School is starting, and this is only the third year of my (somewhat middle-aged) life when I have not somehow been professionally involved in that event.
Lots changed for me when we moved to Ohio a couple years ago. I am no longer teaching (too long a commute from Ohio to Massachusetts). I no longer have my beautiful studio in Waltham, MA in a large community of artists, and I also no longer have the responsibilities I took on their for directing their Open Studio event every year (A super-human feat of herding cats…).
I miss my studio, my artist friends, my paychecks, my classes, and the thriving Boston gallery scene.
In the resulting empty space in our new town (behind snack time, potty time and playground time) there is room for me think about my priorities. What do I want my life as an artist to look like and on what do I want to focus my time and energy? This re-location is an opportunity to choose a whole new path, should I desire it.
Here are some thoughts, which might be helpful for others who find themselves similarly uprooted and potentially lost in mommy-hood:
Change it Up
write more. Or write less. paint more. Or paint less. draw more. Or draw less. Work in a different medium…
I have been feeling for a couple of years that I needed to inject some energy into my art-making. I realize now that when I was teaching I was spending all of my verbal energy on teaching – explaining light and dark, and line and composition. As an artist, I have a limited budget of words, and so in the last few years I have spent it all on teaching and not written much, either on my blog or elsewhere.
Suddenly, I realize I have a lot to say. After the death of my friend Elisa Lardani Marchi in 2015 I had many reasons to reflect on the two and a half years I spent in Italy. In the process of writing an article about her story for Catholicmom.com, I found myself re-reading journals from the years I spent in Italy. I want to write more. A LOT more.
Keep it the Same –
Establish a rhythm for your creative practice – even if it is only a few hours a week.
When I finally found a babysitter in my new town she only came 6.5 hours a week (both my budget and her class schedule dictating that). I have two afternoons a week for my art time: whether it’s writing, setting up my studio, or going out to paint the landscape en plein air.
Find Support – even from a distance.
Start a Mastermind group on google hangout.
I invited three of my artist friends (who all live far away, now) to join me in a weekly Google Hangout where we can share what we are working on and what is inspiring us.
Especially as a mom who is with (very) young kids most of the time, adult interaction is key! I’m new to town here, and although I’ve met some nice people, in the last few months I haven’t gotten to the point of having local artist relationships where I can make myself vulnerable – yet.
But we live in 2017, so bring on the Internet. Use Google Hangouts to talk with a group of like-minded individuals who may not live close enough for regular meetings! As a mom of young kids, it is difficult to even just get out of the house so the Mastermind format of focussing on goal-setting and accomplishments and keeping to a strict timeline is very helpful. Mutual support and outside feedback is important: it is hard to see your own work objectively when you are so close to it.
Be open to serendipity.
Usually during “rest time” (when my toddler and preschooler decidedly do not nap), I retreat to my office area and try and plow through email, etc. Sometimes, if the younger one does sleep, I try and do an activity with my older activity that we can’t do when a little toddler is around. This watercolor happened when my daughter asked, “Paint with me, Mommy!” and I actually said yes. A few weeks later we went to photograph it and she watched me very closely… and her feet appeared in my camera frame…