I see those beautiful glossy magazines with nothing but page after page of gorgeous studio interiors. They make me do two things: drool and wonder. I always envy organized beauty, work spaces that look so cozy, so sexy, so beautiful and so inviting. That would be the drool part. The wonder part has me asking myself how the hell these folks accomplish the sturm und drang of art making if they can’t make a mess in the process. Hmmmm….
I spent Valentine’s Day organizing my studio (more, again, still) and losing a day down the rabbit hole. It’s all the hubs fault, he gave me a new Dymo Letratag Labelmaker. Its fabulous! I already mark everything well because if I don’t I’ll spend hours hunting for one washer or a doodad I know I have somewhere. My masking tape tags were a)ugly b) tend to unstick after awhile, so this is mo bettah, it look so nice, I’m ready to label the world!
I have also been converting myself to old tins and glass for storage, attempting to move away from plastic and cardboard; it’s my homage to those beautiful magazines. This is as close I’m going to get to a drool-worthy esthetic with a busy working studio. My work tables are thick plywood and the floor is painted in the middle and has cheap carpet at both ends. Carpet makes my feet and my studio staff happier. The staff would be the three dogs and one cat who meander in and out, which also explains the toys and the beds all over the place. Knowing my furry buds will be roaming the floor makes me very careful with chemicals and small bits of crap which could harm the animal that ingested it. I can always tell when I’ve dropped a bead, Mushka is a bead collecting magnet, he finds them and rolls them around in his teeth, clicking noises alert me to make him spit out the slimy thing before he can swallow it.
The work tables are full of nicks, scratches, gouges, glue blobs and solder, which I scrape off to level the surface on a regular basis. That’s not even counting the paint, and other liquids that stain things. I like having these tables because I don’t have to be careful, I can just lose myself in the work and spread out around the room.
I took some shots yesterday after I got started on a new piece in the Lost Childhood series. Keep in my mind my studio looked like a photograph when I started, after my labeling frenzy. Within three hours it was destroyed, but I know where every single thing is as I work including tools, tidbits, dogs, and cat.
This mornings work is to put a coat of satin varnish on the little cabinet that took hours to paint and collage. I did it about three times until I was happy with it. Who said art is easy? It’s not, many times it’s just doing and redoing and never giving up. My favorite quote: “Process gets you times of no ideas far better than ideas get you through times of no process.” The Far Out Furry Freak Brothers said that back when and its still true now.
Advice to budding artists: always work in series. If you get stuck, you can start again and you learn from each piece how to make the next one. Even if you hate it after while, finish what you said you would do, all the pieces. Be patient with yourself. You don’t learn this stuff and acquire the tools overnight. You have to do it again and again and again, as Thoreau put it so nicely. “Know your own bone, gnaw it, bury it, unearth it, gnaw it still.” Can you tell I’ve been talking to a frustrated young artist? Someone who never can paint what he sees in his head and he sees that as a problem. Guess what? I have never, ever, ever had a painting come out exactly like what I saw in my head. For me that’s the thrill. I’m on the road and I have a map, but I never know exactly what I will find around the corner. I learn from my work when I’m willing to listen to it.
And right now…it’s calling me to come and play and finish Mother’s Nature’s lost childhood before I teach my class this afternoon.