When we first caught a glimpse of artist Kayla Gale’s motherhood-inspired works of art, we knew we had to learn more. The Canadian artist is also a mother of two - daughter Ella, 3, and son Emmett, 10 months - so draws inspiration from her own experiences with pregnancy, breastfeeding, baby-wearing and the unshakable mother/child connection. The end result is a deeply raw and emotional representation of all aspects of pregnancy and beyond…
The self-taught artist works from home around her children’s sleep times and has found not only inspiration but also creativity and connection from encouraging her own daughter to make a mess and be artistic. “I encourage my daughter to play and make messes. She is only three years old and it is so enjoyable to see what comes from her when she is allowed to make art freely. If not at this age, then when!? It took me a long time to realise that in order to produce good art, I need to allow myself to play, explore, waste supplies, ruin canvases, make a whole lot of messes and find what works for me. The connection, in that way, between being an artist and being a child is fascinating to me.” Read on for more on how Kayla’s artistic career began, how she balances kids and business and what her attitude is towards self-care and social media… Editor: Marisa Remond | Go to www.kaylagale.com
Can you tell us a bit about how you started creating art?
When I was in high school I worked through a self-portrait study and I loved it. It was a really good experience for me, and I spent a lot of time after that and into my early twenties just playing with art. I first started exploring art more seriously after my daughter was born about ten years later, and I was particularly interested in figure drawing and the female form due to the changes my own body was going through post-partum. Again, I strongly believe it was a way to understand myself better while also subjectively stand back and see myself through new eyes.
Your Motherhood series is deeply emotional and beautiful, do you approach each piece with a specific scenario in mind or is it more freestyle?
A little bit of both. I love to have an intention or idea to begin with, but after I start working I try not to inhibit or restrict. I love working instinctually and following my gut. In my opinion, the best art is the art that just happens because it is often a reflection of feeling rather than thinking. Right now, I am embracing some of the final days of baby-wearing as my son has just begun to walk and is becoming more and more independent. While reflecting on that warm, close feeling of having my baby on my chest, I would love to see that feeling developed into a series of work but haven’t planned out the execution. Part of the joy is to simply sit down and see how it flows.
How do you balance your own two children with your art and online business?
Finding balance in my day is definitely a challenge for me. Right now, because my children are so young, I really only work during the evening after bedtime. I have a small, private studio in my home which makes it easy to start and stop as I please. It really is important to me that I spend my days with my little ones and give them my full attention while they are so young. They are always my priority over work. I don’t want to look back and feel, “I wish I had been more present.”
How do you approach art with children - are there any secrets to making it more about creation and less about mess?
Personally, I believe that creation and creativity is born from mess! I encourage my daughter to play and make messes. She is only three years old and it is so enjoyable to see what comes from her when she is allowed to make art freely. If not at this age, then when!? It took me a long time to realize that in order to produce good art, I need to allow myself to play, explore, waste supplies, ruin canvases, make a whole lot of messes and find what works for me. The connection, in that way, between being an artist and being a child is fascinating to me.
Artist Kayla Gale in her studio
How do you handle the more challenging parts of being a mother?
I call my mom! Haha! I really do believe that it takes a village, and I am so blessed to have so many strong women in my life that I can look to for wisdom and advice.
What is your favourite thing to do together as a family in Canada?
Our children are water babies, and my husband is a highly technical SCUBA diver, so we spend as much time as we can near the water and when we plan vacations it is usually centered on how close we are to any place that we can snorkel, dive, or swim. We spend regular time together doing a bible based volunteer work in our community, and those are often the best days because they are rewarding, fulfilling, and we can see our daughter feel good about what she is doing. Other than that, we try to keep family time really simple and old-fashioned. I think we make the most memories together when we are doing something as easy as going for a stroll around the neighbourhood, reading our favourite books, having a campfire outside, or making a tent over the kitchen chairs. My husband and I can’t wait to teach our kids how to fish and garden.
What is your definition of self-care and how do you make time for it?
This is such a timely question for me because self-care is something I tend to neglect right now and I am working on changing that. For myself, I’m a bit of an introvert and I feel that when I am around people or in social situations, I expend myself quickly. To recharge, I need quiet time alone. Sometimes this means saying no, sometimes it means asking for help. That’s not always easy for me – but it is important!
Is it difficult working in a creative field when you’re restricted by baby schedules and routines?
I can see how it could be for some, but it works well for me. I feel most motivated and inspired in the evenings after my babies are in bed, and so creative work is a great way for me to relax and unwind after being a busy mama all day.
What is your attitude towards social media, do you have any personal rules or restrictions on how and when to use it?
My personal rule with social media is that it has to work for me and not the other way around. Right now it offers me a way to share my work and connect with other artists, but social media can often be a means for comparing, and that is one of my weaknesses. I try to keep my own Instagram presence very genuine, authentic, and positive, and I make sure it is doing more good than harm for me. Otherwise, I shut it down for a few days.
Complete this sentence: Motherhood is…
Hard, messy, beautiful, confusing, full of doubt, and fulfilling. And there is nothing sweeter.