I’ll start this section with a house warming, or rather a studio warming.
Today, I am settling in to my new studio and this is the first day that I have started a painting in this room. It was conceived, prepped, and primed here. I sit back on my metal folding chair and look across the three or four feet to my easel where an outline of orange Prismacolor pencil stares back at me. The sun’s sneaky descent behind the western tree line paints pinks and purples across the northern clouds I see out my studio window. Rush hour has passed, and the steady hum of engines and tires fades between so that I can clearly hear the bouncing of a basket ball at the court across the street. Occasionally, a child yells to another and the ball bounces with more force.
I have two easels set up waiting for my attention. Here they are opposite each other, unlike my last studio where they nestled side by side. I have yet to decide if this will help or hinder my production. Lighting has proved challenging with this arrangement, as I now require two areas of light. The even natural light from the north window slides across both canvases equally, but my large easel receives a bit of western light in the evenings. I prefer not to rely on natural lighting, as it can change dramatically through out the seasons here in Portland, and I can’t be disturbed by the sun’s fickle moods and changing sleep schedule. Perfect lighting is still a work in progress for this space. Hours asking Google to solve my lighting issues have narrowed the field slightly, and my home owner boyfriend’s desire for LED bulbs adds complication to the mix. “Let there be light” will be my number one studio task for the year.
The room itself contains less square footage than my last, a fact that is a constant thorn in my side. We’ve even taken the closet doors off in an attempt to mitigate my self imposed claustrophobia. My struggle over size echos my pride in and dedication to my craft. In my apartment after only a month I ceded the master bedroom to art and contented myself to house my bed in the tiny second bedroom. After so many years of studio ruling the throne of my home, it feels like a major demotion to loose the foothold of master. The only practical issue with the diminished space is a difficulty working large scale, the glass ceiling has been lowered. An intangible controversy I have with the lack of space is confinement of my mind, I don’t have room for other projects or random creative outlets. It does not feel like a laboratory or workshop, but more of an incubator. Perhaps it will keep me focused, or perhaps I will go mad running arms flailing from my studio into the wide open air of landscape painting. While I don’t see this happening soon, I do think this compacted studio will only encourage me to work harder so that I may someday surpass it. Echoes of my studio in my Oakland apartment breeze through my mind. It was more of a large pantry than a bedroom, yet on my days off I sat in there baking in the southwestern sun producing large paintings that hardly fit the wall behind them.
This studio and I have a long way to go together so I better get used to it. Change is inevitable and it’s best to learn to live with it because if you fight it, it will only slow you down.