She’s green. A woman who creates a world that covers her body, that protects her and feeds her children. Made from protective qualities, like optimism, creativity, and resilience. Her skin, thick with intransigent love. The green sloth woman learns how to adapt, her outer shell evolves, she adds a durable layer of self-protection and high regard for herself. The sloth woman is inadequate to survive easily in this world unscathed, especially emotionally and psychologically. But she is a quick study, also takes notes and has a good memory. She is vulnerable to predators, has close calls, but always survives.
I race against the clock. It’s Sunday, my husband took Jack and Fiona out for a few hours to give me alone time. I cherish it and am cramming in as much self-expression as I can. I painted, hiked, and now I’m writing.
I have had a nice weekend with my kids. We have had some very quality moments together, and since writing about their evolution as four-and-a-half-year-olds the other day, I have found myself soften and we’ve reconnected in a new way.
I have been dwelling on my value again, as an artist especially. But I can’t help relating being an artist with being a parent. I received my check the other day for the recent sale of “White Hand”. A painting I love. I priced this painting lower than I should have because in the end, after the gallery cut was taken and I factored in the framing cost I ended with a “profit”of $125. I don’t expect to be compensated for my time in the studio, the cost of supplies, all the costs associated with being an artist. There’s no way to put a price tag on that. Similarly, there’s no way to put a price tag on being a stay-at-home, full-time parent. There’s no way to put a price on the physical labor of raising children, like the cleaning, cooking, caring for the physical needs of your children. There’s no way to put a price tag on training the future workforce and members of our society.But I have received many benefits from being a full-time parent, all in the forms of self-growth.
I grow as an artist too. I receive many forms of reward being an artist. I do find working my studio therapeutic. Art and creativity are everything to me. It’s my whole life, I don’t exist without it. This is part of my sloth coat, my microcosm. Art protects me and makes me thrive as a person. I like the connection to my art community.
Nothing in being an artist or being a parent is inspired by making money. It’s unlike working for a salary. There is no salary to be had. It is hard to determine my value as a person in this world. I have to rely on what I offer my children, my community. What I can do for others. I can only rely on my mind, what I feel I’ve done or am.
My paintings are a commodity, a by-product of my self-expression and investigation into universal creativity. I want to share my by-product with anyone who would find value in having a piece of art I have made hanging on their wall. In turn I get paid money that I can buy art supplies with or use for other creative projects.
Traditionally, I’ve priced low. I don’t want to gouge people or charge a bunch for my work. I want everybody to be able to afford a piece of art. I’ve often said I don’t rely on the money from selling paintings to put food on my table. If I did, I would be homeless. But does that mean I should sell them for a price that doesn’t feel right anymore?
Is it better to not sell at all? In the case of “The White Hand” it’s a matter of $300 0r $400 more. I needed to get a check between $675 and $725, that way after the $250 framing cost I would have $475 or $375 for my beautiful painting. That would feel O.K., but that would mean I would have had to charge $1450 for my painting. That’s a lot of money for most people. This is a quandary.
My time at the residency, “Being Human”, was amazing because we got a stipend that paid for childcare on the days we were working on projects. Plus, the emphasis was on the process, the physicality and community aspects of the residency. The end products were successful, but they didn’t have to be.
It felt good to be valued. To be chosen and feel like an important part of a public creative journey.
I can’t put a price on being a parent, but I think going forward I will need to raise my prices on my art.
My sloth protective coating is adding a more expensive layer.