Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Studio time vs life

I just read on FB this morning that two of my fellow artists are leaving our work/exhibition space. Both for the same essential reason, children, one will continue to paint and one has chosen to set aside “the making of art” for the time being….perhaps until the nest empties. Because FB has a different format for writing, what I want to say does not fit, therefore, this one’s for you my friends!

Good for you! It is a rough and tough choice to tame the inner creature of creation for the sake of others. As I sit up here smugly on my empty nest (one migrating bird still asleep upstairs), I sometimes wish to be out there flying after the former tenants once again. But that time has passed ALL too quickly and never to return in the way it once was. Those years live on however in all the creations made by them, for them and with them, that one would never call “art” but are worth more than any mega-million dollar Monet.

For those with daughters….you can look forward to picking out dresses, shoes, jewelry and the battle between popular and appropriate.  There are cakes and cookies to bake, fancy dinner tables to set, patterns to pick out, and maybe scrapbooks to make.  You will use your color sense, your knowledge of design and proportion, and be able to sympathize will the drama because you have lived it yourself.

For those with sons…there are toys that rival the construction of the space shuttle, structures built in the woods from found objects, cool car accessories to track down and wardrobes to assemble that feature the colors black and beige.

Maybe you have already painted a mural on their bedroom walls, some long since painted over except or one pterodactyl lurking over the doorframe. Your kids will get awards and earn certificates that cry out for creative matting and framing!  You are the “cool mom” who always has a 5mm google eye in a bin someplace or can help whip out a book cover poster the night before it is due. You are the one on call when the teacher needs a bit of help with some art project or the school has an event which could use some creativity.  

Your talents to think beyond the usual or to focus in on the most minute of details will serve your children well.  Creative people see many sides to one issue and can pick and choose the pieces needed to solve a 6am crisis or know when to shut up at 6pm and just listen while the story that flows out.  You will doodle on napkins or music programs to pass the time waiting. You  will pick up the messes and rearrange the throw pillows, hang stuff up and fold things into baskets (socks and towels can become little sculptures ), develop complex imagery around yet another unidentified stain and track down solvents to remove then….or not.  And if not, well those jeans will be a craft project someday, trust me. 

As much as it sounds cliche, I have been in your shoes and walked the same pathway ahead of you.  From the head of the trail, it seems like a long road of sacrifice and frustration (as artistic juices build up in your system often to the boiling point which is when the laundry room gets painted hot pink…..), along the way you start to notice the shape of the trees and point out linear patterns, light and shadows, and some scientific facts about perspective. As the forest around you begins to thin out, a sense of desperation will set in, did I do all I could? Did I give them the skills needed? Did I spend enough time? Why did I not play more board games or make more cakes shaped like panda bears?

Suddenly the boys will be in front of you opening a door. Papers will arrive by email that need proofread in an hour or two (so just  correct the commas and balance the verbs). Girls will be along for the shopping trips telling YOU what looks appropriate when all you want are the zebra print heels and a shorter skirt, saggy knees be damned!

So yes my friends, your art and creativity will never cease, it is not on a shelf or put on hold. You will only be using it in a different way to build, create, shape and decorate living sculptures. Think of the time as one long piece of performance art.  When all gets quiet down the road, look around your studios or in the bins and boxes long since packed on the shelf and think HOT DAMN!!! I got time to play and make and build and create and draw and… and…and …and……darn it, I wish I had somebody here to watch me, interrupt me, tell me it looks good or ask what I am making.  But since nobody is here to do that….guess what they get for Christmas next year!

Enjoy your time away from the studio/gallery.  There will always be a place to create and show your work , but your most important projects right now are only around for a very short time all things considered.  I applaud you!


  1. A tear jerker deserving a big AMEN!

  2. Love, love LOVE these sentiments. So true and wise. Thank you for the encouragement. I aspire to do all those lovely things mentioned in your blog!

  3. Yes, brings tears and joy as she's "got it" knowing how important it is to be a mother---