The moment I walk into my studio I know this is precisely what I need to be doing right now. I am still out of white paint, so I need to think outside the box. I go in with a peach colored crayon. Then iridescent pearl, black, cerulean blue, green gold, a saturated bright, yellow, ink and collage. I’m a good painter. Today, in my messy, messy, closet, before I went to my studio, where I searched and searched for a lost check at the same time I tried to figure out how I am going to make money or cut expenditures somewhere else, so I can afford my fairly new eye brow artist and hair Styling Team. My new spa and salon prices are double what I’ve ever paid in my entire life. I think it’s inflation. I also decided not to go grey gracefully. I stopped dying my whole head of hair several years ago. I was letting the grey grow in and just adding highlights. I don’t have much grey hair, but recently I’ve noticed a ton on the top of my head. They grow in crazy, like cork screw sheep’s hair. It’s super expensive to get a full dye job nowadays! The only other alternative is to shave my head. I’ve done it before. I could just keep it super short. Like a monk. I thought letting the grey grow in was being a good feminist. Maybe it is. But I can tell you I’ve successfully weened myself off wearing bras, putting sugar in my coffee, and taking anti-depressants. I also thought of a possible solution to my salon situation. While my color was processed, I noticed several paintings hung up in the processing area. It’s a neat space for viewing paintings. Hanging was a series of Valentines inspired work on canvas. I enjoyed looking at the paintings. I had brought a notebook to re-write a story for my new book, so I did that and drew some sketches and looked at the paintings. I think I should hang a little show there of my older work. The customers who go to this salon could afford a piece of art and I bet the salon doesn’t take a cut. I can use the money from sold paintings for my hair do’s?
Blue and Turquoise, abstract color play, figures, gardens. February painting. I never stop doing what I love, painting. I always paint, it’s consistent and will remain so until I die. In the last two weeks I have found myself not taking celexa. At first, it wasn’t a conscious decision to stop, I was sick, missed a few doses. Then I consciously decided not to take it anymore. That night we were in the kitchen, I was preparing dinner. I told Alan, “I have something to share with you”. I can’t remember what detail I went into about how long and what drugs I’ve been taking for the past three years, but I said, “I’ve decided to stop taking my Celexa, I didn’t do it right, so I don’t what’s going to happen.” Alan knew I had tried some things for PMS and Insomnia. He told me I should try to do it right, go back and ween off the pills. I didn’t listen because I’m so impatient. I really can’t tell which discomforts I’m feeling are from the celexa withdraw or my flu. I had questions about what would happen when I quit, but painting in my studio just now I realized I’m just like always, I always do the things I love, no matter if I’m depressed or not. This week I’ve also been trying to quell any negative self -talk. I started to wonder if the whole reason I had to start taking anti-depressants was because of my terminal negative self- talk. I drove myself to madness. The next thing that pops in my head is, “You’ve always been crazy and done crazy things.” But is it necessary to change? To not do crazy things? Or think crazy thoughts? And where’s the red line? As I took my medicine for longer and longer and increased my dose when needed I started to distrust myself. I am afraid to see who’s behind the door, but it’s only been three years. How could that person I am have slipped away? I definitely got through a super rough patch, I started them six months after Jack and Fiona were born. Before that, at the very end of my journey through infertility, I took klonopin for insomnia and depression. That was great, but I was scared to let go and trust my bodies own ability to rest and sleep. When I stood back and looked at my crazy painting I did today I realized I’m an artist, I’m a painter. I trust myself in my studio. I trust myself.
I cough, start to type. Today I am going to my studio to paint. It’s effort because I have a cough, woke up at 4:30 AM. It starts with a little tickle. The Nyquill and hot whiskey from the night before has worn off. I think, maybe the coughing will stop, maybe I can go back to sleep. It doesn’t, I don’t want to wake up my husband, or children. I go upstairs, pick up my phone, touch the Facebook Button. Spread butter and sun butter on my toast and drink unsweetened coffee. I scroll through the internet looking at haircut styles, I want my bangs back. I jump on my Peloton bike for a 6:30 AM Heart Rate Training ride. I beat my PR, have a great workout. I still have gunk in my chest. I make beef and bean tacos for lunch, slather them with hot sauce, drink two cokes. I still have gunk in my chest. I want to burn out the gunk. I feel tired, so instead of going to my studio I’m tempted by a sci fi movie on Netflix and a hot bath. Maybe another Whiskey Sour, I mean Hot Whiskey! But I’m going to my studio. Let’s see what happens. It’s 11:08 AM.
I went outside first, before going into my studio, to get some sunshine. Two Nasturtium leaves, dark green with dark brown, damp earth underneath. Two bright yellow sour grass flowers??in front of a full Meyer lemon tree. It’s almost spring. Now going to studio. I look around, turn on some tunes, pull some old works out of the flat file. I decide I’m not going to start anything new anymore, or frame anything. This collection will be re-worked and New Note Books. I mix some paint, white and blues and golds and greys. I try not to conceal too much of what was there before, on the old drawing, but once the works taken a hold of me I can’t stop until it’s done or ruined. Except in my notebooks. It is impossible for a Note Book entry to be Ruined. I was inspired by sickness and gunk and my body. My growing body. My changing mind. The loops I’m going through. Fact or Fiction? Pink or Grey? Thick Lines or Thin?
