As a father of two boys (a 5-year-old and 7-month-old), I have very fragmented studio time. My wife (a poet) and I were just joking about our creative practices—saying that our sons’ Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are like two little triangles teetering on top of our heads. Their triangle needs comes first then come ours. It is a crazy balancing act, and can be chaotic at times, but I can’t think of any other way of being. I am happy to have my tiny art directors as part of my practice.
To optimize work time, my studio has always been part of my living space: converting the dining room into a studio, carving out a section of the kitchen, transforming the front porch, having my work table be one more element in the living room, etc. I have also tried to include my oldest son in my work time so he has an easel next to mine or can climb up on to my work table and work/play on one end while I sew on the other. When he can, has also been included when installing my large paper works for shows. If all else fails, I have the time after they [my children] go to bed, which lately means about 10:00.
As a way to be realistic about this ultimate fragmenting of time, I keep a running wall of small works. It could be a fragment of fabric, a photo I found during the day, a small paper collage, or older work that finds resonance. I see this as a gathering practice: it gives me a chance to add a single element and re-arrange or contextualize a larger work. I think of the individual elements as something akin to quilt blocks and the whole arrangement becomes an ever-evolving wall quilt. This gives me a chance to work, even in small moments. I also keep as many larger projects going at one time as I can, so that I can be ready if I get a moment of focused time.
I am also an art educator, so my professional work life runs parallel to my creative work life. I have been lucky to able to coordinate collaborative projects that call on my own practice: making printmaking-based bus murals with teens; working with artists to develop collaborative projects for children and families; transforming printmaking into a digital product that can live as a digital animation or banner both in the U.S. and in South Africa.