Wednesday, July 28, 2010

24 hours is not enough.

This is the back of my work that I am currently working on.

What I am realizing that I did not expect is how hard it is to focus with the baby. I thought that since my work is easy to pick up and put down that I would be able to maintain my work practice reasonably well. But what I am finding is that it is very hard to "pick up and put down" my work emotionally & mentally.

Before lil't I was able to very narrowly focus my mind on my work for hours at a time, at the time I did not think that was important to my process but as I am trying to move forward with new work with lil't around I am realizing that it is hard to make choices for my work when I am fitting them in during short naps and moments of quiet. And my pleasure with the work is decreased because the entire time that I am working I am worried that he will wake up or trying to work fast in order to try to fit as much work in that I can.

So in short, I am realizing that I have to re-visit how I am going to meld mommyhood and my art.
I feel that in reality I need blocks of time without him in order to get anything constructive done at all. So at the moment I am thinking that I am going to be a studio early bird. He likes to sleep in and so does his daddy. So the days that I do not teach in the a.m. I technically could go and fit in a few hours in the am before C has to be in full work mode... and the idea is getting more and more tempting each day.
For years I woke up at 6:00 a.m. to go to work at a coffee shop. So now maybe I will go back to that and start waking up at 6:30 or 7 a.m. to get some work done in my studio. It won't be as much as I am use to but it would easily be 8-12 hours a week- and if you focus you can get a lot done in that amount of time.

To those of you mama's or artist's with day jobs- how do you find the time to make it to your work?


Ansie said...

Hi Joetta
I've been following your blog (and shows) for a while but this is my first comment.

This is a struggle we all have to go through as mothers. I don't really have any practical advice as everybody's lives, temperament and babies are different. Just go with what works for you. It will probably change as soon as you get used to it because the baby's needs change as he/she grows. Just don't ever feel guilty about your choices. Guilt is a very useless emotion and really drains your energy. Do what you can handle and let the rest go. We women can do everything, but just not all at the same time...

Good luck with the work, and enjoy your baby - they really grow up very fast.

Kelly Darke said...

I'm so glad I found your blog...

I really agree with Ansie - I still struggle with the guilt even though I know I need time for myself. My husband is super supportive, which helps a lot!
It has been helpful for me to write down the projects I want to complete and just work a little at a time, although I do struggle with the emotional part of stopping in the middle when I'm not ready to put the work down...
it is getting easier as the kids get older : )
good luck

Sonya said...

It's a tough thing to balance. My kids are older and with summer vacation I've hardly been in my studio. Early in the morning is probably much better for you than late at night.

Corey said...

I am very much there with you. My daughter is now 21 months old and I'm starting to get the hang of it, but the fact is, your brain is just different on Kid. Even when you are away, some part of you is always with them. I feel it getting less intense lately (many moms tell me they feel more themselves when the kid hits one and a half). Still, it's hard.

You learn to use those 20, even 4 minute time slots that you used to just assume weren't long enough to be productive, but even still, the problem of getting one's head in and out of workspace is a serious challenge.

I did resort to a day of daycare, then two, but even then I find I use them half just to catch up and do maintenance on everything (not just art). I have to really push to take those trips to a cafe or museum that give me the headspace to actually just think about what I'm doing. When I go to the studio I feel the pressure to Produce while I can. People (including the artist) forget how important that staring-at-the-wall-thinking time is. You need to carve out time for it (and yourself). You end up going a little crazy or finding parts of yourself slipping away when you don't. At least that's true for me.

I actually find fiber art a great medium for the drop-it-at-a-moment's notice aspect of mothering. I've started creating projects that are made to do that (more piecemeal, less emotionally involved). As to painting (where I need to really get into a head-space over days with big chunks of time)- I haven't really done it since she was born. I think I can start going back to it now though.

Either way- it's possible, you'll figure it out. The other commenters are right, it just keeps changing and you need to give yourself space. I'd add that because things do change so fast, sometimes it's hard to realize that you or the baby is ready for something different and to take advantage of that.