My book, “Nap Time Paintings, Thoughts on Motherhood through the eyes of an artist, Essays and Artwork by Jennifer Hynes” is off to the printer. It should be ready in a week, once again available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Xlibris website, The Gallery Show at Fourth Wall during my exhibit, “Never Enough Time”. Get your copy in one of these fine venues. Fresh off the press. Up-dated with a redesigned cover.
I’m drinking a glass of red this afternoon, to warm me up, to celebrate this fine fall afternoon. Wanting to go to the studio, wanting to write, wanting to lay down and watch a movie covered in warm blankets. I only have an hour and half until the kids get home. Still plenty of time. I need to work in my note books. It’s been too long, too much business, not enough making. Time to make and enjoy receptions.
Mom will you drive me to school and pick me up today?” Fiona, age 3″No, today is my studio day” Me
“Why do you have to go to the studio? I don’t want you to go to the studio.” Fiona
“Don’t you want me to be me? I have to go to the studio or I will cease to exist.” Me
In my studio my work begins with my Notebooks, where I’m free to work fearlessly in quick gestures, exploring compositions, line, layering and color. The Notebooks help inform my studio time, my paintings take the lessons learned from the notebooks and move another step forward to figuration. They are often portraits, a psychological merging of self and strangers whom I learn about in the news. People who are facing unbelievable tragedies, war, mass shootings, and natural disasters. They are also self-portraits of my family–the sound of a child’s laughter. And, yes, the chaos of a temper tantrum. And the Sadness I can’t process outside the studio. Life can be very sad. Maybe the studio is therapy. Or a refuge? Maybe my work can give a viewer refuge from the world? I feel I never have enough time in my studio, but maybe I do have just enough time, because without it I would cease to exist.
The misconception of mothers as “hobby painters” gets under my skin; that is not me. I was an artist before I was a mother. I have never stopped making and I have never given up the dream of having a solo show. I am proud to have my first, “Never Enough Time”, at The Fourth Wall Gallery in Oakland, California.
Yes, it is. And BETTER than ever. Its DAMN hard work writing and Self Publishing! Im gonna take a hot bath, but i LOVE MY BOOK, the content is exactly what i want!!! Just cross your fingers for the structure to hold up to the writing and artwork.
“Don’t have kids” I was told. “You can’t be a serious artist and have kids”. My legs got weak. My friend said the teacher of the art class and she were talking about me, that I shouldn’t get pregnant, I shouldn’t have kids. That I was a good artist, if I had kids I wouldn’t have time? Be taken seriously? This was right at the beginning of me trying to get pregnant. Years later, right before Jack and Fiona were born, I was turned on to a fabulous artist by one of my teachers. She lent me his catalogue. I took it and read it. He did wonderful paintings and studies. He did travel diaries which he worked on abroad for a year. I read he had kids and I became obsessed about who took care of the kids. It was the wife. She stayed home and took care of the kids while he went on a yearlong painting residency in a tropical rainforest. Is that why I was told women artists who are also mothers can’t become serious artists because it would be difficult to pick up and leave the children when they are young for a year to do a serious yearlong art residency? Or that we can’t just work in the studio all day long. We have responsibilities in home. Why can a woman have a full-time job and be a mother, but not be a serious artist? Why did my friend and my teacher tell me this? I looked through a book last night, a survey of contemporary painters. There are several women in the book, and it’s filled with top notch paintings. I read through the writings about the different artists. I noticed no one mentioned children, having children, how domesticity has influenced their work. There are a lot of fiber arts that deal with subjects of domesticity, but it’s mostly a direct connection with a material used in domestic products; fabrics, yarn, embroidery, wool, using these materials in new and interesting ways. My work uses traditional picture making materials, paint, paper, glue, charcoal, pastels, canvas, wood, the printing press, even my Nap Time Notebooks are in traditional sketchbooks. But my identity as an artist has been very influenced by my childhood, my relationship with my mom and her death, parenthood, wifehood, domesticity. It’s filled with memories through color and line. Raising children is emotional, my work is emotional. Was their critique of me having children saying I didn’t have it in me to do both? I wouldn’t work hard enough, or I didn’t want it bad enough? I remember my mom telling me I would never be able to be a serious artist because I would never be able to spend hours alone in my studio. After my declaration of becoming an artist she found out that she was wrong, that I did have it in me to spend countless hours working in my studio. Thank God for the women in my life who said, “Go for it”! Have kids and be an artist. Thank you, Ladies! It wasn’t easy, making time for my studio after Jack and Fiona were born. But I did it and I wrote a book about it too.