Category: being an artist

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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.

Never Enough Time

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.

Serious Artist

“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.

My New Web Site

Jenny Hynes , My new web site I made myself on WIX. Just a week ago I never imagined I would be able to create my own web site just how I wanted it. I did it, I learned how. I am so proud of myself. It still needs some additions but Its a great start. 

My book is almost ready too and all my paintings are framed for the show! I would celebrate but I got Jacks cold. I have a half hour left until I’m back on mom duty. I’m going to try to take a nap. 

If it’s Really Armageddon today, I Need More Painting Time.

Armageddon. I’m not feeling very comfortable with the thick, light grey, low lying, cool, eerie smoke-filled sky outside. Not one bit at all. It’s almost like in a movie, when everything gets still and then a catastrophic event happens. No one’s safe anymore. The hills look like they could ignite, like they are living creatures. I don’t hear anything right now except the kettle and the circulation fan. A few birds fly by and the trees start to rustle. I pour boiling water over coffee grounds. I think about how my personal, internal filter is completely gone. I’m exhausted after so many tragedies week after week. Jack and Fiona know about floods, hurricanes, white supremacists, gun violence, fires, smoke in the air, Trump, North Korea, sexism.  I can’t protect them from all this information, and haven’t tried that hard. This is their reality, this is what they are growing up in. This is the world that they live in. I must lock them in the house today when they get home. They can’t play outside in the smoke. I don’t want them to watch T.V. either. It’s seeming stupider and stupider, those shows they watch. Especially Jack, his taste in shows is way too mature for his age. He’s starting to act like a teenager already and he’s only three and a half.

The shadows today are very strange. Muted shadows and reflections, almost an orange glow. Sun peers out through smoke, hit a book on my table. Still, I enjoy the quiet, the before every other minute I hear Mommy. I walk away for one minute, I tell Jack and Fiona where I am going, what I am doing and the minute I get there I hear Mommy. It’s an annoying phenomenon. Ten minutes. Shit that went by fast. I need more time before facing reality. Or should I say more time to not face reality, like time to go work in my studio! That is what I need today. Painting time.

I tell my daughter I’m crazy

I was so glad when I looked at the clock and it was 5:18 am, I thought for sure it was going to say 3am or 4am. I got 6 hours of sleep, not ideal but not horrible. I’ve been in a state of mania; my studio is covered from wall to wall with work in progress, I can’t stop painting. I have moments of panic about how much money I’ve spent on publishing my book, Nap Time Paintings; Motherhood through the Eyes of an Artist. My savings is gone and I still need to frame works for my show. But the biggest driver in my mania is to make. I have this idea in my mind of what I want my paintings to be, particularly my grouping. I keep going too far on 90% of them. I pass through the sweet spots. I should leave them I say to myself. But then I push the envelope one more time. Adding detail, taking away detail, adding more color, lessening color. Obsession.

My coffee is too weak, I wish it were stronger. I don’t have any more beans ground, everyone is sleeping in my house. I don’t want to wake them. They all need the rest. Yesterday I took Jack and Fiona to Oakland, we met up with their uncle Danny. We went to coffee, scootered around Lake Merritt to Fairy Land (a theme park where everything is based off fairytales and perfectly sized for three-and-a-half-year old’s.)  Then we went to visit the Fourth Wall Gallery. The babies were so tired, I brought them into the Gallery complex barefoot. The floor was filthy, their feet dark hands getting there as they pulled each other on their backs down the long hallway. “Handprints” echoed from inside another gallery. It wasn’t long before we got kicked out. A note on my dash, “Ticket or Tow?”. I parked in front of a garage of a business that wasn’t open. Busted all the way around. Jack and Fiona fell asleep the moment I dropped off Danny and got on the freeway.

I gave Jack and Fiona baths and we hung out in their room for a while. Jack went upstairs to raid the cereal boxes and play. Fiona and I played with stuffies, then colored. Then I said, “I’ll be right back”. I went to my studio to check my paintings from the night before. I had to do one thing, then another. Fiona comes in and wants to paint. Jack comes down and wants to ride his scooter, I open the garage and move my car down the driveway so there’s more room to ride. I paint, Fiona starts painting, then goes and scooters with Jack. I paint. I can hear them playing and check on them every few minutes.  Fiona’s back in painting with me, Jack spends time alone in the garage practicing his bunny hops on his scooter before going back upstairs. I start going crazy painting, experimenting, getting ideas. Fiona works too. I’m a mess, my studio is a mess. There’s so much work in progress I can’t even walk. Fiona’s area is just as bad. I’ve corrupted her. She works on several pieces at a time and is just as messy with her paint as I am. I tell her I’m crazy several times during our painting sessions.

As Nap Time paintings have ended, since there’s no naptimes, a new time slot has opened, having the babies near my studio riding scooters in the driveway or in my studio creating. It’s more hectic than my Nap Time slot, but it’s still time to create. I think I will go to my studio now, until Jack and Fiona wake up.