My laptop is currently perched on the edge of the kitchen table tonight, crowded out by dirty dishes, mail, my sketchbook, our seedlings (we started our veggie garden indoors this year), and a myriad of other things. There are shoes strewn on the floor, baby D’s toys occupying the living room floor, and laundry in baskets that needs to be folded.
But you know, it’s funny. While some days I look around my house at 9pm and think, “dang, today I get a D- in house keeping skills”, tonight I’m not bothered by it a bit. This week, my messy house just confirms that I am a healthy person. Why is this? Because when my house is clean, it means I was actually home to clean it. And when my house is messy, it means I’m spending my minutes playing on the floor with baby, sneaking off to Kath’s for time in the studio, chatting with my husband, devouring mind-stretching books, and building warm relationships with friends.
And those things mean more to me than a clean house.
I have a quote on my bulletin board above my little home studio. My mom clipped it out of a magazine and sent it to me a few months ago. It says simply, “Cleaning the house while your children are growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.”
I love having that quote up in my studio, since I usually have to talk myself out of cleaning something in order to find time for the studio.
Ironically tonight, though, I need to clean my studio to make room to make more art. Off to the studio, I go!
I walked through the door tonight after an evening of throwing at Kath’s to hear my husband exclaim, “it’s been a year since I’ve seen you look like that!”
Most women would take pride in this comment if it was made in reference to their bodies returning to prepregnancy weight after pregnancy and birth. Me? Forget it. I know he meant it about the clay on my jeans, and that means a heck of a lot more to me, anyway!
I have to admit it, I looked down at my jeans after B’s comment and thought to myself, “dang, I look good!”
Clay sure can make a girl look great.
Recently I’ve been reading this great book by Lisa Bloom entitled, “Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World”. Each page leaves me dumbfounded at things I never knew about the world–like how eating beef contributes more to global warming than any other single factor (like driving, wasting electricity, etc) or how 3 million women are enslaved in sex trafficking. I am in awe as I keep learning all the things that don’t show up on Google News or NPR (or maybe I just haven’t been listening to enough NPR lately). Anyway, I feel like the past week I’ve been left contemplating ‘heavy’ things. The more I read about the extreme poverty that one billion people live in, the stranger it feels to go grocery shopping or do laundry, you know?
So once again I’ve revisited that thought of, “really? There are starving people out there, and I am going to spend the next hour making…art?” Thankfully, that thought doesn’t dominate my mind very long any more, although I remember struggling as a teenager when I first fell in love with art. I wanted to know how it was ‘okay’ for me to devote a life to art when I could devote a life to being an advocate for the poor, a physician for the sick, a voice for the silenced. I read and thought and prayed about it for, well, years.
Eventually I realized that these things were not mutually exclusive; being an artist doesn’t mean that I can’t be involved human rights. I also realized that more important that what you DO is who you ARE. And more than anything, I felt a divine voice encouraging me and whispering over and over, “keep going! Be an artist! You can do it and make a difference in the world in the process!”
Now I have the combo of stay-at-home-mom added on top of that, and somehow making a difference in the world seems a lot harder when you can’t even get showered and dressed before noon. I feed my daughter at dinner and can’t help but think, what can I do with the resources around me to help the other mothers who have nothing to feed their children? I hop online to check my email and I wonder, what can I do personally to contribute to advancing education among women in developing countries?
And how can I do it through art?
I don’t feel frustrated by the thought, just challenged.
So I’ll start by using the resources around me and ask: How would you do it?
I was never really into sketch books–well, that isn’t entirely true. I was never really into DRAWING in sketch books. Ironically, I always ended up writing.
It’s been a few years since I actually had a sketch book I drew in, but last night I found myself on the floor of our living room pouring over a sketchbook with sharpie markers and ball point pens. The past few weeks have been full of hosting family members here in our little apartment and I haven’t been spending much time in clay. Now that our visitors are gone and the house resembles some type of cleanliness, it’s time to get back to business.
I start on the pages with light colored marker and then switch to a darker color once the page is full….I just keep layering the ideas on top of each other until the ones that survive the evolution are in dark black marker sitting on top of 3 other layers of color.
My baby girl keeps me so busy that it’s easy to loose the momentum I find after a few nights in the studio…I’m hoping that my sketchbook will help me jot down the ideas that come to me between bites as I’m spoon feeding sweet potatos or playing peek-a-boo.