Art versus Domesticity

In the same vein, when I have kids over for camps and classes, I always put crates by the front door, one for each kid, for them to drop their belongings into. At the end of the day, there are less socks/books/packets of Cheez-its/mini figurines lying around the place feeling lost and forlorn.  I could go on and get all philosophical about putting different parts of your life into boxes, but I won’t.

2. Be Prepared
A no-brainer, I know, but Lord Baden Powell was so right.
I work near my kitchen, and use the kitchen sink to clean tools, so I have to be very careful that none of our cooking/eating utensils get yucky art materials on them. On days when I know I’m going to do something messy (most days). I always, always empty the kitchen sink in anticipation of the big clean up. This way I’m not frantically cleaning breakfast plates while the ink dries onto my precious screens and brushes, destroying them slowly and painfully. I also make sure that there is always a space cleared for wet artwork to dry – printmaking is time sensitive stuff. Do what you have to do to make your life run smoother.

3. Power sprays
Get…a…power…spray. My kitchen tap has one attached. That baby can blast paint/ink/gunk off anything within seconds. Who wants to waste precious time scrubbing stuff anyway? My power spray is a good friend and ally.

4. Use Child Labor
I take the time to teach my kids and other kids, how to clean brushes, brayers, and other tools properly, and how to put pencils and pastels away without stuffing them into a box. If they make the mess, they clean it up. Kids are competitive, even about cleaning, so once they can do this, you are golden.

5. Use the Water Based Stuff.
I used to love working with oil paint sticks. However, until I get my own studio to work from, hell no to that! Apart from turps being toxic, imagine a four year old leaning against oil paint, then walking around your house touching everything. NO!

6. Buy Pretty Stationery
Pretty stationery makes me want to make to-do lists, and tick things off my to-do lists. This in turn makes me more productive, and helps me organize my time efficiently, making sure I have time to do things right, and clean up afterwards. Everyone wins (I had to slip this one in to justify my stationery fetish).

 7. Make Peace With The Mess
Accept the fact that things will get messy. It’s okay. Don’t do things by halves, just clean up afterwards, okay? Now breathe.
Now I’m off to pack for a week long vacation in Disney World, yet another thing I never imagined I would do. Life is certainly full of surprises.


Doing Horrible Things and Feeling Good


Half Baked – Part 2

…So, where were we? Oh yes, identifying things that make me happy and, therefore, more productive. I thought about this a lot during the midday preschool pick up/drop off. Here is what I came up with:

Start every day by creating something

Obvious for an artist, you may say. However, I’m finding that often I get so bogged down in the minutiae of  running a business that I don’t have time to do the things I really want to do.
For example, on the first working day of 2015, I was itching to come up with new designs for my spring/summer shirts, but I decided that answering emails, and looking up venues to run camps from, were more pressing jobs. Bad call – I spent the whole day staring at a computer, and at the end of the day, I felt drained, uninspired,  and as if I had not achieved much. Actually creating something, whether a drawing, a piece of writing, or even a lesson plan, gives me such a sense of achievement that I am motivated to work harder, and happier, for hours, no, days to come.

Go to the library

Everyone has a favorite place. Mine is the library, any library. When I was a kid, my mom would make my brother take me to the library during half term holidays. He was a lot older than me, so he would drop me off in the children’s section and just wander off. I would spend hours nestled in between the stacks, blissfully reading books, and daydreaming. Now every time I step inside one, I feel relaxed and happy. The smell of the books (yes, the smell), the loud silence, the comfy reading nooks, they all make me unspeakably happy. Nowadays, doing my work at the library twice a week, means I  get a change of scenery – always a good thing.

Facing Problems

When the going gets tough, I have a habit of curling myself into a ball, and hoping the problem goes away. Invariably, when I come out of my ball the problem is even bigger and has fangs, and is now towering over me with clenched fists. I’m the queen of procrastination, and I often wait until the very last minute to sort out my problems. This doesn’t make sense for a person who loves crossing things off her lists. So I’m going to try really hard to not run away from challenges, and face up to them. My husband says I need to sharpen my ‘consulting skills’, which basically means ‘man up’. I’m taking his advice.

