I made valentines cards with Jack and Fiona this past weekend. I used my good paper, a roll that used to belong to Nathan Olivera, who was a famous bay area painter. Just then I picked up my phone and dialed my sons school to tell them that, that I made the cards out of a famous artists paper! The phone rang, the voice mail picked up and I hung up! I wanted to tell them that I was very disappointed that I was the only parent to make homemade valentine’s day cards with their kids. We were given instructions last week to make Valentine cards for all the kids. I was expecting Jack and Fiona to bring home an assortment of uniquely different cards from all the kids. I imagined some with little hand prints and some painted all over, some square, some in the shape of hearts. I imagined talking to Jack and Fiona about the cards, asking who gave them to you? But instead they came home with a scatter of tiny store-bought cards, a few bags of candy hearts, Band-Aids and stickers. It’s the thought that counts and Jack and Fiona loved their homemade boxes and bags filled with valentine booty. I wonder why the parents didn’t make any cards? Jack, Fiona, and I had such a good time together over the weekend making the cards. I laid out a giant piece of paper on the table first. I drew heart shapes all over it, my original idea was that jack and Fiona would fill in the hearts, but as many painting projects go we, yes of course I helped them, started painting all over the paper. I cut up lace and we glued it on. Then I took the paper out to the deck to dry. I thought it needed more so we painted more, we splattered paint, jack and Fiona took off all their clothes and rolled in the paint. They had a blast! Then I sprayed them off with cold water from the faucet. They thought that was really funny! The next day Fiona and I went to the store and bought tons of glitter and glue! In the cracks of my kitchen table glitter sparkles still. I cut out hearts from our giant painting on Nathan Olivera paper. Laid them all out like a factory production. Jack poured a whole container of glue and whole container of glitter on one painting. Fiona worked on many, she did a great job! I was left to glitter the bulk of the cards myself, but I’m not complaining. I love glitter! I don’t use glitter in my studio, I will not use glitter in my studio! But I want to! The Valentines cards dried, and they were beautiful! The hearts were all different sizes, rough around the edges! But beautiful. I was so proud of our cards! I know that Jack and Fiona were too. That must have been cool to have the most amazing valentine’s day cards at school! I just keep wondering though, why didn’t anyone else make valentine’s day cards? Aren’t these the lessons that kids remember forever? Making things for people, giving things away, spending time being creative with your parent? I took a bath yesterday afternoon, I let Jack and Fiona watch T.V. all day after school. They ate a whole box of popsicles! I saw the box hidden under a step stool this morning as I was making my breakfast. But they let me take my whole bath without interrupting me! As I lay there in the bath I saw images of our Valentine’s day cards floating around in my mind. They were all about love and giving love, making people smile, sharing creativity. I am disappointed that no one else took the magical journey I took with my four-year-old twins but I’m glad we did. It is a memory that will last forever and a tradition I will keep every Valentine’s day until they get too embarrassed to pass out funky homemade valentine’s day cards which I hope will be never!
I have never had a pear as delicious as the one I am eating right now. It’s…. I just sat here for seconds, maybe minutes tasting pieces of the pear, trying to….I just did it again, tasted a bunch of pieces trying to decide how to put this taste into words. I’m not even going to try. I would never be able to describe how incredible that pear was. I am glad I had the opportunity to eat it. I am also glad I had the chance to work in my studio today. I also had the most amazing shower because yesterday I went to the Beauty Store downtown, the one that’s going out of business. Everything is on sale. I got some shower Gel and Exfoliator and I feel like a new woman. I also got a new Italian professional blow dryer, my hair has never looked or felt so good. Why hasn’t anyone ever told me I needed a good hair dryer? I’ve been using the cheep ones. I always thought my hair took a long time to dry because its so thick, now I know it was the blow dryers! Crazy! At forty-six years old I just figured that out! As usual my alone time is wrapping up. I wish I had more time, but I do feel satisfied with my day off. I even got a bunch of chores done, laundry, toy purging, (gotta make room for the new toys) I just heard Jack calling “Mommy, Mommy” they just got home from the park. I figured out something else cool last night too. I learned that Jack and Fiona love to play games, not computer games but physical games more than they like T.V. Especially if I play with them. I let them open this chicken game I got them for x-mas last night. You role a dice and whichever number comes up you get to push the chickens chest hoping an egg pops out it’s butt. They saw the commercial for this game on T.V., they would say “Mom, look at this game” when it came on. I had to run over to the T.V. to see it. They like the game as much as the kids in the commercial do. It is a fun preschool age game, and it teaches taking turns and following directions. That lasted five minutes and a couple pieces are already lost. But it was fun quality time we all enjoyed together. I can hear Fiona crying, I wonder what happened. Time to get back on duty.
