Friday, March 30, 2012

About Moving Day

In point of fact, it will probably be more like moving weekend or week. The contents of my before-studio, now to be reassembled into my after-studio, is housed in two storage units, one large capacity, one medium sized.

The new studio has been designed to accommodate my operation which requires keeping large boards on hand and easily accessible to use as supports for the paper-on-canvas works. There are shelves for the painted papers that I make to use for collage and there are racks for finished  works. All neat and tidy and set up so that little thought need be given to finding the materials and setting up the scene in which to pursue the vision. In short, a space that cooperates with and supports the process. Who could ask for anything more?

The rain is steady and heavy and predicted to be of old testament duration.Well, maybe not forty nights, but probably close considering what is already behind us. But no matter, the move will happen, the space will become a studio and I will resume my bless├ęd work.

That’s all she wrote for now. Tune in next week for a progress report with photos.

The image above is another of the little houses, as yet untitled, being readied for the upcoming North Coast Open Studios event in June. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

About Being Bored

I do not understand boredom. I have trouble fitting my life into the time allotted to me.

On the day to day there is everything I want to do, everything I think I should or need to do, and then what gets in the way, what finally gets done and trying to find the parenthesis in which to rest or escape. And afterwards moving on to whatever comes next.

On the life scale (as opposed to the day to day), there is: have I really seen, heard, tasted, experienced, all that was available to me? Will I die having missed something critical to the experience of life itself?  Have I done what I could with the gifts I was given, meager or bountiful?  

A life was given to me. I have raced through it responding to each scenario as it presented itself or that I had myself created. Was I ever or never aware of the bigger picture? The big picture being that a great deal was provided to me to savor, to delight in, to love or to just be aware of - did I take it all in? Did I use this life, live it fully? 

I fear that I was often too focused on the moment, on the laundry, the book, the work or even on the people, to be mindful of how short the moment of this light.

Today I filled out a form giving power of attorney to others in case the situation arose in which I could not make health care decisions for myself. My MD told me that an old one he had needed to be replaced by a fresher version. Same thing, different date.

Being dead must be very boring.

The image above is a new "Little House". I plan to make several versions of little houses to celebrate the little house that is my new home. I will give them prime space in the soon-to-be-finished studio when I open it for our open studio event in June.

Friday, March 16, 2012

About Getting Ready

I am usually good at staying in touch with the people who warm my world. This last month and a half I have been operating at fever pitch to get finished with all the organizing that seems to need doing so that I can feel free to paint. This blog has been my main link to others except for an occasional phone call or even less frequently, an outing.

The new studio should be ready at the end of the month. The tasks and chores and obligations that distract from the work will not come to a sudden halt at that point. I will still need to do laundry, some cooking and if I don’t want to become a total nut-case, keep my connections to friends and family alive and well. When I had a job and four small children and a big house, a husband straight out of the middle ages and an active social life, I managed it all. Not always easy, but definitely doable. Of course I was younger then. But that’s not where the difference lies. Back then I could give short shrift to any of the above mentioned pursuits. (Here I have to stop to beg forgiveness of my children for the times they didn’t get the attention they needed.) But racing through a painting is not advisable. The results are bound to be garbage-like. One needs to be focused, to have no thoughts of anything other than the work at hand. And how to get to that state of complete absorption in the process? Well, for me it means feeling that everything in my life is in place physically or otherwise or, if that is not possible, then there is a plan in place to cover all eventualities. Some of the basics however, cannot be ignored. There must be food in the frig and if any essential appliance is not working, calls will be made before work is started. If someone I am close to is in dire straits, not possible to turn a blind eye to, that will get attention. But usually, anything that can be postponed will get noted on a list (to be sure that I won’t forget it), and I go into the studio, lock the door and let the world happen without me.

I have tried not to think about the work. I've kept busy getting the house in order and it's now as good as it's going to get. For a while, anyway. Tonight I will spend some time over drinks with some friends I have missed. Life is moving back to what I want it to be. Oh, joy!

The images above are of the studio space, then and now. It's going to be magnificent. I plan to be ready, come hell or high water, for our county-wide open studio event in June, along with many other of the artists who ply their trade in this lovely piece of our world. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

About Life Interrupted

I’ve been getting organized. Since moving a little more than a month ago, that has been my priority. The plan is to get the house in order: functional, comfortable and presentable. Then I can go to my new studio and know that when my workday ends, I’ll have that place to take refuge in. 

