Tuesday, April 27, 2010

time and space

This has been a weird year of hurry-up-and-wait for me. My kids are on the cusp of adulthood, and though I have regularly been shamed by my mother-hen routine (not to mention the Jewish grandmother in me that has to feed anything that's not nailed down) I'm itching for the transition to happen so I can pour the amount of energy into my painting and drawing that I need to. Never good with regular interruptions, I need large chunks of time to be properly productive and nothing makes me happier than productivity. I regularly fantasize about living the ascetic life of a hermit in a beautiful, remote place ... with a high-speed connection and a pipeline to an endless cache of art supplies of course!

In January I lost my precious airy-but-cozy basement studio to Carl's band's equipment, including the drum kit and all its offspring. The thing is that I love it when they're practicing here, so I've worked really hard at trying to make do with a small corner of the room. I'm weird about space (among other things), as my nearest and dearest will be happy to tell you, so it's been a struggle. Not only that, I lost it completely for a week in February when a friend was staying on the hide-a-bed down there for the Olympics and this past week when a band exchange student from Ontario has been staying there. It's been rewarding having another mouth to feed though, heh! (He's probably been less impressed, though, by having to share our only full bathroom with a family of four.)

All this need-to-nurture stuff really has a negative impact on my work life, though, and always has. Just yesterday I had this revelation which I shared with friend, Di:

What pisses me off about all this is that I bought into the middle class myth emotionally but totally rejected it intellectually. Emotions will always win in my mind/world which is part of the reason I’m an artist and not an accountant. I have blamed my toe-the-line parents but there’s no question that I wanted my own family and didn’t know any other way to do it so took the path of least resistance. I have spent every moment since then fighting the battle within myself.

On my good days it has been a battle well worth fighting. On my bad days I have railed against the economic circumstances and character weaknesses that landed me in the suburbs and all the mainstream conformity that the successful suburbanite represents ... and I don't. Some would say I have it really good, and I do, but I'm not the sort of person who's good at letting my work come second. I truly believe that I have a 'vocation' and hate to feel like I'm wasting precious time. I'm constantly reminded of the years when I completely squandered it.

But enough navel gazing. There are drawings to be done and groceries to buy. Photos to take and laundry to catch up on. And so it goes.


Blogger paula said...

i like that painting andrea. and i'm beginning to think it is the most minute %age of artists that ever have that studio space they want/need. i would never ever want to share my area, nasty as it is already, i have a hard time working on art if i hear outside neighbors for gods sake. so you are one up on me.
i look forward to you having more andrea space/time, hope it happens soon.

27/4/10 9:43 a.m.  
Blogger Michelle said...

I hope this isn't taken the wrong way....
I love you.
As a fellow artist lost in suburbia, I am at odds also with being a mom and wishing that sometimes they would all disappear so I can be me.

27/4/10 12:24 p.m.  
Blogger Costescu said...

hmm, and here I thought I was the only artist/mom feeling that way ;) I only have about 20 more years to wait!

27/4/10 12:44 p.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

Jeepers! Did our little whinge-fest spawn this?
It's a good and fair summation,Andrea, and not just from your perspective, I see!Like Paula, I have neighbours who can put me off.

27/4/10 1:18 p.m.  
Blogger Ellen said...

I so get this post. I've made peace with accepting what I want to accomplish and what I can realistically aren't compatible, but since my kids are much younger, imagining them all grown up and gone makes me too sad:). But Andrea, MAKE them wash their own clothes, cook a bit, do some housework or they'll never leave! I do recall a certain pampered male sibling of mine (ahem, okay, I'm just avoiding saying my brother) who brought his dirty laundry home for my mom to wash after he moved out and was in his 20's. Drove me crazy.

27/4/10 8:18 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Paula: I would gladly give up space for more time. Put me in a renovated single garage and give me an extra 50 years!

Michelle: :) I can spot a kindred spirit when I read one!

Tracey: But you are producing an astonishing amount for the age of your kids!

Dinah: I warned you that a blog post was brewing, didn't I? I love it when I can take two distinct concerns and join them together like this.

Ellen: I was saying to Di that you're at a similar place career-wise (but *way* ahead art-wise) as me when my kids were the same age as yours. And you're so right about pulling the plug on my 'enabling'; behaviour. (But secretly I don't want them to ever leave home...)

