Girl with (one) pearl earring

Unmatched Pairs by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt

girl with pearl earring | a personal story about being a messy artist
Girl with Pearl Earring, Vermeer

One of the reasons I enjoy the practice of writing a daily blog post is that it gives my life as an artist structure. Moreover, writing frees words hanging over me so I can start my artistic process with my mind unencumbered. So today, I want to share a personal story that happened yesterday not directly related to the topics I normally blog about such as art, color or other inspiration.

Artists are messy creatures

Anyone who is creative or lives with someone who is knows that we are not neat and organized creatures. We much rather work on our next crafty idea and make a mess than clean them up. To help me get things done during the week, I leave the cleaning to Rosaura who has been coming to my house for over seventeen years. She comes for just a few hours a few times a week, but I trust her to do my laundry, wash the breakfast dishes and handle the heavy cleaning. There is no way I could get everything done for my creative business such as printing, packing and shipping etsy orders, writing this blog and maintaining all the marketing efforts as well as filming and editing my online classes without help. I do have a summer intern every year and hope to hire a full time studio assistant one day, but that is another story.

Behind the deadline

Normally, another way I structure my day is by working out first thing in the morning. This forces me to change my clothes, brush my hair and all the other minimal tasks required to face the world. Yesterday, behind on a deadline, I broke with my usual pattern and headed straight to the computer  still bra-less in my pajama pants and uncombed hair. When you are a middle aged woman, this is not a pretty site. {actually, that is exactly what I look like right now} I had lunch plans with a friend later in the day so I knew that I would eventually have to make myself presentable, but I was keen on finishing the graphics and presentation of my latest online ecourse. Had I gotten dressed, I might have noticed that I only had one earring in my ear.

Absentmindedly during blogging, I reached up and felt I was missing an earring. I panicked. My first thought was that I probably slept in them and one had simply fallen out during the night…so I went to the bed and ripped apart the sheets… and then remade the bed. I checked the floor under the bed. I peeled back the edge of the rug to see if it had rolled under it or my cat had chased it there. Perhaps I only remembered to remove one earring as I went to bed and gotten distracted and had not removed the other. So I rifled through my disorganized jewelry box, filled with other single earrings mocking me, reminding me how disorganized I am. Of course, this is not the first time I have lost earrings. This particular pair of pearl earrings were a splurge I treated myself to as a consolation prize for having lost a pair of diamond studs. Those were lost when I removed them before I went swimming and forgot to put them back on… and perhaps they were stolen while I was swimming… I think… I still am not sure. I am hopeful they may turn up someday when I am not looking for them in the bottom of some paintbrush jar in my studio, or in the bottom of a forgotten pocketbook. (I have found other valuables in just the same way)

Rosaura to the Rescue

So, embarrassed, I desperately went to Rosaura clutching my one pearl earring and asked her if she had seen “el otro.” She is a wonderful hard working woman, but when she finds things she often returns them to illogical places. She had not… so, once again she helped me unmake and make the bed. Then she suggested we look in the vacuum. She laid a plastic bag on the floor and we ripped apart the bag and spilled the out flotsam and dust. We both dug both with our hands, sifting through the dust bunnies and colorful scraps of floral paper she had sucked up from the floor of my studio. All the while I silently cursed myself for being disorganized thinking I don’t deserve valuable jewelry and at the same time trying to rationalize the loss. Thinking that I have purchased dresses and shoes that I no longer wear of equal value and asking myself why I mourn the loss of the one earring.

Unmatched pairs

You see, when I lose something… even something trivial… it triggers feelings of other losses. When you have experienced a great loss in life– for me it was losing a parent when I was a child, it makes other losses more traumatic. Especially, when you lose one of a pair. Like the pearl earring.

Dust of our Daily Lives

I called off the search through the dust and we washed our hands and I resumed futilely searching for the earring… all the while noticing dust under the night table and other such places. Then I thought maybe the earring was in the blankets…we shook them out. Perhaps it had fallen out when I changed into pajamas last night… not on the bathroom floor. Or, maybe it was in “la ropa” I said to Rosaura in the few words I could remember from high school Spanish class. So we we ran down to the basement. We opened the drier and pulled out the heavy wet towels, not there. I looked in the washing machine. Didn’t see it. I gave up and went upstairs, thinking I need another consolation pair of earrings…but this time a cheap pair from etsy rather than another lovely set from Mikimoto.

It was then that I heard the accented cry coming from the basement. “Miriam! Miriam!” I didn’t want to believe it… I ran down the stairs and she told me to look again. There at the bottom of the washing machine, where somehow I had missed it before, was the pearl earring. I pulled out the earring and in my joy of the reunion, I grabbed Rosaura’s brown chubby face with both my hands and kissed her firmly on the cheek.

I had not lost the earring after all, but somehow I still had lingering feelings of loss. After all, those feelings were never about the pearl earring.

artist Miriam Schulman in her art studio
Girl in pearl earring…

PS You can read about my online ecourse on painting portraits HERE. The watercolor portrait class starts next week. Hope to see you there!
PSS You may also like another funny blog post on spring cleaning, here.

What about you? How do you feel when you lose something?

5 thoughts on “Girl with (one) pearl earring”

  1. This could quite easily be every morning in my house. Only replace the lovely Rosaura with my disgruntled husband! I think we can all agree that the creative types are the messiest! 😉

  2. I'm also a messy creative type. My mum always said that it shows you haven't got enough to do if your desk is tidy. When I was a teacher I tidied my desk once a term. Now I sew there is stuff everywhere – in my dining room where I work. Oh, well. I've come to terms with my nature.

  3. This is a funny story! I get upset with myself when I loose something because I am usually really diligent about putting things back where I got them. I can blame that one on my obsessive compulsive father! I used to get in heaps of trouble if I moved things from there home. hahaha


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I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.

I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.

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