Having said that, being an artist working from home, with kids, while actually maintaining a semblance of order in your home – it can be done, well almost done, with the help of the things below.
1. Put things in Boxes
I make separate boxes for different activities: drawing, painting, printmaking, screen printing. I have a massive box of paper scraps, and one with every type of tool imaginable to help you cut or paste things.
So, if I decide to spend a morning printmaking, I move my printmaking box downstairs, and it will have almost everything I need when I’m mono-printing: brayers, inks, carving tools, newsprint etc. It makes things easier to clear away, especially when kids are helping out. Obviously, certain things won’t fit in the boxes, but what can you do?
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).