If life gives you the perfect situation, don’t do the dishes. 

Yesterday morning was not my best morning ever. I woke up with a headache, we had family car issues that made the day a little complicated, and the resident teenagers hadn’t unloaded the dishwasher the day before so the sink was overflowing with dirty dishes waiting their turn for washing. I know many women would not be able to go to bed knowing what a huge mess would meet them in the morning, but I am dedicated to teaching my girls to take their chores seriously and to be responsible. And I was just really really tired. So I woke up to that horrible sight first thing in the morning, which really didn’t help my headache. Then I realized the creamer I bought for my coffee was just plain and not the French vanilla I thought it was—that was a horrible surprise—and I discovered the dog pooped in the house. I had a meeting scheduled for 12:30, and I overslept (I’m usually up at 5 on an early day and 8 on a late day, but it was closer to 10 by the time I dragged myself out of bed this day.) so I didn’t have my normal work out/quiet journal time either. And I was just remarkably low. Sad, hopeless, defeated, weary. Yesterday morning sucked. 

The first thing I did that helped improve my morning (besides cleaning up the dog poop) was to tell the girls that since they neglected their job the day before, not only would they have to do it now, but they would also be responsible for doing all the dishes in the sink too. That let me walk away feeling like I got off easy  because I didn’t have to do the dishes, AND that it was ok for me to indulge in that avoidance since I was teaching my girls a “Valuable Lesson.” (Oh, how I LOVE Valuable Lessons!)

Then my meeting was cancelled. After a brief moment of disappointment, I realized I had just been gifted with a free hour. I had been admiring the artwork of some Facebook friends lately, and two of them had posted some awesome paintings that morning. I haven’t done any painting with actual shading or detail in a while; nothing that was a very big challenge, and I have a daughter who is really quite talented. Miss Artiste has been doing these amazing drawings lately, and my other daughter Miss Musician, has been making these “Mommy better watch out, she’s got competition” type comments. So I decided to see what I can still do. 

I started with a canvas panel and regular old #2 pencil. I said to myself, “Self, no pressure, let’s just see what happens.” I did a sketch from a selfie…that’s right, a selfie….and called in Miss Artiste to show her what’s up. She started with “constructive criticism” so I banished her. 

Then I started adding paint. I’ve done many paintings in my life, but I usually work in an odd way that combines flat layers of paint and shading done with colored pencil. This was one of the first times I’ve stuck with paint all the way. I’m not gonna lie, it was a little scary to see my nice sketch being gradually covered with blotchy paint. But once I started, I figured I can cover it up with fresh paint if I hate it, and I kept going- painting at a fairly quick pace. I had good music on, a free hour that was rapidly slipping away, and the knowledge that I could salvage the canvas for something else if I screwed up too badly, and somehow my energy level was rising to meet the occasion. 

It’s not often that the right combination of elements allows me to be in a perfect zone for creating, but time, interest, inspiration, and energy all met for a few hours yesterday in my art room. I ended up with a really funky self portrait. It’s not perfect, there’s something weird about it, but I love it! I think I love it because it was so unexpected and unplanned… and because it is a little weird. I think an honest self portrait should be a little weird.  

When I showed Miss Artiste, I said, “You know, I don’t usually get time to really experiment like this. I usually just stick with my normal style. But because I had some free time and I saw paintings that I liked online, I got to play around a bit, and I really surprised myself!”To which she replied “yeah, because we did all those dishes.” I chuckled, and said “You’re right actually; I probably would not have gotten into painting if I knew I still had dishes waiting for me to do.”

Turning to leave the art room, she casually replied, “You’re welcome. And you might want to try spacing your eyes with one eye measured in the middle next time.” 


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