I snapped this photo on Wednesday night. It was 8:24 pm. I’d just finished wiping down the kitchen counters and sweeping the floor. Josephine was tucked into bed. Stella was in her pajamas and Roxanne had just headed upstairs to take a shower. I had put down my laptop and my many legal pads and was about to settle in for the last hour and a half of my work day.
I put the photo up on Instagram with this caption, “This is where I am six nights a week after the kids are in bed. #kitchentableoffice”
My Instagram photos are pushed out to my Facebook page automatically. Before going to bed I opened Facebook to see what was new and found this comment on my photo: “Where is your inspiration? Besides your family.”
This question really struck me. I started to wonder what people might be imagining it looks like here at my house when I’m writing or sewing or podcasting or working on my business. Do they think it looks somehow different than this? Sexier than my kitchen table? And if they do, why?
What makes us want to imagine artists in beautiful light-filled loft studios surrounded by a rainbow of paint tubes where even the drop cloth is color-filled and brilliant? Or writers sitting in bustling coffee shops sipping espresso and effortlessly dashing off inspired tomes?
I think when we imagine these scenes, and then we look at where we’re sitting and notice that our environment doesn’t quite match up, we let ourselves off the hook. “She’s creating all of those paintings because she has an incredible space to paint,” or “She’s writing prolifically because she lives in New York and can hang out at hip coffee shops.” And then, “Since I don’t have that space, and I don’t live there, I can’t do those things.” So we don’t.
Last night our local artists group, the Wellesley Women Artisans, met. We were gathered at Julia Blake’s house.
Julia is a painter with a thriving art business. I’m always incredibly impressed with how busy she is, and how many shows she’s in. She also has six kids. Here’s her “studio:”
It’s a cupboard in her kitchen. She told me that when her kids go to school she stands in her kitchen where the light is good and paints. Later, in conversation about planning an upcoming event, she explained that her time might be limited. “I already have a full-time job,” she said in reference to her art business.
I saw another local painter last night as well. Carolyn Mackin paints abstracts and has built a strong local following for her work.
Over the past year Carolyn and her husband have been building an addition on their house which meant that the spare bedroom she’d been using as a studio was totally unavailable. So here’s what she did:
She’s working on 11 paintings here. “Working on the floor makes my back ache, and I miss having good lighting,” she said, “but I still got in there and did the work.”
If believe you need inspiration, or a beautiful space, or just the right environment in order to make creative work, you’ll never begin.
You can do an awful lot at your kitchen table.