Tuesday, July 8, 2014


What is your name? 

Tina Imel

Where are you from? 

Scranton, PA

Where do you live?

Scranton, PA

When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

I just carried on the joy of drawing and painting that all children have into adulthood. I saw it as a way to bring in some extra money in my late teens. The advent of the internet changed everything for me. Anyone can post their work and potentially find an audience. I was lucky enough to get a lot of exposure through word of mouth. I've sold paintings and prints across the world, shown all over America and in Europe.

Who influenced you as an artist?

A lot of people! I felt this profound connection to Rembrandt's self portraits when I saw them at the MET. I thought, here is this man who lived so far away, such a  long time ago and here we are, feeling the same things. It made me feel so connected and melted my heart. Art can save your life. I wanted to make work that was honest, that showed my experience in the hope that it could positively impact some lonely weirdo like me. I also met some absolutely amazing artists, a lot of them other contemporary female oil painters that taught me a lot. Carrie Ann Baade is a magical force in the art world for bringing artist together. 

What is your favorite medium?

Definitely oil on panel. I do a lot more drawing now and I also love charcoal. I've always felt like painting with acrylic is like trying to render with a melted condom. I have seen STUNNING acrylic paintings- I'm obviously doing something wrong.

Do you have a studio? Where is it?

Yes. I live in a very large Victorian house with the rest of my kin and in the high bright corner I have a studio lovingly referred to as "The kill room".

When did you become a mother?

Not counting my animals, which I feel similarly towards and not counting pregnancy I've been Mama for 15 months. But I'd say the seeds of the mom I would be have been there awhile. I feel the responsibility and connection I have had with animals in my life have informed who I am as much as anything or anyone else. 

What are your challenges as a mother artist?

The difficulties I have as an artist are the same now as they were before I had my boy. It can be hard to be all things, a self representing artist, web master, shipper, painter, public relations person etc. Especially when you have a painting you NEED to get out of your head before it bores a hole in you or just leaves altogether. You also have to be a person and make time to stare at the wall. When I had the baby I expected to only be able to sketch for the first 6 months. I'm lucky enough to be able to devote myself wholly to being a Mother right now. I was wrong however, I was able to baby- wear and paint while he was sleeping or nursing pretty early on. I continue to make and sell art, more slowly but at a pace that is healthy and kept me happy. I have a lot less time now. The time that has been cut away was wasted on self doubt, over analysis and overly indulgent self flagellation. I'm happier now, better at prioritizing and just better in general than I was.

What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?

Some women make time to go to the gym, some watch their favorite shows, some get their hair done regularly. You make some time for what makes you feel good because it makes you a better Mother. This doesn't ALWAYS happen for me but I am patient with myself and my baby. He won't always be a baby, this time goes by so fast.

When do you spend time making art?

It changes as my baby grows. In the beginning I'd draw and paint with him in a wrap during his longest nap. Now we draw together in the morning and I do some things, like transferring drawings to panels with him. He doesn't nap as long and weighs 30lbs now so I do things differently. I do detailed work when he's playing with Papa or dancing with my family. 

How many children do you have? Do you want more?

I have one child and *cough* 4 cats. I don't plan on having more children but I have time to change my mind. I certainly am glad for the one I have.

Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother?

NO. I gave up TV, shitty friendships, shitty food and malaise. Being an artist helps me be a better mom. Art, love of nature and animals, cooking and walking are the happiest things I have. They are my gift to my son. He comes first but he doesn't exclude the joys of life, he adds to them.

Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art?

Yes or it wouldn't work at all! They all help me so much. I'm a work at home Mom. I couldn't do it without help and it's so good for Viggo to be able to cook with my mom, dance with my sister, play in the garden with my brother and read, dance laugh and make fart noises with his papa.

Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist? 

I never thought about it. I don't notice any difference.

Has becoming a mother influenced your art?

Very much so. I spend more time drawing because it's portable and easy. This has led to better compositions and less anxiety.

Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?

The "Women in the work place" issues that face most women exist too in the art world. There are huge debates going on now about motherhood and how it changes women. A French feminist, Elisabeth Badinter, suggests that the naturalist movement, (breastfeeding, cloth diapers, making baby food etc) is setting women back. Her arguments are, if nothing else, interesting. She considers natural mothering a prison where you get nothing else done. A few of my friends echo this sentiment. A few more, who do not have children, considered my having a baby to be the end of my painting or being interesting. 
I have been working at home, painting and selling my work for years. I have help and support. I can't speak for everyone, I have a unique set- up, but for me nursing, cloth diapering and making baby food has not ended my creative passion or kept me from being "a woman".I feel extremely lucky to be able to take care of my son this way. It's inspired me and I think it will inform my work.

What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” 

I tell them. He works for the postal service and he's the funniest, best natured, sarcastic fun asshole I know. 

Are you offended by such a question?

No, people are struggling. When they see someone who looks like they might be managing ok they want to know why. What my husband does helps me be a painter. Sometimes people ask this question to put down or dismiss but what do I care? I'm wearing my 30lbs of awesome human and talking to you. Next I am going to draw about the morality of cloning yourself for organ harvest. My life is good.

What is your story?

 I do what I like, the best I can.

What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?

Patience is key. It all gets done. If you're hair is a mess and the floor needs to be swept don't freak out, it'll get done.

What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

Set yourself up for success. Make a 5 year plan, write it down. Adjust it but never stop thinking of ways to get what you want. Focus on what you want, not just what you don't. Get rid of naysayers. Be patient and kind.

What do you want to be remembered for as an artist?

I don't know but right now when I get emails from people who feel connected to me through my work it brings me so much joy. I want to help people.

To learn more about Tina Imel check out : 



* All photos belong to and were submitted by Tina Imel

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