“What an overwhelming lesson to all artists! Be not afraid of absurdity; do not shrink from the fantastic. Within a dilemma, choose the most unheard-of, the most dangerous, solution. Be brave, be brave!” ― Isak Dinesen
A dilemma I’m facing is:
Make a list of 10 unheard-of, dangerous solutions:
A dilemma I’m facing is getting my work space organized so that I can easily work in it.
It’s a small room, 12′ x 12′(the space under the eaves adds about 3′ x 12′ to either side, though it’s not high enough to stand in). When it comes to art, art books, art materials, beautiful papers and tools for working, I’m a bit of a hoarder.
If it were used only for art making, the room would already be crowded.
There is the very large yet very necessary drafting table, taking up a big block of space. It is used for drawing, adding watercolor to collagraph prints, painting, putting collages together, reading and – every now and then – as a dinner table. There is the big padded bar stool that goes with it, to get me up to the correct level to work. Next to the drafting table, a set of shallow shelves holds materials I use most often. There is a smaller desk chair. It is needed, too, for when Madeline (or one of the grandsons) is visiting, and we want to be in the studio together. I sometimes use it as an easel, too, and it’s always there when I need a place to drape a sheet of newsprint or fabric that I’ve used to rub a painting, until the paint dries. The printing press, if not in use so that the press bed can be centered under the roller mechanism, takes up a space 32 inches by 40 inches. More, when the press bed is off to either side. A short bookcase stands under each of the two windows. Their shelves house my art books; the top surface holds clay pieces, waiting for the kiln.
This is also the room where I keep my materials, and finished works in between galleries.
The space under the eaves is used for storage.
I have, on one side: two file drawers; a map cabinet for storing flat works; 12 storage totes labelled with the materials they contain and hung on rails between dividers, so that any one can be pulled out without moving all of them; 8 bus tubs for paper-making supplies, tucked in the same way. Behind the totes is a large vinyl lidded trash can filled with moist clay, several big bowls from an old commercial bread making machine, and a few rolls of bubble wrap. A shallow shelf above the totes holds moistened printing papers inside of large plastic bags when I’m actively printing. At other times, it tends to be a catch-all.There is an old TV with a built in VHS player hanging from the ceiling. Sometimes I put a movie in, for entertainment while I work.
The other side has a folding work table for inking printing plates. It holds pots of inks, boxes of latex gloves, and squares of dense cardboard for spreading the ink. There is a work light hanging above the table, and many lengths of starched cheesecloth hanging off to the side. Beside the table is a box holding collagraph plates and another holding lengths of metal frames, not yet assembled. Then there is a box of mattboard, and several packages of pre-cut matts. The remaining space has framed artwork, wrapped individually for protection from scratches and air-born paint spatters, stored standing up, in very tight quarters.
At this time, I have a half dozen finished or almost finished works leaning against the wall of storage totes, making them inaccessible without a major shuffle. I have gallons of gesso, polymer gel, polymer medium and glue under the drafting table. I have a large painting-in-progress on top of the printing press. I have small painted canvasses in various stages of completion on every available surface.
This is definitely a dilemma!
- Pretend I’ve had a house fire, and clear out the studio entirely. Mercilessly. This is a fresh start.
[My heart is pounding dangerously at the thought!]
- Get rid of everything that I don’t love right now. If it needs work or isn’t “quite there yet,” ditch it.
[No, I still can’t stand it!]
- Toss everything I am not actively working with, or working on. Burn the drawings that I did twenty years ago in art class; dump the contents of totes that I haven’t looked at in months.
[I’m not up for these kinds of absurd solutions!]
- Work larger; use stuff up.
- Plan works using the materials I have on hand.
- Spend more time in the studio, finishing things, using materials.
- Use what I have; don’t bring any more materials in.
- Quit saving every single thing.
- Find ways to incorporate scraps into new works.
- Perhaps make woven sculptures from old prints and papers.
That’s just about as dangerous as I can bring myself to be. It will have to do.