Monday, May 23, 2016

Artist Single Mom

I've been using the tag "artist mom" to describe myself since 2010.  I think my husband left me and the three crumbcakes around 2009.  It's hard to keep track of all the years as they fly by, often in hurricane strength wind... This last year was almost a category 5.  And BUH-BYE... But yearly, there is the cycle of life... a cycle to the trees flowering, the grass/weeds growing, the raccoons having babies and to me painting, sewing, taking the cakes on picnics or sunsets... It's an amazing cycle of doing the same thing over and over on a yearly basis.  I have to say I really didn't realize this until Facebook installed the "See Your Memories" option.  I get to look at my posts from "this day" for all the years I've been on FB.  It's ridiculous in a way, but in another... it helps me see patterns in my behavior or nature around me.  For example on Saturday night I saw a mommy raccoon with babies in my side front yard... then on Sunday morning the Facebook time-hop had a post from last year where I also saw a mother raccoon with babies in my front yard.  So to the day... raccoons are having babies in my yard at the same time.  It's kind of freaky.  About a month ago someone I love had a "heart episode." Two years ago, almost to the exact day--he had the same thing.  So there is a cycle to heart problems?  I don't know... but the information is fascinating to me.  Seems like I got off track on my artist residency motherhood post... but when your an arist-mom, everything is something to be looked at and discussed.

One thing that I don't have a cyclical pattern for is my love life.  Being alone has been one of the hardest hurdles for me to hike my leg over and step to the other side.  Loneliness is the dark side of life... and if you step over the hurdle or if you are just pushed, landing face flat in the solitary muck... there you are, it's just you and the muck.  And people say, "ohhhh you have your kids to keep you company..."  This is not adult company.  You can't be too vulnerable with your kids, too honest about your life, and you can't crack perverted jokes.  So having a house full of kids doesn't mean you aren't lonely for a man.

In some ways not dating anyone... makes life easier, more time for art and to spend with my children. There are pluses to being single. I have found that the last two guys I dated were more like man-children so having them around was like having one more mouth to feed and ass to wipe.  Of course the ass wiping was metaphorical.  I just mean having to babysit their plethora of emotional needs.... while my needs were ignored.

The other night, at an art opening, I had an offer for sex.  It was more like a daily offer of sexual service more than a one nighter.  Although I was flattered that anyone considered having sex with me... I denied the offer as what I am looking for is a man who wants to be with me because he genuinely --LIKES ME--.  I know, in these modern times... this is an alien concept--and not a "South of the border" concept but a... "past Pluto" concept.  What ever happened to getting to know someone and falling in love with their little quirks? And, yes, eventually those little quirks will be awful annoying habits that you'll want to kill him in his sleep over... but at least at the beginning... they are so darn cute!  I want someone who "grows on me" like a nondestructive fungus that helps me to blossom and grow like a hole-ly loaf of crusty bread.  Some mutual love and understanding, I'm ordering some of THAT, with a side of respect and a cheese dipping sauce.

So what comes after the loneliness?  I don't know.  I guess more relationships and failed relationships.  I already mastered the eating alone at a restaurant and going to a movie by myself.  I'm a pro at both.  I love coffee shop lazing about with a decaf mocha and my sketchbook, and my beautiful thoughts.  I know my Netflix boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain doesn't like the coffee shop lifestyle... but you can't please everyone all the time.  And Tony, don't worry, now that crumbcake #4 is in my life... there is little to no time to be alone anywhere... from the bathroom to public spaces...

This week's goals are to plan a graduation party, list more art and dolls in my etsy store, cook superb dinners for my 4 crumbcakes, take care of the 16 chickens, mow the acre yard, fix the leaky sink, sell sell sell art, finish my large painting and start new smaller pieces, get my doll fabric ordered on Spoonflower.  Pretty easy week of goals... AND ... I should add, "Have the love of my life find me."

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 17, 2016: Save Yourself

Well, my wish to get off of food stamps came sooner than I thought!  Boom, they took them away.  It is almost a relief to have them gone.  It just means I have to make more art, work harder at selling my art... and be able to pay for all the food!  Nothing like a drastic need for food to motivate you!

With that said, I did pretty well at selling my work this weekend at my show at the Queen's Head on Saturday night.  So, BOOM, grocery money.  The Indie Market on Sunday was slow so that was kind of a downer.  I'm not sure how we can get people to continue to come to markets during the summer months.  I know I don't like sweating.  But there has to be some kind of gimmick... free ice cubes with art purchase??  Maybe free mojito with art purchase??

