I did it again. I forgot I have to paint. I don’t mean I forgot I have work to do or I forgot I have a deadline. I mean I forgot I HAVE to paint.
At first I didn’t realize what the problem was. “I’m scattered,” I’d say, “What’s wrong with me? I keep forgetting things.” Enter the dreaded, stereotypical “flaky artist.” After the second missed appointment, third panicked car key search, fourth forgotten errand, and tenth stress headache, I realized- I haven’t been painting. We’ve been in and out of town and I don’t have any looming deadlines for which I feel ill-prepared, so I’ve allowed other things to get in the way. Mistake. It’s not a job with paid vacation. It’s who I am. It’s how I organize my thoughts. The world is full of so many things to look at and so much stimulation that if I don’t have that out-flow I guess my brain sort of overloads and shuts down.
So today, noticing the pinks, greens, and yellows harmonizing on an onion skin, I put down the dish towel I was using and picked up my paintbrush. Upon finishing my little painting in a much calmer state of mind I paid an almost forgotten bill and prepared my daughter’s bag for her first day of mother’s day out. Relief. (Somewhat) organized me is back.
It’s dark inside the house and out. A melody wakes me from a dream and I roll away from my sleeping husband. I hush the alarm and stand there a moment, considering the silence; considering returning to the still warm bed. I think about the day ahead… about what needs to be done and the few chances I will have to do what I wish with my time. Decision made, I go to the kitchen for some coffee and, as cool blue light begins to seep around the edges of the window panes, I begin my day with pen and paint.
They’re everywhere. They tumble out of pockets, they rolls with the broom out from under furniture, they’re in almost every allowable container in or outside the house.
Rocks. My little girl loves them. And I’m not talking exotic or particularly beautiful rocks. I’m talking gray driveway gravel, pea gravel, garden rocks. She collects them, she gives them as gifts, she plays with them, she even sometimes bathes them. She plays with other toys, too; I just can’t help but smile at her penchant for rocks… I admit it’s partly because it reminds me of my fondness for mossy bits of bark. I guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.
You’ve all seen pictures of my revamped (and so pretty!!) gray and white studio, but have you noticed that it’s affected my work?
I don’t know what came first, the studio re-do or this series of paintings (they both started around the same time) but I seem, in all areas of my life, to be craving clean, white, open spaces and simplicity. Hmm… could have something to do with the zillions of brightly colored letters and other toys constantly scattered around my house.
I used to hang my paintings on the wall as they were completed. However as paintings sold, commissions were picked up, new paintings were finished, etc. paintings were removed or shifted around and the walls were left with a bunch of nail holes. I couldn’t bear the thought of poorly planned nail holes in my beautiful new gray walls! My friend Drew mentioned the idea of putting them on a shelf, which hadn’t occurred to me. My tons of wall shelves that I added, while helpful, still didn’t give me enough room to store paintings. However I had a boxy particle board bookcase. I didn’t think to take a before-picture, but you know the kind- brown, faux wood laminate, moveable shelf, etc. I decided that shelf would work, but it most definitely didn’t go with the light, airy studio image in my head. Also, I was afraid to leave my paintings within easy reach of my toddler. Which leads me to another deficiency that needed to be addressed- I didn’t have any place in my studio that was kid-friendly, where perhaps the small one could occupy herself for 5 minutes. (Let’s face it- 5 minutes is probably the most I could realistically ask for.)
The solution? Multi-stepped, but easy and working out well for us.
First I sanded down the bookcase (just enough to rough it up) and applied Kilz Latex Primer. Then, I spray painted it white. Figuring that taking books or paintings off the shelf would probably be tough on the paint (since I’m sure latex paint on top of laminate is not archival), I covered the shelves with some decorative contact paper. Now comes my real innovation. I put felt feet on bottom of the bookcase so that it could be moved easily without damaging the floor (but not so easily that the wee one would likely move it) and I turned it to face the wall so that the paintings were not accessible. Lastly, I painted the back panel with chalk-board paint, cut, painted, and nailed trim around the “chalkboard” Voila! A storage spot for small paintings, a chalkboard for the kiddo, and a pretty piece for the studio. I love it when a plan comes together!
(I’m still having computer problems, so once again, forgive poor photo editing and cropping.)