Don’t get me wrong, I have MAJOR fantasies, CLEARLY defined fantasies about the perfect studio in which to sit down and convene with my various possè of Muses. It is almost always set somewhere on the Greek Islands and after i have been awoken in my light filled bedroom with a coffee made for me by Aragorn, i emerge to prepare my mind, my heart and my soul to lie down before The Source of Love and pray…
as an aside…Don’t these two images just simply belong together?
Drunk on coffee and love, i head down for a morning swim, allowing the sun’s benevolence to infiltrate my form, knowing calmly I’ll be making devotional prayers to The Love Source through artwork and writing later on. I ride a white horse along the shore line and race Aragorn from one end to the other, wielding our swords at each other for kicks and then we fall into the water, laughing at our hubris, our decadence. We emerge from aquamarine waters, reborn and wander back up to our little abode on the hill. I prepare myself to spend the rest of the day writing and drawing, so I send Aragorn off to pick wild fruit, or work on his six pack or something for my benefit later…just don’t be around with your aesthetically pleasing and HIGHLY distracting attributes, be gone King of Gondor and leave me to my own private Kingdom, my imagination and it’s desire for heart truths manifested in gorgeous fonts and pictures…but come back later when i’m done and need someone around with whom i can drink wine and praise Pan.
I enter the space where i work….THE dream STUDIO:
Wooden floors with a bear-hug of books from ground up. A large wooden door from an ancient castle converted into a drawing table with a favourite chair positioned in the centre, a feline curled up at the end, too smug about it’s beauty to ask for permission. An over-riding Central American theme inside is contrasted by the scene to be found on the other side of glass double doors, that open onto a verandah engulfed by a succulent pomegranate bush. A marriage between my two favourite cultures and me in the middle like i’m in an orgy of aesthetic wonder. Don’t get me started on the water views again, as I wander out with my ice water with lemon to behold the perfection of the True Artist…Nature:
I make an incantation to every god who has their ear to the ground, ready to hear for the voice of a desperate artist and I give praise and thanks for such a scene. I break open a pomegranate and throw her seeds to the wind as i repeat my gratitude and then i wait…i wait for the muses, their siren song to emerge from the waters of a culture that delivered to us Aphrodite, Hera and Medusa.
The Heart hears the song and i gather poetic prompts into the cavern within that houses intuition. I return inside to seat myself at the table and create a revolution.
…and that is the Dream Art Studio Fantasy.
Wow! No wonder I wear disappointment like a Brownie Badge. My expectations of everything from Lovers, studio spaces, opinions, to how a coffee should be made are just flying out through the sky light of a Cathedral ceiling.
A visit at least to the Greek Islands would perhaps not be a stretch if I hadn’t spent my lifetime earnings on a Wedding in the ancient town of Antigua, Guatemala through Easter with my Soul Mate. It’s just a thought. With 20 friends in tow and a side trip into Tikkal jungle with pumas and howler monkeys at 4am (and did I mention with my illegitimate son who was getting around in a backpack), it was a 2 week celebration that has etched more brilliant memories onto my soul than the security of having a big fat bank balance ever could…just as well.
I returned coin-less and have been trying to recover fiscally ever since….that was 2008…lucky The S.M (Soul Mate – for future reference) and i cornered the travel market on all things Central American and not to mention an extended-mix stay in Argentina and Patagonia before we decided to celebrate our love in such a grandiose and international way…our last fantasy getaway budget helped us get all the way to Smith Lake near Foster…gorgeous in it’s own way…
…but not quite The Greek Islands.
Maybe if i hadn’t then taken The S.M and co. (Soul Mate and child for future reference) to live in Rome, Florence and also in a Farm House in Tuscany, driving around sleepy ancient villages like San Sano and Montepulciano, eating divinely and having siestas, maybe things would be different…i’d have the means left to set up that studio in The Greek Islands.
Here I am with my son standing in our backyard amongst Tuscan Hills.
So what can you do?
Wait for that big dream to arrive before you put a pen to paper? Delay drawing that drawing that keeps whispering its essence to you as you go about your daily grind?
As NIKE says…Just DO IT!