In this time before the studio renovation is completed, I plan also to get some new prints made for the June’s open studio event. I hope too, to work on daughter Barbara’s wedding photo album, a long overdue project which has great appeal.

So I think: I’ll get up at an early hour, do the usual morning (coffee, newspaper, exercise video every other day, check email) and then get to the tasks that await. There are no boxes left to unpack but there’s some fine tuning to do. The room that I have made into my office (obviously intended to be the living room of this little house) needs for my desk to become uncluttered and my worktable to become work-friendly. The computer and peripherals are on a third table already perfectly set up thanks to my youngest daughter who is fast and efficient. (We’ve been calling her the “Energizer Bunny” since the move.) The room that I have designated as my “sitting room” is one of the two bedrooms. It is waiting to be outfitted with something to sit on. That will happen in a few weeks and has been a delightful project. The closets need some ordering which shouldn’t be too hard now that I have rid myself of lots of excess in worldly goods. Then on to the prints and the album.

Ah, but as often happens to well-laid plans, disruption ensues. It takes the form of an invitation I might regret to refuse - to dinner prepared by the daughters who have become the cake and pizza queens, or to join them and friends for drinks, or some other temptation to leave work undone. Daytime interruptions are about dentist, haircut, medical check-up, grocery shopping, maybe something from the hardware store. Woe is me. Life gets in the way of my intended orderly and productive operation.

For those who think it admirable that I honor my commitment to write this blog every week, I say this: while I rarely want to get started, once I do, it is a very pleasurable job. After all, I’m talking about myself, about my life. 

Writer Daphne du Maurier said it in few words: “All autobiography is self-indulgent.”
The  mess in the photo above is the present state of my studio-in-progress. All the windows but one have been covered as I need the walls to work on. I use daylight fluorescents for lighting and prefer them to natural light for their consistency and reliability. The exhaust fan is about my occasional use of sprays for pastel which can be a threat to the brain. Don’t need any of that.

Friday, March 2, 2012

About What It Takes

I got a free subscription to Architectural Digest some time ago and have reveled in taking pictorial tours through what must be some the most amazingly luxurious and exquisitely put together homes on the planet. The last issue I submerged in covered the homes of several celebrities: an actress, a musician and a designer. All names familiar to most households. I suppose that the attraction of a magazine like this is that it supplies the information you need to stage the backgrounds for your fantasies. Or maybe the decor itself is the fantasy. Or maybe you don’t fantasize. Whatever.

I had an epiphany when remembering some those rooms afterwards. Of my five (or more?) senses, the one that has brought me to my knees in emotional response is sight. I think in pictures and use pictures to think. This is not a very efficient nor is it always an effective operation, but — it’s what I have to work with. I would take great delight in being lodged in some of those impeccably put together rooms or baking in one of those designer kitchens outfitted with every utensil the heart could crave. Imagine a closet you could skateboard in that held shoes in careful rows and beautiful clothing for lavish affairs. And more. Much more. Ah, the comfort. Ah, the pleasure I would know in these lovely surroundings!

But could I be happier than I am now? Of course not. I believe that we have a certain capacity for feeling anything. I suppose when you go beyond your capacity for feeling physical pain, you pass out. And when emotional pain is too great, the brain has its ways. Must be the same for contentment. And right now, not only does my life feel complete, everything in place, but I can’t imagine being more content than I am.

I just made myself smile when I typed “everything in place”. The house has still not been put in order after the move and the studio has only just begun to be renovated. It has already run into its own set of complications and stumbling blocks. But my children are well, there’s food in the frig, and I am in good health. I am supported by friends and family. I look forward to the day when I will be back at work and have my neatly ordered little house  to come back to in the evenings. It couldn’t get any better then that.

Actress Jodie Foster: I fantasize about having a manual job where I can come home at night, read a book and not feel responsible for what will happen the next day. 

The image above is Santander ©2004, mixed media on paper, 36” x 48”. It is part of a series that was a temporary detour into a more decorative style inspired by Islamic design.