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Monday, April 25, 2005


I am an artist.

I was an art major in college. A degree which has proven to be worth less than the paper on which it is printed.

I paint. And paint often. Four out of seven days I can be found with a paint brush in my hand.

Recently I met up with someone who asked me if I still painted. "Of course," I answered, "Walls... doors... floors.." And then I laughed. You know the laugh, the one that says I have a tenuous grasp on my sanity.

And when asked if I do anything else, I blurted out, "Change diapers." It was at that point that I think I frightened them off, for good.

Which is just as well, since with all the painting and diaper changing, there isn't much time left in my life for meaningless relationships with people who ask what I do.

What do I do? If I define myself by the things I feel the most passionate about, then I am a first a mother. If I define myself only by things that produce tangible results, then I am an artist. If I define myself by the things that I do most often, then I am a diaper changer.

I figured out today,while painting, that I have changed a lot of diapers in my tenure thus far as a mother. No matter what else I have been doing over the past 10 years, I have also been changing diapers. Not that it is a bad thing. Handling nuclear waste would be worse. Much much worse.

You would think that having a degree in art would mean I would be able to pick colors for my rooms with ease. But no, the degree has proven useless in this area also. So far the only thing that it has enabled me to do with ease is match my clothing, but I think I was already able to that quite well before I had the degree. It is easy with stores now like the Gap, and it's slutty little sister, Old Navy, which are essentially like Garanimals for grown-ups. Everything matches everything else, no need to think.

Every time I paint a room I go through several different colors before I finally settle on one. And often that one isn't even the "one" and I begin the process over again. Such is the curse of perfectionism.

Today I painted the walls of the bedroom that my 4 and 6yr old sons will share. There are very few products that I have brand loyalty toward, but paint happens to be one of them. After living in constant home renovation in two different houses over the past 9 years, I never buy any other paint than Benjamin Moore. I learned the hard way that not all paints are created equal.

But last night I was at the orange box store, where they do not sell Benjamin Moore paint, and I decided to buy a gallon of the RL paint. The names of the paint colors are completely arbitrary and give no clue as to the actual color. I picked out an off-whitish/tan that probably has an absurd name like British flour sack or billowing starched apron.

So imagine my surprise when I was painting my two younger sons' bedroom and I liked the color. It had such a nice calm feel to it. It felt so familiar. And as I finished rolling the paint on it hit me. The trim is a bright shiny white, the curtains and bedding I had picked out are predominantly denim colored, and the walls, it suddenly hit me, they are khaki.

And I came to the realization that my sons' bedroom is straight out of a GAP ad.

I could probably say something here about the creativity that has been sucked out of me and replaced by generic blandness. And I could relate this to the mega corporation phenomenon where our entire country is awash with blandness and sameness, and how we prize going to the identical store, in an identical mall, with the identical piped in musak no matter where we are. Really, what is the point in visiting somewhere if it is identical to what you left behind.

But I won't say anything. I'm too busy.

If you need me this week I will be painting. Or changing diapers.

As a matter fact I smell something now. Change that number to 32,651.


Anonymous Mary said...

I have been reading your blog for a little while now....then I read your post today and guess what? I was also an art major in college.
When you say you paint all the time do you mean just decorating your home or painting pictures?
I want to start painting again. That is my goal for the get my garage organized and make a studio.

It's hard to balance it all isn't it?

10:07 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Unfortunately, Mary, I mean painting my house. Just no time in my life right now to create any artwork that doesn't involve Crayola.

11:18 AM  
Blogger angie said...

Good observation about Old Navy, etc. being Garanimals for Adults! Right on! (Though I'm afraid I'm a sucker for "cutsey-pie" clothing, even for myself. Ugh.)

Another thing you "do" is to blog. Sadly, I think blogging is my only hobby at this time. Changing diapers and rotating laundry would also be at the top of my list.

My hidden talent is that I sing and dance to Wiggles' music. But that stays here, right?

11:39 AM  
Blogger MoMMY said...

Another art major here. Unfortunately I need the garanimal quality to clothes. That is my worst area.

As for paint, I heart RL. They have the colors I want that other brands can't even come close to. Not sure why. (They are what I used in the vestibule.)

Here's to painting. Glad I'm done with diapers though. :)

11:48 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

I love paint name colors. We have Winter Wheat, Mellow Mushroom, and Bison Brown in our house. And all of them are just varying shades of khaki. hehe

4:13 PM  
Blogger Annalise said...

LOL about "billowing starched aprons" as a probable paint name. Paint names always sound so alluring. Like Luna Bars. You know, they are called something like "organic peach bliss" and they have the pretty yet intelligent packaging - and then they taste of dust.

Annalise, english/psych major. Curse that guidance counsellor who said "follow your heart, don't worry about money!"

8:20 PM  
Blogger thatgirl said...

you are so freakin' hilarious.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Rick said...

My name is Rick, and I am an Art Major.
I have not done anything creative in six months and 18 days.
I have a job as an artist, but it is for a dental supply company. 3 kids and 6,327 diapers after graduation; my wife bought me a french easel... I have done five paintings on it...

Glad I found the support group.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

English/history major. I like changing my son's diapers. I mean, it's better than the other things that an English major is qualified to do, like work at Kinko's or Starbucks (both of which I've done in my past life). Wiping a poopy bum is much more fulfulling than making copies or cafe lattes ever could be. At least I get kisses and hugs out of the deal, and the results (no stink) are quite tangible.
I'm considering painting my son's room. I want it to have red in it, but I can decide where. I'm thinking of putting up a chair rail and maybe going for red on the bottom, bright white trim, and I don't know what for the top...anyway...maybe khaki...

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Mary said...

Ok, phew. I was starting to feel bad because if YOU can paint 4 days a week then why can't I seem to get it together so that I can paint again.
And I get the "Do you still paint?" thing ALL the time.
I grew up in this town and many people know that I am/was an artist. It's a hard thing to live up to you know?

11:43 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Rick,welcome to the support group ;-)

You know what is really funny is that I followed up my ever so useful art degree with an even more useful master's in English.

Erin: I don't mind changing my kids diapers, but you know what they still give great kisses and hugs after they are potty trained too!
I was originally going to put up a chair rail and paint the bottom half of the wall a deep indigo blue. Then I thought instead of a chair rail I'd paint a red stripe. After testing out the paint I decided that it looked like I was trapped inside of a nautical flag, or else wrapped in a bad rugby shirt, neither of which was the look I was going for. So khaki walls it is.

12:54 PM  
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2:20 AM  
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1:14 PM  
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3:29 PM  

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