Deets

About Me, August 2016

I started writing this in 2008, when I was 40. I paused in 2014 for almost 2 years because I’m not going to be that mother who rats out her kids because of the Internet. But I kind of miss writing here. We’ll see where this iteration goes.

August 2016 – Now I’m eight (almost 9) years older.

I’m not home with my two year old twin daughters anymore, I have a full-time job. Still married to husband. Two cats have passed from this earth, and a new one inhabits their furry space. Her name is Bella cat.

Mimi and Beenie are just entering 4th grade and are about to turn 10. I’m still going to give them their privacy, because if I don’t, then it is a free-for-all. I’ll just say they’re intense. In all the ways you’d imagine two competing almost 10-year olds are. I love them.

Original About Me

(February 2008)  I’m a forty year-old SAHM (stay at home mama) sort of an artist, freelance writer and web schmuck, raising my darling daughters with my husband here in Baltimore City. I am also slowly losing my shit. You know your sanity is seeping away when you have hopeful visions of someday working with peers (or at least grown-ups) again in an office. I was doing web design and a little freelance writing before this parenting business started, painting and making art while not at work. I studied fine art in college and am a little bit desperate to continue making and selling my work.

After discovering that my full-time income would not cover the cost of daycare for two children under the age of two, I found myself living the fifties housewife fantasy. Though I’m not sure the word fantasy properly describes the content of my days. My husband is awesome and has taken on the role of breadwinner for the immediate moment, despite it being one of his worst fears. I laughed when I found out I was expecting twins, he did not laugh.

The girls are healthy and brilliant and really cute. I am doing my very best not to screw them up. Staying home with them full-time is extremely rewarding and really, really hard.

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12 thoughts on “Deets

  1. See, I DID check out your blog, and as everything you do, it is wonderful and filled with humour.

    I simply CAN’T believe you have resorted to taters and nuggets. It’s what M&Me lived on last winter, hee hee.

    I am keeping close track of the presidential shite, and maybe it’s because I’m an ex-pat, but it seems a bit more substantial to my ears than some of the recent past? Please tell me if you think I’m out of touch…I also think I’m slipping into insanity. Or could it be all those pints? Or, is it a 40s thing? How is it I thought you were much younger than me, or are you inflating your real age in a ploy for sympathy? Will we ever really know?

  2. This may or may not be of consolation to you, but Losing One’s Shit may not be solely a function of childbearing-and-rearing–I feel like I’m losing mine quite often, and I’m (human) critter-less. It’s definitely a 40s thing, compounded in your cases by the critters. Hang in there.

  3. ok, so for losing your shit…i don’t think that its all bad. sometimes the shit you lose is the shit you didn’t need.
    i’m a lovin’your blog and your girls! go beenie go mimi!
    and of course you, miss j just need a good spankin’
    xo

  4. I don’t believe you… Insanity is NOT around the corner… You have not lost a thing, you have only gained… and doubly so…

    Just because you are talking in baby talk, blowing bubbles and constantly counting and recounting fingers and toes after the ladies eat (on the off chance they get a little agressive with their chewing) you are not loosing your mind. They ARE little cannibals and should be watched at every moment, or they will get you!

    Smooches!

  5. Juliette,

    I think you’re reciting a rather glum narrative to yourself. My first advice would be to reframe your circumstances in a more hopeful way. I’m over forty enough to be reluctant to advertise the actual number! But I became a mom when I was 42, having spent many/most of the years prior to that being an artist.

    I’m so glad to be a mom! But I also note that my art work really grew in complexity and breadth AFTER my daughter was born. In the first 6 months, of course, I did almost no art. Being mom was all consuming. But as soon as my kid could hold a crayon I started putting crayons into her little hands — as much for me as for her, I think, to get me doing something visual again.

    But soon after that, I began drawing on largish sheets of paper on the floor with kid-safe materials so that I could work while she crawled about. The drawings were not ones I could sell — particularly since she began picking up crayons and scribbling all over them! But they gave me a great deal of practice drawing which did wonders strengthening my skills. Also, because so many of my former ways of working were temporarily off-limits, being a mom forced me to discover new approaches.

    Being pushed into rethinking my art habits was the singular best “kick in the butt” I’ve ever had.

    One thing I did was to draw large landscape using photographs — something I had formerly thought of as a big “no-no,” and again I used mostly kids’ materials — though it was around this time that I first learned about and began using wonderful Caran d’ache water soluable crayons which I use A LOT today.

    Anyway, I would draw with the kid beside me. Sometimes she scribbled on the same drawings. I used large paper and taped it to the wall. My kid would stay on one side and I used the other. Somehow it was our tacit understanding. (She couldn’t even talk yet.)

    On one occasion I made two rather large drawings of the same subject with her there. Then, when she took her nap I had a large canvas that was already prepared which I started painting. Her nap gave me about 1 and a half hour of free time. I remember I did the laundry too.

    Because I had already drawn the image in the same scale twice previously, I blocked out that image easily during her nap. (Using acrylic paint made fast work an easier option.) Then I was “done.” And the painting turned out really well. Sometime later, maybe a year later, I reworked a few elements of it one more time. It turned out to be a really strong painting, if I’m allowed to say so myself.

