With three dogs and a toddler circling me it took an unusual amount of patience and perseverance to repot my 73 seedlings. What a day! As quickly as I repotted a tiny tomato plant my daughter would pull it out like a weed and proudly flaunt her treasure in my face. Lucy, the little terror, was chewing the tops off of my pepper plants and “accidentally” knocking pots over left and right as she ran through them with pure joy and the kind of jubilance only a puppy can muster. The most terrifying moment was when Rosie, sporting a long, long leash, ran around my menacing toddler a few times. The leash was wrapped securely around my child’s waist when Rosie started escorting her around the yard completely on the verge of knocking her over and dragging her around at every hesitant turn.
Moments before, Jim had ducked into the house under the guise of making a quick cup of tea. How amusing that he reappeared moments before the repotting was completed and moments before I pulled out the rest of my hair in frustration. That was the longest cup of tea ever made. His timing is impeccable when it comes to escaping dirty work and the mob that surrounds it. However, when he arrived I was so grateful for his assistance that I quickly forgave his long absence. I even ignored his obligatory offer to help me even though it was obvious everything had already been done. Seeing the bald spots on my head and my hair blowing around in the wind he quickly grabbed the baby and took her on a sight seeing exhibition to his shop to look for the evil Micky-Mok.
I yelled cautionary tales to their backs as they walked away. That cat is a vicious beast, but for a few minutes of uninterrupted work and silence I’ll allow my first born to face the treachery that is a gray, furry cat named Mik-Mok. At least as long as her daddy is by her side.
I was able to clean up the mess in peace. At least we’ll have a big garden this year. Keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t have the same probems we had last year.
“Mama? Mama? MaaaaaMaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!?” This is what I have woken up to for the past three nights at, yes – you guessed it, midnight. AND again at 1:30 am and yet again at 2:00 am. For some crazy and unknown reason my daughter has been spending half the night wide awake and ready to play. Last night when Jim went down to attend to her needs, wants, and every toddler middle-of-the-night desire she actually asked him if she could watch the “Wizard of Oz” (he said no.). She’s got nerve! If this doesn’t end soon I may have to sleep in my car, the dog house, or maybe even the basement just to get a good nights sleep.
Last night was the third night in a row that we suffered through these post bedtime theatrics. At midnight, when the screaming and demand for play began, I rocked her, soothed her, and gently laid her back in bed. At 1 am I tried reasoning with her, covering her with her favorite blanket and singing her favorite songs (off-key of course, just the way she likes it). By 2 am I was begging and pleading with her to pleeeeeeze, pleeeeeeeeze go to sleep. I was getting desperate. Last night there was a special encore performance around 3:30am that had me marching into her room and declaring that this was the final trip I would make to her bedroom. I plopped her onto her back, threw the blanket over her head and marched out of her room determined to get some sleep.
That is when the howling and screaming began. That is when she began shouting, “No! No! No! Down. Down. Down.” That is when I considered crying myself to sleep. Instead, I lowered the volume on the baby monitor and inserted ear plugs. Oh, I could still hear her shouting her demands, but she was a bit muffled and far, far away sounding. I closed my eyes and went to my happy place. I thought about my ideal vacation and concluded it would be a luxurious hotel room with a comfortable bed and sound proof walls. I could probably sleep for a week straight and never grow tired of the novelty of uninterrupted, deep sleep. Dreams don’t last for very long though, especially when your toddler wakes up just three hours later and is ready to get up for the day. This is my cue to crawl to the coffee maker and pour myself a few gallons. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that tonight will be the end to the romper room. If not, the dogs may have to make room for me.
There is a dance party going on right now. Yes, it’s only in my head, but I have good reason to celebrate today. I sold my first painting! I’ve finally been paid for my creativity and hard work. All of my blood, sweat, and tears have finally been recognized monetarily. Ok, so it wasn’t really that miserable. I didn’t actually sweat or bleed, but I must confess, there were a few moments of serious crying. That is all behind me now. Today I have become a REAL artist, much like the day Pinocchio became a real boy. When I tell people that I paint there is always one person in the group that asks, “Have you ever sold anything?” Now, now I can answer quite smugly with one small, yet happy, word: Yes! “Why, yes, I have sold a painting” I’ll say with a sly smile and wait for the applause. I won’t mention that I have only sold one painting. I won’t mention the little voice deep inside me that is quietly announcing, “It may be the only one you ever sell.”
For some reason, actually selling artwork validates you in the eyes of others. It means you have arrived, but arrived where I’m not entirely certain. I am sure it has something to do with something I should have learned in economics class (if I had been able to pay attention for more than five minutes at a time). In short, when someone wants something other people want it too. It’s the only explanation for why cabbage patch kids became such a big money-making machine. If I get lucky one sale will lead to other sales and I will become Little Miss Popularity like the Chihuahua’s were after starring in Taco Bell commercials. If I’m not so lucky I’ll be a one-hit-wonder like Sir Mix-A-Lot with his song, “Baby Got Back.” There seems to be a fine line in the art world between being a sellout, which is described as “painting what sells” and being a fine artist which is described as “painting only what matters to you” or maybe “painting what doesn’t sell.” Being an artist is like being a mom. If you let the baby cry you are a bad mom, but if you don’t let the baby cry you are still a bad mom. If you don’t sell your work you are not a “real” artist, but if you do sell it you are not a “real” artist either because then you are a sellout, which is apparently worse than starving to death.
I think maybe this is why I am happily an art outsider. I’m an outsider artist. I’m not quite formally trained. I don’t belong to any exclusive clubs. I’m not high up on the totem pole so to speak. I don’t have any papers documenting my art pedigree. Maybe that is a blessing in disguise because I also don’t have any preconceived notions about how to make art or how to sell art. I don’t have any rules to follow. I’m not worried about making mistakes and I’m not ruled by the words “should” and supposed to.”
However, today I AM a working artist. I’ve been acknowledged. I have moved up one ladder rung towards my imagined artistic greatness and have arrived somewhere even though I don’t know where exactly. An artist friend recently encouraged me to put more effort and enthusiasm into the process of selling my work. She said I had a good chance of selling my pieces because most people just want something pretty to put on their wall. Most fine artists, no doubt, would have found this comment offensive. Not me though. The lifestyle associated with working artist seems much more enjoyable in comparison to the one associated with starving artist. I took it as a compliment because it meant someday I might make enough money to keep me in art supplies. It meant someday I might not have to starve (metaphorically of course because I’m not actually starving) to do the thing I love to do. I’m content with that. I like to paint pretty things and I am painting what matters to me. I’m a practical person. I have a bit of a business mind that was likely handed down to me genetically and through no scholarship of my own. It’s smart to make money. It’s even smarter to make money doing something you enjoy doing. So, today, I celebrate my success. Today is my proud moment. If my customer had paid in cash I’d staple the first dollar to the wall, but instead I’ll settle for attending the dance party in my mind. It’s free at least because we all know selling one painting doesn’t make you a millionaire or even a hundredaire. That is ok though because today I am so happy I feel like attempting to do the moon walk and that happy feeling is enough for me. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts!