What is a typical day for you? Finding that hard to answer? Me too. The joy of working from my home studio is that I can be there for my two boys when they need me. And sure, there is lots of routine that goes with having children. So a typical day during a term-time week is relatively predictable at certain points. For example the morning comprises endless cajoling the boys to: eat their breakfast; get dressed; and clean their teeth. It is all standard fare in households the world over. As is the inevitability of me being five minutes behind schedule. Every. Single. Day. I’m not sure why, as I make every effort to be on time. Every. Single. Day. I just know that I am not alone in this – to anyone else struggling to get their day (and anyone else’s) underway, I salute you!
Once the kids are in school I am on a mission to maximise the available time. It’s not all about art-related work – there is still food shopping or washing or cleaning or cooking or clearing our THAT toy cupboard again – the list is endless. But I try and plan ahead so that I keep on top of the day-to-day grind and household chores but also make sure I move my business forward. Even if sometimes it is just a few small steps.
Working can mean so many things: in the studio with the music on or in complete silence – I often like to work in my own head; at the computer updating my website or writing my blog; doing the accounts or processing orders; visiting my printers to have new work scanned or to pick up prints for delivery; attending art fairs either as a viewer or as an exhibiting artist; keeping touch with galleries and other key people within the art world; submitting work for exhibitions; meeting with my art rep to discuss on-going projects; contemplative time to research new ideas and source manufacturers; meeting with fellow artist – for fun and to share ideas; maintaining my social media presence. And more besides.
An Evening With Art Disruptors, at Soho House, Portobello Road, London hosted by Luiza Gibb from Flat Space Art From Left: me, Day-Z, Luiza, Magnus Gjoen
With so many aspects to being an artist it can be easy to get bogged down and overwhelmed. It is also not easy to schedule when to work creatively. Some days just aren’t going to produce the goods. I have learned to give myself 3 tasks to complete in the day and as long as I accomplish these anything else is a bonus. So far, this strategy is working for me. Sometimes I forget to eat lunch, which is why the tub of flap jack bites – that I keep in the car for the kids – reduces significantly. I don’t have the perfect balance. But I am finding ways to live in the moment I’m in, which has to be good right?
Once I collect the boys from school, retrieve their copious amounts of detritus and get home, we are all feeling a little jaded. The couple of hours before bedtime is precious, relentless and exhausting, a time to reset before it happens all over again the next day. I love bedtime – yes it can be chaotic and sometimes the boys fall out (sometimes we all do) but we all value ‘snuggle time’. The warmth, the closeness, the stillness. It is a time for me to really hear about how their day was and occasionally they ask about mine too. If they do, I tell them one thing about work that I think might interest them. I want them to know that I do something other than the domestic chores they witness. Being an artist is a big part of who I am. They are increasingly interested in hearing about what my work involves but ultimately I am mummy. So yes, being an artist is a big part of who I am, but being a mummy is so much bigger.
Working after lights out can be a challenge until I get into the groove. I think it is the clearing up afterwards that I am resistant to. But I am a stickler for an organised studio and don’t like waste so I will always tidy up and it is all about being prepared for the next day, when time is short and there is always, so much to do. A glass of wine can ease me in …
Mr Thornton and I manage snippets of conversation throughout the week – functional rather than meaningful, but that is the stage of life we find ourselves in. However, weekends are sacred, family time. In these precious moments I take inspiration for new pieces of work and there is opportunity for clarity.
No day is ever the same but I find that no matter where I am my identity is always a fluctuating combination of the roles I play: mum, wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleague. All woven together and retold through my work.
Right, it is the end of another day so just enough time for a hot chocolate-Netflix combo. you thought I was going to say wine didn’t you? Well it would have been wine but for the fact I am with-cold thanks to my cherubic boys sharing the love. Now that’s typical. Night y’all.
Tracey Thornton is an international mixed-media artist Originals, Prints & Products from www.traceythorntonartist.com Facebook @traceythorntonartist Instagram @tracey.thornton.artist