Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Juggling and Balancing Act

So really this is just one more thing for a dad and an artist to do:  write a blog about being a parent of the fatherly sort who needs to make time for his art as well.  I've had this notion on a back-burner for ages and its time that I move it to a slightly higher flame.  For the sake of a loop hole I will state that some of these entries will be short and sweet and when the momentum and the inspiration hit the almighty crossroads of afforded time...the post will be longer...and maybe even edited.  This diary of sorts will be 1/3 parts art: shows, favorite artists, searching for the right kind of glue and paper and where to find good frame stock..., 1/3 parts parenting: clean-up time, favorite recipes, the bully at school, introductory life questions (birth, death and why can't I have ice cream before bed)...and 1/3 parts art time with dad:  gorilla-style watercolors in the park, paint a pretty picture with your ketchup and "ooh! that sliced tomato looks amazing, let's take a photograph of it, shall we?"  That all being said let us now begin.

I am always doing battle with the fact that Art chose me I did not choose it but I did choose to have children and a wife.  The big question I always ask artists who are parents is this:  How do you do it?  Some say that you can't do it and you must devote your life to your children first and when they head off for school you can do your art in the meantime.  Some say that you have to treat it like any other job and divide up your time between your job and your family.  A few have said you can't have children and expect to do art as well.  Most of them ask me to tell them the answer when I find out.  So I'm finding out and in the process letting them know.  I've left the channels open for any of you creative parental units to spout forth your own answers. 

As an artist I have a "zone" that I love, feels comfortable and is very much who I've always been.  That zone does not include a time to eat or sleep, deadlines, people I have to contact, bills that need to be paid and so on.  My "zone", my world is filled with enlightening juxtapositions, magical moments of the angle of the sun on the side of a building, synchronous happenings that need to be bowed to and acknowledged and musings on complimentary colors and their near tirtiaries.  As a parent I am needing to keep a sense of order, a well balanced diet, specific bedtimes, patience, a firm yet gentle set of rules, a sense of which battles need to be fought at the appropriate time and just enough advice and soothing words to teach and calm a child.  Now when I've had the right amount of sleep and food myself I am Super Dad and can sufficiently juggle these two worlds...but when that hasn't happened I am the one to go daydreaming off in a particular shade of purple when I should be getting food prepared and some body's long division checked.  Can we have a display of hands for those folks who have burned the Arthur Noodles while they were gluing foreign money to a multicolored typeset box.  Or perhaps the reverse situation where getting wrapped up in a diet coke and Mentos science project meant that your paint has dried and you've ruined several brushes as a result.  I don't know if there is an easy and just answer.  First and foremost, I cannot neglect my children - as a friend reminded me "you can't get that time back"....but I will go crazy if I stifle my personal gift of making images. 

So I've worked out a few compromises and scheduling techniques:
1 - When the children are home be with them and if the need be then include them in on your game (more on this later).
2 - When the children are not home then get the housework done so it doesn't sit in the back of your head as you try to create something.
3 - Schedule with the whole family when you will be "in disposed" - not to be disturbed and set a reasonable amount of time (four hours to build frames, two hours to paste and cut, one hour to research web design solutions, 15 minutes to take or make an important phone call.)
4 - Always carry a camera or a notebook or both so that when a thought comes or a particularly photographic moment arrives you can make and take the required notations (again, more on all this later.)

Now That I've said all this, my time is up.  I must go and collect more stuff from around the house for a yard sale that we're having on Saturday.  I'm getting rid of all my old paintings and drawings as well as some books, a lamp and a ton of random baskets from all around the world.

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