This is a year of firsts. It is my first time as an Artist in Residence at a school. I am building my first studio ever. This is the first season that I am focusing on making products for shops, and my first year of really being at peace with working from home.
Makes me sound like I’m a doctor right? The resident doctor will see you in a minute, madam. Honestly, I was surprised when I was chosen for this Arts Fairfax residency. I had filled out the application a day before the deadline, and was sure that there was very little chance of getting a spot. However, here we are; I have just finished a three week residency at Glasgow Middle School, and am stronger because of it.
It was a sharp learning curve, very sharp, needlepoint sharp. I have taught at schools before, and still teach every summer at my own Art camp, but those were/are long term positions. Teaching a short term residency presents unique challenges, ones that keep you on your toes well after the school day is done. Not knowing my class, I found that everything I had planned out so carefully in my scheme of work needed to be altered in some way or another and I had to be really flexible as I got to know my class better over the next nine sessions. Three weeks is really not a long time, so when a surprise fire drill, two field trips, and a snow day were mixed into the equation, I found myself constantly rethinking lesson plans. I dreamt about school every night, and talked myself through presentations in the car, while cooking, and during my showers! It was hard, but I’m so very glad I did it. I feel like I’m a stronger person and a better educator for it, and I won’t forget those kids as long as I live. I do wonder with trepidation what they will remember about me!
My dream studio is being built before my very eyes. Yes, it is going slower than I expected. Yes, I never know how many people are in my house at any given time (It feels like the plumber has moved into my basement for good). But I have my eyes on the prize. Sometime in April, I will have a dedicated space for all my stuff. I will have a legitimate reason for a trip to Ikea (insert evil laughter here). The rest of my house will be liveable again, and I will finally sit and drink tea and work in my beautiful, big, shiny, white studio. Sigh.
Like many creatives, I love working with my hands. I am never happier than when I spend a whole day printing, sewing and making things. What I am not so keen on is the other stuff: inventory, paperwork, website management, marketing, and selling. Selling things is my least favourite part of my job. I’m just no good at it. I have been wanting to get my products into shops for the longest time, so that I can spend more time making things, and dreaming, and drinking tea. It took a while, but I finally got the nerve to approach shops. I have my products in three shops in the DC/VA area: Steadfast Supply, Analog, and Gift and Gather, and am in the process of getting into another couple of places. Woohoo! That studio cannot be built fast enough!
There has been a slow shift in my attitude towards working from home. Maybe age has something to do with it, or built up experience, or maybe it’s the idea of my studio looming on the horizon. After years of railing against having to work from home, I’m beginning to finally take comfort in it. I worry that I’m becoming too much of an introvert, so I make sure to meet up with other artists and crafters on a weekly basis. However, as I become more organized with my time and space, I feel more at peace with the situation. I like being able to work at strange hours, and see my kids when they get home from school. I like being in control of my work environment. Of course I don’t like everything about it, but who really does?
Next week, I will get started on the meaty work of writing my summer camp curriculum, now that a large chunk of my printing is completed. I also have two Spring shows coming up and, of course, a studio to organize. Have a lovely weekend, folks! I’ll be back with another update soon.