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.
It’s a windy, rainy Sunday morning, the ground is covered in orange, sky grey. I am missing my studio, it’s been two weeks since I’ve worked in there. I’ve been so busy with my show and book, and tired, I haven’t had a chance and it’s starting to catch up on me. I’ve snuck down to my room to write; Jack and Fiona are upstairs watching a show and Alan just got up to have his own breakfast. They will be coming to look for me soon. I’m excited to start my new project, my new series of paintings, drawings, and writings for my next book. I have some interesting ideas now that I’ve had some experience in the book publishing/ book creating world. I want to work this time with a conversation between the stories/writings/essays and the artwork. A back and forth, in the same way when I started having a conversation between the two opposite pages in my notebooks. A written word/ visual play, like the way children’s books are put together. I also was thinking about writing some children’s books. There are stories not being told, the children’s books seem to rehash the same messages repeatedly. I have lots of ideas, but now I have no seed money! I’ve been obsessively wondering how many books sold over the weekend? And I am HOPING I sell a few paintings at my show! I need to make some cash for my next set of projects! I think I am going to take Billy on an adventure walk now in the storm, see what’s happening out there, get all wet and muddy and come home to take a hot shower!
“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.
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.
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’m sitting in a black and white skull dress in front of a grouping of black and white drawings; A powerful portrait in charcoal by William Kentridge hangs on the wall in front of me. I think to myself, don’t need to rush, I can spend as much time as I need to. I stand in front of white canvases listening to the collage of footsteps, how they echo from the other side of the wall, no faces, only sound. Jasper Johns paintings, every time I see them I look at them in a new light. I recognize a piece of myself, understanding things in these paintings I hadn’t understood before. I have moments of memory flash through my being, remembering sitting in front of these giant Clifford Stills, on my lunch break, or after work on my way to Bart. I spent so much time at MOMA I wonder how much influence these Abstract Expressionistic paintings had on my practice. The Rothko, Joan Mitchell, Jay Defeo, Guston, Lobell paintings I know. I feel like I’m with good old friends. I haven’t seen them in so long; I’ve only been once since they remodeled and that time was with kids. I miss my days in the MOMA, alone. Visiting galleries. I feel like I climbed back over a bridge to a part of myself deep down inside. Today I needed a break, a bath, studio time, writing time. So, Right when we got home today from preschool, I put the babies down for a nap. They fell asleep around 1:30PM. (An hour earlier than usual.) It was so hot and they were so tired and I needed what I needed. It worked out perfectly. Today in my studio I paint in shades of blues, inspired by our meditation on water this morning. I feel like hanging them up in my house to cool things off. My note book entries are beauties too, and I closed the cover of one more note book for my show. I love the quiet right now. I only hear the fridge, the air conditioner and fan. It’s dead hot and quiet outside. Jack and Fiona will be waking from their nap soon. Time to go and make snack!
I walk into my studio. I feel I can only accomplish a small amount of work, not much time left before my babysitter is off. I look at my notebooks, I have been working on eight consistently; my goal, to have three done for my show next year. The last day I worked in my studio I used collage, experimenting with tape, old recycled prints, a light sage green, blue and grey. I decided to work slower this year, not frantic, just tick-tock. I work on a few canvases today, compositions giving me trouble, set them aside. It feels good to let go, to let them breath, have a life of their own. I think I need more time, at least three hours to really get into things. But, I need to use what I have, the time, the materials, the frame of mind. It’s all here, everything I need. The notebooks are true expressions of my creativity. They are my lifeline.
January, raining for days, creeks rushing by, plants and grass growing. All the wildflowers I’ve planted for the past eight years are finally going to flower this year. There are so many, they’ve remained dormant during the drought. But they survive and thrive. Many transitions ahead, Jack and Fiona turning three, entering preschool soon. When people say, childhood goes by fast they aren’t kidding. I look at a painting on my wall in my studio, a hand and foot print from Jack and Fiona when they were maybe eight months old. As I look at the paintings, it doesn’t feel that long ago. I feel like we just did that, but we didn’t. Such precious little feet and hands, so soft. They are still precious, but now I feel I must be careful to not intrude into their personal space, not “baby” them. Toddlers hate to be “babied”! I can give them an occasional rub on the head or examination of their little hands. But no long stares in wonderment. That bugs them now. Hugs and kisses are always available through! That’s true throughout the lifetime of a family unit. “Loving is what makes us real” (The Velveteen Rabbit)
There’s always love and compassion, and patience. No one can take that away. Even in the face of so much hate and scary stuff happening in the world, happening in our government, I will still focus on the positive, focus on understanding of self. It’s the only way.