Thursday, October 13, 2011

That's Just How I Do It

Rooster, yet to be titled, 30x30, collage on wood panel

In a recent blog post from my dear friend and fellow artist Robin Maria Pedrero talked about how she accomplishes everything she does. I found this post to be so refreshing and interesting as Robin and I often speak about balancing family and work.

Robin talks about keeping a positive attitude, mentoring and teaching, learning from her mistakes and managing her time. She goes on to share a typical day in her life, and it resonated with me. I decided to borrow her idea and share with you, my readers, a day in my life. I do this because like Robin, everyday people say to me "I don't know how you do all that you do."

This week I am teaching seven fifth grade classes the art of collage and the profession of being an artist. I am at Sabal Point Elementary school every day this week except Wednesday, which is early release day. Yesterday was Wednesday.

Tuesday late afternoon the corporate director for the Grand Bohemian Gallery which carries my work nationally asked me if I had any new work. Since I have been working on my Noah's Ark Series I have not had new work to give her for a while, and I am feeling badly about answering that question with "no" because my answer for most things is usually "yes."

I Always Give it My Best
Vanessa was looking for a large scale rooster piece and had hoped to install it in the Asheville gallery. I told her I'd do what I could to get one done for her.

sketch with beginnings of underpainting

Late Tuesday night I sketched up the rooster onto my 30x30 panel and coated it with multiple coats of clear gesso. Wednesday morning at 6:30am I blocked in the green background before waking the kids for school. 

Multitasking is Key
While the kids were showering and getting ready for breakfast I pulled on my sneakers and ran three miles around my neighborhood. When I returned I checked on the kids progress, took a quick shower and cooked breakfast of eggs, toast, sausage and fresh fruit (Every morning is like Sunday at our house). I ran a load of laundry and put away the dishwasher. Before they went out the door to catch the bus I packed them both healthy lunches and kissed them goodbye, wishing them the very best day!

Slightly off  Center
Back inside, I quick changed into my gym clothes and headed off to lift weights. Exercise is my relaxation, I enjoy pushing the limits of both my mental and physical strength. I find my center and calm my mind through exercise every day. Before I clean up, I dash out to the studio to block in more color on the rooster, completing the underpainting. This will need to dry for a few hours. I'm moving so fast I think I'm still burning calories!

underpainting progresses with more blocking in and
establishing a decorative background 

Keep Moving
I head into the house and put the laundry in the dryer, shower, check my emails and design an ad layout for a health and fitness club in Baltimore, MD. Today I have set aside some time to have lunch with a friend since it's early day and  I am not volunteering at school. We enjoy Greek food and catch up conversation and then I head home and back to my desk. I design a tri-fold massage brochure for that same Baltimore client, field more emails, make changes to some fitness posters for my Orlando based Sportsplex and before I know it I can hear the beep-beep of the alarm as the kids come in the garage from school.

I take the kids for frozen yogurt so we can spend some time together before dance and swim team. We head home and on the way drop my daughter off for dance at 4:00. I encourage my son to do a bit of his homework before we have to leave for swim team at 5:15. Take a few minutes to check social networking, email and waiting for the underpainting to dry.

Head to the aquatics center with my son for 5:30 and back to pick up at dance for the break from 6-7pm. Arrive home, make spaghetti and organic chicken sausage. Back to dance for 7-9pm and pickup Connor at the aquatics center at 7pm. Typically I have help with the driving buy my husband is out of town on a photo shoot this week. Hit the post office to mail DVDs on my way home.

Balancing Act
Get everyone back and forth and settled with homework, then I sit and read for an hour with the kids and the dogs until DANCE MOMS comes on TV at 10pm. It's a repeat and so I tell my daughter I'm going to pass and head out to the studio to work. They are engrossed in TV as I head to the back yard with the dogs in tow. I pick up some papers and try to organize my work area a bit, put on some good music and start working in a sea of reds for the rooster waddle and comb. 