Saturday night and Sunday, my daughter, Crumbcake #3 watched my two year old.  So that's how I swung all those engagements and hours of work.  It was an exhausting weekend and every baby that i saw or every little boy toddling around made me lonely for my crumbcakes.  Over the course of Sunday my breasts filled up with milk and was wondering where my little relief monster was hiding out.  Thankfully, my older cakes do a great job at watching the little man and I don't have to worry too much about him.  I think it's too difficult to take him with me to market days.  He would want to be held all day or run around and neither one of those is a good option for me.  So as much as he is around me when I am making art... he's usually not with me when I am selling it.

I am working on a large canvas painting right now and it's set up in the living room.  I love the way it's developing.  There are hidden images and themes and I think it holds a lot of worries and thoughts of mine.  The general theme of the paining is, "Save Yourself."  But the bees, the oceans, our girls, etc... cannot save themselves.  As much as it would be nice if everything could self correct, save itself from harm, death, extinction... obviously it can't.  We are a sturdy ecosystem on this earth... but can we weather pollution, plastics, terrorism, and the general depressive state that most people embrace?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Uppem : a manifesto

My son is two and he is the reason I am a work-at-home Mom again.  Before he came along I owned and operated my own small gallery in St. Petersburg, FL.  My son has his own words for things... when he wants to say thank you he says, "Uppem."

I joined the Artist Residency in Motherhood because I always feel like the odd man out.  And that's just it... we don't even say, "odd woman out."  I'm a single mom with four children.  This in itself attracts disdain.  Add that the father of my youngest has never even met him and you get an even higher amount of social judgement.  And as I have been told countless times..."This was YOUR choice... "  And it was... it was my choice to keep my precious son.  I could not be more Uppemful. But yet, I am not a part of the "club."

When my son, let's just call him, "crumbcake #4" was born... I was making art full time.  I had a one woman pop up show when he was just two months old.  So I went from natural childbirth to back to work in less than a week.  And anyone who ever had a newborn knows the difficulties in just functioning because you are so sleep deprived.  So hard work has never been a problem for me.  I adhere to deadlines and almost always bite off more than i can chew.

I have my own style of work... I call my character, "Gretchen."  I see her as a type of Vivian Girl who fights for the lives and rights of children and women.  I'm not sure if any of my messages ever come through to my art.  But there are messages for those who can see them.  I wish to be a force for good in the world... to give hope to the hopeless... And essentially I just want to save myself.  If I can save me... then maybe I can help my own crumbcakes and possibly others along the way.

I believe in giving until it hurts.  You give and give until you cannot give anymore... because it's the right thing to do.  It's good and right to give.  Creation is salvation and I must create.  The drive is strong in this one.

I feel i'm on the verge of giving up or my life taking a turn towards the good.  Everything of late has been negative.  Last week I was told that only my male artist counterparts work would be buyable, hangable in a corporate setting because men can relate to their work... that my work is too feminine.  Yoko Ono had it right when she said that, "Women is the nigger of the world."  And in the art crowd I witness... it doesn't take a man to even put you in your place... the women are very good at holding other women down.  Today I went to a grant review that I was invited to.  When I got there I was told that "you aren't good enough" to be reviewed... "didn't you get the email?"  Nope... I didn't get the email... if I had... I wouldn't have dropped my daughter off to school early, arranged a babysitter for my crumbcake #4 and wasted a 1/4 tank of gas to be here...  And to be clear I checked my emails this morning, including spam folders.  So my grant idea was to work with an already existing organization to do workshops with incarcerated women and those newly freed... to do sewing and painting projects with them and to paint a mural on their South St. Pete workshop headquarters.   I really believe my grant proposal was good enough.  But, again... the whole thing is based upon women... art for women... women who need some hope to take home with them.

So I want to DO, I want to create... I want to achieve my goals and to get off of food stamps.  I want to help others.  I want to help myself.  I want to help my children.  So I joined this... Artist Residency in Motherhood to have someone to talk to about all of this... cause honestly, there is not one person who takes the time to listen to me.  Partly this is my fault as I work hard and when i'm not working--i'm devoted to my crumbcakes.  And it's my fault for picking really horrible men to marry and/or date.  So it's me, the cakes and my art... and of late... i've been deemed... "not good enough."