Good luck!

..on a side note I'm applying to a show for how the day job affects one's work with my day job cited as "mom". I wonder if they will take that as a proper job? It certainly has an impact!

Jane said...

Hello Joetta,

I think you'll get the balance right, you're new to this but it will come.
Enjoy your baby, the years fly by.
My kids are 30 & 28 and I just can't believe how the years have flown.
When you become a mother you always feel quilty for something!
That won't ever change :)
I love your work btw.

Abigail Thomas said...

Hi Joetta, I dont have a baby but I do have a full time job and even just that is difficult to try to fit art around. I tend to take a few days off here and there and get loads done in that day in my studio and really focus on things otherwise it just doesn't work; I can go to the studio after work ends in the evening but I have to be really into what I am doing at the time in order to get focussed enough.
Its going to be difficult for you to find a balance but I am sure you will find it soon; try out the early mornings and maybe see if once every 3 or 4 weeks you could get a sitter for the whole day?

good luck.

Joetta M. said...

Thank you all SO much for all your input, feedback, and advice. I know and continue to know that forever my life will be adjusting to my child's needs and as a result I will learn to let go more and appreciate more and this is good. But in this initial moment of the learning process it can be shocking, frustrating, and exhausting as most of you know.

I truly appreciate your supportive words and shared experiences. And continue to have faith that Tesla and I will figure it out.

We are going to ease into it when I get back from my travels in August to one morning alone in the studio and one day with him in the studio. And then hopefully be able to get a sitter in a little while for one more 1/2 day alone.

When I worked I only had one day a week in the studio and it was amazing what I could get done in that focused 8 hours. So I really think that I need to make a reachable goal like 8 hours a week and be happy with that for now. As he gets older and more dependent we can ease into more. But of course my mind changes every five minutes so who knows what I will be thinking tomorrow.

thank you again.

Lindsay said...

I found that for a period of time my focus was so clearly on my daughter that motherhood became the content of my work. I switched from embroidery to knitting as knitting fit in my backpack an could be done while at soccer games, on the subway, etc. Inch by inch work was completed. Sculptures turned into installations and installations into performance art. My work would never have come so far if I hadn't been given the gift of my daughter.

So yes, you will get much done during those early morning hours. Your work will develop and grow alongside your daughter. And there will be those days when the frustration is so great you just want to scream. It's okay.

Without doubt, you are going to do great. When there is a desire there is a way.

liz noonan said...

I just found your blog, and I believe we were in a show together about 2 years ago - a companion piece with the Peabody Essex museum.

Anyhow, I just had my 3rd daughter, she's a year old so I have 3 ages 6, 4, and 1. I don't teach anymore but I do manage to make work still but just not as much.
There is light at the end of the tunnel! When they start walking and taking longer naps you will get little, longer bunches of time.
I found that my work is better now that I have less time to think and have to just "do". That being said I also do much less, say, intellectual work than I used to so I make up for that by sewing, sewing, sewing, little projects to keep up my craft and balance my mind.
Motherhood is worth the slower pace, it makes you smarter, better, more compassionate and an amazing multi-tasker.
Good luck!

Joetta M. said...

liz- oh, i wanted to see that show so bad and never bad it up from nyc.

but... i think you are right that in a way with less time I will be more focused. Since I had the luxury of being in the studio all the time I did get a little lazy and less focused during my time there. While now I will be so happy and focused to be there I will get a ton done with the time I have. I use to only have one full day in the studio and was amazed at what I could accomplish in that time so I am hoping that happens again.

I also think that slowing down is good. For awhile there I was so focused on my work and my career that other parts of my life were being neglected where as now- I have to find a better form of balance.

thanks for your wise words, everyone.

Erin said...

As the Mom of an amazing 8 year old I agree with everyone about the need to make the time for yourself but also how fast the time goes! And yes, no matter what you do, the only constant will be that you always feel GUILTY about something!! But I wouldn't change a thing!