use watercolor but am so bad at it! haha

      anyways, great job on getting back into it! i actually just gessoed some papers tonight after a 6-month break, so hopefully i’m not too rusty! :)

    14. Trice says:

      Another BFA in the house, focus on graphic design and current employed as an admin. But I don’t want to design for people.
      I used to hate painting because I don’t like watercolors and the I was introduced to oil in college. I really love oil. Couple years ago I bought some water based oil paints to get back into painting, maybe this year.

    15. melis says:

      amen! yes! yes! and yes! agreed with all of it… experience in BFA program… how I grapple art/motherhood/etc./etc.

    16. Marie says:

      A happy mother is a good mother! Keep doing creative things, you´re a wonderful inspiration to me (and I´m sure) to you children! :-)

    17. Rosalind says:

      Oh I love your painting! Gorgeous work and I hear you.

    18. ira lee says:

      you are a good momma! i stuggle with wanting to be the mom who cooks wonderful meals, puts up the laundry, and keeps a tidy house. but ultimately- its not me. im playing, talking, teaching my kids about life, the beauty that is in our everyday. its hard to balance my free time between what needs to be done and persuing my hobby of painting, sewing, and creating. and u dont have to be painting or sewing to be an artist. art is more about noticing the world around us, the sparkle in a childs eye, the song of a bird, or the colors of a sunset. noticing those things and showing them to ur kids makes for an artful life. at the end of the day, i look over the toys, the dishes in the sink, and the piles of laundry and know that i am present in my kids life. bc time slips away so quickly and i grasp and pull and try to hold onto every moment!
      im so hoping you continue posting paintings though!!! lol

    19. samarahuel says:

      This post blessed my heart! I am glad I’m not the only one who struggles to be a “good” mom. I bathe my kids about once-twice a week. Right now I need to put away the dishes, make the bed, get lunch started. But I just wanted to say thanks for being an inspiration once again. P.S. That painting is awesome! I adore the colors! I’ve been wanting something very much like that for my house somewhere–seriously, if I ever spent money on “high art,” it’d be something like that.

    20. i so love your painting! and i think that you are very much an artist, in so many big and little ways!

    21. mer says:

      gorgeous Melissa. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who lets the laundry and dishes pile up :).

    22. bmerry says:

      I’m struggling with this too. Marrying a currently non-painting painter and being a non-furniture making woman with a furniture degree. Having a child as a female student pretty much killed your chances of getting in shows or anything. Bleh.

    23. bmerry says:

      He’s good and he got even better, but he doesn’t do it now.

    24. marissa says:

      you are an inspiration to me in so many ways, melissa, and this blog, about how you are human and real, just like the rest of us…well, let’s just say i didn’t think i could like/admire you any more, but i thought wrong. :) hugs to one of the move creative and interesting people i know!

      p.s. secret to less dishes = paper plates – hahaha!

    25. Sarah Jane says:

      Good, good, post Melissa. I love real life opinions.

    26. Maura says:

      You are doing GREAT. And if the kids aren’t getting rashes, they are clean enough. :)

    27. Nice timing, I picked up some of my old art supplies for the first time today too. But not oils, I haven’t touched those in more than 10 years. Thanks for sharing. I sometimes feel like my creative side takes a backseat to being a mommy and vice versa, and I beat myself up because I can’t engross myself in creative projects and motherhood as much as I want and be good at both at the same time. In the end something always has to give.

    28. Oh my goodness, girl, I love it! And I know the struggles too. It’s so hard to keep a nice balance being creative a mom!

    29. My BFA was in art as well…but it was a whole lot longer than 5 years ago….

    30. marissa says:

      p.s. I want that painting! :)

    31. katherine says:

      Wow, really an amazing piece, I absolutely love it!

    32. Sarah says:

      Good for you! Sometimes I feel sad that there are pieces of my life that used to be so important that don’t get a lot (any) time anymore and that most people don’t know about. But all in good time I suppose.
      And I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels it’s fine to bath my child once a week.

    33. […] above artwork is self made. The big painting was recent this year, and the print was a litho piece I did back in […]

    34. Artist subhash says:

      hi , I’m Artist subhash , Indian. and I Like It , Thank you …

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