|What IS it about this topic??|
I'm taking a friend's advice again this week and once more treating my studio like the job it's meant to be. I say 'once more' because I used to do this, a few years ago when I decided to become a full-time artist.
At first, spending days on end in the studio was a breeze. I'd left my job (for health reasons) after a July holiday, and being at home then after years of crazy overtime was like being let out of school for summer vacation. Euphoria! My days were spent playing.
But it wasn't long before I settled into a routine. Stuff piled up around the house. Because James was employed part-time and away from Tumbledown for most of the week, I began to imagine that what he was doing was more 'real' and important than what I was doing, and I felt guilty. To justify my time at home (not to mention the fact that any money I was bringing in was sporadic at best), I tried to pick up the slack and pinch pennies. I did the house- and yardwork as best I could. I planned and planted a vegetable garden. I dried clothes on the line. I cooked from scratch. And soon all those tasks became my priority. (Not to mention being frugal is hard work!) And then my grandbug was born and art went way, way down to the bottom of the list....
Part of my problem is that I'm a woman, and women just naturally think they have to Do It All. And part of my problem is how I was raised. My mom won't remember this, but years ago when I began a new job I made the mistake of saying in front of her how happy I'd be to begin sharing the housework and childcare with my spouse, now that I would be working as many hours a week as he was. And in true June Cleaver fashion, she corrected me. There'd be no sharing. I was expected to Do It All.
And men -- up to and including those of my generation -- still live by different standards, even if they think they don't. If you compared my artist partner to me you'd see it at once. James nurtures his creativity first and foremost. He has no problem getting out of bed in the morning and going straight to his workspace without feeling the need to mow a lawn or wash a dish. Because in his mind, both he and his creativity are just that important. And an unmown lawn or unwashed dish doesn't faze him. Not like it does me. To me, that dish is proof that my nest is a mess. And that means there's something wrong with me.
To his credit, James is more than willing to share the work around here, but keep in mind that he's also a lifelong bachelor. And no offense, bachelors, but y'all gotta admit that your idea of 'good enough' isn't quite up to female standards. (To a woman, there's nothing comfortable about living in an Animal House....) And making him share the work seems hardly fair to me, seeing as how he has a job outside the home (these are my rules; they don't have to make sense).
Anyway, all this is making me think about those artists who've inspired me over the years who are men. Men who were left alone to happily draw and dream their days away because there was a woman in the background somewhere taking care of things. While those guys were busy creating, beds were being made, children were being nurtured, meals were being put together, a home was being kept. But did the creative women have someone doing that for them? How many times have I heard of women getting up at 4 A.M. to write at the kitchen table before sending their kids to school? Or drawing at night when they slept? (Even I've done that....)
When a new artist friend of mine recently blogged about what she called her poor time management skills, her words agitated me. I'm sure her time management skills are exemplary. I'm sure she's a skilled multi-tasker! It's just that, being a woman, she's probably already got more than enough on her plate.
Believe it or not, I've tried writing about this topic at least a dozen times and nothing I say about it seems to make sense, at least to me. Bottom line: Women shouldn't have to carve hours out of their sleeptime in order to make art! But aside from discovering a househusband somewhere, or hiring a staff, I'm not really sure what to do about it.