A Mammoth Task

So when a friend asks you if you can help promote a local theatre with your art, what do you do ? As a working mother my life has to stay (somewhat !) balanced. If I trade or volunteer too much, I lose out and my daughters and whoever I interact with, find themselves dealing with a paint covered mad woman, run ragged as she tries to regain some resemblance of harmony.

In my 20 years of owning Whole Art, I’ve been asked many times to help others with my art. I’ve worked for no monetary reimbursement - OFTEN ! You name it, I’ve done it. Non profits, volunteer organizations, fairs, teaching, produced one too many faux finish samples (often !), designed logos, painted two ski school murals, donated time at schools, designed community garden signage, enquired about a community mural (which turned into an Art Director position for a playground and losing 18 months of my family life !).

Giving back adds joy to my life and hopefully to those around me. My daughters learn that it’s valuable part of being in a community and that life is not all about making money (besides all the bills that need to be paid). Through volunteering I get some experience in a field I may never have previously stepped into, and along the way, I always meet some amazing and very inspirational people.

My latest endeavour was to help promote a play by a local theatre company called The Verge. Super fantastic local theatre, amazing actors and inspired teaching. The plays title was “Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England”. Never painted a mammoth before, so, hey, why not ?

The process this takes is similar to almost every job I take on. It goes something like this:

Step 1) My left brain kicks in. Info gathering - Who’s asking me ? (In this case, my ‘client’ is fun and creative and I like her a lot ! I can do this!) Target audience ? Location ? Size ? Other promotional efforts ? Can they promote me in return ? Deadline ? Is there any budget at all ? Can I get reimbursed for materials or is this all on me ? (Fortunately I have an entire studio full of half full paint cans and I like to re- and upcycle).

One of the Verges theater productions

Step 2) My right brain kicks in - imagery, design concept, level of detail, establish substrate, must be eye catching, colorful, fun and IN YA FACE ! Imagination, creative juices flow………….come up with an idea.

Step 3) Get a big fat YES to the design concept.

Step 4) Start painting !

Step 5) Text and email work in progress and repeat. Tweak. Keep. Change. Start over. Communication generally goes like this…….”Is this ok ? “ “What ??? SO COOL !” “I’m gonna tweak this and that”. “Er, ok !” “ On a mission to get it done early or right on time”. “Yay !” “Got too much other stuff going on. Dammit !” “It looks so cool. Don’t worry !” “Got to take a break to make some real money”. ……and back and forth it goes.

Progress reports and images… continue….in this case, the layering of bold color….


And…………I try and do paid work in between. Pay a few bills. Do the school runs. Cycle a few miles on the bike at the local meat market mainly to stay warm and have a mango smoothie post workout . Book a massage which I then cancel. Get annoyed at how early you have to book your kid into summer camp. Check on flights to somewhere warmer, which could be anywhere in the world other than Bozeman. Contemplate how to be a better Mother. Check diminishing bank account. Check in with Interior Designers and potential clients to add more work to the schedule. Attempt to eat healthy food including chocolate, pain au chocolat, various other starches, chips and milky sweet coffee. Mildly embrace yet another wave of grief. Make kids lunches. Read my latest spiritual book. Forget kids early morning practice. Contemplate how to fit in all my interests into my life and do one thing completely. See my water bottle is still full. Cry a little. Spend another $20 at the co-op. Fill tank again with gas. Check in to see if I am still part of my family in Europe. Meet a friend for tea. Say yes to driving kid 16 miles both ways to ride a horse. Email inspirational lovely counselor. Waste time flipping from FB to Instagram and back again ad infinitum. Snapshot a few hundred quotes about finding your true purpose. Deny the hot flash. Text a friend in need……..sleep……..

……and somehow this handsome beast appears………..


And my client is more than happy……….actually ecstatic……..weirdly so…..but that’s ok, because she’s super cool and we’re kindred spirits and I love that about theatrical people - living life fully, with laughter, and bewilderment.


Step 6) I plan to deliver the piece and get a bit sad as the beast has become somewhat of a friend in the corner of my studio. This new friend with the beady little eye.

Check the Mammoth out in the window of Wild Joes. (He’s much more demure than me and he doesn’t bite). Better still, go and see the play for fun and more importantly, to support local theatre, a much needed art form in any community.

See you next time !

Love, Saskia