Continuing the conversation about being a full-time mama and an artist…  I’ve thought a lot this past year about how to merge the two. It seemed strange to keep Tulsi completely separate from my art, especially since a lot of my illustration+books are kid related, and she is inspiring so many new ideas. While I can’t paint during the day when she is awake, there are occasional 20-30 minute spurts when she is very content playing on her own, and I can catch up on email, work on sketches, organize and/or prepare for painting at night. Since we’ve been living in a one-room house, Tulsi has never had a nursery or any room to keep all her toys. For awhile, the living room-by-day/bedroom-by-night housed a big toy basket and was perfect, but with her mobility and curiosity, she has quickly out-grown it. Along with that, came the task of Tulsi-proofing the house…and making everything within her reach safe+fun. This inspired me to transform my studio from my waist down into a play space. It will naturally evolve as she grows, but here it is as of now:

• First, I covered the rough, concrete floor with those cushy (and affordable) puzzle mats. This was essential.

• I found a fun, thick soft wool 5×8 ft version of this rug on overstock.com

• Next, I converted a lower cubby on my bookshelf into a music space with drums, rattles, shakers, flutes and more. She LOVES it and really knows how to shake her booty when we drum! I also moved books for her on the lower, reachable shelves and put storage in the cubbies with doors.

• I traded out my computer chair for a big, bouncy exercise ball (which I prefer anyway). It’s softer and safer (no hard edges to bump her noggin on), takes up less space, inspires spontaneous back bends and yoga, and it’s fun to bounce and roll and drum on.

• I have samples of my Oopsy Daisy art that I give away or that sit in storage, so it was fun to hang my World Wonders growth chart on the nearby bathroom door. I just marked: Tulsi 13 months: 29 1/2″, 18 lbs, 1 oz !

• When I was little, my favorite spaces to hang out were in my closet and in our kitchen closet underneath the table-desk. I thought it’d be really fun to create a similar, sweet space beneath half of my work table. First, I replaced the awkward, funky old table end with this perfect book/toy shelf that our friend made just to fit this space.  (I’m still debating whether to paint this a fun color with flowers or with chalkboard paint…or to paint the wall where the painting is now, with chalkboard paint…ideas?)  I found another fun rug on overstock.com, hung up my original painting of Kimono Moon from Oopsy Daisy Fine Art for Kids, added some soft pillows for leaning up against the side of my flat files, and topped it off with a sheer, silky curtain for playing peek-a-boo, taking spontaneous naps (if those ever happen…), or for times when she’s older and wants to just be in a closet (like I did, hee).

As this art+play space was still being converted, Tulsi got into a couple basket drawers full of collage and inspirational images…

She helped me do some spring cleaning which inspired a new play house that she LOVES.

One fun part about “sharing my space” with Tulsi is that, when we aren’t outside in the garden, she wants to be in here playing — and just playing in this studio-play space (even when I’m not working) seems to really fuel my ideas and energy for making art. Tulsi is the best studio mate! It feels really perfect. “All” it needs now maybe is some fun dangly, mobiles from the ceiling…

Here is Penny’s blog post about a studio-playroom she created last year, although I think she’s since moved from it and maybe will be creating another one soon. Has anyone else made one? What did you do? I’d love to hear more ideas!