My life is made up of many different aspects of chaos, with a sprinkling of calm now and again. The calm is when I am at my easel with no distractions like washing, dirty dishes, cooking, children and everything that comes with them and escaping chickens (don't ask!).
It is rare that the calm happens, but when it does it's heaven on earth for me and for that very reason, I have this overwhelming sense of guilt afterwards (the traits of a typically neurotic artist).
I decided last week I was going to get the house straight and up to date, so that when I have my two hours on a Tuesday and Thursday (kid free time), I can just concentrate on getting the commissions done that are starting to pile up. I was in exactly the right frame of mind, there was good music on the radio, the sun was shining through the window, providing enough natural light for me to draw and the housework was up to date. Tuesday, went like a dream and so did the commission I was working on. It's quite a big one that I've been working on for a while, so I had a determination to get it finished this week. I was fully focussed and even the pencil sharpener was behaving and not breaking the lead every time I used it. By the time I had to leave to pick up my daughter from preschool, I had made a lot of progress and I was beyond pleased with it. With a satisfied grin on my face I happily walked away from it, in the knowledge that only another couple of hours would see the piece finished, and I would actually be happy with the final result as well!
That satisfied grin was short lived. Along came Thursday. Having spent the evening hours the night before getting the house straight and making sure the kids had everything they needed to literally fall out of bed, into clothes, eat breakfast and out of the door, I thought I had it in the bag. Yes, the calm would return tomorrow morning and during that calm, this commission would be finished and I can get on with the next.
NO, that is not what happened. Thursday morning, I dropped the kids off at school and preschool. I should have suspected something would go wrong, as my daughters usual ritual of refusing to walk through the door of preschool and proceed to scream and cling until I manage to squirm away and run out of the door did not take place. She was calm with a smile on her face (always suspicious!) and I managed to walk out, guilt free and happy.
I skip from the car, into the house and to the easel and start drawing. Yes, this was going well and I'd found my happy place. Calm, focussed, all ingredients for a top quality drawing. Then the phone rings. My daughter had managed to smack her face on a big tyre and there was blood pouring out of her nose! Now, as a mum, of course you drop everything to run to your daughters aid in her hour of need, but I must be honest and say I did try to cling on to that calm and focus for a few minutes longer, so shoot me! It was possibly denial, perhaps a momentary breakdown, but it didn't last long and I then turned back into the chaotic, crazed mother.
I would just like to add, my daughter was absolutely fine and was back to bossing us all around the moment we got home.
That evening, I sat slumped on the sofa, bags under my red eyes and really thought about how to strike that work/life balance. It's hard, especially when you work for yourself and have to be disciplined. But then I thought, if I didn't have all this chaos, the angst, the noise, the toys all over the floor, the housework, generally normal life, I wouldn't have the inspiration to do what I do. The chaos helps me to find the calm. If you know my work, you will know I get most of my inspiration from my children, so I'm actually very thankful for the chaos, as when the calm does make an appearance, I can focus using the clear path that my life has given me to create.
If you are an artist who finds it hard to make the time to really get to grips with a piece you want to do, I would just say, be patient, wait and the calm will come and when it does, you will create something so much better than if you try to make it happen in the midst of chaos.