A Day In The Life Of Rinne Allen
There are those who can find and gather, sort and collect, making ordinary things into something wonderful and allowing other to share in their vision. Rinne Allen is such a person. She has a way of translating life into a beautiful montage with her photographs and light drawings; focusing on details, unafraid of the “imperfect”, and describing, visually, the way objects, people, and nature interact together to create a scene that is real and true.
I am a photographer living in Athens, Georgia with my husband and two young sons (both are under age 5). We live in an old house and I work out of a studio, which is right next door to our house, in the downstairs of another (old) house. Our house and my studio are separated by a deep, green garden. My “commute” to work is through this garden. Each day has a different rhythm due to many circumstances: my children are in school part of the time and on those days I work in my studio on my photography projects…but, when the boys are not in school, I spend my days with them. In general, on the days when I am in my studio, I have a fairly regular rhythm that I have kept for years and years.
6:30 a.m. Wake up time! Most days my oldest son needs to be at school pretty early, so by 6:30 my husband has already gotten up and fixed everyone’s breakfast, and my coffee— so, I wake up to fresh coffee and my smiling trio of boys. (Thanks, husband!)
7:30 a.m. Off to school for my oldest son…more playtime with my youngest. I find that playing with my kids has been one of the most unexpectedly inspiring things. Even though, at times, parenting young children and working at the same time can be tiring, my sons’ endless creativity and unedited approach to the world are a consistent reminder to look at things differently. And it constantly refreshes me when I am weary. Whether it is playing with old-fashioned wooden blocks, free-building with legos, or just drawing, they come up with the most mind-blowing creations day to day.
9:00 a.m. My youngest heads off to his playschool, Arrow. A friend and I started Arrow 4 years ago as a place for our young children to go and commune with friends. It is now a non-profit and has grown into a wonderful resource for our community. Each day, I check in with our director about day-to-day things and our various special projects- we always have something inspiring in the works…this place, and those inside it, inspire me to no end.
9:15 a.m. I head to my studio. I walk along a path through our garden and anyone who knows my work knows how much this garden has inspired me. It was created in the late ’60′s by an architect/landscape architect who lived here before us, and we have lived here for 17+ years, so we know it well. It has shade, sun, and a stream. It gives our family a lot of places to roam and build forts, but I also regularly cut specimens from it to make my light drawings, walk its paths to take photos for Beauty Everyday or my own work, or, if I am lucky, I just sit for a moment.
9:15-noon I love my studio. It is full of things that I have collected over the years and it has lots of patina since this house is over 100 years old. Perhaps one day I will have a big open room that is sparse and white, but I love looking at all these things around me. They trigger ideas in my head, but not so much that I can’t keep up. I think it is because they are so familiar; they have been with me a long time. An average day for me starts with a small, strong cup of coffee, then I sit at my desk and get organized: looking over email and thinking through what needs to be accomplished that day… I have several long-term projects that I work on (books with this person and these folks) and some days I have photoshoots related to those projects or editing work that needs to be done. but, other days, I just kind-of tinker. Also, I am a big book person…I have so many books- art books, craft books, photobooks, new books, handmade books, books from the thrift store, you name it. I often sit and look through them if I am in need of inspiration or if I need help working through an idea.
Noon. I break for lunch and walk home and eat with my husband, unless i have a meeting…
1-5 p.m. More tinkering in the studio. sometimes I go in my darkroom and coat more paper for my light drawings, other days my studio assistant and my intern come in and help with my various projects. Those days are fun, because we usually start the day talking about photography. We all have art backgrounds, even though we also do commercial work, and I love brainstorming with them or hearing what they are working on. super inspiring. Also, I usually talk to Rebecca and Kristen at some point too- they are my collaborators on Beauty Everyday. Sometimes we meet for tea or coffee and other times we talk via email and plan out what we are doing next…like fun road trips related to our book. Also, I photograph in my studio quite a bit- it is not really a shooting space, per se, but there are many atmospheric corners and windows with good light and I am able to photograph in here if I feel the pull to. In the late afternoon, sometimes my family comes in to say hey, once everyone is home from school and up from naps…their playground is right near my studio, so a visit is kind-of irresistible. The boys have their own little worktable in the studio on these mini-sawhorses that i found long ago. They sit right down and start drawing or tinkering too. It is fun.
5 p.m. The whistle blows! I really try to finish up work by 5, so I can be with my family. since my children are still pretty young, I want to spend time with them as much as I can. We usually launch into prepping for dinner and I try to involve them as much as possible (or as they have interest for); sometimes they just sit at the kitchen table and draw or make collages with tape while we cook. (Who knew? they LOVE tape!)
5:30-8 p.m. Everyone who has young children knows that this is the whirlwind time! There is not much time for anything except for eating, bathing, a little bit of playing and reading, then night, night! (although, the world of kids’ books is endlessly inspiring, too!)
After 8 p.m. Full confession- I am not very productive after my children go to sleep…some people are able to stay up late and work on projects, but it isn’t for me at this point in my life. Most evenings, my husband and I catch up on our days and then I try to wind down and read…if I don’t fall asleep first. Every so often I slip out of the house and visit with friends, which can be so rejuvenating too. But sleep is important to me- I find that restful sleep is the best medicine for a mama with young children…who needs to be ready to jump back into creative projects the next day…!