There are things I want to do these days but never get to do them. Like running, a proper 1,5 hour of yoga in the morning, sewing something bigger, meditating while my child is asleep, vacuuming my house, washing the window panes...
And then there are other things that I do - while my daughter is sleeping, while she's playing with lego in another room, or while she's at my side or breastfeeding. I write, make notes, sketch, paint, cut and paste with scissors and glue, prepare meals, dance a little, stretch, fold my hands in a momentary prayer, wash some clothes by hand, read a few pages of a book, scrub the stove, go shopping for groceries, sing a song, come up with a new creative project and record it on paper...
There are so many things to do! At times I realise I want too much in one day - everything to fit and be perfect in just a day - impossible! And it would overload me surely. But often I still wish for them - may I have my home the way I want, art progress at the level I want and time with my child in abundance and focus - just the way I want...
And then I pause. Or something pauses me. (Whether it is myself or something external is not exactly clear but..) I give in. To suddenly "nothing". Doing nothing. And there is just the chair I'm sitting on. Just the steaming tea. Just the window on my left. Just the sound of my daughter's voice calling "maamaa" and just me answering: "I'm coming". And I put my cup down, raise my bottom, move my legs out of the kitchen, and reach for the other room to simply be there.
With my daughter or without her - it sometimes doesn't matter. All I need to do is to be. Presence for her or presence for myself - it doesn't matter. Presence for all. Presence for its own sake. This is what saves me.
Back in April I began reading Lucy H. Pearce's "Rainbow Way".
It came to me by post already two summers ago but the other book I ordered with it got my attention, and though I've been celebrating the cover and briefly read through some chapters - I haven't dove into that book.
Now I'm deep under water.
It's beautiful how it stretches me! I've started an Art Journal - something I've never done before. Well, not consciously at least. I did have notebooks, wrote and drew in them since I can remember, but never on such a mission like now: to go through the whole book, answer all the questions and complete the tasks on the way, and draw draw drawn, collage, doodle, make a record.
It gets really uncomfortable sometimes! But I'm moving forward...
Recently I got stuck on the word "renaissance", around which I was supposed to collage all the associations that come to my head. Renaissance just makes me think of school and our boring and harsh history teacher from 3rd grade. Since I know that renaissance means "rebirth", it then overflows me with a whole new sphere of images and meanings. But that's for the rebirth all right - renaissance on the other side is a blind spot, empty page, nothing....
I'm curious to get into my mind like this..
Through somebody's creative guidelines. Through a series of questions. It is much like a therapy. A good therapy. I have time. It's for free. I answer in my own pace. I'm having fun! And I feel the weight. But Lucy had done so much work there already.. laid a blueprint of a healing path for us. I am walking it barefoot and with a light backpack..
I wishto recommend this book, with all my heart, to all the mothers who feel themselves creative or attracted to anything creative. It's been such a blessing for me, I hope you can benefit from it too.
Oh, and I let Saule doodle all over my journal. I find it so pleasing, to have that one notebook entirely unrestricted, where I know I go deep, try my best and also try the whatever - and my daughter joins me on the page.. Meets my lines, as I meet hers. One day she might read what I wrote, or write and draw through her own Rainbow Way...
As a part of ARiM, I was invited to join the quest of writing down the record of my whole day - 15th July 2019. This particular day was going to be just an arbitrary Monday. Many mothers across the globe did the same on that same day: they wrote down what happened to them...
Lenka wrote "Don’t worry if nothing particular is happening that day for you. The beauty of the texts are in the details of an ordinary life, everything is interesting." She also asked to write from midnight to midnight, keep it all in present tense and until about 1500 characters.
My original text consisted of almost 6000 characters. You can read both of them here :)
00:00 Breastfeed my daughter and fall asleep
08:35 Wake up, go to pee and return to bed to breastfeed S.
09:12 Get up, go to the kitchen to wash dishes
10:15 Hang out in the living room with S. and O.
10:45 Breastfeed S., prepare to leave
11:03 Leave home and cycle to the studio.
13:00 Cycle back home. Grocery shopping on the way
13:40 Reach home, lay down to breastfeed S.
14:15 Fold some clothes while S. plays with modeling clay
14:46 Attempt to draw with wax crayons while breastfeeding in the living room
14:50 We lay down to nurse but S. doesn't fall asleep
15:10 Get up, wrap S. in the carrier
15:55 Fold away some more clothes
16:45 Go out to the local playground. Tired. I sit on a bench and cry
17:10 Ask O. to throw me toilette paper from the kitchen window, take the stroller and go for a ride
17:25 Reach the supermarket, get 1 liter of rice milk and Moomin activity book for S.
