I'm currently over my eyebrows in a watercolor class that I'm in absolute love with, taught by a beautiful friend whose amazing work makes my socks go up and down. I'm easily the slowest student in her online course, I'm sure, probably because I'm completely out of my element there (ACK! Color!). But I've chosen to temporarily forget all that I've taught myself over the years and become a blank canvas (pun intended) and start from absolute scratch, as if I'm finally in Art School learning the basics....
But this class isn't the topic of my post. (I promise to give it equal time here so you can see how things are going.) I watch the lessons online and do my homework during studio time so as to be completely uninterrupted by housework and pets and fill-in-the-blank. That's been my plan all along, anyway, but I find that I'm still frequently interrupted. Only this time by leaves....
I'm pretty sure I'm spending precious class time on them because I'm anxious as hell.... So much is going on in the world right now that I'm really really not OK with, and I don't know what to do. I don't know how to help. I don't even know how to help MYSELF. The best I can come up with is to just breathe....
So when the real world intrudes in my head, calling a halt and just breathing has been a helpful reboot of sorts. But then I have to pick up again with something soothing that I am comfortable and familiar with.
When I'm 'leafing' (just coined this now and it makes me smile), time stops and a conversation starts. It's a convo at its most basic, between me and Everything Else.... It's like the Universe or whatever takes over and creates while my overactive brain enjoys a break, just floating in an imagined blackness like an untethered astronaut staring at stars and listening to the sounds of her breath.... I need to be in that peace for a bit before I can start entertaining thoughts again. Which might also explain why my class progress is slow....
My leaves are getting the paint treatment now because my watercolors are front and center at this time. The results please and soothe me. And I want to share them with you. What do you think?
(P.S.: Since writing last, I've received all sorts of Studio Name feedback
(thank you!!). And I've been holed up in my wonder-filled spot at RRAC,
drawing/painting on leaves and contemplating my choices.)
More news!: Larry Weinberg and Susan Yee of the Rum River Art Center --
the non-profit that hosts my new little studio -- met with me yesterday to talk about all sorts of exciting things (that I'll share with you soon!), one being an honest-to-by-gawd sign advertising my studio, can you imagine?? I get to create the design which Susan will then turn into a window decal. The idea makes my socks go up and down!
But then I began to wonder: what would I have that sign say, exactly?? Certainly not 'delayne's studio,' right?
A friend suggested 'Tumbledown Studio' and I love it. But the name 'Tumbledown' refers to my messy and wonderfilled house full of books and critters. And my creative space there is The Studio Formerly Known As The Extra Bedroom. Still, Tumbledown Studio sounds delightful, even if it's not IN my house.
Of course I could always just call it 'Mayfaire' again. That name was originally coined at the last minute when my first Fest contract asked me for a business name and I thought 'Mayfaire' sounded medieval and Renaissance-y. I like it, but I feel as though it's rarely associated with me and my work, is more of an afterthought, and it says nothing about what I do or create, and because of that I've occasionally regretted making 'Mayfaire' my business name. (Plus, I've been thinking about leaving Fest.... I've been thinking about it a LOT....) Still, the name 'Mayfaire' is everywhere -- on my labels, my business cards, everywhere....
My studio's particular room at RRAC doesn't have an address or a name. Larry and Susan referred to it once as the Georgia O'Keefe room (StudioKeefe?), and my key to it is engraved with a 'c' (Studio C?). Calling it 'delayne's studio' just seems weird, but what about 'studio d'?
And now I can't even think clearly -- GAH.
I'm sure this will all come together and I'm just being my usual overwhelmed self. Playing with a logo idea or something might create the breakthrough I'm looking for.
Never mind the current political situation, which is the very definition of 'surreal.' (I'm GUTTED, so please don't ask me about it....). What's also surreal (to me) is that I’ve
already sold a piece of art in the New Year, and it's not even Fest season! And -- I sold it from my new 'away' studio.
I haven't told you about my new 'away' studio yet. It's the Big Old News that this post is about, and it came into my life last fall.
I turned 60 in October right after Fest. I felt good about this milestone (30 was hard, 40 was harsh, 50 was better, but 60? 60's awesome!) A big birthdaydeserves something big, and I wanted to do something special for myself. My own Girlz gifted me a future trip to Disneyland, and that was bigger than anything I could imagine or afford, but none of the ideas I'd been tossing around in my head seemed to really ringmy bells....
In talking later with my Eldest, our conversation turned from our impending Disney trip to housework and how hard it is to spend more than five minutes being creative in one's upstairs studio when there's so much downstairs that needs doing more. She reminded me of something we've both said to each other before, that art is a much bigger priority than dusting. And she suggested that what I really needed was a way to shut the door on Tumbledown and go somewhere else to be creative.
That was exactly what I needed.
