In the Studio



First of all, there is a dead mouse in my studio.

I can’t find it, but I can certainly smell it.

It’s a very distinctive, extremely repulsive smell.

A couple months ago, while moving shelves and the books and other things stored on them, I found a mound of blue mouse poison underneath a clay pot. I have pets, so I don’t poison mice. Do they find my house so welcoming that they travel here with their winter stores?

I don’t try to welcome them. I store all dry goods in sturdy glass jars. Bags of flour and sugar have a shelf in the refrigerator. I don’t leave food in the dog dishes. I set traps.

I’ve accounted for all of my traps; no dead bodies there.

There are days when I go to the studio, determined to find the source.

I eschew all creative endeavors to instead rummage through totes and drawers and bins of tools and art materials, stacks of framed work, piles of papers and shelves of containers.

So far, no success.

There are days when I just close the door.

I did an internet search, “how long for a mouse body to decompose?”

Maybe I should just wait it out.

There are days where I think, “Maybe it’s gone,” or “I probably won’t even notice it” and try to get a bit of work done.

I had big studio plans for this winter.

I have one good sized drawing to complete, a set of paintings underway, two collage series in the works, one large painting to finish, one commission piece to start, and a set of thirteen collagraph plates waiting to be printed.

I intended to have the collagraph series done by March, in order to submit it to a competition. The plates are large; they take an hour or more to ink and wipe, and each one goes through that process and through the press at least three times before they are complete. With additions of gouache and watercolor in between.

Until I get the paintings finished and out of the way, I can’t access the printing press.

Other jobs and obligations, other concerns get in the way.

Now the dead mouse.

And winter will be gone before I know it.

So, though the smell is not gone…and I certainly do notice it…I’ve been working a little in the studio each day, to finish up what I can.

These collages will have some layers of texture and glaze to unify the surface before they’re done, but I like the way they’re coming along.





About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

12 responses »

  1. What lovely collages! Oh, yes, that dead mouse smell. It’s enough to drive a sane person crazy at times. I wish that it decomposes…fast. Or maybe your art is telling you it needs some more contemplation of death in it?

  2. I like your collages.

    I know well the odor of dead mouse. I clean for a woman who has the same problem. I’ve torn apart, cleaned thoroughly and put everything back in her pantry trying to find the odor and have done the same in her bedroom and bathroom. The odor persists. I think the dead mouse is decomposing in the heating ducts. Best thing now I think is grin and bear it. When I come home at night I can still smell dead mouse. I think the odor gets stuck in my nose.

    My plans for studio time this winter also went awry. It’s just too cold to do the things I wanted to do — or much of anything else except hunker down and keep warm.

    All I’m doing now is the best I can to keep on keepin’ on and hoping for an early spring..

    • Oh, it’s frustrating, isn’t it, Gretchen?! Such a distinct odor, one would think it would lead us right to the source. I sure have had no better luck than you. Frustrating, too, to be stymied in our studio work. I remember times when the ideas wouldn’t come. Now, the ideas and plans are there, but other things thwart my efforts. Good luck…I’ll be right with you wishing for early Spring!

  3. Have you given your dogs a chance to find it every dog I’ve had were very good at finding dead things to chew on or roll in. If you want to work in that room a little Tiger Balm or Vick’s around the nostrils will do the trick.

    • Ah, Vicks is another good idea! The dogs go in and out of the studio with me, and seem to take absolutely no notice of the smell. That’s not a bad thing, as it is so chock full of stuff, I’d hate for them to start ferreting through it, too! Thanks for reading, Bob, and for your comments!

    • Ah, if I ever get to the press, and get my collagraph series done (I’m losing hope!), I wanted to enter the Grand Rapids ArtPrize competition this year. It’s a fairly new venue that has brought out all kinds of new art and artists and is bringing the city back to life. Deadline is March for acceptance, then there is another deadline for finding a place (bank, restaurant, gallery open space) that can accommodate and is willing to display your work. They produce a city-wide map leading visitors to all the art, and the final prize is based on the votes of the visitors! And it’s a huge prize…I think in the several hundred-thousand dollar range. But there are also smaller awards and purchase awards…and the opportunity for the artwork to be viewed by thousands of people…Sigh…maybe next year! Thanks, Karen!

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