17:45 Reach the big playground
17:50 My friend comes with her daughter. We sit and talk and the girls play in the sandbox
18:50 Start to move towards home. Girls share the stroller
19:30 Reach home. S. wants some rice
20:00 Sit down to eat
20:10 S. draws on the kitchen table
20:28 Finish hanging laundry
20:46 Go to bathe and brush teeth while in the water
21:30 Turn off the light
22:00 S. falls asleep while nursing. I get up to drink some tea and work on the computer
22:15 S. wakes up, I take her to up to pee. We lay down to breastfeed
22:50 S. is asleep again. I get up and continue writing
23:55 Drink the remains of my cold rooibos tea
00:00 I feed S. and fall asleep in the middle of it. Can't remember if I woke up during the night. Very tired.
08:35 I wake up, go to pee and return to bed to breastfeed S.
08:55 I get up to get some toilette paper for S' runny nose.
She sits on the bed and picks her nose. For a while there's silence, then S. says that snorts will disappear if she will drink more milk, then she jumps under the blanket to nurse.
09:12 We get up. S. goes to pee.
09:15 I put shirt on S. and leave her in bed drawing, then go to the kitchen to prepare lemon water for us.
09:25 I help S. to dress fully and go to the kitchen to wash the dishes. S. is in the living room playing with her father.
09:55 I put on laundry to wash and prepare grapes for breakfast.
10:10 We eat grapes while making things from modelling clay.
10:15 I put on the pant pad for my period, dress up and hang out in the living room with S. and O.
10:45 I soak sunflower and raisins to eat later in the day, breastfeed S. and prepare to leave for the studio.
11:03 I leave home and cycle to the studio.
11:26 I reach the studio. Finish small painting, rewrite one poem, reread one of my writing practice notebooks and talk on a phone to my friend.
13:00 I leave the studio and cycle back home. Grocery shopping on the way.
13:40 I reach home, go to pee and lay down to breastfeed S.
14:00 O. falls asleep, I leave the bedroom with S. so he could have some rest. I much on fresh dates while we form modelling clay.
14:15 I fold some clothes. S. plays with modeling clay and makes little rainbow rolls.
14:40 I open the washing machine and bring the wet clothes to the bathroom to hang.
14:41 I walk to the living room to throw tiny modelling-clay balls to the toilette paper cardboard roll. S. calls it "throwing balls to the house". Then I escape to the kitchen to do some little washing up.
14:46 I attempt to draw a small triptych with wax crayons while breastfeeding S. in the living room.
14:50 We lay down to nurse but S. doesn't fall asleep
15:10 I get up, wrap S. in the carrier and go to the living room.
15:25 S. wants to leave the carrier. I try to fix the spinning wheel.
15:30 I go to the kitchen to prepare a smoothie for us but don't get to do it and instead I come back to the living room to quickly sweep the loads of dust from where the spinning wheel was standing. S. tries to climb my back, I don't let her, she gets upset and goes to O.
15:45 I put on te water for tea
15:55 I fold away some more clothes
16:00 S. and O. are picking cherries under the blanket in our bed. I realize the water is boiling, then make some rooibos tea
16:15 Trying to get S. to dress fully in order to go out
16:45 We go out to the local playground. S. refuses to be in a carrier. We find a rowan tree and start picking the berries.
17:05 I'm tired. I sit on a bench and begin to cry. S. swings by herself and asks me why I'm crying.
17:10 I ask O. to throw me toilette paper from the kitchen window, take the stroller from our car boot and go with S. for a ride
17:25 We reach the supermarket, get 1 liter of rice milk, 2 limes and Moomin activity book for S. I buy the book secretly but she discovers it two minutes after leaving the shop.
17:40 I call O. He says he will join us soon
17:45 We reach the big playground. S. goes to some lady to show her book. I sit in the sun to rest and knit
17:50 I have a small conversation with grandmother of a girl who plays in the sandbox with S.
My friend comes with her daughter. We are surprised and happy to see each-other. We sit on the bench and talk and the girls play together in the sandbox.
18:20 O. comes by for a while, then cycles to work
18:50 We start to move towards home. Girls share the stroller. S. takes B. on her knees. We wave goodbye kisses at each-other and separate.
19:30 I reach home with S. we have some buckwheat left from O's dinner, but S. wants rice
19:40 I cook rice, put batteries from our fairy lights to charge, take off the dirty bed sheet and shake the sand from our blankets while standing on the balcony
20:00 We sit down to eat rice with sunflower oil, salt and tomatoes
20:10 S. asks for more rice without tomatoes, then draws on the kitchen tale and refuses to blow her nose
20:15 I eat more rice without tomatoes. S. keeps on drawing
20:20 S. eats up her rice, says she's eaten it quickly like a cat.
