During Marcel's pregnancy, I often made time for making art and being creative. I sang, danced, played with my son outside and made sculptures, a drum, drawings and a belly cast. I found making art during my pregnancy helped to quieten my mind for moments at a time, and I would often get lost in the colours of my drawings and with lines I was making. As I went further into the process of drawing, I noticed that it wasn't so much about the outcome, but about the process and how it made me feel.
I learnt about things about myself through the creative process that helped me to prepare for birth. It doesn't matter what the art work looks like in the end, its more about letting go and being free to express yourself. This can do wonders for your mindset.
I often introduce making birth art into my birth workshops to show couples how drawing can reveal their beliefs about birth, their fears and feelings towards certain aspects of pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
Join me now for a Q&A with the talented Alita Blanchard, as she takes us through how making art during her pregnancy has inspired her and helped her prepare for birth and postpartum.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself
Originally from a high country sheep farm in NZ's south, I have lived in Australia for 15 years, the last 5 years on the Central Coas, after making the move up from Sydney to escape the rat race and start a family. I have a supportive and mostly patient husband and 2 young boys under 5 with another on the way due n February. We live in a small beach style cottage and I am passionate about food as medicine, nutrition, decluttering, simple and low tox living, peaceful parenting (an everyday challenge!) and making bright and colourful art that makes eople happy.
2. What inspired you to start painting?
I hadn't painted since before kids (5 year break) and then only sporadically and for private use in my home. I had received favourable comments on my artworks hanging in my home and my Mum and husband both had often said I should pick up the brush again and make a real go of it, as both an outlet and a possible business. Well I finally cleared some space in our tiny spare room and got stuck in one day while hubby took the kids out and it just flowed. My mind almost completely cleared and I truly felt like I was in a meditation - no kids, no social media distractions, no pressing need to get some chores done...just painting. The feeling of true escape for even an hour or so, addictive.
3. How many weeks pregnant are and have you been painting your whole pregnancy?
I am almost 38 weeks pregnant and have been painting my whole pregnancy with some breaks at times when the inspiration simply wasn't there or I was focusing more on the business side.
4. How has making art supported/inspired/influenced/helped your pregnancy?
I started painting again about 3-4 months before I fell pregnant and it was a wonderful release from the rigours of full time parenting (with a husband that commutes and works long hours and the kids not yet in daycare). Once I fell pregnant, it certainly continued to be an important release, though at the same time I have set it up as a business 'Keep it Fresh Art' and thrown myself into all that entails - painting but also marketing and communications, design and market stall set up, which has been difficult at times with lots of late nights. I had a major bleed at 11 weeks and thought I had lost my baby (thankfully all was well) so in the following weeks, a lot of uncertainty and fear came up around my pregnancy. I too had a huge amount of fear and feelings of vulnerability around releasing my art into the public arena but the process of actual painting seemed a good way to release a lot of these feelings (along with a lot of tears!)
5. Whats your main influence when you paint?
I am influenced by other beautiful works of artists I love, colour formations in the natural environment, paintings I have loved in magazines, photos of landscapes and Instagram.
6. Do you have a theme in mind, or are you going with the flow?
I tend to mostly go with the flow but when I experiment with a new style (I am mostly self taught so learning and playing as I go), I will play with that technique for a while until I feel ready to move on.
7. Do you find painting relaxing, what is it about it that you love?
It is like a meditation - my mind completely clears and I find a really peaceful place and time just flies by which is a sign that I am doing my passion. Hours can feel like minutes. It is an escape from the everyday monotony (and joy) of parenthood and housewifery...though I must say I feel like I am failing in those areas a lot more these day (something's gotta give!).
8. Have you ever questioned your paintings and felt unsure about what to do next?
Absolutely. Constantly. I usually hang them in my house for few weeks and they will either grow on me or be painted over. I have also sold many paintings that I just didn't love, which is interesting to me - the realisation of how incredibly subjective art is.
9. What impact has making art had on your wellbeing, your preparation for birth and your role as mum?
It has been a definite release during this pregnancy and for my general wellbeing. As a stay at home mum, it is easy to feel lonely and isolated - no matter how many friends you make - and to feel like you are not contributing to the world in any great way (though in reality we are raising the future thought leaders and change makers). My role as a mother is my greatest joy and priority however painting is something that is purely for me and gives me a sense of purpose outside of motherhood. I am winding down the business side of things now as I get ready for the birth of my third child, but I still look forward to painting as a release, as time allows.
10. Is there anything you would love to tell other mums who are afraid to make art, or unsure about doing something creative they love?
Just give it a crack...anything. A lot of people will say they don't have a creative bone in their body. It is simply untrue - every child is born creative, it just gets educated out of us through the schooling system, where the focus is on literacy and rote learning (to the detriment of us all I believe). I never believed my art would be of interest to others but I have had more success than I could have imagined, making some wonderful sales, receiving commission requests and, best of all, meeting new and interesting people. However the most fulfilling part of the whole process has been finding something I truly love to do that switches off my mind from everything else going on in the world.
So, ladies get out there make some art during your pregnancy to help you prepare for birth. Thank you to the wonderful Alita for sharing your thoughts with us all. If you are keen on her work, you can find her on INSTAGRAM @ KEEPITFRESHART
PS. Come and try some birth art at our next birth workshop on March the 12th. Join us over on BIRTH WORKSHOPS for more info :)