Lily Mae Martin
A glimpse at a day in the life of Ballarat-based
visual artist Lily Mae Martin. We dive into her new found love for early mornings, how she balances motherhood and painting, her go-to drawing exercises and how we need to learn to be less hard on ourselves.
I usually wake up much earlier than I want to, somewhere between 4am and 6am because of my five-year-old daughter. But coffee wills me out of bed. I've always been a night owl so this has given me the chance to see the world in a different state before everyone else is awake. I love mornings now, but I sometimes wish I could sleep in another 45 minutes or something.
If I have my shit together I like to make porridge in the morning, but usually it is just toast and things from the day before. After breakfast my daughter and I walk to kinder and argue over acorns and she tells me the names of plants that she remembers (she's better at that than me!) If it's a sunny day sometimes we walk to my favourite cafe and I have a coffee and pat the dog while she draws in chalk and looks at the fish in the pond.
I’ll come back home and start making some food. I cook for all of my family – morning, noon and night. Grocery shopping happens almost every day because I like to get fresh fruit and veggies for the kidlet.
I enjoy it, but trying to cook good food and get my daughter ready and start the day can be difficult, so I do yoga and exercise in the morning to let off steam, but also get some perspective on life.
While it may be part of my ideal day, often it can be completely blow up in my face and I only get one or two of these things done! Sometimes I might not go to the gym or get groceries and just come straight home and work.
I’m a nanna napper. I can’t really sleep at night, so I will get up in the morning and be fine, but then at around 10am I’ll want to nap. Lately I haven’t really been able to do that.
Your routine changes so much with a small child through their developmental stages.
Then I either get some work done before I have to pick up my daughter, or attempt to work on my art while she is in my studio, usually painting or drawing in my floor next to my easel. I find this easier now she is a little older and can entertain herself more, but it does include a lot of interruptions.
When you are a creative mother, your work has to be at the forefront of your mind, so I try to gear everything around getting things done and getting back in the studio. But that's still a challenge. Sometimes my daughter may be occupied with something, but I will just sit there and do a little sketch instead of working on a drawing that I actually want to be working on.
If I am doing something that I don't really want to do, I have to stop myself and go and use my time better.
So now if I have a spare twenty minutes and I have a big piece in the studio I try and spend that short time working on it. I work on my art maybe four hours on average each day, but then sometimes I will work until 3 a.m.
My daughter and I are cooking more meals together and it’s something I really look forward to in my day. Her favourite meal is our special wrap, which is like a bean taco and she mixes the spices together.
It gets her in the kitchen and aware that food has to be prepared, it doesn’t just appear.
I have a real thing against pre-packaged food so we make our own sort of spice mix for things. I probably put a lot of pressure on myself, but oh well.
Then it’s time for a bath and bed for the kidlet. Depending on how much work my husband has, he sometimes does this and I will draw for as long as I feel. Sometimes, if I'm feeling really stuck with a piece I'll sit in my kitchen and do drawing exercises just to keep up the activity but not freaking out over a piece.
“I think I'm always aiming for balance, but I don't necessarily get there. I make sure I get out of the house, get some fresh air and get physical. I make sure I eat good food, try and get sleep and enjoy my husband and my child. But I also have to go easy on myself when I don't achieve those things. We expect a lot, I think.”
– Lily Mae Martin
Lily Mae Martin’s Drawing Exercises
Sometimes I do freelance teaching and tutor children in art and I teach them that being creative is a physical, mental and emotional journey. I think when people have a lull or a block it’s because they get trapped in their heads and they are not thinking about keeping their hands active.
I have found that you really surprise yourself doing drawing exercises and so my favourite one is blind contour line drawing, which is just one continual line. I’ll do that on the train. It's so easy to do and sometimes you make really beautiful images.
It also helps me when I feel super anxious being out and it is a nice way to ground yourself as you have control over something, your own little world.