So, not to sound too cliché, I have recently started a new chapter in my book and become my own boss as a self-employed artist.
Last year my wife and I welcomed our third child into our little family … and as you may expect along came the additional costs that every family faces, including the biggest cost of all to a two parent working family – the childcare bill! And so the decision was made that my wife would return to work after five months maternity leave and I would take a career break and go self-employed as an artist. In theory it was the ideal solution – I would get to spend more time with the children as well as have the perfect opportunity to follow my passion for art and turn it into my career.
I had it all worked out. School uniforms and lunches for my eldest two would be prepared the night before as would the bottles and clothes for the baby. When my alarm went off in the morning we would swing into a great morning routine, breakfast, washed, teeth brushed, uniforms and out the door to school. I would get home and have a coffee while the baby slept. She usually does so for a few hours in the morning therefore I would have the time and space to work for a few hours before she wakes for lunch. Then lunch, for us both, and another hour or so work before the school run. Home, homework and snacks… perhaps another hour of painting before dinner. My wife would return home we would chat and laugh about how wonderful our day had been …
Ha … oh how I was slightly optimistic wrong!
The first week or so I told myself that we were all just getting into a new routine and the dust would settle soon… but here we are a few months down the line and it seems just as dusty as ever!!
When Thing 3 was only a few months old then I am sure working on my art during daylight hours while Thing 1 and Thing 2 (and no I am not being mean, it is fact a term of endearment for our children originating from Dr Seuss and a family holiday) were at school would have been easy. However she does not sleep much during the day and prefers to crawl, climb, babble, eat, crawl, climb, hide and then climb some more. The before and after school periods are not as calm as I hoped they would be, in fact they remain the whirlwind that they were when my wife and I both were at work and no matter how prepared we think we are something usually happens in the mornings that sends everything into a tail spin… and again in the afternoon. School runs, lunches, maths, reading, school projects, dinner…more non-art related things that keep a house running… and now time for me to start work AT 10PM!!
I have always been a very hands on dad so none of the housework or child related jobs is new or a surprise to me… I just thought now that I wasn’t actually in an office away from the house I would have more time to focus on my art work. My home is now my office so working on my art during daylight hours would be a no brainer… but nope my coffee machine is on at 9:30 pm to get me ready for a few hours of painting and creating. If I’m lucky I will crawl to my bed before sunrise – perhaps about 2am I will feel satisfied that I have worked for a few hours and trundle up the stairs to bed – and then 6:30am comes quickly!!
However, although it is not entirely as I had planned; it is no-where a negative experience! The daily school runs and conversations with my two eldest children are great opportunities to become inspired. Chatting with the children and listening to their stories and songs helps me to see the world in a different perspective – from a child’s innocent unrestricted imagination. They may not realise it but one sentence from them could help me see a painting from a different view point and overcome some artist block. My daily drive through the countryside lets me see animals and nature in a way that I have missed before, despite driving the same roads to my previous office. These daily commutes and new perspectives are what encouraged me to work on animal paintings, which I am finding the confidence to expand on each day…
So although the days are not as “routine” as I expected, I wouldn’t change it for the world. As an artist, the past few months have given me an ability to expand and see things differently and I can’t wait to see how things progress over the next couple of months!!