Everything I’ve done up until now has been about pregnancy: wanted and unwanted. It’s been about deep, dark, secrets. The kind in my dreams: I’m climbing up a dirt tunnel, fingers clutching to the sides, dirt crumbling, roots exposed, there’s blue sky above, I can breath but feel the cold at my feet, my face is hot, my feet freeze. The paintings come out murky or scary or dark, with sprinkles of light from behind. In the beginning they were about my strange relationship with my dad, from sadness and depression. They were darker, thicker, and crustier portraits. When my mom died they turned to thin, barley there figures, which have been referred to as children or babies. I based them off childhood pictures of my mom, her baby pictures. I was trying to have a baby myself at this time. It was the beginning of charts, dates, non-fun sex, ovulation kits. I started to stitch and felt and weave and sculpt. I made places to hide if I were to turn into a tiny mouse. Where art emerges from. My childhood, my dead babies lack of childhood, my children’s current childhood, Birth. The birth of an unspoken world uniquely mine living on paper and canvas. Each stain on the paper is a new birth, each stain on my uterus a lost birth. Memories of losing. Childhood angst. The way I see Jack under the table today at the park. Two girls talk to him, older than him. His lip in a pout, ” what did they say to you Jack?” His head angled down, sucking a finger, nose a little runny. “They asked if I scribbled on their”, i finish the sentence, “sidewalk drawing?” I tell the girls he didn’t. He wants me to hold his hand. He’s not that much older than the little baby I used to take to this park, he’s still a sweet baby boy. Born healthy. His sister too. They infiltrate my art. They infiltrate my life. Having young children leaves little time to be alone. It leaves little time to relax. Things happen daily adding to my plate of anxiety. Times like yesterday when we were going to the car from the park, Jack and Fiona on scooters, Jack took off so fast I didn’t even notice until he was no longer in sight. My heart raced, please don’t go in the road, please don’t get taken. There’s nothing much I can do, he can’t hear me call him. I get to the car and he’s sitting by it. Everything’s fine, but I can still feel that panic in my chest. Last night at dinner I was running behind schedule with dinner prep, Fiona is in the bath downstairs and Jack is watching a movie upstairs. I have a sink full of dirty pots and I need to make dinner. When my husband got home he was hungry and ready for dinner. I panic. I start chopping carrots, celery, sautéing onions, in between running downstairs to check on Fiona. I feel a sharp pain in my thumb. I thought it was a carrot, the knife went straight down, slice. I am afraid I will need stitches. I put a Band-Aid on it and hold it over my head. I finish dinner, almost burnt it. And this morning my finger is healing up nice and it wasn’t a bad cut like I thought. I was a stress case before kids too, and going through infertility was the worst I’ve ever been. This is different though. Having kids is a big responsibility. Being a mom and a housewife is hard, it’s a rouse to say otherwise. I think it’s hard just being a human. We are all in our own circles of truth, the circle which we can not escape. Our history is who we are, is what our art is about, is how we raise our kids. And knowing this doesn’t make it easier. But knowing this might help us raise better kids and make better art.
