Thursday, June 20, 2013

Paintings by a Father

By Donato

This past weekend an attendee at the Illustration Master Class suggested I create a post reflecting upon the challenges of being a professional artist and engaged father - how does one split the time, energy and balance the guilt?  (Coincidentally another friend was just asking me this same question a few days ago!)

A productive artist typically requires a tremendous amount of time sequestered in a studio, concepting and laboring on projects, producing promotional materials, and managing an integrated web of social events and communications.  This schedule can leave few hours of precious time with a family of young children with growing needs, thus placing pressure to make what ever time spent to be that of high 'quality'.

Rather than provide advice from unique career conditions, which likely could never apply to another artist's lifestyle, I thought I would share with you the benefits and products of my family relationship - a display of the love of my children and wife through the paintings which they inspired.  Although never fully 'portraits', these works are about my family and speak to the complex emotions of being a father and the experiences I could have never understood without raising children.

It is not easy being a father/husband and full time professional artist - traveling to events, conventions and seminars nearly every month and balancing time for the family around school and the weekends. But I am happy to be a father to two beautiful girls and now could not imagine a life without them in it.

Enjoy a peek into my family life...

Knowledge      48" x 36"     Oil on Panel   2010

Generations    24" x 36"  Oil on Panel   2012

Majesty of Space    48" x 36"   Oil on Panel  2007

Progeny    60" x 36"   Oil on Panel    2008

Search for Mother   48" x 36"  Oil on Panel   2012

Naomi Giancola     24" x 30"   Oil on Panel

 A Father's Love (Cecilia)   16" x 20"  Oil on Panel   2003


  1. Wow i totally dig those illustrtions. The family theme is one of my favorite if not my favorite. And the execution is so good.

  2. A great and touching post. I work a day job and try to better my art skills during my free time. I also have two wonderful boys and sometimes I have to make a choice between drawing/ painting or a round of "roughhousing" with them, the roughhousing is a golden time spent together. The guilt of not spending enough time with them is all most always there though.

    1. I have the exact same problem. I have a wonderful wife who is also an illustrator and stay at home mom and a one and a half year old girl. I work retail so my hours are always goofy making it even more challenging to get time.

      My wife and I recently started working collaboratively because it allows us to make better progress on our projects. Its also been a great learning experience.

      Thanks for the great post Donato!

  3. i get it. im a husband, father to 6 (4 girls/ 2 boys), art teacher, artist. family is important, then community. it is quite the balancing and juggling act!

  4. It's crazy how hard it is to have a passionate career of creating art and/or design and then be disciplined enough to turn it "off" for the kiddos after the workday. But, having three of them myself (and a bun in the oven) I know they won't be little forever. Yet little or not, the moments I get with them are just so much more important than the things I don't really need to be doing with my time after my day job. I'm glad to have an art & design day job -- that helps me to regularly segment my working time and my family time, providing more opportunity to protect the latter (for me at least). When I actually do artistic things at home, more and more I'm finding that actively involving my children in the process somehow -- doing funny illustrations that they get to choose the subject matter for, or the colors, animating for them, etc., can be a great way to get that outlet at home here and there and still enjoy quality time -- plus no one should ever deny utilizing the crazy ideas they have when they're little (adults just don't think with such a random, beautifully illogical brain). Thanks for your great work and thoughts, Donato.

  5. Donato, this is so wonderful. Thanks for sharing a little bit of your balancing act with us. I've often struggled with this feeling the pull of wanting to create and push myself and adhering to my first priority as a mom. I know that as long as I keep my priorities straight, that I will reach my goals. It might not be today or tomorrow, but I will get there. Our time with our children is so precious and they are only young for a short period of time. While I've seen most of these paintings, knowing that they are about your family, they somehow mean more now. You've inspired me to make my next painting still within my career goals, but also a reflection of my family and our relationship with each other. Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Allison!

      Being a father has made me rethink what to create as illustration art, as my children become 'consumers' of the images as well. It may sound like a bit of censorship, but rather I am creating images which challenge me far more than when I was 'BC' (before children). Gone are the safe and easy heroes and in are the heroes more empathetic to each other and their antagonists. More like what the real world looks like and needs...

      Best of luck with your art and family! Hope to see you again soon.

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    an influence of the picture chosen when the painting is placed.
    Paintings will drop when any supporting block is removed, making the creation of "Secret Doors"
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    doors, and pressure plates can be used to aid in the creation of secret passages. Also, trying to open a door behind
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  8. It was wondering if I could use this write-up on my other website, I will link it back to your website though.Great Thanks.


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