    I did other things during my daughter’s early years. It was at that time I began making large paper collages which later became the basis for my first large scale paintings. It was after my daughter was born that I finally began to master large scale work — not before.

    Necessity is still the “mother” of invention. I would try to use the unique circumstances of life to build your art in positive ways. Stereotypes of motherhood are just that — stereotypes. Your own life, your kids, is unique. And it can be a powerful source of feelings and experiences around which to build art.

    Also you need to think about marketing. I had to hunt around your blog to find your name. Found it on your application page for the Baltimore grant. People cannot possibly buy your art if they cannot find you.

    I know, it’s hard marketing. I’m not exactly great at it myself. But it’s something one needs to learn.

    Anyway, I hope I said something helpful in these remarks. Being a mother is a great thing. For many centuries in Europe, Christianity had one vital and central image — Mary and Jesus — mother and child. There’s certainly nothing trivial about motherhood. Quite the contrary, it makes the world go round. It has a long iconic presence in art.

    Best of luck to you with both your art and your kids!

    Aletha

  6. My first comment above tracks back to my blogger site, but I also have a wordpress blog. I fixed my profile so that my comments track back to the wordpress blog.

    At least I think that’s what I did ….

    AK

  7. Althea! Wow, what a thorough and thoughtful comment you made. Thank you for your encouragement and consideration. I would like to explain myself a bit.

    First, yes, my short About Me bio is vague and not exactly a ray of sunshine, but I was in a bit of a delayed post-partum depression (a year after the girls arrived) in February when I began this blog. I was considering some kind of therapy to help out with the sadness and isolation I felt at the time, but lo and behold…I started a blog. And it was free! Way better than a shrink and it got me writing, which I love doing. Anyway, I sort of strive to keep a little anonymity with 20Fingers/20Toes just because. I have an actual art website (www.juliettegoodwin.com) which is all about my artwork. This site is a little bit more about my psyche and learning about being a mama and all that kind of stuff. And, of course, the re-emergence of making art post-partum.

    I do love being a mother, and am simultaneously tortured by the whole thing. There are lots of gray areas in parenthood, no? Keep in mind, I’ve got two of them, two two-year-olds at the moment. Sure, we make marks together (they make truly the most beautiful marks I have ever laid eyes on), and they do it individually and with one another. But there are rarely times where the two of them are focusing on art at the same time rather than stealing one another’s crayons or generally torturing each other and me. Not relaxing. But I do agree with you — the work I am making now is different than the stuff I did before, and I relish the challenge. Time is what I crave the most right now. I know these early years are quick to pass. I am humbled to witness all of this life in my own healthy, amazing, crazy, perfect children. It just drives me nuts sometimes! Hahahaha.

    Marketing art is the hardest part of being an artist in my opinion. I have high hopes for the accidental CameraMorte and a few landscape pieces I started recently in terms of keeping a momentum going. Wish me luck!

    P.S. I think your pieces are great. Do you show them in the area? I need to read some more about it all. Just flipped quickly through the images.

    Keep up the good work. Thanks. J.

  8. Juliette,

    I agree that marketing is the hardest, and my personal theory is that marketing involves such a different mix of skills than one needs to do art — the one being a very extrovert skill and art more inward and contemplative.

    There may be some other moms you could turn to for advice about marketing and sales. One of the best things that happened to me in recent years was my daughter’s choice of a best friend.

    Her best friend’s mom happens to be a fabulous person, and also happens to have a background in marketing. I’ve been watching this other mom, now my friend, like a hawk to learn from her very expert example. Many women today are balancing motherhood with home-based careers, and there’s a lot of intellectual capital out there on the playground!

    Some of the best business advice I’m getting is from other moms. Granted I’m still a contemplative introvert, but I’m learning.

    I’m glad to hear that your blog helps you conquer emotional issues. Motherhood is a challenge, sure enough. It’s a good thing kids are cute, isn’t it?

    Thanks for kind words about my pictures. I have exhibited some in the past, but only in shows I organized myself. At present I’m doing some illustration for a magazine and between that and the blog many people are seeing my art. However, I have to make that translate into sales through deliberate business strategies since people do not naturally infer that they can buy the images they see in a magazine or online. And one needs to make buying the art uncomplicated — to think like the buyer, to analyze one’s own buying habits and empathize with the customer. I have approached galleries so far without success, but again I am not persistent enough. So, I’m working on that also.

    Failures in sales (in whatever venue) are really business/marketing problems and not “art” problems. All kinds of things sell as “art” — indeed, there is little consensus about what art is. One sometimes blames one’s work, but it’s the sales side that needs correction if no one is buying. But a good salesperson sells stuff — whether it’s art or bubble gum.

    So, I’m trying to find my inner sales person! Anyway, here’s wishing us both good luck and success at art and kids,

    Aletha

  9. I totally dig that “Neti Pots Can Suck It” is still on of your most viewed posts, because I see a neti pot in the store and without missing a beat, intone that “neti pots can suck it.”

    See your effect on the world, 20-20. See it.

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