And I wanted that to be my gift to myself. Just imagining it gave me goosebumps....
will say now that I've never felt that I deserved an 'away from home' studio. Those are for real artists who create real art, and even after 30 years I still consider myself someone who draws and doesn't necessarily know what she's doing when she does. And in my head, a home studio is just an extra bedroom where a creative person indulges their hobby.... Please know that every home studio I've EVER been in has challenged that idea, and I only seem to associate this definition with myself. Probably because as a kid I'd hole up in my bedroom to create and my
Mom would interrupt to tell me that if I couldn't find something better
to do, she'd find it for me. And there was ALWAYS something better to
do. So me going to my home studio now (aka an extra bedroom in disguise) just feels like my childhood self, shirking responsibility.
After talking to my Eldest that afternoon, the idea of an 'away' studio was all I could think about. For days afterward she texted me links on Craigslist for studio spaces, but everything was either unaffordable or too far away. (And there I was, with no car and no money....) She didn't give up on me, though, and her eagerness to find a studio for me made me eager as well, and I spent long moments scrolling through photos online of little empty spaces in town that were available for a fortune, and big empty spaces in town that were available for even more....
That little window on the right? MINE!
Then -- and I still don't know how this happened; I swear the fairies worked their magick! -- my online surfing turned up a website for a local non-profit. And buried in its webpage info was a little blurb about available studio space. I texted the link to my Eldest, just kidding that perhaps I'd 'found the Right Place, haha!' And she texted me back: 'CALL THEM.'
But I was afraid to. I didn't want to be disappointed!... So instead, what did I do? I drove past the building with my Youngest, just to size it up, gauge my feelings for the place. I saw that the non-profit was part of a collection of offices there, and attached to the building was a teen shelter. It fed the prepare-to-be-disappointed part of me, and I told myself that I was right to reject it sight unseen. And later, when my Eldest phoned to follow up, I lied and said I'd left a message with the place and they'd yet to return my call....
So much treasure to collect on my way!
That lie kept me awake all night I was that disappointed with myself, and the next morning I phoned the number and prepared to REALLY leave a message. But instead of voicemail a delightful woman named Susan answered. And absolutely everything she relayed to me about the space in question made my socks go up and down. She made arrangements to show it to me later in the week. But after I hung up, I immediately phoned back to tell her I was too excited to wait and could I please see it that afternoon?....
The place was only a couple miles away from Tumbledown, and I quickly began walking there in the autumn sunshine, enchanted by the unfamiliar route there that I didn't even know existed. What sorcery was this that took me along this new and beautiful path, full of autumn leaves and river views?? It seemed too good to be true.
Can you BELIEVE this WALK?
Susan met me at the door and introduced me to her husband Larry and their dog Buddy before happily showing me the space -- a little walk-in closet of a room, complete with a hand-me-down art table, a window with a venetian blind overlooking a working classroom, and another window overlooking what appeared to be a storage cubby with a skylight. I thought it was PERFECTION. I learned that each of the studio spaces (there were three at the time, only one of which was available) had nicknames, and the one I was being shown was the Georgia O'Keefe room. Appropriate, I thought, for 60-year-old me. I'd've written a first-month check for it right then and there, but wanted everyone associated with the non-profit to meet me first and decide if I was a good fit. (Seeing as how I wasn't a real artist, y'know. See how my head works??)
I met the others the next day -- kindred spirits, all -- and was pleased when they accepted me. And later that afternoon I brought a grocery bag full of supplies to my new studio.
At first, it was hard to relax there. Everything seemed so uncomfortable, like a house is when you haven't really moved into it yet but you want to be there all the time and your stuff is still back at the old house.... Even though there was food and pop for sale, I brought my own. Even though there was a watercooler there for all to use, I brought my own water bottle. I thought of Susan and Larry as my hosts and I was a guest in their home, and I didn't want to appear like I was taking this amazing opportunity for granted or taking advantage of their generosity.
The hand-me-down drawing table!
That was in October, and I've since settled in. I even had a teensy Open Studio event, too, which is something I've never done in my life. It was a far bigger success than I could've imagined, and the dear friends who visited me during that time taught me to see it all with a new perspective: I'm an artist. I deserve this.
Now, just approaching that silly old cobbled-together building fills me with joy. Entering it is
like storming Fort Knox: two doors with fussy locks try to thwart me but I’ve
almost got the hang of them now, and inside is TREASURE. First up is a room full of creative
anticipation, with tables and supplies just waiting for some happy little
artists to pull up their chairs and get to work.
My own closed door almost hums as I approach it. And when I enter and close it again, that vibration is now inside
of me. I feel like I've just walked in to a job I love like crazy, and I'm excited to get to work.
Happy New Year!
that old building’s smell and the clank of its furnace and the hum of its
lights. I love the dark hallway to the cantina with its string of purple fairy lights threaded
through the suspended ceiling. I love the closets stuffed with canvases and
clays, paints and pastels, pencils and brushes, and the colorful creations
displayed on walls and shelves and tables. I love when the classroom is in operation and I can hear things that I've never heard before, along with things I have: It's OK to use a different color, it's OK to make a mistake, it's OK to do it your own way....
It may have taken a lifetime, but I appear to be in Art School after all!
And I'm an artist, dammit. I've always been an artist! And I deserve this.