Made By Mrs M

Day in the Life - Cassandra Harrison

Day in the LifeKate Marsden

This week Day in the Life takes us to Scotland and textile and print artist Cassandra Harrison. I particularly like Cassandra's work as she shares my love of buildings! Now for a typical day in her life...

My day begins like this:  Mommy.  Mommy? Mommy! Mommymommymommymommy Mooooooooooooooommeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
That would be my two year old alarm clock.  The clock is getting older and the alarm is getting more elaborate with age.  It used to sing to me.  Before that it was like a siren cry.  I am glad that siren cry stage is behind us. Alarm usually kicks off around 7:30 and I am completely thankful that this is a decent hour to rise.  Anything before 6:30 is an ungodly hour.

Artist and single mother make for a fun/hectic/interesting/stressful/delightful life and my days are very tight with the scheduling.  If there is a deviation it throws us both out of whack and there are tears.  She cries, too.  So, once the alarm sounds, I schlep out of bed, quietly tiptoeing passed her door so I can get the kettle on.  I make a strong tea for me and a milky 'tea' for her.  I then pick her up out of her bed, we go into the living room and in a very civilized way, we drink our tea and eat our toast.  I love these mornings.

L is in nursery three days a week, so today I bundled her up to withstand the gales and sideways rain of Edinburgn in the winter, and carried her a 15 minute walk to nursery because I'm running slightly behind and her legs are short.  With a hug and an 'I'll see you soon' I leave her behind then spend the rest of my day wondering how she's doing/what she's doing/hoping she's having fun.

And now time for work! Throughout the day I will become a slave to my iphone.  Really, I should schedule in email and social media time but I'm a bit all over the place as far as internets activities are concerned.  Perhaps I'm a bit flighty in some respects or perhaps I have a short a....

My usual work, the work I have been doing for the past 7 years, is many-stepped and can easily take up to a month to complete one piece.  Most of my work is based on this gorgeous city.  I create a pencil drawing of a scene, then use my Gocco machine of amazingness and wonder to create a screen (like in screen printing) of the image.  I love my Gocco because it is compact and easy to use and I don't have time to work in a print studio so it's perfect for home.  I'll then print that image onto several colours of fabric, re-assemble et voila.  A finished piece.  Here is an example:

I'll then scan it, do some jiggery pokery on Gimp because I'm cheap and can't afford photoshop, then create a giclee print of the original.  All of this is in-house - I invested in a profressional printing system a few years ago.  The best investment ever.  I try not to outsource as I am a bit of a control freak and like to know I can make the giclees as needed.

As much as I love making these, my life at the moment can't accommodate something that takes me nearly a month to complete.  In an attempt to feel that I am improving, making new pieces and wrapping myself up happily in the creative process, I have been creating postcard sized paintings of my neighbourhood.  So, this is my work today.  Jokingly, I call myself the Bruntsfield Flanuer as I spend my walk from nursery to home wandering around, looking at the details of the buildings, the windows, the doors, interesting rooflines, taking photos to work from later.  Wish I could say I paint en plein air but the weather is too crap for that so I do it from the comfort of home.

This morning I have been painting a mock up of a display I am hoping to install at a local shop.  My work is sold at various indie shops in Edinburgh, my busy season lasting from May - December.  This time of year is slow for sales so I tend to develop new work and new ideas during the bleak winter days.  I've had an idea how I would like to display my small paintings and have a plan to put on three mini exhibitions of these.  So far I have received a Yes from one shop and am trying to build up the nerve to ask two others.  I think once executed, this will look rather stunning.  

Lunch is a quick bowl of soup and then out the door I go to run errands.  I'll spare you the boring details of this.  Today I need more watercolour paper as I've worked my way through three small books already and need more.  Greyfriars art supply is a very small, compact, rammed from floor to ceiling with materials, art supply store.  One day I'm hoping to run into John Byrne but as of yet, have not had the good luck of this happening.

Back home with another hour or so to work.  One of the shops needs more prints, so I'll prepare their batch this afternoon.  Nope.  What?  Not the entire order as I have run out of black ink and need to buy more giclee paper.  Hello internets.  I see that you can help me with this....

And then before I have had had a chance to consume my afternoon cup of tea, I see it's time to collect L from nursery.  The other day, on our way home, she counted to ten.  Just like that!  I wanted to shout to everyone 'Did you hear that?!  She's a genius.'  Every parent thinks their child is a genius, but mine really is :)

Once home, we cuddle on the sofa and bond whilst watching Shaun the Sheep.  After I make us a thrilling dinner of fish fingers and peas, we go through her night time routine and then suddenly it's 7:30.  Lights out for her, and for  Not every night, folks, I'm not that good.  However, earlier today whilst working I felt that awful twinge in my left shoulder that let me know if I don't deal with it tonight, I'm going to seize up tomorrow.  How old does this make me sound?! I can't afford to not work or keep the momentum going so spending my day in agony on the sofa just can't happen.  Yoga it is, then.

Tidy (boring), prepare for the next day, one more check of emails and my new addiction, Instagram (I'm Cassandra77) then off to bed after reading too late into the night.  

This is my ideal day and when it pans out like this, I feel like I'm winning.  Other days, it's not so ideal and then it feels like things are falling apart.  But that's just life.  And a life made more intense when it's you and a two year old and that creative temperament whirling around.

Thanks so much Cassandra for sharing your day! You can find out more about Cassandra and her work on her website, follow her on Twitter and Instagram.