27/4/10 10:27 p.m.  
Blogger Hayden said...

Well, there's a large, airy room upstairs here you could take over, and a tiny-but-full bathroom on both floors.
My biggest noise complaints are:
1) the fan in my heater
2) the refrigerator
3) the washing machine

Yours would probably be - ME! singing, bursts of chanting, and listening to music...

of course, I'd have to figure out what to do with the stuff that's spread itself over the entire upstairs, and paint and find a bed, but.....

pro'ly no eco-cottage here for 4-5 years... ;(

28/4/10 4:37 a.m.  
Blogger Hayden said...

funny to see this post, these comments right now. When I began this transformation 3 years ago one of my fantasy-goals was to create space for an artists' retreat - and in that, of course, I include writers. Writers may not need a lot of physical space, but they do need blocks of time and a sense of expansiveness. I imagined a small hive, maybe 5 eco-cottages linked around a central domed gathering area and bathroom.

Right now there's so much work/learning to be done that it's hard to even imagine it.

28/4/10 4:46 a.m.  
Blogger Melody said...

Your singing my song Andrea...wonderful post....and that artwork is simply stunning!!!

28/4/10 9:15 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've nailed my personal feelings once again...I dream of life in a log cabin surrounded by woods and nature and absolute silence. A place to work and dream as long as I need.

28/4/10 9:34 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Hayden: Your plan for a little artist's retreat appeals to me so much right now. The chance to work separately yet gather with like minds when needed. (sigh...)

Melody: You are one of my "homies" who's at a similar pace in the universe.

Veronica: My own fantasy actually includes an apartment in the city, too. The best of both worlds!

28/4/10 7:37 p.m.  
Blogger Angela Recada said...

Your tree art is absolutely fabulous!

I had no idea we had so much in common, from the kids at-the-cusp (mine are 18 and 20), to the Jewish grandmother tendencies ( :0) ), to the hunger for large chunks of time to be properly productive.

Did I ever tell you I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, and live in Toronto and Kitchener, Ontario, as a child. I adore Canada and hope to really explore the Vancouver area someday.

You really inspire me to keep moving forward with this need I have to make paintings, and create who knows what else.

I hope you get the time and space you need. It's something I've been longing for, too.

What Michelle wrote hit me right between the eyes. Those could easily have been my words.

2/5/10 8:35 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Angela: Thank you! There *are* a lot of similarities. I hope you get to see Vancouver one day. It was interesting seeing it through another's eyes during the band exchange.

2/5/10 4:22 p.m.  
Blogger Rebecca S. said...

Hi. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog a week or so ago (I'm slow, I know). I've been wanting to visit you ever since. I love your paintings - they feel sort of Asian to me (sorry if they aren't supposed to. I studied Far Eastern Art a bit at UBC), especially the Arbutus trees, which fascinated me when I lived in Vancouver years ago. Anyway, I used to have the same struggles about family and the space needed for the artistic process, but in the end, I really think, as my wise mom says, 'Life is long' and there will be time for everything. In the meantime I am soaking up my children's beautiful metamorphosis into adulthood (I have a recent post about my musician son who also has a band that practises downstairs like yours), believing that one day I will have time and inspiration to concentrate on my writing. And if it doesn't happens as I think it should, at least I'll know I did my best as a mom. So, for now, I blog.

11/5/10 2:32 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Rebecca: Thank you for the long, thoughtful comment. I can see the Asian feel as well, now that you mention it. My style has something in common with the twisty Bonsai and other types of trees you find there. And if I consider my kids works of art, then I figure I must e doing something right because I'm really liking how they're turning out, especially their wry senses of humour and love of their own creative processes.

11/5/10 7:42 p.m.  
Blogger sewingthreads said...

Your art is wonderful. My father drew nothing but trees with unbelievable detail. He suddenly died a few months ago & I have a few of hhis drawings. He never had formal training. Your trees have that natural look...he would tell me all the time how to look at tree & nature when I drew. noe everyone has that `eye' to see
great artistic job

8/6/10 8:01 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Thank you! I'm not a big believer in formal training. If you have "the eye" then the best thing you can do is just work at it. Sounds like your dad did that!

9/6/10 8:53 a.m.  

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