I decided to stop waiting for the studio when i found myself still working behind a front desk in a book shop after several years of waiting for when my art career would take off. I imagined that i’d float out of there on a big magic carpet to a whole other reality that BELONGED to me. Something big, something incredible and as exciting as a continual base jump feeling off the Grand Canyon. I deserved a magical life from my sheer devotion to the belief in its existence. I deserved an incredible space in which to make my creations and a magnificent lover to fill the spaces in between moments of creative brilliance. I BELIEVED!
It never came.
The carpet, the lover, the magical life…(although my life in truth WAS indeed magical, but there was always something far more magical over there where i hadn’t reached yet….just have to arrive there and everything will fall into place)….none of it came the way i thought it would (although once i let go, it did) and i was jaded.
Then one day, i just woke up and realised as i trudged off to the Bookshop for the millionth time in my 20’s that the reality was stark. I was just a bookseller, an athlete and a dilettante of the highest calibre. So i gave up being an artist. It was a thought that had never crossed my mind EVER since i discovered as a 4 year old that i loved drawing. Instead of breaking my heart, it liberated me. I felt free of the term and all the baggage that accompanied it and is force-fed to you at Art School, through art history books, Institutions all around and the social network of the Art scene (spew!)
Now that i was no longer an artist, i fell in love with drawing again, but not the way i had been taught, i returned to the feeling that excited me as a child…the essence of that innocent urge compelled me and how we are basically drilled into seeking some kind of perfection through the line made or the presentation of the work, the theoretical basis of why you’ve decided to use this material and have this or that thought…i no longer cared if i was understood or not, i was just interested in an accurate representation of how i felt in the moment and to celebrate what was flawed…so i began to draw with my left hand instead.
I drew on everything i could find, paper, my arm, other people’s arms, T/A coffee cups. I began to draw at the front desk, the very gates of the prison cell that i believed held me back from fulfilling my dreams. I danced all over that space and made it my own (and sold books for the record). The immediacy of working that way was the first time i had been excited by the process of creating since i was a kid. I used whatever materials i had at my disposal at the front desk, which turned out to be brown paper bags and fat black pens, wrapping paper and sticky tape.
Drawing on the run,
drawing how i was feeling at the time,
making my angst funny…
The book shop where i worked for 10 years.
…when suddenly a door within opened up to the secret Muses. Who would have thought? Not quite the location i had in mind once, but the incongruity of the location became the very reason for the portal opening. I’ve shied away from “Studio spaces” ever since.
I just do it wherever i am. I literally create on the run…like a Bonnie & Clyde art terrorist. The more lo-fi the space, the more my Muses meet up with me. They love humility and chaos in a marriage. They don’t dig big pretentious shrines that announce that some kind of art spectacle is about to take place…any kind of grandiose minimalist interior created as to almost build up the artist’s sense of self-belief that they are in fact an artist…that just makes my Muses run for the local supermarket to set up a small work table in Aisle 3.
They are covert Muses…they want me to hide my vocation behind a mask that says I’m just a big-fat-nobody-special. And believe me, I’m not for the record, but I can tell you the moment i begin to think I am or i start organising some big publicity coup or forming some specific space that announces to the world that I AM AN ARTIST…i become creatively impotent, or worse…i create sheer crap.
The Muses take pity on me at these moments, but also wait patiently to help my little Icarus moment come to and end by knocking me off my stead before I reach the sun.
What works for me would make others run, but because i am not confined to any particular space to create i can make a whole body of art work or write a book from my kitchen table while I make my kids their dinners, have sword fights with my younger son in the kitchen, break-up fights in the lounge room over remote control power games, and put the washing on and fold it while i’m doing all of the above…as long as i’m near a jug to make a tea and some fresh air to take a breather…i can do it. i factor in chaos as an essential ingredient to my process, i learnt this at the front desk. Take Picasso’s Studio for instance:
Total chaos…that’s why i love him…he was about playing, not making sure everything was Feng shui-ed BEFORE he could sit down to create a masterpiece.
And Frida Kahlo… what was her restriction, her back injury and constant surgeries, became her doorway through to her incredible self-awareness expressed through exquisite paintings. If she could’t make it to her easel, her body cast became her canvas, or her self in general. I love her.
This is my space where i write when both my sons are at school (only 2 days a week) :
And this is where i spend most of my time creating…in the kitchen:
There is a great line from a Bjork song that reads:
“The less room you give me, the more space i’ve got”
I cannot agree more.