It occurs to me that working in a studio is similar to cooking in a kitchen.
When you are in your kitchen, the last thing you want is to be hunting for a critical utensil while something is about to overcook on the stove, or to be unable to find the oven mitt as your cake begins to burn in the oven. Or to trip over a stool you used to reach something in a high cabinet and forgot to put away. It takes a long time to get a kitchen functioning so that you can concentrate on the job of cooking, rather than the frustration of finding stuff.
The same is true in a studio space. In my mind, it’s even more critical, because in hunting for some tool or tripping over a painting and losing concentration, who knows, you may never quite be able to recapture that spark of genius that was moving your work forward before being so rudely interrupted.
Getting a studio functioning well is also a long process. I moved into my current space in October. After all the unpacking and shelving and shuffling around, I worked for a few weeks. Then I discovered that the light was better on the opposite side of the studio. So I reversed everything, hauling all my painting supplies to the west end of the studio and dragging all my printmaking and other stuff to the other side. Since then, there’s been more moderate readjusting to increase the smooth functioning of the space.
I started on a new series of paintings in November. I went to a workshop (see previous posts), learned a lot, and began working on a number of paintings at one time. Seemingly out of the blue, I had upwards of 20 paintings in various stages of completion underfoot. They were multiplying like rabbits. I was tripping over them. The studio looked like a crazy person was working there. Suddenly I couldn’t stand it anymore.
My friend Eddie happened to be working on a project in the space next door. I talked him into figuring out a way to secure my paintings on top of the shelves on the south wall. He came up with a quick and clever solution using salvaged materials. I labeled all of my canvases and panels and put them up high, out from underfoot. They are easy to get to, much better protected, and my studio looks twice as big.
Stopping work to get reorganized was hard. I really didn’t want to waste time. A lot of time can be frittered away with spurious organizing efforts that might not accomplish much. All of us creative sorts know about our various ways of avoiding the important work at hand. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between using time wisely and wasting time. In this case, I feel like I can breathe. I can’t wait to get into my studio every day to pull one of those neatly shelved paintings down and get to work!
Thank you, Eddie!