In recent weeks I’ve been spending time thinking about my urge to create and putter. Before I gave birth to Huxley, I would virtually live at my studio, creating, puttering, always thinking of the next thing to do and explore.
Now, I still have the need to do it, but I seem to do most of the action in my head, not with my hands. I pour over books, wish for time to create, plan elaborate schedules to make things, even go as far as ordering supplies and make business plans (not real ones, but thinking about all the things I could make to sell). In my mind, I’m planning a whole new wardrobe to replace my old corporate rags. I go through bursts of energy where I think that I can create anything, that I will never sleep again, that I will just keep creating. I order way too many books, fill my brain with an ever-expanding repertoire of images, things, ideas. Yet when I have a bit of time, I squander it, or I am so exhausted that I don’t know where to start.
Is this simply a sign of being a mother? I do believe that there is this unseen link between mother and child that transfers energy and thoughts between us. Huxley will be 4 in a few months and I certainly have more time and energy than I have had for a long time, yet I just can’t get to create. I work 2 full days and 2 half days at my painting studio, and there I do make my mixed-media paintings. But I feel that my work is not growing as fast as I want it too. It’s not that I can’t focus on work because I miss Huxley, I’m actually happy to have this time to myself. I have shows to produce work for and galleries to keep happy, but beyond that, most things just stay locked in my brain. And they frustrate me.
The image at the top of this entry is of gnomes that I knitted for our Waldorf Schools’ Winterfair this past December. I made them at the studio while procrastinating from work on the paintings. So why not knit more at the studio? Because of the resin, I have to be very careful which fibres I work with, as these little ephemeral bits have a way of floating around and landing in the resin when it is wet.
On books: on the weekend I did a huge order of books from some of my online sources. I discovered a large number of items from my wish list for 1 penny each plus shipping. How can I not get them I wondered, and ordering them I did? Yet I also know that these books are in a way replacements for me not doing the actual creating. It is a vicious cycle… the more I want to create and make, the less time I find. Hence I’m overwhelmed and often do nothing. Huxleys’ bedtime is around 7:30 pm and if R puts him to bed, and if I go to the basement right away (where my sewing table is set up), I can usually go right up to midnight. But if I don’t get started before 7:30 pm, then I just want to sit down and rest or go to sleep.
Some people have remarked on how much stuff that I do get accomplished, yet to me, I see the potential in each day’s 24 hours and I only see all the things that must be possible to get done. I’m not beating myself up about it, but I am trying to get to know my mothering self and to find out what it is that I need to do to accomplish things. I also know that I spend too much time online, reading blogs, news, checking the weather, my mail, sourcing and perusing yet another idea. I know that I will find my path again, that as Huxley gets older, and that he will be less needy, but to think that our live just keeps going after having a child, is not my experience.
One of the reasons that I am so inspired to blog about my daily dadoodles is that I love to share what I do with like minded souls. Last summer, I spent a week in Haliburton, Ontario, about 3 hours north of here, doing embroidery. The workshop was hosted by Dorothy Caldwell (see some images of hers). I took a batik workshop with her some years ago and am just so blown away by her work and her personality. Then a former studio mate of mine took this one-week stitching workshop with her and I loved the sampler she produced. When I saw the listing for her course at the Haliburton School of Arts, summer schedule, I knew that I had to take it.
I feel the need to preface my stitching work with the fact that I have nerve damage in my right wrist. After years of believing that it was carpal tunnel syndrom, I know now that it is because both my pinky fingers are substantially shorter than “normal”, which means that for years I strained the nerves of my other fingers when carrying stuff. I’m getting bi-weekly treatments now and currently put accupuncture needles into my wrist every night. It’s made a huge difference. So I was worried about how much stitching I could actually get accomplished at the workshop. I was very happily surprised to not have pain. It must help, that I didn’t have a heavy little boy to carry around for a week. I think that most mothers can attest to the fact that our kids continue to strain our bodies after birth, yet I wouldn’t want to miss his closeness and the hugs for anything in the world.
