Art, Motherhood

Intentional Painting

It’s been an eventful summer for the Polk family. My eldest started Kindergarten and I am now illustrating a textbook. That’s right, a textbook. I never thought I would be working in this way as an artist, but it’s kind of a secret dream come true. Needless to say, I’ve been doing a lot of intentional painting.

If you’ve been hanging out with me here or in real life, you know that I’ve been working to carve out a place in the world as an artist. This is something I started doing when my eldest was born (almost six years ago!) and it was initially just something for me to do to give me a sense of accomplishment. I am a stay-at-home-mom to three awesome kids but some days are not so awesome. I know, try to contain the shock.

Some days I am handed mysteriously wet toilet paper and a half-eaten grape in the same hand while eating lunch. On other days, I hold my two youngest on my lap and smell their hair while reading Goodnight Moon for the billionth time. Some days, I do all the laundry, the dishes and make dinner before Ty gets home. On other days, he comes home to a warzone where (almost) everyone is crying and I dump all the kids on him before quickly retreating to our bedroom or out to “check the mail”. Checking the mail is what I do when I just need to be in the quiet of the outside. Oh, and I also get the mail.

I don’t regret getting my degree in public relations. It’s been very useful and I still enjoy communication. However, being an artist always felt a bit unattainable and therefore I never pursued it. I participated in theater and dance, but that’s it. In short, this has been a great learning experience for me and here is the point: if you want to do something, do it. Start somewhere. Don’t wait. Even if it’s just a few minutes every day. Eventually you may get there or it may take you somewhere else. But you never get anywhere if you never move.

There’s a theory by Malcom Gladwell that it takes 10,000 hours of practice at something to become an expert. I’m not there yet by any means. But I know I’m better than I was last year and definitely better than I was six years ago.

I got this job illustrating an English as a Second Language textbook through Instagram. Seriously. Ok, it wasn’t a total stranger, but there was a degree or two of separation and I never would have been offered the job if I hadn’t been working, sharing and growing. Each day, I sit down to illustrate the simplest concepts – hat, cat, bat, etc – and I am still enjoying it. Additionally, it’s been a great growing opportunity where I am now drawing concepts I never would have attempted. Yesterday I drew a military tank. It’s crazy to me and it’s awesome and I am enjoying every single minute.

Have I mentioned that I draw every day? This didn’t happen by accident either. The past six years leading to this moment have been a daily exercise in discipline. I’ll say that motherhood has helped push me in this positive way tremendously. I do not spend the weekend in yoga pants binging on Netflix and cookies (ha, unfortunately). I am more aware than ever that any peaceful moment is simply a moment. It can come and go, so I use them wisely. Sometimes, that means I need to sit quietly for a minute reading a book. But even that is intentional. I start each day drawing before my daughter wakes up and then spend the rest of the day supporting and loving my family.

Ok, now I sound like Betty Crocker, so let’s be real for a sec. There are toys on every surface in my house. The floor, the bathroom counter, the kitchen table, etc. I have stickers on my face (seriously), my daughter has hidden my blow dryer diffuser so my hair is huge and my boys are playing in my room putting things who-knows-where. There are dishes on the counter and I’m serving pasta with butter for dinner.

I suppose I mean that I have been intentional about each moment. I intentionally paint. I intentionally read with my kids. I’m intentional about cleaning (or not cleaning, in some cases).

In this moment, I’m intentionally updating my blog for the first time in over three months.

This project will keep me occupied through 2019. It’s such an amazing opportunity for me and I am praising God for the blessing He’s given me. It’s also super cool to know how this work will help empower those who are learning my language. *Side note* English is ridiculous. Even teaching my 5-year-old to read is mind-boggling with all of the rule-breakers and such. So, serious power to anyone who has taken on this language.

Are you doing what you dreamed of? Any secret ambitions? What is something that brings you joy?

About the Art

I wanted to do a quick watercolor on that feeling of “let me just add one more detail” or fix one more thing on one of my pieces. I don’t even need to sit down, it’ll just take a second.

Olivia Polk Illustrations, Illustrator, Artist Illustration