20:22 S. jumps on the bed and I join her for some cuddling-tickling
20:23 S. asks for her Moomin book, then she looks trough it while I'm making the bed
20:28 S. brings the potty to the bedroom and pees into it, asking me to move her bicycle so she could have more space
20:32 S. calls me to read the Moomin book with her. I finish hanging the laundry and invite her to do it with me. She does... for 1 minute, then returns to the book
20:40 S. calls me to fix a torn sticker. I come and put some more stickers in places chosen by her, then wash the potty and put it back in its place
20:46 S. brings the book to the bathroom and goes to bathe. I put the dishes to soak, sweep rice from the kitchen floor and photograph S' drawing.
20:50 I join S. in the bath. We brush teeth while in the water
21:08 S. takes her book and walks straight to bed to play with the stickers
21:30 We turn off the light
21:40 S. gets up to pee and wants to play in the living room. We go back to bed. She jumps, sings and is very eager to talk in English - asks me to translate words and repeats them.
22:00 S. falls asleep while nursing. I get up to drink some tea and soak fruit, grains and seeds for the next day. I munch on sunflower and dates, light 3 candles and go to do some work on the computer.
22:15 S. wakes up, I take her to the toilette to pee. We lay down to breastfeed some more
22:50 S. is asleep again. I get up, put all her soft toys to machine-wash, then sit at the computer to continue with writing.
23:55 I drink the remains of my cold tea, then go to prepare a hot one again.
My friend recently told me she would like to learn from me the secrets of productivity, as it seems I am "managing it well".
That surprised me... and then I started to wonder whether I even think of myself as productive. I guess I have these waves... when the inspiration calls, and I respond. It's like activating a spiral. It then grows. Ideas build new ideas. Clarity comes. I just need to begin, and it flows on...
But that's sometimes. Other times I still find it difficult to be in harmony among the child, home, husband, being social, being for myself, being creative.
Anyway, I am happy with my recent evolving so - I'll agree on the "productivity".
Before this year have begun, I was well tied (by myself) to the domestic duties and most often couldn't find a way to use up the time of Saule's naps for being creative. I felt I needed to clean, tidy, fold, dust-off, broom, whatever.
And, of course at some point that needs to be done. As no-one really expected it of me or imply it on me, it was self-imposed and perhaps very needed part of my becoming a creative mother.
I remember my husband telling me countless times things like: "Look, you don't need to do this now", or "there'll be ALWAYS something to clean in this house, you can relax", or "She's asleep now.. 'writing, yoga, painting' - remember?"
And it drove me a little mad, because I needed to wash the dishes til the end, clean the shelves in the veranda till the end, basically do anything TIL THE END, til I could finally sit and immerse myself in my creations... Which hardly ever happened until Saule was 2 years of age.
Then things switched. We moved into a new (but in fact very old) apartment, my mother came over from Warsaw to help me bring it into a neat condition, and.. art began to flow.
Before I could hardly ever ignore such sight..
...now I was a mistress of it. It even gave me a funny tingle and a nonchalant feeling to simply pass it by and carry on writing. I broke free! And I did more, I did anything. I did imperfectly. I did messily. I finally understood what Leonie Dawson meant by Riding the Wild Donkey - not in theory, but at heart.
It's true I sometimes compromised my sleep in order to do more, but that blended into the whole dance, I could manage it, I could make it in doses small enough, without feeling depleted. And I was driven by my passion - that is, I believe, the thing that matters the most. Your inner fire you kindle yourself, one that sparks atop any idea you come forth with.
One December evening I started to draw an outline for a snail pupped I wished to sew for Saule as a Christmas gift. I found the shape online and looked for it mostly because I was curious how other people do draw snails. So there it was. The next morning, I copied the outline and started to colour it in... I've liked the image so much, I've hung it in a visible place, under the clock on our kitchen wall.
Looking at it, each time, brought me so much warmth, I was even smiling. Something was simmering in me... getting ready... I began to see that snail at the top of my blog (which I run very modestly, hardly ever wrote and showed to few people.
Next to that (and actually, a little before that), Saule was asking me to draw snails... continuously, many times per day, many times in a row. We had pages covered with spirals - next to the big one, she'd always ask me to draw another, small one.
I began to understand the meaning of a snail and related that to my situation. It was clear: we were both snails. I was a big one, my daughter was a small one. I did things slowly, because I was taking care after her. She did things slowly, because she was small, her short legs couldn't sometimes catch up with mine, many skills were yet clumsy and in the sweet learning stage. We were two happily slow creatures. I began to celebrate snails.
