Thursday, June 30, 2022

A world unto itself

     There was a point today when I realized that I only left the actual space of the studio to go down the hall and use the restroom a couple of times. Stepping out into the hallway always feels like I'm going into another world. I'm so comfortable in this space and getting into a work groove that it feels like it's own world. I think the last time I felt this way was when I had the studio in Old City, which had a similar vibe to this one. Now that i've been making some work these past couple of weeks, the space feels more like my own world and even more so every day. 

   So far, I've finished one painting (a part of that can be seen in the photo above) and close to finishing a couple of other ones. There's a 48" x 36" painting on canvas that's tacked to the wall that I'd like to stretch soon. I thought that I already had an old set of stretchers ready to go, but the measurement is completely wrong, with one side being 54" long. So, now I have to buy a set of stretchers for it. Not the worse thing, but I thought I was saving myself some money. This is why it's important to make sure to have the correct measurements of anything. I assumed that I had the right sized stretcher frame already, but nope. I'm at a point of moving to finishing touches and adjustments and would like to do that with it stretched. 

    I have a ton of works on paper and I keep making more, just like everything else. I made a bunch of acrylic marker drawings on translucent drafting paper in preparation for using them as layers in new collage/drawings that I want to make. I really like layering the collage elements and drawing/painting in between layers. It works really well on panels because of the flat, rigid surface, but I also like working with it on paper. The only issue with the paper support is that it will curl and warp. I don't really mind that so much, since I can iron the paper once it's had a chance to dry. I also like the imperfections that come along with the paper curling. I'm after a feeling of the work having had a life already, anyway. I'm not precious with any of my surfaces. I want them to feel alive and breathing, not sterile. 


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

New flow


    The past couple of days here in the studio have been really great. I feel like I'm finally REALLY settling in. I'm beginning to feel comfortable moving around the space, although I have to keep an eye on where I leave whatever tools I'm working with. I'm back to working on several things at once and now that there's more room to move around, I tend to leave things all over the place. Before, in my smaller apartment studio, most things stayed within arm's reach, give or take a couple of yards for some things. I'm not complaining at all, just observing the difference in how I use this space. 

    Having the room to spread out also means that how I think about my work is changing. Being able to leave something out to marinate on one wall, while working on another and having room between the two things is a wonderful feeling and one that I'll never take for granted (not that I did in the past). It makes a huge difference in my creative thinking to be able to walk away from a work in progress and have room to not have to have it in my direct  peripheral vision. It makes it easier to develop what I consider a proper relationship with the work where I can really step back and see it without making visual and mental compromises with all of the visual clutter of the older space. 

    I was thinking earlier about all of the work that I have here in storage. It's nice being able to put it up out of the way and I'm having less attachment to it, as well. All I can think about is the work I'm making and am going to make and barely contemplating the older work. Some of it I feel like I want to keep around just for reminders of what I've learned, but much of it can go. I'm sure I'll look in one of those boxes in the loft months from now and be relieved that I still have certain things and more than I might want to keep.

    I've had some strong feelings about the demands of social media and a creative life. I'm doing my best to not become a slave to the algorithm and keep a good boundary between it and my life; mostly by not posting about everything going on in my life and keeping what I do post to a narrow lane of mostly art, some cats and an even smaller amount of other things. I've softened my feelings about making reels in the studio a bit and only a bit. I'm slowly finding my way around what I need social media to do for me and how I can make the best use of the tools available without giving over every ounce of creative energy to it. For instance, I've come to see that I can film certain aspects of my studio life without feeling like the action is interrupting my creative flow. This has been a revelation and one that I'm glad to have come to. In opening myself up to certain possibilities, I'm better able to find peace with that side of marketing myself and my work without it making me feel angry and rejecting all of it. 

 On another note, I forgot to give an update re: my Covid experience last week. So, I'm all better now and have been since at least Saturday. I was feeling sick most of last week, starting on Monday and by Friday, I was pretty much back to normal. I don't know what this means long-term, but so far, so good. My energy was fully back on Saturday and has held pretty well. I say this all of the time, but it really does make a difference when you realize that you're not sick any more. 


