Interview with Trisha RomanceTrisha Romance is one of Canada’s best-selling artists. Her work often depicts serene and idealic images of family life.
Trisha Romance is one of Canada’s best-selling and well-known artists. Her work often depicts serene images of family life, what she calls the best moments of being a mother. This fall, her first children’s book is being published, Trisha spoke to Karen Stiller about how she juggled art and children, and what really motives her work.
Karen Stiller (KS): Your work seems to often depict an “ideal” in family life – mother and children engaged in a loving, calm activity or captured in a blissful moment of time. I look at them and think “if only my life was like that.”
Trisha Romance (TR): I’ve always said I paint the best moments of motherhood and daily life. They are those moments when you say ‘this is what it is all about.’ These are the gem moments. No child is perfect all the time. My first baby was colicky, my second was a ball of fire and my third was this amazing perfect baby. But my life is not perfect. What I’ve done is painted the gems.
KS: You’re one of those few artists who have really made a career, a business, out of her art. How did you find the balance with kids and art?
TR: I think I wrestled with the guilt that most mothers experience after my kids were little. When you’re in the middle of it, in that mode, you’re just getting it done. It’s not till later on in life that you feel guilty. But, we’re too hard on ourselves. I look at my life, and what I’ve created for my children, the legacy for them of paintings – and I am grateful. A lot of mothers keep baby books and journals. I didn’t have time. I was always working late nights at the studio. You do what you have to do. It is the juggling act of things. And women are wonderful multitaskers. We are able to say, I have a half and hour right now, and do this thing. You just dive in and do it.
KS: Is your art always moved by a great moment of inspiration where you just dash out and create something beautiful? That is how I picture it happening.
TR: I go through a gestation period. It is a labour. Each painting has a time where it is brewing. I already have in my head what the feeling of it will be. My soul has already been planning it. I have had the luxury of being able to let it take its time and grow. The sketching part to me is the most exciting, Everything I’ve been feeling comes out. I go through a whole series of sketches. To me, as an artist, the exciting part is to watch that happen.
KS: You‘ve described painting as a spiritual experience, tell me about that.
TR: I think anytime that someone is in touch with their creative side, you are in touch with your Creator at the time. That is this spiritual feeling that I get through painting, and it hopefully comes out in my work. You allow inspiration to come into you. They talk about divine inspiration. Inspiration is a wonderful thing. It is such a spiritual thing. And when inspiration hits you, that is such a great gift. Absorb it, take it, and run with it!
KS: What if you’ve always wanted to be creative, to be inspired and get in touch with that side of yourself, but you’re too busy, too insecure….whatever. what should you do?
TR: I meet women all the time who say that. One woman who was 80 years old told me at a show that she had wanted to be an artist all her life. She said she never had the confidence, or the time, when she was raising children. She said that was her only regret in life. I told her that she still had time. It’s never too late. I have a children’s book coming out this fall called A Star for Christmas. It’s been in my soul since my son Nathan was a baby, and that was 20 years ago. I finally said this has got to happen. I grabbed my sketchbook and started to write. I was so driven and inspired. My adrenalin was pumping through me. I know I couldn’t do it without what I call “God’s juice.” His adrenaline. But I finally did do it.
KS: Speaking of children, I love when my kids do art. How can we get our kids in touch with their creative spirit?
TR: Every child I’ve ever met is an incredible artist. They express from their soul everything they are feeling. Just keep encouraging it. My parents always had a space for us to do art. They had an old table in the basement. We were allowed to cut and paste and put whatever we wanted on those walls. We had a big chalkboard. I don’t know what we would have done without that creative space. Have a place to go where they can create, and hopefully a place without a TV. Fix it up and give them supplies and so on. Good lighting is important because it captivates. No one wants to go into a dark hole. It probably was that force that started me creating things as a child.
KS: Trisha, some people say that the Church, as an institution, is not as supportive of its artists as it could be. Have you found that to be the case?
TR: I think that is true of people in general, not just the Church. Only three percent of the population visit art galleries. Most people are afraid to walk into them. Sometimes it’s a lack of interest, sometimes they don’t understand art. But, when they finally see a painting that moves them, it’s incredible for them. But, there are people I’ve met that don’t think being an artist is a career, it’s a hobby. Or they don’t think that an art education is a real education. For me, I’m not made up of science. I’m made up of art.
KS: What is it that touches us so deeply about art?
TR: There’s something about the magic of an original piece of art. You may have a print of a work, but sometimes seeing the piece that the artist actually created can really touch you. That is why sculpture is so incredible too. You can touch it; you can see it. It’s almost as if, when you come to a piece of art, an artist has worked on it with all their soul. That’s where the life comes from. That’s what moves people – when a soul has been revealed.
Karen Stiller is the editor of Women Alive.
Originally published in Women Alive, Autumn/Winter 2007.
Used with permission. Copyright © 2007 Christianity.ca.