This is how I started the Mama Studio. I wanted to celebrate my motherhood through arts.
Not do it aside of my daughter, not to get upset about the time that I might "lacking" or "missing", but to do things in the time that I HAVE and to do them deliberately. I had my own tempo and even if working an hour or two per day would make my general progress slow, I was suddenly OK with that. I knew I would then use these hours to the fullest, would really give myself to them. My productivity increased right there.
Things are complete.. Whether you believe it or not.
You maybe see only one or two steps ahead, but the things in you are already done and perfect.
Once you allow, they start to flow.
Whatever you've been doing, takes a fuller shape, a deeper meaning, a beautiful glow, and it's now visible.
That allowing means sometimes not washing up, or writing a total nonsense in your journal, taking a walk to an unknown place, burning old photographs, staying in your pajamas all day, doodling for hours, letting the dust balls roll under the furniture... Allowing means opening yourself up to whatever comes at you, and then just smile at it. Things transform. Days lead to another days... Your art is in or out, but it IS. Whatever time you take, that's the right one.
We've been gifted with a new space to create. The Children Art Gallery.. - really a perfect place for the mother and child art studio!! :D There is a very large table, running water and sinks in the same room where you paint.. they are set low so my daughter can easily access them herself - another step to glowing independence. We are renting it with friends, so already on the first day I could feel the nourishing quality of the time spent there.. while our hands were busy making shapes and colours - our mouth spoke truth and forwarded the heart across the room.
We will be there for a month - maybe two. The whole place inspires me a lot as there is many children artwork being displayed, also in the thee gallery rooms that we pass on the way to our new studio.
I feel happy and grateful for this opportunity - our rainbow island in this city before we take off for another adventure in a foreign land, before the autumn leaves nudge us back to the cradle of home and a gentle slumber.
Full power. Full engagement right now.. Thank you ♥
Flowing through the days with Saule, creating here and there, I've been recently called again to draw.. but not in a way i remember or used to know. It looks quite like Her way, at times feels like I'm imitating her. But there's something more to it, I feel.. I transitioned from women's bodies and women's faces and cartoonish characters (which I still hope to draw in the future) into something less defined, something pretty wild if you ask me.
We both balance on a white sheet of paper and meander through the crazy lines, finding our peace there, becoming still..
I often look up to peek at her doodles. They are marvelous! Selfless. Expansive. True. I love to watch her. And more than that, I love the fact that I am still able to loose myself in that dance of colours.
A few days ago I've stumbled across a term I've nearly forgotten: abstract expressionism. I thought: this is it! This is exactly what we are doing everyday!
But I cannot pause my daughter while she's drawing and say "hey look, what you are doing now is called abstract expressionism." It's ridiculous. She's just drawing. Being herself.
One day she might dive into photorealism in pencils and produce a stunningly alive portrait of a porcelain cup with daisies in it - still, if until then no one would put an idea in her mind that such thing is unique, or considered a talent, or that it has any sort of a name... - she would just be herself, drawing. Unaware and simply fulfilling her soul's urge to create - surely polished by the years of practice, but otherwise clear of any ideas.
I wish you innocence and purity of thought and action, and fulfilling of beauty of your life through creating for the sake of creating. Not due to labels or social preferences and accepted patterns. Only due to yourself. You are free. I am learning this from you. Relearning this.. Rediscovering my primitive and authentic lines, my most basic level, my creative soul's golden thread.
There are days we go out to play on a street..
Late in May, a young man photographer came by and asked if he could take a few pictures.. : )
Between March and April, Ideas Block - a creative space + cafe in Vilnius (Lithuania) held my first solo exhibition. For a month I had a "pop-up" studio there, I was working on some new pieces and was taking my daughter with me most of the time. It was my first working-space-out-of-home experience and it helped me enormously... to focus, finish up some older works and organize my tools, projects and new ideas.
It was a small room - studio and gallery space 2 in 1. Anybody could pass through if going to the toilette or the back storage room.. and that was a new thing for me. To work while being on display.. Having seemingly my private workshop but actually exposing myself to being witnessed in the progress, or being interrupted :)
I loved it all the way. It was the best gift for my 30th birthday : a creative experience.
I was very happy to finally put up my works all together and see what I have birthed through the last few years.. also to be able to engage Saule in the whole thing, having her to help me hand the pictures, paint and draw together, use scissors and glue on daily basis and not being distracted by the dishes or laundry next to that.
