Being Creative (Without the Kid)

Being a Daddy is hard work. There’s the balance of career work with marriage and household responsibilities, all wrapped up neatly and managed while being Daddy: playing, hugging, kissing, loving, singing, narrating, reading … and so on and so forth.

Being Creative is hard work, too. There’s this cloud of mystery around creativity, but for me it boils down to harnessing that spark that comes around every now and then, and committing to that spark to express or make something unique. I don’t think that most crafts or Pinterest Projects are creative, because they aren’t sparked and ignited in the soul, nor are they unique. They’re cute, though.

Being a Creative Daddy is a tough, yet satisfying combination.

The trick to staying creative while still being a good, present, loving and committed daddy is: balance.

I give myself "creative me" time so that I can give him the best "creative us" time.
I give myself “creative me” time so that I can give him the best “creative us” time.

It’s not enough to be creative with your baby and only your baby. It’s got to be for you, too. You’ve got to find the time – carve it out, as often as you can – and be creative.

Most of the time, my creative time is frustrating. But, when I power through and see results, I feel more inspired to share passion, joy and that “spark” with the rest of my family. It is invigorating.

Here’s what’s been happening this week:

This week I started with a sketch. I just wanted to warm up my hand. I wanted to refine and practice some digital art skills. I settled on sketching the barn, which I can see from my studio window. (Yes, I have a “studio” right now – it’s a spare bedroom that isn’t used, so until we have more babies, it’s all mine!) I sketched said barn and was quite pleased. (Reaped a benefit. Check.)

Then, I decided to add colour. If you paint digitally, then you’ll know how tough it is to find the right mix of digital-look with attempted-traditional-look. I felt like a failure. (Frustration. Check.)

I sent off a horrible looking rendering to my critique partner, who politely and patiently guided me on some pointers.

Then, I worked and worked and worked.

My wife has been quite tired this week (shocking, taking care of a baby all day!) so she’s gone to bed early every night. That leaves me with 3 options:

1) Go to bed, too. (And feel guilty for not using the time to do something productive.)

2) Watch TV and veg out. (And feel guilty, again, as I think of all the projects I want to do.)

3) Sit my butt in the chair and be creative. (No guilt, just 3 hours zooming by.)


I have picked that option every night this week, and I have put in about 8 hours of work on a digital painting. It’s gone from cute, to UGLY, to uglier, to “I’m just going to stop”, to hmmmm, to not bad!

I feel re-energized, creative and ready to be a well-rounded, Creative Daddy.

The take away here: if you want to be a Creative Daddy, you’ve got to be creative, and you’ve got to separate some of your creativity and set it aside for yourself. Don’t forget who you are in order to be a good dad. (If you do, you won’t achieve the goal anyway.)

A sample of some sketch work that's for me, all me. (A book idea.)
A sample of some older sketch work that’s for me, all me. (A book idea/not the current project.)

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