Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Nothing to see here, folks! Move along...

In studio news, I'm still feathering my nest while gestating this new work.  

My studio was pretty tightly packed without a lot of flat surfaces to work on, which I need to lay out and work on these big, composite paintings I'm imagining.  So, I went on Craigslist and found some banquet tables for $10 each.  H and I drove through the rolling farmland now bright green and dark mud, backed by jagged white and charcoal mountains, to get them on Sunday.  We threaded our way through a retired dairy barn (what a maze!) to find the tables stacked against worn wooden milking stanchions, streaked with bird poop.  Treasure!  We loaded a 6' and a 5' into the truck, chatting with the owner, petting her little terrier, and then wound our way on home.  The owner used to raise and show wolfhounds (sighthounds like greyhounds, but bigger, with rough long coats), but said she had to quit.  They only live for about 5 years (!!!) and it was just too hard getting attached and losing them so quickly over and over.  I had no idea they were so short-lived.  How sad!  

Anyhow, I got the tables cleaned up, and fitted into my studio, where I now have plenty of flat surfaces!  (I hope!)

  weird panoramic pic of my studio proving yet again what a bad photographer I am, but giving you some idea of how efficiently I am able to cram all this stuff in here, with room for dogs too!  See my new tables?  :D

The process of sorting and clearing out space for the tables was practically anthropological.  I had 5 file boxes of old work and collected references images to go through, had to decide what to do with various largish tools I haven't used in years (a lightbox and an opaque projector -- their functions mostly replaced by computer, printer and scanner now), and had to tear myself loose from a few cubic yards of packaging material I've been hoarding as if I were a busy manufacturing plant poised to move lots of widgets out at any moment!  I kept getting stalled out in the sorting process by historical finds half forgotten.  Drawings by my nieces when they were kids as well as some by our grandkids, family photos (never quick work!), work I'd done over the years (comic book coloring, signs, pet portraits, murals, a stool painted to match someone's kitchen tilework, two switchplates painted to match someone's decor, logo designs, proposed stuff that never happened, tons of product design stuff, some illustrations, half-finished paintings I'd done just for myself ...), a notebook I'd kept for a few years describing the jobs I was doing, payment details, and notes I'd taken about how aspects could be improved in future jobs ....  Pretty interesting stuff.  To me!  Good thing I have no kids of my own to saddle this stuff with when I die.  It'll all just get tipped into a dumpster without ceremony, I hope (except for some of the photos).  

On the tables to do now are the portrait of Fluffy (currently mired in the "OMG, I don't remember how to paint!  How'm I supposed to paint all that HAIR??" stage), a logo for a doula (who I just realized is very much like my sister PJ esthetically -- that will help!), designing this year's holiday cards (flailing quietly in the "but, it's finally SPRING; I don't want to think about WINTER!" phase), and big display graphics for a trade show H is doing in June or July in D.C., which I still need specs for.  

As I was cleaning up the tables, and moving them into my own space, I was reflecting on the layers of life they already have on them.  No, I don't mean just the bird poop and spider flotsam!  There are worn areas that suggest repeated patterns of use in certain areas, lots of tape residue, scratches, scuffs and divots.  I'll add my own layers of use; splatters of gesso, paint and varnish, the occasional cut from a mis-handled knife, more tape, random pen marks no doubt.  

I like the feeling of used stuff.  It feels good, for some reason I can't quite explain, to inherit the ... hm ... almost spiritual residue of other lives, to continue the useful life of an object, and add my own residue to it, maybe to send it on to yet another life after I'm done with it.  It's a connection, tenuous but tangible, between my own personal universe and one other, existing otherwise invisibly to me, now gone off on its own tangent elsewhere.  I like the reminders of all the complexity we only see such small bits of at a time.  I was telling H that we're like little ants, crawling around on an infinitely large crumpled piece of paper, only aware of this bit of fold, then that, maybe running into a few other ants just as isolated from a view of the whole, while gazillions of other ants live their entire lives, full of experiences, invisibly on the other folds, on the other side, separated by mere molecules perhaps.  

Maybe I just need to get out more.  Hm?


  1. I understand what you mean! In my family we call it "getting it to a good home"--and you are either the getter or the gettee--but you are carrying on.

    Do you realize how FEW folks even know *what* an opaque projector is anymore? Yikes! Pasy

  2. Right! And I got it used all these years ago! The lightbox may have yet another life as an art project of some kind. H and I were discussing possibilities. It was used and homemade when I got it near the same time as the projector!

  3. Hello Xan

    What a find your blog is. I have enjoyed reading about your new tables. This type of chat is a like a moth to a flame to me as I too paint. Say no more. You should see my TINY space. I have 3 feet squre to paint in that's it! Then I have my spinning wheel and bed and storeage. Crazy but it works. Love your art - will be following you. Alison

  4. Hi Alison. I'm glad you're enjoying my blog. Seems to need some new material! :P

    I feel your pain. Every inch of studio space was hard won over many years. There was a time when I had to make do with a dead end hallway that was just big enough for my small art table, with what tools I needed most all crammed in underneath!

    Oh! Just looked at your blog! What lovely watercolors! I'll have to spend more time with your art. I see we have an interest in animals, and animals in art, in common.

    Hm. I see you lived in France ... H and I are thinking (seriously) of moving there in about a year. We need to get fluent in French!

    Thanks for following me!


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