Rules in a Housefull of Artists

My daughters have always been interested in art. Painting, sketching, even a little bit of writing. I encourage this because I’m their mom and I want them to experiment with things. I also encourage this because I am an artist, a writer, and I would like them to be artists as well.

Having three artists in the house is challenging, though. A normal house with three women is loud, we’re loud and messy. No, we’re loud, messy and scatterbrained. As you can imagine, my husband is often moderator, critic and highly stressed out by all of us.

We’ve had to establish a pretty strict list of rules to help each other grow, and support each other. Also, not kill each other. Here are some of our artist house rules.

We don’t watch anything that we can’t pause.

Going to movies at theaters isn’t something we enjoy. We can’t stretch out, the snacks are expensive and there are people. But the biggest issue, the thing that really keeps nerds like us away from opening nights, is that we like to talk about what we’re watching. And that’s frowned upon. Actually, I’ve nearly been asked to leave a few movies.

So, it’s a rule in our house that, no matter what we’re watching, if someone has something to say we pause it. This can be for jokes, comments, full-blown discussions about the Holocaust. Whatever comes up.

We don’t have to like each other’s work.

But I’m their mom, everything they make is art, right?

No, not when they’re trying to get better. Not when one daughter is talking about teaching art and one is talking about having a show at the local art center.

Not when they’re serious about it. And the same goes for my writing. Yes, I do let my kids read my writing if they ask to. No, I don’t expect them to read it, ask to read it or enjoy it even if they do read it. They’re my kids, they don’t owe me that.

If you’re wondering, one kid does read and enjoy my work. One doesn’t. The one who does is mad I won’t let her see Starting Chains until it’s published.

We also don’t have to be assholes about it.

This is a rule more for my children than me. They’re sisters, after all, and sometimes they just don’t give a shit about each other’s feelings. In fact, sometimes they want to hurt each others feeling on purpose. Don’t judge. I bet Mother Theresa wasn’t nice to her sister either.

While the kids aren’t always good about it, we do try. If we have something negative to say about someone’s work, we try to say it nicely.

We all have to be open to criticism.

Which isn’t to say that we’re not allowed to criticize. As I said, we all want to be better. My kids love to find issues with my books, of course. I do make them prove it’s an actual problem, though. But we must have open minds when it comes to getting better.

We don’t mess with each other’s work.

No moving each other’s work. No scribbling in each other’s books. No anything like that. Pretty self-explanatory.

No piece of paper may be thrown away until everyone in the house has handed a chance to pass on it.

Not a lot of paper gets thrown away. Either there’s something important on it, or something important can be on it.

These are your pens, these are my pens and that’s how it’s going to stay.

I write and they draw. I don’t let them use my Le Pens and I don’t want to use their artist pens. But they’re also not permitted to use each other’s pens. We all have different opinions of how we should care for our pens. Keeping our supplies to ourselves prevents a lot of fighting.

Everyone pitches in with chores so that we all have more time to create.

No one in the house is big on housework. We’d all rather be drawing or writing. But I’ve taught my kids that if we all work together no one has to do too much.

We are artists, but we’re a family first.

Artists take a lot of pleasure in being independent. We all think that we’re lonely creators, tortured by our talent.

We don’t really deal with this crap in our house. We support each other, we look out for each other. We love each other.

If you’ve got a house full of artists, I suggest coming up with your own house rules.

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