I’ve been thinking a lot about adaptability recently. We have a teething baby in the house at the moment, and as all parents know, that tends to send plans/schedules/routines flying out the window! Of one thing I am certain: that the ability to constantly adapt has to be the single greatest quality to embrace (and hopefully master) if you want to enjoy, and not resent, the journey of motherhood. That being said, this blog is now being posted every Friday instead of Wednesday, as I’m adapting (ha!) to a new rhythm, and finding that it seems to work better to end my week that way, and allow myself a full, uninterrupted day of drawing every Wednesday.
Speaking of adapting, I find it highly ironic that I spent so much time setting up a beautiful big studio in the large room attached to the side of our house, only to find that as soon as baby arrived, it wasn’t working to spend much time in there whatsoever! As luck would have it, that room is just far enough away from the cot and the nursery, that the baby monitor would fall out of range as soon as I stepped foot in there. I finally accepted my new ‘mum reality’ a few months ago, and moved my art gear into a small nook beside our lounge (pictured above), where I can watch little man on his playmat, and more easily hear him when he wakes from his naps. The change has allowed for my drawing to become more of a way of life, rather than a big event, if that makes sense? In other words, I can quickly and easily pick up my pencils for 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, in those golden and much-cherished ‘cracks of time’ when baby is happily playing, or sleeping, rather than unrealistically expecting to spend hours alone with my art as I did in my pre-baby days. Thankfully, I’ve found this change refreshing rather than cumbersome, and the enjoyment I get from my drawing has increased since approaching it this way.
My focus has narrowed to the elements of my art making that are essential. The goal is to produce work of meaning alongside my life as a new mum; to allow art and motherhood to complement rather than compete with each other. On a practical level, that’s involved a lot of clearing out, and many trips to the second hand store as I undertake some necessary purging. Hard choices are being made in favour of much-desired outcomes. The superfluous is being shelved in preference for the indispensable. I can now count on one hand those large but necessary items in my little art nook: a table, a chair, a floor rug, a foot rest and a large folder to store completed drawings prior to framing. I can count on another hand the smaller but equally essential items to create my art: pencils, paper, sharpener, eraser and tape. I’ve spent so much time and energy in the past, striving to have more than that, but the reality is that the work itself doesn’t require much more than the items I’ve just listed, and it’s the work itself that should be taking centre stage. Everything else (bigger studio, larger range of materials etc etc) is lovely, but not essential. The truth is that it’s easy to get caught up in thinking we need things to be bigger and better but sometimes more isn’t better, it’s just more. I know that for me personally, all of the ‘more’ can easily distract from my ‘what’ and my ‘why’.
So much of our lives is about adapting to change, and in doing so, allowing space for something else to take place. It just so happens that as I loosened my grip on my beloved studio, I became aware of a need it could meet in someone else’s life, and so a whole new and wonderful chapter begins in that room for someone who is very close to my heart. I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but if you’re facing a similar choice of eliminating excess and intentionally narrowing your focus in pursuit of a worthwhile outcome, you might just find it doesn’t make your life smaller, but rather enlarges and enriches it in surprisingly unexpected ways.