“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” - Pablo Picasso
The Creative Process:
I had many fears when I got pregnant, but the biggest and scariest was this: I thought a baby would usurp my creativity. Not in the practical sense of taking up my time and energy — more that the process of birth would shift something inside, and I would trade some essential part of my artist soul for motherhood. I didn’t tell anybody about this fear, but I carried it around with me those eight months. And that first year was brutal, of course. Even after my daughter was healthy and thriving, I was still afraid of everything and unable to relax. For many months, I didn’t make art, and my marriage and my health and my earnings suffered. But creativity never died. I would go to a coffee shop for a couple of hours, or sit in my dusty studio and see my old self, from this new distance.
Then, around eighteen months, something cool started happening. My daughter started getting interested in art herself. She loved Go, Dog! Go!, and Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb — the same books I’d loved thirty years ago. (The books that made me a writer in the first place!) Then she started making these crazy scribble drawings— abstract masterpieces, I thought. Chalk, paint, crayon, mud, snow — she moved through them freely and confidently. We unearthed my husband’s old boxes of Legos, something I’d never played with as a kid. We watched Sesame Street, and Winnie the Pooh, and I realized they were still so good. And I tried to describe snowflakes and the internet and how cats purr. Not only was creativity still there, it was somehow refreshed, returned to its original sense of wonder. And by the time I really got back to making art, I had three years of material built up from my new muse —phrases, story ideas, photographs, drawings. I still long for a quiet studio many days, and worry about the wrong things, as a mother. But I have more faith in creativity now. I know that creating isn’t just my job, it is also my religion and my sanity, as essential to my life as my daughter is.
The paintings shown above are inspired by my daughter’s scribble drawings and the illustration sketches below are drawings for one of my new children’s books, which is currently in process. These book illustrations were inspired by the daily life of our family.
Addie Boswell is a muralist and picture book author, specializing in community-fueled public art. Her work focuses on the people she meets and the places she travels, and themes revolve around community, shared work, growth, and a sense of place or season. Often inspired by children — and their unique, astonishing perspectives— much of her artwork has a playful, childlike exuberance to it. As you can see, she also filches ideas directly from the kids she knows. (She hopes they don’t mind.) She lives with her husband, daughter, and two cats in Portland, OR. See more at www.addieboswell.com.