There were days when I aspired to having a studio. To be in the company of other artists and to have a space that was devoted only to making art. DaVinci once said “An artist’s studio should be a small space because small rooms discipline the mind and large ones distract it.” As someone incredibly susceptible to the tiniest whiff of a distraction, I suppose I can see that. To me, though, it’s not so much about size but content. And location.
See, although I will drop what I’m doing at the slightest thought of something that I should have done, I am also a procrastinator. I fear that if I had to get into my car and drive to a separate location to paint, the easel would merely gather dust. It’s not so much that I’m lazy but that there would always be something that I will do first, and then go to the studio. Like feed the dog …which can take an hour. Oh, right – the dog can’t come to the studio? Forget it.
Here in my home studio (with my dog snoring), I can step into the kitchen and make a pot of tea. I can start listening to a podcast of Fresh Air or Radiolab, but then decide that I want to put in that CD of Porgy and Bess. Wait, maybe Josquin des Prez. Perhaps neither. What else do I have here amongst the racks of CDs? I know, I know – there’s this thing called iTunes and I can just put it all there and it will always be with me, wherever my studio is. But I have a lot of CDs and a perfectly fine stereo (remember those?) right there near my easel in my home. It’s tactile. I can wipe the grooves of the iridescent plastic and press buttons and turn knobs. Over on the other side of the room, there is a drawer with incense because I love painting in a room filled with the aroma of sweetgrass or frankincense or some Japanese blend of flowers I’ve never heard of. I can remember that I’m supposed to be drinking more water and step into the kitchen to get a big jar of it to place next to the easel, practically stepping on the dog, who is still snoring, but is now starting to harmonize with the des Prez chorals.
But, really, the essence of why I love having a home studio is that when I get up in the morning and shuffle toward the kitchen to make coffee, I come face to face with whatever is on the easel and it enters the realm of my subconscious. I can be sitting in the adjoining room and, from that particular angle and distracted state of mind, notice something off in the painting; something that I could fix right then. Because with the painting right there, there is no cleaning up and putting away. The palette sits with wet paint, the little solvent cups filled with linseed oil and natural spirits, always at the ready. Just a couple of dabs before I run off to meet that client. When I return, it will still be there, all oily and ready to be continued. So, I may make dinner and do the dishes and check email and try to write a blog post and call that woman to ask how her cat is doing, but whenever I am ready, the painting is right there.
I still have a romantic notion of having a big old loft studio with sunlight streaming in through huge windows revealing white paint peeling from the pipes, paint-stained rags on the floor, and discarded canvases stacked up against the wall. I suppose, though, that it would be too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. Here, it’s just right.