Creative Routines with Beth Winterburn

Hello, I’m Beth.

I graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts with a focus in photography.

I entered as an architecture student but quickly realized that the fine arts side of the building was where I belonged. I spent the next years experimenting with nearly all creative disciplines - particularly enjoying ceramics, sculpture and photography (mostly because of the dark room).

After graduating, I took a long time off (got married, had three kids), but soon began to feel "the itch" again.

I painted casually over the years - for friends, family, etc. After a friend asked for an abstract piece, I was hooked. Abstract painting combines the best of all of my art "loves" - spontaneity, tactility, design and process. It's also something that fits practically into my life.

I would absolutely love to have a wheel someday or to even set up a dark room somewhere in my house, but for now, I'm incredibly satisfied experimenting with paints and inks.

My work is characterized by bold, gestural brush strokes and minimalist detail. As a nod to my analytical roots in photography and architecture, I approach each piece with a mathematical mindset - counting evens and odds, balancing lights and darks, visually "slicing" the composition into thirds and fifths.

Every attempt is made to respect the materials, allowing each to behave accordingly, with subtle direction. I approach my work as if it's a problem to solve: combining and contrasting elements with and against one another to create a cohesive yet dynamic piece.

My work is an exploration of control (or the lack thereof). Each canvas, piece of paper or panel is an invitation to engage - to feel, to react, to explore the tension and resolve of each and every element and property used to build it.

No two days are alike for me, but here’s a look at a typical schedule.

ebw_artwork-49
ebw_artwork-49

6.52 am

Alarm goes off. I am NOT a morning person. I've tried. It just isn't in the cards for me.

I'm okay once I'm up, but I could hit the snooze over and over.

I set my alarm for weird times (i. e., 6:52am) because that somehow makes it less painful.

7 am - 7.30 am

Make lunches for the kids for school, help them get dressed, etc., and drive them to school.

My older two go to the same school and are in school every day. My youngest goes 3 days/week.

8 am

Back home from drop-off and the day begins.

I take about 30 mins to an hour each morning to straighten the house up and get things in order.

Having my studio in my home is great, but it's becoming more and more difficult to turn a blind eye to the needs of the house and go straight to work.

Giving it a little bit of time each morning keeps things running smoothly.

9 am

Time to get to work.

No two days are alike. Some days begin with emails about commissions, talks with my shops and galleries etc.

Other days begin in the studio, mixing paints/inks, finishing work from the day/days/weeks before, adding layers to work at a midway point, for example.

I can typically work until around 2pm doing some mixture of all of these.

One thing I try to do is set my phone aside during this time so that I'm not distracted and can stay in the right mindset.

I've found that I can get a lot done on my phone in carpool line or just before bed, so putting all distractions aside has become part of my routine as well.

ebw.artwork_studio.1
ebw.artwork_studio.1

2 pm - 3 pm (ish)

Find a stopping point.

I drive carpool 2 days/week, so on those days, I leave around 2.30 pm.

On the days that I don't do the driving, I keep working until the kids get home from school, usually around 3.30 pm.

3.30 pm

Kids are home. Homework begins, dinner plans start brewing, etc.

6 pm

The evenings are often filled with after school activities or just hanging out together. My husband is home from work around 6 pm, so we eat dinner, then the kids start bedtime routines around 7.30 pm.

8.30 pm

The day is mostly done.

I know a lot of artists begin working after their kids are in bed, but, because mine are in school, I can take advantage of the daytime hours.

My husband and I get to just be from around 8:30-10:30. We either watch a series on Netflix (any suggestions? ;)), talk about the day, take turns going out with friends or go to bed early (less than we should!).

10.30 pm

I’m usually in bed, finishing up a few emails or replying to messages on Instagram.

Advice to other makers:

This is partially for artists who are also raising families, but the essence of the advice applies to anyone. Timing is everything.

People ask mothers all the time how they do it. I really can't answer that question in a way that it applies to "most" artist moms, because I didn't. I didn't start my business until my oldest was about 8 and my youngest was about 2.

I created as the time allowed - an incredibly varied list of things - but until I felt ready to dive fully in (because I knew that I would), I didn't really start. Timing is everything. For me, things happened at the right time.

My personality, my drive, my goals, etc., all played in to when things started for me. It isn't the same for everybody. Some artists have an entirely different set of circumstances or operate in a very different way - in a way that works for them.

There's no rule for when it works for everybody.

I'm very thankful to be able to do what I do on a daily basis. I'm incredibly grateful to have my own studio space in my home, to have a flexible schedule, to have kids who love to create alongside me and appreciate what I do, to have an awesome, supportive, involved husband and a support system of family and friends. They've made so much of what I do possible.

I'm very driven and focused. When I set my mind to something, I go full force. When the time is right, just go for it.

Catch up with Beth on her website, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

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Maker Academy Creative Routines with Beth Winterburn. If you’re a creative entrepreneur, blogger, business owner you’re not going to want to miss this article. 

Maker Academy Creative Routines with Beth Winterburn. If you’re a creative entrepreneur, blogger, business owner you’re not going to want to miss this article.