Domesticity Fights Creativity

I have had a very productive week. I screen printed a huge batch of shirts, applied to two holiday shows, reorganized all of my inventory and packed it for my future shows, worked on two canvases, did a lot of research into booth displays for indoor shows, volunteered at a school library, finished off a novel, cleaned my house, did a lot of drawing, two loads of laundry, and now I’m writing this.


No, I’m not on Speed. I have been listening to a lot of Podcasts and books on CD as I work, and this has been keeping me on the move. The latest is Chrissie Hynde’s autobiography, Reckless, which has the worst choice of narrator possible. Rosanna Arquette sounds like Buffy Summers, and cannot pronounce British slang or place names at all. Don’t even get me started on those English and Welsh accents she attempts. No, no, no, Chrissie, you should have narrated that book yourself with that smooth voice of yours.

Despite all of that, there is nothing like a good story to keep me going. I have trouble getting out of my car if I park before my audiobook has come to the end of a chapter. This whole week I have been happily printing and painting away, only stopping to change CDs. My lunch breaks have been shorter, I have been in a flow state, and I have wasted much less time. Maybe I have found the secret to working happily from home? Nah, I still want a big ass studio.

One quote from Reckless that has been stuck in my consciousness was something about creativity flourishing in times of hardship. Chrissie, like many others before her, opines that domesticity can kill creativity. I think about that very thing almost every day. As the mother of two school age kids, I have had to tweak my work habits considerably. That list of stuff I did above does not include the school runs, swim classes, homework help and other parenting tasks that happen during the week.

It is harder to properly feed a creative process that demands and needs constant nourishment,  because, well, my kids need nourishment too! I stop and start projects at weird times, and can’t get back into them, and find myself limited in so many ways.I’ll be honest, it’s often frustrating, but I’m slowly finding my own ways and methods of working. The audiobooks have been great at lifting me out of a slump, so has my yoga practice. Work wise things may not be optimal right now, but I’m not sitting still, I’m still making stuff, I’m still trying. I’m learning to be patient, my kids are learning a lot about work ethic from me. Chrissie is right, I have had to slow down and change the trajectory of my creative career. Domesticity is having it’s way with my creativity,  but that won’t always be the case, and I when things do kick off, my family will have my back!


Gray Skies and Silver Linings


Fall/Winter 2106 has not been a smooth ride so far. I have been a bit overwhelmed by my printing load, which is larger than usual this year because I got cocky and signed up for more shows. What has been more overwhelming, though, is the fact that the Fall shows tend to be outdoors, leaving you at the mercy of tempestuous Mother Nature.

Art on the Avenue was on a wet day, and although many shoppers showed up and I made a decent amount of sales, setting up in a rainstorm was not a bowl of cherries (read more about that day here). Oh, and last weekend’s festival in Fairfax can be best described as a dampening experience (literally: it was an extremely soggy day, I’m still drying off).

Working at outdoor festivals when the weather is bad can be a singularly torturous experience. I need some sympathetic head shaking, so here are some problems we vendors can face:

  • A 72 hour day.
    Yes, the day really does feel that long when hardly anyone stops by your booth, and it’s too cold and rainy to do much but huddle in the corner trying to keep warm.
  • Damaged inventory
    A whole day of wet weather means that you go home with damp products, and a soaking tent, which means you need to lay everything out to dry and dehumidify that evening, and spend the next day drying out your tent in your yard.
  • Little surprises
    This time, my tent sprung a couple of leaks, which had me performing an elaborate dance of reorganization so that the onesies didn’t suffer any more than they needed to.
  • Tantrums
    Mine and the kids. When it’s nice weather the children skip off like happy lambs to play in the kid’s corner, watch performances, eat out and score free candy from vendors. On Saturday they mooched off for a walk, came back and asked “is it time to go yet?“. Then they sat in a cafe, came back and asked “is it time to go yet?“. Then they watched an indoor concert, came back and asked “is it time to go yet?“. And then…..well you get the picture.
    I wasn’t much better to be honest, in the afternoon I whined like a baby and  entertained notions of leaving early to my poor husband who pointed out that we had signed up for the festival, so we should stick it out (he is a real grown up, unlike myself).

Now, here’s the silver linings part: despite all of this, many positive things came out of this experience. Even though I’m not a fatalist, I keep catching myself thinking that things really may happen for a reason. Cue positive things list:

  • New Friends
    The tent next to mine at the Fairfax Fall Festival was owned by the nicest and funniest group of people that I have ever met at a festival. Having all that empty time to fill, meant that we got to talk to each other a bit more than vendors normally do at shows. I was crying with laughter at one point during the day, they made my day.
  • Fabulous Find
    Excellent news, my booth was opposite a coffee shop called  De Clieu, and it is official, I have found a new haunt. They make the best ginger scones, and brioche, and I’m in love.
  • Hardcore Customers
    I have a lump in my throat when I think about all the customers who actually came out in the rain and hunted for my tent so that they could buy my shirts. I got some lovely feedback from these people, and I must be doing something right to have repeat customers in such dreadful weather. Thank you!
  • Ill Gotten Gains
    While I danced around my tent moving shirts around to avoid drips, my daughter and son were entertaining bored vendors with their cute grins, and somehow scoring large amounts of free stuff like little bandits. My ten year old daughter also managed somehow to earn some money by making day-glo bead bracelets for vendors while they waited. Maybe she should just take my job?

Next Sunday I take part in the Kensington Fall Festival. The weather is predicted to be fine, and after that it will be indoor shows, warmth and holiday cheer only, OKAY? Excellent.

The Ups and Downs Of The First Fair of the Season

Last Saturday was Art on the Avenue, my first Autumn fair of the year.

I had raced against time to get all my shirts and onesies printed, sewn and packed in time for the big day, fueled by strong tea, adrenaline, and Tiger Balm patches (pulled muscle – thanks for the betrayal, body). The night before the fair, I had barked at my kids to go to bed early, but of course, they chose to stay up later than usual jumping on each other’s beds, and complaining of insomnia. My husband and I were no better, we got hooked on an episode of Narcos and stayed up too late as well. Despite this, all of us were up early the next morning……………and what a morning it was.
It was grey, and cold, and soggy as a teabag. Every now and then, a torrential downpour would start, and then disappear as fast as it arrived; it felt as if someone was emptying a barrel of water on us periodically! To make things worse, my six year old would not stop crying “I wanna go hooome!” and the ten year old was close to throttling him.
As I unpacked my products under the partial protection of my tent, all I wanted to do was throw the towel in, go home, and sit on my sofa in the comfort and warmth of my family room.

But I didn’t.

I stuck it out and as the day progressed the weather got a little brighter and the crowds showed up.  As it turns out, I did pretty well at the fair and am busy this week trying to print more shirts for my next fair. The weather has been beautiful this week, but I have been hearing forecasts for another rainy weekend coming up!! I’m not sure if my inventory can handle another weekend of dampness, I’m not sure if I can handle another week of drying out my tent, and dehumidifying my shirts, I’m not sure if the kids can handle each other’s whining if it rains again. So here I am, doing the only thing I can do, crossing my fingers, carrying on with my work, and hoping for the best!

Here are some pictures: