Monday, April 25, 2011

Illustrations that inspire...

I came across this illustration when looking for pictures of miniature schnauzers for a portrait project. It both captivated and disturbed me... to where I felt compelled to keep it... and share it with all of you!

I am not sure who the artist is, so if you know, certainly chime in.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Creative Space

Every artist has their "space"where they create. Whether it be a tabletop, a room in their home, or in another building, the studio becomes a highly personal space and an extension of the artist themselves. Regardless of how it looks to the outside observer, the way things are organized, where everything is put, or found, or placed-- has a specific reason or purpose; we organize our studios the way we organize our thoughts and our creative processes. The studio space becomes a place of comfort, of familiarity, and of creation. A place where we, as artists, can shed the weight of the rest of the world and sit down and create for the shear joy of creating... it is our safe place, sheltering us from the harshnesses of the outside world and allowing us freedom to let our imaginations wander and our hands to put those ideas into physical form. The studio is our bubble, it is our haven, it is a retreat where we, as artists, have total control over our domain from the moment we walk through the door and sit down at our desks.

The level of emotional connection to the studio space is something I did not fully appreciate until it was taken away from me. From the time I was 16 years old, the back room in my parents warehouse (what used to be a tobacco sorting warehouse) has been my studio. It is an oak lined room with a large sliding door, where through the 1920 through the 1980s, crates of dried broad-leaf tobacco used to be stored in order to sweat out the extra water in order to cut down the shipping weight. As I continued to do more and more in that space, both with painting and the model horse hobby, my father and I divided the room so it could be heated. It started with putting up plastic and a kerosene heater for cold days, and then when I needed to use it year-round, he built the walls with sheetrock... insulating it and then finishing it with brand new windows, paint, proper heating, lighting and fans. He built me a spray booth, put up drawing boards that I could tack pictures up on, shelving to put my horses and art supplies, and anything else I thought I needed-- he made sure was there... even providing me with a stereo so that I could listen to music.

It was a space that I grew into, that I filled with my reference materials, my beloved art books, and all my supplies. Over the years I spent countless hours in that room, working on everything from portraits, to art projects for school, to xmas presents... to when it became my full time studio for the model horse hobby. This room was my sanctuary, and I would retreat to it whenever I needed a moment to myself or when I needed time to close out the stresses of the rest of the world.

And, it became that way for alot of people-- a meeting place, where both other artists and friends would come to visit and just hang out.

It was for this reason that this room became my bedroom when the time for it was needed. It has been a room I have always found emotional shelter, and so I did not think twice to pack up my art things and convert it into a living space. Packing up my things-- my books, my horses, my paints... it all seemed ok since it needed to morph into something new for the immediate time being. And it served me-- it stayed my haven, for a long time... but in my heart a grew a hole from not having a space to create.

The hole continued to grow as I had no place to work, and so when I moved into a new apartment, it became imperative that the studio must become that again-- a place of creation and of emotional refuge. While empty, the room became a target of interest for other family members wanting it for their own purposes-- and it was when they moved personal items into my room that I realized how fiercely possessive I was of it. This was MY space, MY room-- and while I hadn't moved back in yet, the connection I had to it as a creative sanctuary became clear. It was a highly charged situation, since it is very hard to describe to someone who doesn't understand the need or the emotional connection of an artist to their creative space.

I moved back in a table and my spray booth, and my painting/sculpting supplies. My stereo, a few unpainted projects-- to be able to sit and create again. However, it was not back to how it was, it was not back to how it needed to be for me to fully remove myself from the rest of the world and just... be. While I've been able to plug away on projects, I have not been able to just walk in and sit down without thinking about all the things that still need to be put back in the places they were.

The process of moving everything back started with my books. My books are something that have huge value to me, and that they've been sitting in boxes for a year has bothered me to no end. My old classics-- an original copy of Black Beauty from the 1950s and an original copy of Misty of Chincoteague were just a few of my prized relics that met a fate with water damage and mold that brought me to tears. These are things that have brought me joy; things from my childhood (the classics actually were given to my mother by my grandmother, which were then passed along to me.) My grandmother's ancient oil paints and battered brushes, from when she was a girl, are scattered in a ripped, water-damaged box that they were stored in. To someone else, they are just old paints... but for me, these are items that I connect to the people who gave them to me... and now, that my grandmother is gone, they are that much more important to keep safe.

Putting everything back in its place has been more difficult than I expected, since it is so emotionally charged-- seeing my books ruined and the pages crinkled just tears me apart. Things I had put away so carefully... and because I am not the only one use the warehouse for storage, they have been shoved, moved, and put in harm's way. And seeing the space totally unkept, in total disarray as I moved in everything all at once, rattled me and I had to take a moment to compose myself. This room has been so much for me; and to see it in total chaos puts me in a bad place in my head.

It was yesterday afternoon, as I had to shut the door and walk away from the mess, it dawned on me that the act of putting back together the studio has become a metaphor for life much larger. Beyond organizing a creative space, it is about putting my life back together... in each facet, with every piece put back its place.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Getting back into it

Starting a new job has made it a bit difficult to get things moving on Leggs, but I will have her face finished and attached to her neck this weekend! I'll get n a tail armature and a general idea. So far feedback has been great! I am excited to see her come together. More pics coming soon!