When I post about my children I get at least one comment/message from a fan/collector stating they had no idea I had children. There is a reason for this: I don't feel that their stories are mine to share, especially online. Family stories I'll share and now that they're older I will share our joint experiences... with their permission.
I'm talking about them now, because recently they have had a direct impact on my productivity, my inspiration, and my ability to think clearly. I have been homeschooling my 14 year old daughter and 11 year old son since August. (They've been home since last March.) Their respective school districts had very slow and very poor reactions to the pandemic. Rather than having to plop them down in front of computers-in uniform no less-I made the decision to remove them from their school districts and teach them myself.
There are many positives to being able to teach them at home; of those things, retaining my sanity wasn't one. I enjoy being able to teach them a less white-washed version of history and current events. I enjoy a less structured school day with an emphasis on engaging them in activities and less emphasis on beating them down with memorization for state testing. I deeply enjoy figuring things out and learning along with them.
When I'm not teaching I'm still reviewing book reports, creating worksheets, looking up information for classes, picking out vocabulary words, etc. This leaves very little time for being a productive artist. All of this frustration is wrapped in the awareness that I'm incredibly lucky to be able to stay home with my kids. And I am far from being able to judge other parents based on whether or not they're doing the same with their children. I am so, so grateful that being an artist set me up with a life at home with obligations that I could easily push aside for them.
The main problem here is that my paintings were, before the pandemic, contributing to the household budget. Last winter when the heater broke it was a sold painting that repaired it. When an emergency medical situation came up the summer before that and we were short on our mortgage it was a paid exhibit that made up the difference. When I am low on art supplies an art crawl is a great way to beef up my painting supply budget.
I didn't realize it at the time, but the kids being home all the time and having to balance that with work was one of the big contributors to wanting to walk away from my art career. It wasn't just that, though. The kids were home all the time while I was marketing my ass off to make money to go back to school (hello burnout), figuring out I was autistic and trying to get a diagnosis (and paying for that out of pocket), and dealing with flare-ups of my chronic illness. Honestly, I barely would have been able to handle it all if the kids would've been in school, but it's much harder when they're home all the time.
It's not even them, really. It's more the noise, and the pressure to function in a way that's better for them, that takes all of my energy. If I wasn't homeschooling them, I still wouldn't be able to lock myself away in a studio for eight hours. They're capable of taking care of themselves, but that doesn't mean they should have to. And sometimes they just forget.
So, even though I am back from my three month hiatus, I am still not all the way back. My studio hours have been cut immensely. Most of my blog posts are pretty short. I have painted one canvas in six months. I've moved to selling through a drop-ship company instead of out of my in-home studio. And I have no yellow paint.
But we're all alive. None of us have coronavirus. And I can still offer you art in some capacity.
I appreciate your continued support in these weird quasi-apocalyptic times. I hope you are happy and healthy and surrounded by great art--even if it's not mine.
<3 The Pop Art Girl
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