I apologize for the delay in getting this week's interview out to you all. We have had a household of sick little ones and exhausted parents, so things were delayed. I am so excited to share Christine Sauerteig-Pilaar with you. Her love of her children, art, and life shine through. Her words are pure wisdom, soak them in!
Thank you Christine for sharing your work and insights with all of us!
Where can we find your work and connect with you?
The best way to find my work is on my website or Saatchi site:
The best way to contact me is through my email: Kittykoco2@aol.com
Instagram and, most recently on Facebook.
Describe your art and your creative process.
The type of work I create comes from many different places within me. I do not have one set way in which I work, or one set subject that I work with. I typically work with oils, but have recently tried working with gouaches, and found myself transfixed.
My process is rather conformist really. The usual stereotype of artist in the studio. Reference material is from photos, either my own, or through the web. I am starting to lean more on my own photos that I manipulate in Photoshop, with lighting and color, before attacking a canvas. But some of my pieces, as in my refugee series, I must rely on the work of photo journalists, as the subject is about the plight of the refugees in Europe.
I do not have a pattern in how I start a canvas. Sometimes I draw out the image in paint first, sometimes I don’t. With gouache I never draw it out first; I pick a point in the reference photo, and work out from there, no suggestion lines in either pencil or paint. But sometimes in oil I will sketch out the outline of a subject. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I have silence, sometimes I listen to artist podcasts, and sometimes I listen to TED talks. I have found that if the left side of my brain is occupied, the right side gets a little freer.
I try to do something in each piece that pushes my boundaries, that makes me feel uncomfortable. It may not appear obvious to the audience, but I try to scare myself in each piece.
What's a positive way that your art has changed since becoming a parent?
Having children has been the most positive thing to take place in my life. In my younger days I was frequently fond of saying, “I am never having kids, I am never getting married, and I am never living in Jersey”. Now I say I learned, “Never to say never”. To look back and evaluate how much my children have made me grow is astounding. I am definitely stronger than I ever knew, more humble than I knew I could be, and more willing to admit when something is not working. Maybe because time becomes such a precious commodity when you are a parent, you run out of time for the BS. Through my girls, I have learned that I need to be a strong role model, and that if I go for what I am good at, there is nothing to stop them from forging ahead either. My drive for success comes from within me, but there is a major part that comes from wanting to show them that hard work is important, that diligence can be rewarded, and believing in yourself, even when there are very few voices who support you, is a powerful force.
For a long time, my art had to take a back seat when my girls were young. I never do anything half way, so I was all in with my kids. I wanted them to be expressive, and creative, and I strove to make our days filled with wonder and inspiration. That helped me too. When I was finally able to go back to picking up my brushes, I was an entirely different artist. My pre-children works were dark. I wrote my thesis about how the ugly can be beautiful, both conceptually and visually. I worked that concept for a long time. The work was hard to look at, I had demons to deal with and I lashed them out on the canvas. After children, I realized how that did not feel necessary to me anymore. I still deal with the horrible side of human nature, but I approach it in a more subtle way, at least I try to. And there is a part of me that accepts beauty for beauty’s sake, which I would have scoffed at when I was a student and young painter. Beauty doesn’t MEAN anything. It was after becoming a parent that I was able to go back to the pleasure and play of painting, and allowing that to be as important as the subject matter.
When are you most productive and what helps keep you going?
I am most productive when I get out into my studio. Until recently I have not had the luxury of having a set time to paint . As soon as I walk through the door of my studio, I can usually throw all else away and get right into work mode. I used to work late at night, and I thought that was my most productive time, always having been a night owl. But now that 45 (cringe) is looming next month, I have to acknowledge that things change! I used to get a second wind around 10 pm, now I am lucky if I make it past 11pm. So I have adapted my creative process to how my life runs.
Now I wake up at 5:45 am, get my oldest out the door, I write some morning pages, after that I post either my work to my Facebook page or I search for a painter or other type of artist I have not seen before, and post that, in the hopes that starting my day creatively keeps me going all day. Then I get my youngest out the door to school.
I am a Freelance Graphic artist, so if I have a deadline looming, I will jump on the computer to finish that, but mostly I can get myself out to the studio, which is attached to my garage, and work till about lunch time, come back into the house, eat, check email, try to stay off Facebook, then back into the studio till 2:30 when my oldest returns, and then my children and their busy schedules take over the rest of the day.
What keeps me going is my need to do it. I am a much better everything; parent, wife, friend, when I am filling most of my days working on my art. Having a routine is incredibly helpful too. If I have studio time blocked into my schedule, I am working.
Where do you get the most inspiration for your work?
Sometimes I think my brain has been fragmented. I can find inspiration in so many places. It can be hard to choose which direction to go. My hardest obstacle is that my work does not have a thread that links it all together. I am trying to stick with series, but after four or five pieces, the subject can get stale for me. My problem is never with inspiration, it is with the decision of which subject has me most hyped about it. I can pin point most of where my inspiration comes from though, usually human nature, good or bad, and the lives of living things. I adore nature. And I love paint, the way you can manipulate it and move it around, and how different mediums are and how differently they relate to different surfaces. The process of painting is inspiring to me.
Parenting does have its challenges and other schedules to think about. How do you give yourself and your art the space it needs?
The only way I have been able to get my studio time in is to treat it like a job. I do not answer the phone. I do not clean, or go to the grocery, or run errands during my studio time. There are times where studio time translates to marketing days, where I am not painting, but photographing, posting, emailing, framing, packing, writing newsletters; all the grunt work of being an artist and trying to get your name out there. But, I am still at work those days. It is my job, my career. I once heard an artist claim that being an artist is a blue-collar job. I couldn’t agree more.
I am also very lucky that my studio is outside of my house, a short walk to my garage. When we were looking for a home, I was insistent that it have a studio space. I have heat, a bathroom, and a pretty large area all to myself. Having that space is key. It is always right there waiting for me. My work has its own space, and therefore its own life, separate from family life and Mom duties.
That being said, I have made flexible hours for my job. When my girls are home from school, I wear the Mom hat, I am home then, I turn into cook, chauffeur, confidant, maid, personal assistant, ect..
I also keep forward in my mind, that this is all temporary. My oldest is 14 now, my youngest will be 11 in two weeks. Before I know it, they will be gone. I am told High School flies by. I get emotional just thinking about it. My work has more focus now than I had three years ago, and by the time my girls are ready to fulfill the promise of their lives, I will be more developed and prepared for the next phase of my life. I have always known that the life of an artist is a marathon. A few can do it in a sprint, but I believe that if I just keep working, trying to master my craft and my vision, by the time the busy time of being a parent, the hands on time, is through, I will be prepared to move forward with no regrets of having neglected my children and their youth.
Name a creative parent who inspires you and why. Please provide links if you can.
I cannot say that there is one creative parent that inspires me, but I have found a group of them that do. I listen to the podcasts of The Jealous Curator and Savvy Painter. These two wonderful women talk with emerging and professional successful artists. Many of these artists are parents. They all discuss how they approach parenting and creating at the same time. I especially love when the women talk about it, because most express ideas that I adopt, or have done things that I have already been doing, and it helps me to hear that I am not alone.
I'm no longer doing Creative Mothers interview, but this will remain as an archive. Thank you for all of the love!
About the Series
Let's face it, being a mother can be the most challenging, and the most rewarding thing. Being a mother who needs to be creative can be even more challenging, it can even feel lonely at times.
So let's dig deeper into the lives of creative mothers, share their amazing work, and get some insight into creating while parenting. Hopefully, inspiring other artistic, creative mothers, and women who may one day be mothers themselves, along the way.
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