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Artistic Practice with a Newborn

One constant I’m learning occurs with a newborn is constant change. One day I am able to leave the baby in the bassinet and go paint downstairs, the next day he needs to be worn right up close to me in a sling while I paint, and the next day, it’s a wailing, ground splitting cry when I try the same method. Adaptability has been the most necessary trait to embody in order to maintain my artistic practice (and my sanity). I paint primarily in the mornings, using gouache on paper. I continue to explore the same geometric style mixed with depiction that I previously executed using oil on canvas before the baby was born. My thought is that these gouache paintings can be studies for larger oils, or stand alone as small pieces.

I admit that I have reservations about painting in oils. Some concerns I have are whether the baby is safe to be near solvents like gamsol, linseed oil, and oil paints, and how do I ensure that I’m not transferring any oils from my hands to my baby’s skin? I bought nitrile gloves that I will be using every time I paint in oils now, and the baby will be in another room from the materials when I am painting in oils.

Oil paint is my primary medium. As a mom, I am willing to do whatever it takes to keep my baby safe. As an artist though, I’m unwilling to forego this medium entirely. I’m also not willing to use water soluble oils, but I’m open to hear your thoughts and recommendations about painting in oils with a newborn under the same roof.

Here are the gouache paintings I’ve created since the baby arrived 3 weeks ago:

I am looking forward to Spring and seeing more flowers pop up to inspire these paintings. Daffodils, California poppies, irises, cherry blossoms, and sugar magnolia are already here!

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