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A Balancing Act

((Banner: A Balancing Act))
((Reporter/Camera: Lisa Vohra))
((Map: Vienna, Virginia))
((Main Characters: 1 male))
((Sub Characters: 1 male; 1 female))
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
My name is Ron Johnson. I grew up all over the world.
((Courtesy: Ron Johnson))
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
My dad was in the military. I spent 25 years in the military myself.
After getting out of the military, I decided to start working with
wood and it was about 10 years ago. I transitioned from working
with wood to make furniture to making pieces of art.
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
I use wood truly as my medium. I’ve studied everything from
spoons to bowl making to furniture making to sculpture. The
peace I find when I’m carving, I really do go to a different place.
Wood really kind of talks back to you. It really speaks to you
when you’re working on it and you get to have this one-on-one
communication with the tree.
((NATS: Ron Johnson
10/10:45 says math, whole group meet link. So, there’s a small
group schedule.))
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
I’m a stay-at-home dad, in addition to being an artist. I have a
first grader and a kindergartner.
((NATS: Ron Johnson
Daddy tax.))
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
When COVID kicked off, I wasn’t really prepared to having both of
my children home throughout the day. I had to really balance
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
We try to treat it like a normal school day, like they’re going to be
heading out to school. So, I get them up. They get their clothes
on. They’re not in their night night clothes, for example. Then,
when school starts, I’ve got one child is downstairs in the
basement and one child on the top floor.
What is the time?))
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
This is my work area. I tend to sit here and listen to both the
downstairs classroom and the upstairs classroom, with a little bit
of an ear on both classrooms, because the kids get into a, a little
bit of, you know, their pattern. But the classes don’t match except
lunch time is pretty close together. Their breaks are different. So,
I have to send one outside on a break and one, you know, stays
inside during their class. My son, who’s younger in kindergarten,
he generally tends to be, he’ll turn his computer off and he’ll just
say, “Oh, I think I’m done.” And so, I have to refocus him back
down to the classroom. Also, I go and look at their class schedule
each day and I update it very quickly to see what’s going to come
up, because it changes periodically. And both kids try to stay on
track, but honestly, it’s tough for me to keep up and these folks,
you know, little kids trying to keep track.
Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins.))
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
Having them both online and the attention span really is the issue.
They don’t want to be staring at a screen.
((NATS: Ron Johnson and daughter
Look all these people are in there. Why are they in there?
I’m not supposed to be in there.))
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
To understand and to navigate technology for a five and six-year
old is pretty daunting. Trying to figure out how to get them
comfortable with technology, so they can navigate to their
classrooms correctly. It’s a lot we’re asking of the teachers and
it’s a lot we’re asking of our children for sure. And parents.
((NATS: Ron Johnson
I made you a nice sandwich.))
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
The positives about having our children home with me throughout
the day is how close we’ve become as a family. One thing we get
to do is we get to schedule out our time really well. We eat lunch
together. We eat breakfast together. We eat dinner together.
And all those meals just add that communication and you build a
really decent relationship with your children.
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
So that’s one positive. The other positive is, I’m spending time
with them in their classrooms and understanding what they’re
learning, so I get to, I get to affect what they’re learning too. I get
to understand that.
((NATS: Ron Johnson and teacher
Ms. Jacoby. Hello.
Hi, yeah. Quick question. We had some computer issues. Now
we’re on iPad for a few minutes. Just wondering, what are they
supposed to be doing right now?
Oh, we just did letters. We found objects that begin with….))
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
We do bike rides almost every day, just to relieve some of that
frustration and that built up pressure.
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
How this has impacted my personal flow as an artist? It’s been
the seven hours I may grab throughout the day when my children
are both in school to that right brain shift, to become creative. It’s
not something that you can just, it’s not a light switch. You have
to find that peaceful moment. You start moving yourself forward.
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
So, really to manage between the kids’ online school, spending all
day in and out of the house, I have to really grab time. And I have
to make that time for myself, which means get up earlier in the
morning, create and carve out time in the evening when they’re
kind of calming down and winding down from the day.
Sometimes, I just walk outside and work on a very small piece
and then walk back inside, because it’s in my head and I want to
make sure I can put it into the piece I’m working on. So, I’m
thinking about that, the piece I’m currently working on, all the
time, throughout the day. It’s my, it’s my timeout spot for myself
on a stressful day.
((Courtesy: Ron Johnson))
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
Some pieces I’ve made. One is ‘Dreams’. A lot of people have
been having these just amazing dreams or, you know, chaotic
dreams. And I created a piece specifically from COVID, the
influence on the dreams that I’ve been having. And I thought,
well, this is something that other people are having. So, I thought
I’d make a piece to, to represent that. And another one was,
trying to find center in my own life as everyone else is, with this
new world we’re, we’re experiencing.
((Courtesy: Ron Johnson))
((Ron Johnson, Wood Artist; Stay-at-Home Dad))
I made one piece called ‘Finding Center’ and it really is, it’s also, I
created the chaos all around. There’s only two pieces that marry
up in the entire piece and that’s finding it right dead in the center.
((Popup Banner:
Following the interview, ‘Dreams’ was selected to be in the 2020
Virginia Arts Juried Show))