Picture a yoga practitioner holding a posture. Though you may imagine a motionless body, in actuality, she or he is continually making small muscular adjustments to remain balanced. The word balance is both a verb and a noun, but when applied to yoga and life in general, it is an action rather than a state of being; to be “in balance” means to continually readjust. Like yoga, balancing an artistic studio practice in ceramics with all of life’s other demands (and joys), requires constant fine tuning, and, sometimes, larger modifications.
Myriad articles are available for women about work/life balance. These are largely written for businesswomen who are working for companies while raising families. These women are challenged with rigid and often demanding work hours, bosses’ expectations, company politics, and glass ceilings. In addition, and for better or worse, women are often responsible for most of the work of raising families and doing domestic chores. As artists, we share some of those challenges, but have different ones, too. Much like the owners of any small business, we are our own bosses, which means that we set our schedules, we set our expectations, and we must create our motivations. We establish our workplace, serve as the janitor, fix-it person, marketing and human resources directors, and more. Women (and men) in more rigid and stratified work situations often envy our more flexible schedule and choice of workplace, but these perceived luxuries pose their own challenges.
In preparation for this article, I interviewed ten female ceramicists to learn more about the challenges they face and what they do to balance the different parts of their lives. I chose a mix of artists, whose ages, lengths of careers in clay, and geographic locations vary. Their challenges are likely to be ones you share and their ways of addressing them might be applicable to your own lives and careers. These artists’ specific challenges are all interrelated, but I present them here in four key categories: How to assure time for studio work; how to determine the best workplace; how to maintain self-motivation; and, how to keep up the necessary energy for artistic work.
The following essay based on the interviews exemplifies the fact that life circumstances continually change: a relationship start or ends, a person moves to a new location, finances go up or down, children or elders need differing levels of care at different times. With any of these, re-balancing our creative lives is necessary, and we are well equipped to do this. As Naomi Dalglish said, “Artists are used to thinking creatively and improvising. These skills help deal with life’s challenges.” However, to learn about and adapt ideas from others can be useful.
Only Twenty-four Hours in a Day...