Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom...and Thanks

In honor of my Mom's birthday I am dedicating this post to her memory and sharing some of her work. Thanks so much, Mom. For sharing with me your love of the ocean (and especially the smell of the salt air at low tide), gardening (especially the feel of the damp earth when planting the tomato's in Spring), words (especially your love of books and your mother's old poetry library) and art (especially your enthusiasm for the masters and of course your paintings). I will carry them (and especially you) with me always.  Miss you. Hugs.

The Assisted Living home where my Dad still lives dedicated a hallway to my mom's paintings in her memory.

Mom at about age 65 when she moved to Cape Cod and began painting full time.

Friday, January 4, 2013

It's About Time. It's About Space.

If you're going to dedicate yourself to the creative life you must first find and carve out your own space. Be it converting a spare room, making use of an unfinished attic or even walling up a corner of your basement. You must make space for you. One that is away from the noise and distractions and, more importantly, has a door. When you have this "me-space" you begin to take what you do in this space more seriously while also allowing yourself to freely fly.

When I first started painting full time I painted in the house.  One of the benefits was painting late into the night after the rest of the house was asleep. And this worked for awhile. But I was too close to the main living areas and even head phones couldn't block it out entirely. Plus I was drawn to take breaks that sometimes lasted the rest of the day. So I ventured out and found inexpensive space to rent within a few miles from the homestead and that's when my work started taking off.  I went "to the studio" just like I used to go "to the office." Almost at the same time every day and staying for 8 hours or more. This quickly turned to a 7-day a week routine. And I loved it. Even when I wasn't "up for painting" I went anyways and worked on prepping canvas, sketching or venturing out to take photographs or pick up supplies.

A good friend of mine used to say, "Sully, sometimes you just don't know what you don't know." One of the surprises of renting the Wellfleet home of artist James Lechay (1907-2001) was how much I enjoyed having a separate studio ON PROPERTY (photo above).  It had a large door with a lock, tall ceilings and one wall entirely made up of windows. It also had a nice radio, a comfy couch and room to spare. But the new-news was what developed. A new routine. I was in the studio the very first thing in the morning. Yup. I would tumble out of bed almost at first light, make coffee then shuffle out to the back deck in my jammies to drink in the view.  After a tall stretch and intentional inhale I would saunter down to the studio.

The initial premise was to "check in" on the work from the previous day as my routine had been to paint AFTER everything else was taken care of. But soon, I would be touching up a painting here or sketching out an idea there. All rather unconsciously and I discovered my creativity was there if not already at its peak from the minute I woke.

Another learning curve came during a workshop I took (more on that in a future post) where the artist assured me that painting from life is the "only" way to go. So while yes you need space for your "stuff" don't let it consume you or isolate you from the beauty around you. Get out there and let the walls down in every way possible.

So for this, the start of my fourth year living the creative life, I am not so much making resolutions as I am setting new and re-setting existing goals. My studio in Florida will get reworked a bit and my schedule more dramatically so (though I probably won't go out in my jammies or sans makeup). And when I return to Elmira in the Spring I will be pushing out the car and looking at our cute, little one car garage in the backyard with a new vision. Conversion ideas anyone? And yes, I will begin to carve out the time and space (funny "Lost in Space" suddenly has an entirely new meaning) to paint outside, in the land I so love. 

I wish for you a very happy, healthy and captivating New Year. And one with the time and space you need to release your creative spirit. 

brush on/cs
The Garage Awaits