Whether they are new fathers or new mothers, first-time parenthood changes everyone.
But perhaps no one more profoundly than Matt Pulford, who became dad to daughter Amelia with his wife Kelly 16 months ago.
“It changed what I longed for,” the artist said from the basement studio of his central Davenport home. “I’d rather stay home and hang with her on a Friday night than anything in the world.”
In fact, the couple has spent hours looking at their baby, fascinated even to watch her sleep.
“She’d go through these REM (rapid eye movement) cycles and start blinking and we’d wonder what she could be thinking of since she had no visual library to speak of,” he said.
But the arrival of a baby girl also changed Pulford’s perspective as an artist.
He had become intrigued with patterns, first with those on Amelia’s baby blankets and quilts, and then by other patterns around him.
And that is reflected in his work as an acrylic painter. His newest work, which will go on display beginning later this week at the Bucktown Center for the Arts in downtown Davenport, gives a somewhat aerial view of patterns, whether it be pastel-colored squares or brightly colored hexagons flowing in a wave below.
Becoming a father is just one in a series of life changes for the 34-year-old East Moline native.
He and his wife — a Marion, Iowa, native — had moved to Chicago, where he worked as an exhibit developer at the Adler Planetarium.
They moved back to the Quad-Cities 3 1/2 years ago when he took a job with a company that developed exhibits for museums across the country and his wife became transfer student coordinator and international student liaison at Augustana College in Rock Island.
But his job was downsized this past fall, which gave him a decent severance package, plus more time to paint and to be with his daughter.
“She’s kind of my symbol of youth and innocence,” he said.
Unlike other artists, he doesn’t keep a sketchbook. Rather, he starts right in on canvas and begins to create.
But Pulford said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I really enjoy the process of this more than anything I’ve ever done,” he said.