At the workshop, one of the excercises was to make 5 little images depicting a scene of our lives. We were inspired by having beautiful Indian Kanta cloths hanging around us. If you are interested in finding out more about the way that East-Indian women tell stories, check out this link: Kantha. I will upload images of my finished 3 little pieces at a later point. We also had to stitch on a sampler, where we explored stitching. We started out our class by being given a piece of cardstock and being told to start stitiching in the middle on the left side, then do whatever our fancy told us, and end up in the middle on the right side. When we where finished, we lined up all our cards. It was truly astonishing, how each of our personalities where reflected in this one line.
I will remember this exercise when I teach my next workshop, as I think something similar like this would be wonderful to do with almost any medium. It connects us to our fellow students, as well as shows us our individuality.
The part of the workshop that I was most excited about is the sampler. Here are a few details of the stitching that I did. Even though the workshop was not my first time away from the family since Huxley was born (I’d gone to visit a dear friend in New York in November 2006), it was the first time that I had a chance to just work on an art activity for a concentrated time. Even though I did not at all like the place that I stayed at (kinda a creepy appartment, that had no view, and no happy vibes, but would have been perfectly fine for a batchelor), I spent all my time stitching. I’d get up in the morning, eat some breakfast, then get to school early. I’d be there stitching when everyone arrived. After class, I hooked up with one of the other girls and we’d go down to the lake to stitch. Arriving home at dusk, I’d stitch until 10pm while listening to my I-pod. I only figured out two nights before I left, that I could receive some TV stations (this felt weird, since we don’t watch TV at home, only movies). The best of all was that my hands where able to handle it.
So here, withouth further ado, some details of my sampler:
Although the sampler has been at the studio since the fall, I had forgotten about it until I started looking for these pictures to share. Now that I have it in front of me again, I am very inspired to work on other pieces that I can then incorporate into my art works. Once the Toronto Art Expo Art Expo 2008 is over, I will definitely work on getting this under way. For now, I’m getting ready to resin coat a selection of work that I am very excited about. Pictures and twitter to follow.
It is rather sad how I spend hours pouring over other peoples blogs and wish to be part of this amazing collection of women. Especially those who like me have children, craft, cook and somehow keep it all in balance. Yet I can’t seem to manage to get this blog thing happening for myself. So for this year, I will try to spend some time regularly on keeping my own online diary up to date.
One thing that will be important for me in this blog, will be to not only address all the great, productive things happening in our life, but also address and share some of the challenges. Especially the challenges of finding time and energy to do everything I am so driven to do. I also want to share some of my challenges with being a professional artist, raising a small family and having this huge need to create. While growing up, so many times friends, family and acquaintances commented on the fact that my dad was never able to sit still, especially my mom always said that he couldn’t stop puttering, he couldn’t sit still. I think I’ve got that from him.
This was dad in 1956, a mere 27 years old. He was born the second oldest of 11 children. He passed on in 1992 and it still saddens me that he was not given enough years to seeing Huxley. I think he would have made a fabulous Grospapi.
Okay, this covers some of the history part that I’ve wanted to get into this blog, now to some of the present. For Christmas I planned to make bags for a number of people that are close to us. Having spent WAY-WAY too much money on Japanese craftbooks last year, I also thought that I need to bring the inspiration into something physical. Richard and I also kinda agreed to only give handmade or reclaimed gifts to the few people that we gift. So I thought what better thing than to make some bags. Who doesn’t need bags. I also wanted to incorporate something from/off Huxley into the bag to make it more relevant to the people getting the bag. I choose his day-care owner (Nana), two of our neighbours (one that used to watch Huxley at said daycare, which is at a neighbours house, the other is our next door neighbour and a fantastic woman of German descent), Huxley’s Grandmother (Richards’ Mom), my close friend with her Swiss Hubby and little Andreas that is a mere 6 weeks older than Huxley, and low and behold I decided to make a bag for myself too. I knew that if I wouldn’t squeeze in the time to make my own now, that it would be months before I got the energy/time to make mine. The scribble fabric is a Gocco print of a drawing Huxley made at the atelier.
