In an effort to push the Charles Dickens pictures through to completion -- and in an effort to take advantage of a rare opportunity -- I am subletting a studio downtown. From someone I really, really admire.
I’ve resisted doing this up to now, partly because of the expense, and partly because the opportunities previously open/available to me were not a solitary shut door, but rather a shared space, which I don’t think would work so well for me. I really need to be alone to really get work done. Solitude cuts down on the distractions.
And the lack of things cuts down on distractions. When I talk about this to people I tend to emphasize how empty it is, and how much I love that. They look at me like I’m crazy, because I think what people want to see when they think of an artists’ studio is the beautiful, shambly mess that I work in at home. And I have that at home. What I needed was a monistic cell to close myself in, that worldly things would not interfere with my art-making.
Don’t get me wrong. My home studio is a dream -- more than a dream -- and if it were on its own level in the apartment, or had a door that closed, things would be easier. It’s hard to explain. I’ll let Mr. Rockwell help:
“After marrying Irene I’d moved my paints easel, etc., out of Remington’s former studio and into our apartment. But it was no good. When the grocery boy rang the doorbell I had to lay my wet brushes on a chair and walk down a long hall to let him in. The same with the butcher’s boy, the postman, and every wandering salesman who thought our door looked promising. I couldn’t get any work done. So I rented the top of a garage on Prospect Street.”
- Norman Rockwell, from My Adventures as an Illustrator, pg. 133
There’s also just the difficulty (for me) to get the creative juices flowing in the same room where my partner is laughing aloud at reddit antidotes, suddenly saying, “Oh. Are you sure?” while I’m in the middle of retrieving someone’s belly from the muddy background, and I have to get up and look at a picture of a “Pilot Car - Follow Me” truck headfirst in a river. Funny, yes. Conducive to the creative process, not really. Asking my coffee mate to stop talking to me at home while I’m working feels rude because with this set up I work all the time, to varying degrees of focus. And he is a saint and will actually quit the place when I need “office time” is completely amazing. But sometimes you just need a blank space. Without internet access, fabric, canvas, and a kitchen to distract you.
I’ve had access to it since May 23rd (about ten days ago) and just about every day I’ve gone in. And it’s perfect. A little blank slate for me to cover in drawings -- affixed to the wall with that magic 3M stuff. I’m not really going to move anything in, I’ll keep it in this blank little way. Well...aside from some refinements such as an electric teakettle. For some reason I hadn’t remembered that long term desk sitting requires a great deal of tea. I don’t notice it at home, because I have an oven in the next room. It seems I don’t so much listen to muses as turn vast amounts of tea into pictures.
I have sole use of this space right up until ‘Fair, and so I go down there as often as possible. Sheer bliss. I have already done exquisite work in there that I will share with you soon. After ‘Fair I have the option to co-rent the space and we will share it tag-team style -- when one of us needs it we can text the other and ask if that’s okay. I hope that works out. So far the space is being very good to me. A great step out of the house and into the world.