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Those damn single mothers


The above artwork was designed by Alasdair Gray.  I like his welcoming message.

I don’t consider myself a person conducting the business of life through a cloud of anger.  Generally, I think I’m fairly average on the anger front.  Not too frowney, not too grumpy.  Some days I might even coast along as Pleasant.

With that said, I am getting annoyed at the myriad of slights toward single mothers.  I know this is nothing new, but you’d think we would have progressed in our thinking by now.  By 2015.  However, single mothers continue to be perceived as the scourge of the earth.  Those horrible single mothers with their ways of taking, practically stealing out of the pockets of hard-working families.  Because that’s what we’re up to.  That and raising badly behaved children; children that do yelling things and kick off much louder than children from coupled families.  And the teens of single mothers.  Jesus.  Don’t get me started.

It was the article in the Scottish Mail that set me off on my recent inner rant.  Uhm.  Now made outer with this, I guess.  Why mention that he comes from a single parent home?  What does that matter?  You never see a headline that reads ‘Gun slinging teenager from middle class family in suburbia ….blah blah blah.’

If only the people who write these articles, the readers that eye roll and think ‘single mother, well, that goes to show, ‘ if they walked around the block in our shoes I do think they would cut us some major slack.  We are not horrible, breeding, scavengers. We are very much trying to do a very difficult job and for some of us, with very little support.

I admit to being a big fan of Sophie Heawood, journalist and column writer in The Guardian.  She is a voice for the thousands of us that feel we have no voice.  She chronicles life with child, single parenting and the small stories that fill the day, the hardships and the triumphs.  If I could, I would reach out and high-five her.

Lately, I have become good friends with others in the Single Parent boat. We put our heads together and talk about particular difficulties and tantrums and how to deal with ‘Where’s Daddy’ questions.  One friend very sadly lost her husband when their baby was so very small.  Thinking of her story breaks me.  Yet, I find her character and strength unparalleled and count my lucky stars she walked into my lift.  Or rather, sat next to me during a mum and toddler gathering.

Then there is J and wow, do I feel such hope when speaking to her.  She has raised two children into adulthood and somehow was able to progress her career in the midst of all of the everything needed to raise two children.  She now exhibits her work all over the country.  She truly inspires.

As for me, I’m thrashing around in the water  like mad, trying to keep my head above it.  I feel that my work matters, not just to me, but to the shops that stock and sell what I have to offer.  I’m also thankful for all the customers that buy what I make.  And throughout all my crazy personal stuff, I too am trying to progress my career.

I try my very hardest to be the best role model I can be for my daughter.  It isn’t easy in the face of a full-scale tantrum and to be honest, I can feel my nerves fraying and feeling overexposed as she does this.  Adventures are an important part of our week, as is learning about all the cool stuff around us.  I have shown her the joy of running through leaves and how to use her scooter.  We paint and play with playdough and read books and talk about the pictures.  And every night we do the dinner/bath/bed routine.  Lights out and just me in the house with her sleeping comfortably in warm sheets.

And you know, I very much feel that most single mothers are like this; trying their hardest to bring magic into their children’s lives.  And for many of us, we didn’t choose it to be this way, for this to be a journey for two instead of three.  I’m so very glad L is in my life.  If I had to choose a life with either a partner OR her, I’d rather have it this way than the other.

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Pull it out of the fire

I remember the furrowed brow of my art instructor. He would stand before my offering and don a thoughtful expression then tell me to keep working. There would be suggestions but usually he just left me to it to find my own conclusion. I realise what I’m doing now is so completely different from my large pieces in art school, pieces that took months to complete. But I still think of Dr H and the furrowed brow.

And so I worked and reworked and discarded and went through all the emotions you’d have in a relationship, but with my artwork. I loved it/hated it/thought it could do no wrong/then broke up with it. Unlike my disastrous relationships, however, I was able to pull my work out of the fire. 

The small piece above I have merely rescued from mediocrity to set it into the ‘possibly good now’ pile. Scanned, printed, then dished out to the usual places. I’m actually quite pleased with this one. I hope you like it, too.

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End of an era. Sorta.

This is where it all began, for the Edinburgh chapter of my artistic life, that is. I was a fiend of a machine, churning out originals of somethings similar to the thing above. This was, maybe, four years ago. After nearly a year of feeling like a factory and failing at earning in my factory work life, I decided to see if the originals would translate into giclee prints. And thank Zues (Aphrodite, God, St Peter, etc) they did as my work started to actually earn me a living. Sorta. Still at the ‘sorta’ stage but improving as I go. Hopefully. I live in hope.

And so. The print above has lived a full life and now it has reached its edition limit. It now has hundreds of brothers and sisters circulating about. Living in the UK, Japan, the States and many places inbetween.

As much as I love doing these pieces, I have other ideas to present that aren’t so illustrative. And this brings me around to a conversation I recently had with a fellow creative. Where do we go from here?! Both of our practices need a push and in our individual way, we are trying to figure out how to step out of a rut. A good rut, but change is needed.

And the catalyst will be…..?