I can’t wait to get to the studio! I’m almost there, tomorrow! I can feel myself standing in front of a piece of blank paper, mixed up some paint, paint brush and a drawing tool in my hands, music on, hours ahead of me, an infinity of space for creativity. Free to begin a new series of work for a show next year, a gallery space, a book. Nothing is standing in my way. I need patience and a new attitude for the days in between my work days. It’s hard, with the smell of stinky, fish, pots and pans staring at me, a dishwasher full of clean dishes and a sink full of dirty dishes, walls with drawing on them, toys scattered all over the floor. I can not pick up and clean everything all the time. What did I do before kids? What was my home like? How clean was it then when I thought it was dirty? Was it always clean, picked up? Was that stress I did not have? As Jack and Fiona get older, now almost four years old, the messes appear faster, it’s like Jack and Fiona need to live in chaos. Furniture that we’ve had for nine years, was in great condition, now in tatters. Chairs turned over, turned into forts. Cabinet doors broken, floors and doors warped from water damage in the bathroom when they played in the sinks with the stoppers in, they were supposed to be taking their naps. Dark mornings I am woke, “Mommy, my bed it wet”. I just want a few more minutes to lay under warm blankets. Did I ever think of any of this when I was going through infertility treatments? I thought I could keep my home organized when I had kids, I thought I could keep it clean. What I went through to have kids, the difficulty in raising kids, the way it takes over your whole existence, except those magical moments in my studio, is it worth it? Is it worth it for the sweet moments of pure joy, living life through a child’s eyes, learning about relationships and love like I never have before. Holding their sweet little hands, kissing them goodnight. Learning things about myself I could have never learned without becoming a mother. It is all worth it, to me. The house is here to be used, to be lived in. It’s not a museum. It doesn’t matter, it just stinks sometimes, like last nights fish dinner.
A fly just walked across the window pane. It’s 2:32pm and feels like 5 or 6 pm. Jack jumps naked from the couch to the chair, chair to couch while he watches Cars. Billy is sprawled out on the floor. I can hear Fiona whispering, I’m not sure what she’s doing. The sky is blue outside, trees have lost almost all their leaves. I feel like going to sleep right now. I finally received my author copies of Nap Time Paintings today, which included a hardback. It is beautiful, what do I do with all these beautiful books? My private opening was this past weekend, it was fun, I got to see best friends and meet new friends. All my dreams have come true, to have a solo show and to publish a book. I feel like sleeping or working in my studio today, instead of parenting! It’s just one of those days. Last night when I checked on Jack and Fiona, while they were taking their bath, I was confronted with the most disgusting scene. Jack and Fiona were laughing and having so much fun, I notice something in the tub, it’s brown, it’s three large pieces of poop! Jack pooped in the tub! He said he did it because Fiona had to poop at the same time and she pooped in the toilet! I couldn’t believe it. I had to throw away all the bath toys and scoop up the poop and wash the whole bathroom with comet. They are starting to spend more time playing together but it usually involves getting into trouble! All I must do for the rest of today, is make dinner and give them baths and make it until 7:30. I’ll worry about all the paintings I need to sell and what to do with my beautiful books another day!
Studio today. Cold at first, remnants from the making of my recent show, ghosts of pastel, charcoal, paint, frags, worked on new pieces, worked on new notebook pages, curated a $25 portfolio, 48 pieces on paper, unframed. Jack and Fiona just got home. I hear them calling me, “Mommy, Mommy”, I hear the pitter patter of their feet, looking for me. I’m writing in my closet, my bedroom door locked. I’m drinking a glass of wine and eating chocolate candy x-mas trees. I still have 40 minutes left before the babysitter leaves. They are snickers x-mas trees, I’m on my second one. They are so good. They go so good with red wine. I am ready for my show. I am celebrating. I am proud of myself. I just pigged out on candy, drank two glasses of red wine, worked in the studio, it’s 3:28 and I’m ready for bed! Tomorrow is December 1st, what a lovely day to have an art opening. I’m very excited, it’s going to be fun. My new book copies aren’t here yet, it will probably take three weeks to get them from the printers. I can take preorders tomorrow and mail people a copy if they would like to get an autographed copy from the artist! Otherwise it’s already available through third party sellers online. I love my book so much. I love my whole show and my range of pieces and prices, from low to high, something for everyone. I am going to bed early tonight. I am thankful.
My book is BACK! Tomorrow is the big shopping day, my book is the BEST gift!
Amazon only has soft copies. To get a hard bound you need to go through the publisher.