An Interview With Charity Blansit
Finding the right balance between the life of an artist and the role of a mother is something that all mother artists struggle with. The mother artist relationship is often both motivating and frustrating at the same time. Many mother artists choose to include their children in their work both in terms of physical process but also as a creative influence. Other mother artists separate their art from their family life, thriving in the opportunity to honour their practice whilst dedicating time to their children. Charity Blansit is a mother artist who has truly adapted her practice to incorporate her identity as a mother whilst nurturing her daughters creative interests. Charity shares with us how she does this in this inspiring Artist Meets Mother interview.
Tell me a bit about your art. What inspires you to paint?
I am rather certain I have only painted two paintings in my life before becoming a mother (other than small watercolor and gauche paintings inside sketchbooks or pillow book dream journals). I started painting together with my daughter because my studio is half of my loft apartment, and her world implores investigation of colors and textures. Once she was old enough to talk she told me I could share “her” studio with her. That having been said, I started painting with her on a series of sketches I had drawn in the Cercle Artistic de Sant LLuc, Barcelona, Spain. Previous to painting, I mostly enjoyed live drawing or creating projects from abandoned objects. Manipulating and investigating materials in the studio is harmonious to my daughter existing around me and engaging when she wants. I especially like projects people can interact with.
Can you share anything of your journey as a mother with us? How many children do you have?
I have one five-year-old daughter. I am forty-one years old. It took me a long time to make up my mind about conceiving a new life. My husband was certain for several years before I decided to venture down that path. His solidity as a parent and his consistent confidence in my artwork gives me an advantageous platform from which to choose to perform both fulltime energies it takes to be a mother and an artist. I think that lastly there has been a lot of media interest in the life of mothers as artists due to the plasticity of creative structures that often mesh between the two worlds. It is fascinating to see how female artists balance their productive forces. The reality is that children fixate on the survival that a mother represents animally. My daughter loves the company of her father, but still at the age of five she often prefers that I am the one giving undivided attention. I have found time to focus alone in my studio a few hours every weekday since she was one and a half years old. At that age, our shared space became literally destructively impossible. She searched out constant exploration, interaction, and wreckage. I found myself loosing my edge. I sought out and found an amazing group of nine other mothers sharing a “teacher” and a space with a patio where the children could investigate their worlds together from ten till two. Having the first part of the day to focus on my work allows me a sane presence to her needs the latter half. My daughter and I are still part of a similar group of families. I am concerned about the next step into a Primary school that is up-to-date with the new educational paradigm that respects the interests and movement of children. Spain does not allow non-institutional education after age five, and Barcelona only has a handful of schools that have kicked out the chairs. I fell like I am getting sucked into a tangent… but this is what I am facing in my life right now from the perspective of an artist. I feel like my daughter and I have a timer set on our lives of another year and a half to create as much as we can before the rules change. Maybe she will be like her father and love school. Or maybe we will find a creative option. Regardless, she will come home everyday to art. This is my present journey as a mother.
Do you feel that motherhood has changed your experience as an artist?
Motherhood has decisively changed my experience as an artist. I choose decisively because it was my decision to change. I know a lot of female artists that find caregivers for their young children and set aside precise studio time like any other job, and their artwork is independent of their experience as a mother. I think because I have always responded to what I come across in life, my artwork morphs into many directions. When I became a mother it was a similar experience as when I was given a broken egg sculpture by Joan Brossa; I respond to the moment. My daughter is the most innovative material I have ever dreamed of being able to create with. However, I am also careful that she spends a lot of her own time working in her own space with her own materials. She eventually gravitates to what I am doing, and in the latter part of the day I create things that she can interact with if she chooses. We have recently taken several months of hiatus from painting, but she has been asking to paint again. We stretch our own canvas together… and I want to start making our own oil primer. It is a lot of work. I often think about how much I cultivated and toiled as a child beside my mother in our garden. It's all the same, making food or creating for food, everything is food.
(Everything Is Food is a song from Robert Altman’s Popeye musical that I adored as a child, as does my daughter.)
Tell me a bit about your process. Do you involve your children in your art at all or is your time spent creating time for yourself?
I make time for myself in the morning till around two, every weekday. This time is essential for the basic things first: getting emails out of the way, writing, organizing work space (which is usually chaotic anyway), and then focusing on a project. I work on things that my daughter can´t be involved with. I am presently creating a transformation of drawings I have on antique paper. I am in the process of making them tangible and as unbreakable as possible. The table with that project is totally off limits. She has always respected my limits… or nearly always.
Describe to us your workspace. Where do you create?
My workspace is the only way into our home. It is what is behind the door to and from a Barcelonian street. I have approximately forty square meters with projects piled up on different tables. It is a mess most of the time, but probably once a month I break down and put everything back in place. Having a studio in the home gives me the flexibility I need. I can weave my work in and out and around our lives. After my daughter’s bedtime, I go to the studio. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I can look at what I have been creating and reflect. It is essential for me to have easy access.
What positives do you feel being a mother brings to your artistic practice?
Art comes from childhood. My daughter reminds me the way artistic brains function. She has showed me a lot about contemporary mark making, and to work fast and walk away. She still lives without mistakes; erasing is its own form of investigation. I learn a lot from her perspective on life.
What challenges does it bring?
Indeed, it brings a few challenges. A child´s head always seems to end up right in the middle of any shared experience. She works fast and walks away. I have to let go of my desire for controlling potential spills and random movements. I will get splashed, or maybe paint in the face. If I am working on a weaving or sewing project, there can be elements of frustration of capacities. Sometimes my daughter would just rather climb on my back and pretend I'm a horse. I could go on.
Being both a mother and an artist can be a difficult balance. How do you try and manage this?
I collect old plates from the street and throw them against the wall when she is in her playgroup. Joke. In an interview Louise Bourgeois said how important it was for her to break things sometimes. I doubt that was just because she was a mother as well. I don´t feel like being a mother is much different than another other way of having to push forward. I just keep creating however I can. I think since becoming a mother I have less self-doubt, and doubt is much more complicated to work around than a child.
Self-care is important as a mother. Do you feel that being an artist benefits your parenting in any way?
I am much more careful with myself since becoming a mother. I see a benefit in the artist´s way being parallel to the child´s way. I am able to communicate with my daughter in the language of art. I think art gives me an advantage to understanding the abstract way we first begin to communicate as humans. She reminds me that artists are translating emotion and thought. Art is therapy. I gain the reminder of playfulness and my daughter learns the empowerment of another expression independent of words. I think having the rebirth realization of the importance of the language of art makes me better as an artist and mother on a personal level of achievement.
Where can we see more of your artwork?
I organized my website when my daughter was newly born. You can see some of my projects there: www.somanyprojects.com. I also sell my work through an art collective on Etsy - LaPolea and can be found on Saatchi Art.
For more art by inspiring mother artists by following our Instagram feed @ArtistMeetsMother. Are you an artist balancing motherhood and art? Join our community and tag your art with the hashtag #artistmeetsmother.
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