The main issue with working from home is making boundaries. I can decide when I work and when I don't. It is great in one sense because it means I can be flexible especially around the needs of my family, but also it does require some self discipline as sometimes the pull to clean the bathroom is stronger than the desire to fix a painting that has been on the go for weeks and I just cant get right, or the blank canvas that is waiting to be transformed into a special birthday gift.
When it snowed last year it really struck me about how important good boundaries are. Everyone was so excited to have a snow day, a free day off work, but I was a bit torn. I didnt know what to do with myself, my routine was all thrown upside down and my shed was going to be cold. I could still get to it, though should I go 'into work?'. Who was going to 'call it '? I worked at the kitchen table for about an hour because I felt guilty and then thought that was ridicuous and I should take the day off. Sometimes I feel that because I work from home in a shed in the garden, people think I'm not really working or doing proper work or a proper job, it is just some self indulgent hobby. I do realise I am very fortunate to have a supportive husband who has encouraged me to pursue my dreams and I have a job that I love that is very varied, but it is not easy, particularly the unpredicatabiltiy of income. We are gettting more and more used to this now. It is far outweighed by the joy of seeing people delight in what I have made.
Animals. Sometimes when I'm really concentrating I get completely freaked out by a squirrel suddenly scampering over the roof. Other times, the sound of the birds singing in the trees next to the shed is just a joy. They dont know I'm there watching them, i'ts great! Last summer I had to take a day out from my shed as I discovered there was a fox living right behind it and I became unreasonably and ridiculously terrified of going back in. This is one of the perils of working alone - there was no-one to tell me I was being a complete idiot. This was confimed further when my husband arrived home and I sent him out to do a wee behind the shed as Google had reliably informed me that this would prevent the fox from returning. I was back in work the next day.
The shed is cold. I am often asked if there is heating or lighting but there is neither. I know this sounds like madness, it proabably is. In winter I just layer up but my hands do get a bit chilly and this January I have worked at the kitchen table instead. Last winter I had a technique of packing a couple of hot water bottles up my jumper before the final layer of fleece went on and this has kept me warm for long enough. In the summer the shed gets very warm and although that is lovely, the smell of the white spirit and oil paint can get a bit heady, so spring really is the optimum time for being in the shed.
There is no electricity and anyway plugging a heater in would make it too hot (it is not a large space) and most probably there is an increased risk of me going up in flames due to the type of paint I use. There are two windows that provide adequate light. I really like it like this but I do miss the fun of a shared studio, of being able to bounce ideas off each other. I do dream of having a bigger space, one day when everyone wants to buy my work and I'm super famous. I would definitely then have heating and a big window and a coffee machine and a sink. I do miss a sink. I would also love to run art classes. At the moment there's no room in my shed for that. The other problem I am just remembering as I write this is that I am limited in the size of paintings I can produce. The largest canvas I can fit in the door is 1m20cm x 1m20cm. So I am limited in that sense. I am dreaming big. One day.
Any tips for those wanting to follow the shedpath? ..... whatever you build shedwise (mine was cheap as chips) make sure you have really good foundations. Mine are solid concrete. We are 10 years in and standing strong.
Kath is on Facebook, instagram and twitter as @kathhaddenart and there is work for sale on her website. She is happy to discuss commissions and work can also be viewed by appointment.-----------------------------------
iHUS Projects, specialists in the design and build of granny annexes for elderly and disabled care.