Human Interaction

When I first came to the USA, the hardest thing to get used to was that my parents and childhood friends, people I had grown up around and gone to school with, were now on a different continent. It was tough starting from scratch, in an unfamiliar country, and I realized just how much I really needed good friends.  Fast forward ten years, and I have made many good friends here, but I spend vast swathes of time alone, now that I’m working from home.
I really shouldn’t complain about working from home: I have a very short commute, easy dress code, flexible hours, and friendly boss. But, I can’t handle the lack of human interaction, so I’m going to find ways to be around other grown ups during the week. Catch-up lunches, brainstorming sessions, mid-week gym sessions, subbing at my son’s preschool, it’s all worth it for my mental happiness.

Moving Things Around

I like unpredictability. When I get stuck in a rut, I move the furniture around – which freaks the rest of my family out. Being able to move things around, whether my furniture, my schedule, or my interests, is important to me. Being a parent means that routine is a big part of my life. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t shake things up every now and then, does it?

Embrace the Imperfect

The workroom does not have to be spotless before I start working. I don’t have to wait until I have a whole new batch of prints before I contact shops about my work. The kitchen could use a new coat of paint, but look, that bunch of flowers makes the whole room prettier for now! No, my schedule is not going to open up and magically get easier this winter. I need to get better at just getting on with things.


Half baked – part one


I have approximately 20 minutes to write this blog post before I have to pick up my four year old from preschool, so the spelling, and the grammar, and perhaps even the meaning of this post may be muddled. Well, maybe not the spelling – I am a star speller, always have been, it’s my super power. I would have preferred x-ray vision, but what can you do?

All through last week, I have had moments like these when I could have written a quick post, but I would always put it off thinking “Let’s not rush this. If I’m going to write something, I want to do it properly and take the time to organize my thoughts. I want this to be perfect.” So… the post never happened.

Let’s face it, my schedule is never going to allow me to light a vanilla soy candle, pour myself a cup of tea, wait for the stars to align, and get the atmosphere ‘just so’. I’m harried. There, I’ve said it. I’m a harried, confused, over scheduled, half baked sort of person. This doesn’t meld well with that part of my personality that wants to be perfect, organized, and the best at everything – best mom, best teacher, best small business owner, best maker of Valentines cookies, and reader of new fiction.  So far I’m the best at procrastinating, leaving things half done, eating chocolate, and well, spelling. The snow days are not helping.

So, in an attempt to get a grip on things, and motivate myself through this incredibly difficult, and frustrating winter, I have (surprise, surprise!) turned to a book. Gretchen Rubin’s ‘Happier at Home’. I find working from home can be incredibly uninspiring, so I’m trying to find little things to lift my day,  and keep me focused on achieving my goals.

Oops. Time is up. I’ll continue this later … Stay right there!







Happy New Year…

…and so the first day of 2015 is here. I promised myself that I would start the year on a good note and put out a blog post on New Years Day, and voila, here I am, keeping that promise – I’ve got a good feeling about this year already.

I read somewhere that listicles (articles consisting of lists) are out of fashion, which is a shame because New Year’s Day is definitely a day for writing and publishing lists, long, optimistic lists, of fuzzy, heartwarming resolutions and fresh ideas for self improvement.

I’m not really one for resolutions anyway. I do like the idea of a fresh start, and making plans for the coming year, but resolutions are hard and spiky. I have come to embrace a certain fluidity when it comes to my plans and understand that sometimes a change of direction just happens whether you like it or not.

Last year was tough. Tough because I had so many hopes and ideas for Noctiluna, but couldn’t fulfill them. Things took an unexpected turn in my family life, and I had to turn down jobs, put projects on hold, and spend a lot less time working. Not being able to scratch that itch was frustrating, and I let the people closest to me know just how frustrated I was (sorry!). However, I slowly learned to relax, not to be too rigid with my plans, and to be more creative with my time. Despite feeling stifled professionally, I have to admit that 2014  was a year of great growth for me and my family in so many other ways.

And of course, I have never been one to follow fashion slavishly (not since I left the fashion industry anyway!), so below is a list of things I’m hoping to do in 2015.

– Write the best lesson plans ever for this year’s summer camps!!!

– Spend more time actually marketing my products, make my packaging and website prettier and start selling in local shops.

-Develop more professionally – learn new skills, try out things that scare me.

– Help my good friend get started running her new and fabulous preschool in Vienna, VA (more about that later).

– Keep working out, going to dance classes, and singing loudly with my kids – because that just makes me happy.

– Create without a purpose. I need to just draw/paint/make things without worrying about selling them.

– Appreciate what I have.


Happy 2015. I do hope your year turns out to be full of good things!