We met many wonderful people! Some of them also creative mothers with children. I feel grateful for those exchanges of ideas and energy, smiles and laughter, feedback and support. I had a place out of home, like a second nest with open door.. and I could go there to play and get inspired!
When it got warmer, we cycled there and back. It was approximately 20 minutes one way. I started to feel my muscles again and Saule learned the road by heart, she would exclaim "Panorama!" as we passed the wide view of the city on our right, cycling up the hill.
During the whole residency, we made four events: first was the poetry reading at the opening of the exhibition, then the creative writing workshop, the yarn spinning workshop, and (at the closing) - a concert and screening of the "Who Does She Think She Is?" documentary about mother-artists.
All of these events were intimate, with no crowd, which I very much enjoyed. It was the first time I've ever read my poetry in public and though my voice was at times shaking and Saule was walking around and about, occasionally talking right at me, this was strengthening and elevating for me.. To hear my voice in an open space, knowing that others are hearing it too... and it was different sensation from the writing workshops, where we all read to each-other. Even more naked. Important. Centering..
Another great thing about the artist residency in Ideas Block was that I could sell my items there. They would take a share of 30% from whatever I've sold, which I consider to be a fair price. And what was important for me more than selling - the opportunity itself, which gave me a sense of settlement and purpose. I've been running an Etsy shop for a few years now, but I've always enjoyed being able to sell my products in person. To see the person who's buying it. Having a conversation. A connection. It's important.. and it's fun!
We were selling: paintings, poems, handspun yarns, knitted scarves, music albums, colorful magnets, prints and home-made raw desserts.
our breakfast in the studio
"Ideas Block" tagged pictures by Liucija Dervinite
For the past two weeks we've been having a LEGO festival.
Saule wakes up and goes to her yellow Lego bucket (it's a remain from my childhood and we have not bought any new bricks). I gave her a comfortable mat to spread the bricks upon and a large flat pillow to sit on. Most of the days now we build first thing in the morning, construct last thing in the evening..
These are planes and cars and homes. Lately Saule particularly enjoys putting all the tiniest pieces into a tiny pink suitcase and the two baskets. She's "preparing them to go". We pack the red and yellow apples and oranges (just a small semi-transparent piece usually used for lights), hair brushes and combs, mini hammers, fork spanners and screw drivers, flowers and radio antennas.
It's true that after a week of this, and so many hours per day - I didn't feel like making another air plane at 10 pm in the evening, but i do admire Saule's enthusiasm. And her persistence. And focus..
One thing that struck me the most was how she insisted each evening, after playing was done and we agreed to go to bed, that all the bricks, small pieces and whatever we constructed that day - would land back in the yellow bucket. It seems so important to her. Whenever I said said something like "let's not do it now", or "let's do it tomorrow", he would start to protest so fiercely.. It made me feel silly and made me realise that this was the time to give in. We decomposed whatever was built. We separated each single piece and placed them all back into the bucket.
The separating part was crucial. Saule wanted them all to be dissolved.
I love that! Such a lesson of detachment!
And really, at first, I did not want to say bye to the four air planes I have build an hour before with such care. But anyway - what would we use to build on the next day?..
And what would the air planes do? Look pretty? Gather dust?.. So i claimed my one last way of attachment and took pictures : >
I am fascinated by the way Saule puts the items on the board.. the alignment, how she chooses the place for them and what she chooses to stick there. It is way different from the way I would order things around and it seems to dissolve some confining spell from around my head and eyes.. one that I haven't even known was there..
I feel inspired and refreshed and very grateful to witness this. Both: creating and destroying.
Today I had a glimpse of what a Mother Studio could look like.. feel like..
We visited my friend in her studio that she's now sharing with her partner. It is Her, Him, and their Son. Beautiful atmosphere, colours, smells.. music instruments around, yarns, textile and ceramics...
Egle is a weaver and she dyes yarn by hand. I will submit a conversation with her in one of the future posts.
My name is Agnieszka, I am an interdisciplinary artist, dreamer and visionary. Gifted with motherhood over 3 years ago, I feel on a mission to celebrate it through arts.
In my works I try to convey the spirit of vibrant exchange between the two seemingly excluding roles: mother and artist.
I write, paint, sing, photograph, make handspun yarns, and nurture a great wish to continue with my passions to make them a strong source of financial support for my family.
Recently I meet more and more women with similar attitude - it brings me hope and I feel proud to be walking the road less traveled..
I believe my daughter can benefit immensely by seeing me doing the things I love and not giving it up for some less desired "job".
I have strong faith in the purpose behind my creations and let myself be guided by them.
May all mothers find peace in their creative selves and rest their heads on the playful lap of this universe.
© Agnieszka Olszewska 2019