This is a detail of Rima’s bag
Before Christmas I did some rearranging stuff at the art studio (henceforth to be known as atelier, to make the distinction between the place where I go and work, and the home studio where I have fun and make goodies just because and not for sale), I came across a vintage boys pajama that I got almost 30 years ago (does that make me old? grin…) for Rita, my life-size doll that now stands in Huxley’s room, is about his size and seems to freak out a lot of the adults that visit. Huxley likes her and sometimes drags her around. I still remember how cool I thought it was to have a doll that fits the clothes of a real child. My godmother Margrit made clothes for her and I think my mom also knit a couple of sweaters for her. So I found these vintage pajamas that fit Huxley perfectly. He didn’t seem too comfortable in them, as they have a drawstring waist and he is used to elastic waistbands. I’m thinking of replacing the drawstring, but he is almost too big for the top. I wanted to have some nice shoots of him in those jamies though and I put them on him for Christmas eve. Here’s the shot I took:
Well, time flies. I just realized that it has been months since I last posted anything. Not that it matters much, as nobody knows that I’m here.
I did pass my 37th b-day without much ruckus. But this whole winter has been rough. I’m so looking forward to spring. I was totally blocked with my paintings this fall and just couldn’t get into the mode of producing them. I also was faced with a horrible experience of Triart changing their Top Coat product and it ruined about 8000 dollars worth of work for me. What a bad thing. I had just ordered a pail of the stuff and used it to coat a body of work for the Show of Hands Gallery. I immediately knew that something was wrong, as the product smelled a lot stronger, re-liquefied the acrylic paint that was dry and even dissolved a marker I had been using to sign my name and never had a problem with before. About 4 days after applying the Top Coat I started to notice cracks in the surface of the coating, going right down to the canvas. In other words, the work was shot. Here I was, needing work, having Galleries interested in showing/selling the pieces and nothing to produce.
It took me about 3 months, but I have now found a product that works for me and it actually also lets me work large and with the abstracts that I’ve been planning. Here is an example of one of the new abstracts:
This piece was my showpiece at the Toronto Art Expo and it sold on opening night. I was so happy and it got me really thinking about how much I have achieved since leaving school. The piece came together like a dream. I had applied the new coating 4 times and I just wasn’t sure if it would work I could not make up my mind. Even when Richi came to the studio he (who generally always has an immediate unfailing opinion) could not decide if the look worked. I also make a 3-tick that sold on Sunday (to a amazingly nice couple that had seen it on Saturday but needed to measure their space before committing to the work).
I sent these images to my friends, family and some of “my” galleries and they where all very happy with the work and the galleries as excited to get it.
Okay, time warp….
Tomorrow it’s Easter Sunday and I’ve gotta go to vacuum downstairs so that we can hide the Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies for Huxley. He is such a joy to be with these days, his developing speech is fun and he has a great sense of humor.
I’ve been knitting too, generally in the evenings while watching the tube. Socks for Huxley, socks for me, a cardigan for me and more socks for Huxley. I ordered some denim yarn and will knit Huxley an aran hooded sweater out of it. I’ll shoot for a size 3 -4 , so that there’s not so much pressure to finish it immediately. After reading the Mason-Dixon knittin book I also want to start thinking about knitting a bedspread for our eventually to be finished bed room. We’ve now chosen the colours for the wood floor and the walls. We’ve also choosen the colour range for the living room and will be making a final decision by tomorrow…. Probably a mustardy yellow, a colour, that I have discovered will look equally nice in the heat of summer and the depth of winter. Yeah……
I participated in the Toronto Art Expo in March, which meant that I worked 5-day weeks and 7-day evenings at the studio getting work ready. I did not see much of Huxley and DH, and I missed them. The deadline is wonderful in that it ads the right amount of preassure to get work done, but it’s also contributing to burning me out.
The first week after the show I took a mini-holiday with simply working on home stuff and relaxing. I also helped out a friend who had a newborn and took a couple of extra days with Huxley. I find that is very necessary to ensure that we rebond. I couldn’t work 5 days per week on a regular basis. I need to spend time with my little guy. I find that even after 3 days apart he is pushing my bounderies so much that It’s very hard to get along.
The art Expo was very sucessful. I sold 15 pieces of work, 5 as a collection to a corporate Bay-Street firm. We are now talking on doing a few extra pieces to round-out the collection. The overall show though seemed to have less visitors, I could be wrong on that, but I know for certain that less people seemed to be leaving with artwork. I have signed up again for next year. Even though there are many things in that show that could be improved, it’s currently the only valid option for a public show.
I was also approached by some new galleries, a couple that I’m in serious conversation with. One of the contacts where art representatives; they pay 25% of the retail price of the work and sell it to various galleries across the world. But I just wouldn’t work for that kind of money. It seems to be wrong, that the artist gets the least amount of money. As the work would not excist without the artists. I would have to make twice the amount of work to make the same amount of money that I make now. Their argument is that the artist has volumes of sales. I’d be very interested to hear from artists who find positive notions in this arangement.
This past weekend I went to Gannaoque, ON, in the Thousand Island region, for a 2-day Fibre Arts Retreat. I had a wonderful time doing things that are not focused around painting, but rather on my passion for textiles and fibre. A group of fibre artists from that region www.seventhreadsstudios.com organized the event. It was a first for them and I think they did a wonderful job. My friend Wendo of www.fibreartbywendo.com is a member of the group and since I’m alsways so happy to spend time with her I really wanted to attend. They will run the retreat again next year and alread have 2/3 of the people from this year signed up. I offered to teach a couple of mini-workshops in barter for my attendance next year. I’m very excited about that possibility.
The weekend went by so fast, that I didn’t even take any pictures, but Wendo did… in a shot that sums up my love for fibre.
I’m here (again). Last time I set one of these babies up was under the heading of “knittingmomma”, as that seemed to be the main thing I wanted to twitter about. That was two years and about 6 posts ago. My mind has had a lot of time absorbing many of the wonderful blogs out there and I realized that what I wanted to do was to blog about my life as a working artist, mother of a little boy, creator of many things fibre, mother to many little doll souls growing out of my hands, passionate cook and baker, amateur gardener, gatherer of information and resources.
Spending significant time on line everyday reading a lot of blogs and being inspired by them, makes me want to become an active participant of that world. I started to feel like a taker, looking, getting inspired, lurking, but not sharing back, although I do comment frequently. Our little boy, Huxley, is now three and a half years old and I’m gaining back some of the hours I used to have pre-child. I will not set myself up for disappointment by planning to post on a daily basis, but I will attempt to blog weekly, or whenever I come across something I deem worthy to twitter on about.
A bit about how I choose the name of the blog. I wanted to do something that reflected me. A sparrow, or in German (Spatz), a bird that isn’t shy to come right up to you, a very common looking fellow, not flashy, yet seems to survive everywhere (a reflection of moi).
(photo courtesy of: http://www.bbc.co.uk)
I love the colour green, I wear green glasses, walk around in green shoes, own a green winter parka, countless green t-shirts and even some green eyeshadow back from the 80’s. Our local Independent Grocery Association store makes a wicked green olive lemon pickle thingy that is unbelievably yummy. Those who know my artwork (check out: my website
are likely familiar with the fact that much of what I do is driven by symbols, the symbology behind the “olive branch” I love as well. The olive branch symbolizes Peace and Goodwill, something us common people are so instrumental in promoting. I also love the fact that the olive ties in with my love for cooking and all things food and vegetarian. The little bird is also a symbol for flight and I hope that it will also let me fly to all corners of the world to connect with other creative souls.