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Life on canvas: New life and new art find harmony


In the summer of 2020, my life as an artist shifted. I became the mom of the sweetest little boy named Asaph. My previously quiet mornings were suddenly filled with baby cries and cuddles. Nights of sleep turned into naps here and there. Before, I had the freedom to paint whenever I pleased and sleep in if I desired, but now I must merge my life as an artist with my life as a mom. 

For the first few months after having Asaph, I welcomed maternity leave to adjust to motherhood. But soon enough, it was time to be back in the studio. I learned to utilize nap time for painting and playtime for writing. During the quietness of Asaph's naps, my favorite paintings came to life. However, inspiration does not always align with nap time. I have had to learn how to give myself grace in the unknown of my ever-changing schedule. Sometimes that means forcing some inspiration during those quiet hours, and other times that means giving myself the rest I need mentally and physically. 

Asaph has brought light and life into my studio that I didn't know I was missing. My paintings have become more precious to me because there are fewer of them, and they were created in bursts of inspiration. I have made my most treasured pieces over this year, and I now understand Toni Morrison when she shared, “All art is knowing when to stop.”

With Asaph calling out, I pause from my work, which allows me to come back with fresh eyes, falling more and more in love with my painting each time. As I grow in flexibility, I allow Asaph to play at my feet in the studio; joy overflows from his tender and playful spirit into mine. Having Asaph in the studio brings so much perspective. Of course, at times I pause my work to focus on his needs, but it is mostly a time full of harmony. Having a baby in the studio is honestly a delight, but you do have to accept that toys may be scattered around your bare feet. I recommend keeping the sharp-edged toys elsewhere. 

As he grows older I learn to adapt to each season – thankfully, he isn't walking yet. As time goes on I know there will be more challenges. But to everything there is a season. I eagerly await the joy ahead. 

Brooke Ashley is a Greenville artist who focuses on oil landscapes. Over the past year she has adapted to life in the studio with a little one. Find her work at brookeashley.art and on Instagram @brookeashley.art.