Upon Further Inspection

It’s been nearly a month and I have finally started a drawing. I have also cleaned the entire house we rent.

The Den of Leaves

Dining Room Overview

I know I’ve discussed my tendency to use home maintenance as a distraction from my art problems but in this case it was a necessary priority as our leasing company set up a mandatory house inspection. Per the memo, we were to have the property cleaned up, “like you were inviting people for a barbecue ,” so in less than a week we decorated, cleaned, organized, shoved stuff into boxes, and shoved those boxes into closets. All of this literally just in time for the inspection, which turned out to be maybe 15 minutes of someone walking around taking pictures of the property.

Then we threw a party.

The Den of Leaves 2018

DJ Bambi

This has been our first year of cohabitation and we’ve never quite felt settled since our move but now, thanks to surprise inspection, we were finally ready to have our first house warming party. It was a low key get together with a mix of our friends from different parts of our life all of whom seemed to have a pretty great time. I loved making tasty dishes and showing off the space we’ve curated for ourselves.

Den of Leaves

Our den, with a view of our salon style wall of art.

Decorating and arranging are definitely my favorite forms of self expression and it’s always nice to find a way to exercise that creative energy. I’m not 100% certain how it fits in with my art/career but I feel strongly that it will one day. It’s telling that when I’m faced with less than a week to put our entire home in order my approach is to start by decorating: framing and hanging art that has been sitting around forever and tackling several improvement/furniture building projects. Only after that will I finally get around to shoving the rest of our stuff into boxes and then shoving those boxes into closets. It’s not the most practical method – certainly not the most logical – but everything came together beautifully.

Den of Leaves

Mantle detail close up.

I am still figuring out how and what I want to create as an artist. Oddly enough, cleaning house has actually started something for me (and my mental well being) and my studio is one of the rooms that most benefited from the overhaul. I switched up the layout and finally got around to cleaning my palettes and brushes. Now there are fewer hurdles  between me and actually getting started on a piece (not just figurative, but the literal piles of stuff we were trying to sidestep). Being able to spend time in my studio has affected the way I think about making; now I can concentrate on ideas instead of what tasks I must accomplish to get set up. I’m still continuing to tweak bits in the studio but I’m also working on sketches and planning (art) projects. I finally taken the next step and it feels great to be moving forward.

Den of Leaves

View from the den into my studio space.

 

Creative Atrophy

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It’s six in the morning and I am sitting in my studio. It’s a mess, and not in the creative fury of thoughts and action kind of way either. It’s wrecked in the dusty, disheveled –I didn’t know where to put these things so I stacked it on my dried out watercolor palette ‘cause it’s not like I’m using it anyway– kinda way. The atrophy of my creativity is painfully apparent.

When I’m working it’s understandable to not have creative energy after 12 hours of physical labor. Weekends between working days can also be a mad race to complete all the washing, cooking, and shopping for the busy week to come.

But I haven’t had a union gig for quite some time (as is the nature of the film industry). I tell myself that work will pick up soon and I should be take advantage of all the down time but somehow days and nights pass and I still manage to avoid just sitting in my studio. I’m always able to fabricate a list of other chores that needed attending; there are meals to prepare, laundry to catch up on, rooms to destroy with the pretense of “organizing”, and of course, plenty of shows to binge.

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It is not about energy I have, or the chores I list that keeps me avoiding my studio. I have put so much pressure on the need to make something “good” that I haven’t actually enjoyed the process of drawing or painting in quite some time.  My future feels like it hinges on my ability to create good work. It becomes overwhelming when each drawing or painting feels like it needs to be the piece that starts the portfolio collection that will jumpstart my career. I want very much to be a successful Artist, able to sustain myself fiscally with what I produce, spending my days making and creating. I find it difficult to just start a piece with all the self-imposed expectations looming overhead. I know I am going to have to set aside my trepidation and embrace works that won’t be up to snuff.  There will be a lot of bad and mediocre pieces while learning to make great ones.

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So these are my first steps toward learning to accept failure as an instructor and allow myself a reasonable pace to discover who I am as an artist. There isn’t really a straightforward life model for growing into what I want to become. As I chart my own path in making creativity a career I’ll share my process and everything else in between that sustains and inspires me, here in the Den of Leaves.