In the groove when 11pm rolls around, but I have to check on the kids and make sure they don't stay up any later than DANCE MOMS, head inside, say goodnight, clean out lunch boxes for tomorrow, and rotate the laundry again, dogs in tow. 

darkness has settled in as the sun has been down for hours, 
but I'm still going strong

Head out to the studio after everyone is in their room for the night. This is the witching hour, it's when the magic happens. Put my favorite Pandora station on, take the glue brush out of the water and I am quickly back in the zone. Share a few fun texts with my friend and Dog A Day painter Kim Santini who tells me she's turning in for the night. Stay in that zone for as long as I possibly can before the yawning starts around 12:30. Keep working until 1:00 am and sit for a minute to evaluate my progress.

Head in for a few hours of sleep with visions of paper tidbits dancing in my head like sugar plum fairies. Sometimes it's hard to get to sleep when my brain is moving so fast, even though I am tired. Tonight I get to sleep about 1:30. Some mornings I wake at 5:00am with my mind working away wildly at collage solutions and techniques for future subject matter. 

Do it All Over Again
Up at 6:00 am to varnish the now dry rooster head piece. Head out to evaluate the night's work and be sure I like it as much as I thought I did. Apply varnish and head back inside to making breakfast and start the day. After the kids go, I hop on my bike for a 20-mile ride and along the way I stop to take iPhone collage reference photos of the cows on the bike trail as they are at the fence and I have not seen them there in weeks! 

Return home and put another varnish coat on before heading for the shower. Today I'm volunteering at school again so I likely will have to bring the rooster downtown to the gallery tomorrow morning. I'll put the hanging wire and final varnish coat on this afternoon. 

And that's just how I do it. 


  1. We know this life well sister!! Love ya my red headed friend!

  2. This was a nice sneak peak into your day :)....very inspiring....and the rooster portrait is awesome ! And I have something to tell you....will mail !

  3. Wow! you do know how to fill your day and attend to your family with love and care. You deserve every bit of success that comes your way, and more!

  4. This is how we roll, woman! Way to keep the balance!!

  5. LOVE the ride you just took me on! I am so enjoying your generous sharing of talent and tips!

  6. Remember that I am a type A personality, I never sit still and I hate to relax! so this works for me. you have to go with what works for you, if you are stressed out by your schedule you have to modify. And I always take small steps, I don't look too far down the road so that I am not overwhelmed. When I'm overwhelmed I risk creative BLOCK and that's never good. ;)

  7. Oh yes, and Kim Santini, another master of the multitask. I can't tell you how many AMAZING photos I have received via text of fantastic dinners in her kitchen after painting all day and heading to football practice. I seem to surround myself with artists who are just like me! Robin, Kim and I need to have a POWER LUNCH. But not too long, I have to get back to work...

  8. Your painting of the rooster was just as awesome as the finished collage painting! I figured you were a high level energy person so you can live on only possibly 5 hours of sleep a day! As for me I take your advice to go with the energy levels that God has given me, I need 7 to 9 hours(depending on the day)of sleep. So that puts you 2 to 4 hours available a day for more time in the studio. Awesome energy!Thank you for sharing your day.

  9. Wore me out just reading this!!! :) Love your talent and energy!

  10. A view of this from a retired teacher/mom.

    I DO remember those days, Elizabeth.
    Typing the church newsletter in my closet at night so I wouldn't wake anyone up (an old Royal by the way), getting up at 6 to make oatmeal and look for my son's caterpillar for his where did he get to? The kids would pick their show and tell AFTER they got in the station wagon. (You do remember station wagons?) The music lessons, the basketball games, the teacher's meetings, the late night lesson plans. Sometimes it was hard to remember how special each day was. Your art and your exercise center you. I am very impressed. But the mother in me worries. Are there times to sit still in the middle of the labyrinth and get caught by the wonder? There is a full moon tonight...will you have time to look? Be well, dear one! Let a butterfly light on your finger now and then.

  11. It's a balance Ginny, but I have to be true to myself. Especially since my mother never was.

  12. Wow! you really do burn your soles...after seeing some of your paintings esp. the singer ones i thought to my self maybe i try coping your style and create something new,something beautiful,something you can see and say "not bad"...then i thought how i'll manage between two little brats,their school and homework,their art and craft and home and bit of my crafts(twice a week kind)but that was all before reading about your day....very impressive....though i don't have such level of energy,but i'm inspired to give it my best a lot for sharing your day....and BEST OF LUCK FOR YOUR EXHIBITION.


thank you for taking the time to read and comment! :)