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Covid: Day four

         Being able to get up and take a shower  when you’re sick is one of those things that feels amazing and a luxury, honestly. When you're feeling unwell and able to keep some semblance of a normal day. I even put on deodorant, even though I haven't gone outside, yet. I’m feeling better today than yesterday and the day before that, so that’s a win. Again, this is feeling like a bad cold, as opposed to the more extreme symptoms of Covid. I’m really grateful for vaccines and the ability to access them. Otherwise, I’m sure this would have been worse. Hanging out with Cooper, Sage and Banjo all day has been pretty cool. 

        I didn’t want to just lay around in bed all day today, so I made myself scrambled eggs before Julia had to get to work. I have to be quick in order to have something decent early in the day since she works from home. Anyway, I had breakfast and made it a point to go to the basement and start going through my boxes to see what I wanted to bring upstairs. Honestly, there’s a lot of stuff down there that I probably won’t look at much. I have a ton of old photographs that I need to put into photo albums. There’s a lot of personal papers, cards, old exhibition cards and information and a lot of random things that I’ve saved. Just like looking at things once I got them to the new studio where I’m feeling less connected to older work, I also find myself feeling less nostalgic about a lot of the stuff I brought here. The things that I feel like I value most are my old sketchbooks and journals. Everything else is just kind of *there*; I don’t feel as connected to some of the other things. 

        Before I moved, I thought that there was so much more that I *needed* to have around me, but that's not true any more. The older I get, there's a difference in how I view certain belongings. Perhaps it's not so much the belongings themselves, but how I incorporate them into my surroundings, or not. I think that's where I am right now. There's definitely a class of my personal things that no longer serve me. They belonged to a certain time in my life, good, bad or otherwise, but enough time has passed that I no longer need to keep them around. Practicing gratefulness and detachment are wonderful things to incorporate into daily life.  These days, more often I'm thinking about what's going to be left behind when I'm gone and who will care. I won't know nor care what happens because...death. However, since I'm still alive, I still experience sentimentality and even nostalgia, to a certain degree and those things always color how I feel about whatever I'm considering for keeping or letting go. 


      Keeping some markers of one's earlier life is important to me. It's a part of remembering, much like keeping a journal and rereading it can connect us to a part of our life that we may have forgotten about. For example, before my studio move, I rediscovered a number of letters from a friend that I worked with years ago when she traveled to and lived in London and later the Pacific Northwest. I'd completely forgotten about that time and how I used to actually write to people when they moved away. I don't know if I really need to keep them, but so far, I am. 


Friday, June 17, 2022

It's all connected


    I'm pretty much settled into the new studio. It took almost two weeks to figure out where things were going to live and how to configure the spaces I'll use for painting, but I feel like I've gotten it to where I need it, which is a huge relief. I finally feel like this is my art home, now. There's going to be all sorts of minor adjustments in terms of how I use things, how I move paints and other materials around as I start painting. Actually, I've already begun working on a couple of things, slowly regaining my feeling for painting after being away from it for at least three months. 
    Prepping for the move was a LOT of work, between sorting the paintings and materials, while also organizing (and purging) personal belongings, all of my mental energy was dialed up to eleven almost every day, leaving me drained by bed time. A lot of what I experienced was high emotional energy being expended, as well. Going through years of personal belongings and trying to figure out what I needed and what needed to go was really taxing and the process is on-going. What I've kept so far is in the basement and I'm sure I'll go through and get rid of more. Same here in the studio. I've already purged a lot of old work, but I need to get rid of more. The totality of my painting rack is filled with old work. Before I moved, I thought I had done a pretty good job of purging, but that seems to have been only the beginning. 
    Julia offered me the futon that's in the middle room of the house, so that's the next thing to come in. I'm looking forward to having it here, because studio naps are very much in need! It'll be nice to be able to take a break and catch up on a little sleep in the middle of the day or early evening, like I used to when I had the Old City studio years ago. 
    I'm still figuring out different aspects of my new life routines. I joined a gym over a week ago and have yet to go. I need to work that into my schedule. I need to take my own advice that I gave in a reply to a post on Instagram: "Artists need to remember that they are whole people in addition to making art and need to attend to self care in order to continue being creative. Art is life, life is art. It's all connected."


Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Another ending and beginning


    I said goodbye to the apartment that’s been my home then studio for the past fourteen years today. With Sofia’s help this morning, I moved the last of my belongings and the cats over to the house. I got the cats situated in the third floor guest room and then set off back to the apartment to clear out the rest of the things that were trash and being donated to whomever wanted what I put out on the curb, mainly a mirror and really nice table. I wish I could have found a home for the table, but I’ve had too much to deal with these past few months. I’m sure someone has already claimed it. 
    It’s going to take a while to process that I’m finally not living nor working there any more. I haven’t had a chance to really stop and think about what the ending of this chapter in my life means. Fourteen years is a long time and a lot did happen in this space. Like most of life, there were ups and downs, but overall, I enjoyed my time there. I think my deepest memories come from the lives of the cats who lived there with me and Eva. They’ve been the most consistent presence through everything that happened there. I pretty much mark my time there by the cats, more than anything else. 
    I went up to the property management office BMG (Bay Management Group) to turn the apartment keys in today and no one was in the office. This was around 4:30pm, they close at 5 and no one was there! I was livid! I called the office number that was answered by someone taking and routing calls for the office, explained the situation and he offered to call one of the people who work there that was on a site somewhere, which he did and the best the person could suggest was to mail the keys to the office. I’m not doing that because I want to hand the keys over to someone who works there. I was assured that I wouldn’t be penalized (which I shouldn’t since this is their problem). I’m just going to take them up in the morning. I’ll call first to make sure someone is in the office and to expect me.
So far, Banjo, Cooper and Sage are hanging out in the third floor guest room, getting acclimated to being in a new space. I feel so bad for them since they were so used to the old space, but I’m sure they’ll feel better as time goes on. I do feel bad that they have to stay in the one room for now, until we can move them downstairs into Sofia’s middle room and then slowly introduce them to the other cats. It’s going to be a challenge with seven cats living here, but we’ll find a way to make it work. 
My Instagram account was hacked last week. So fucking annoying! I’m not going to go into the whole scenario here because I’m really tired of thinking and talking about it. I lost access to my main art account and have attempted to get it back, but I haven’t heard anything from Facebook/Meta as to what’s going to happen next, yet. I started a new art account, but I’m really not into posting anything right now. I think the hack took the wind out of my sails regarding social media. I don’t feel the same cautious enthusiasm I’ve had in the past about it being a good tool for my art business. I lost access not only to the account itself, but all of the people I followed and who followed me. Over the years, I amassed a following of over 5,300! It took a long time to get to that point and now, that’s all but gone. If I return to posting on the regular again, I feel like it might not take as long to regain a significant following. Maybe, who knows?
As I said above, my enthusiasm for using IG and other social media sites has diminished a lot more than it has over the past few years from this one incident. This could be a good thing, as it’s making me re-evaluate how I engage with people digitally. One thought has been to revive my art blog and post there much more often than I have. I started doing that a little earlier this year, but IG pulled me right back in. I also don’t know how much people will relate to the longer form writing that I do there. It very well could be  a better way to get my thoughts out there without the constant scrolling that happens on social media. I don’t know what will work, honestly. I have a little bit of a reputation and following IG and really could/should leverage that. I seem to also be gaining a lot of followers on LinkedIn now for some reason. I don’t post there nearly as often as on IG, but my LI following has exploded recently. I don’t know what to make of this. I should make a new post there soon to keep eyes on the page. 


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

New Studio Update


    Yesterday was my first full day in the new studio. I spent the day opening boxes, figuring out storage and generally moving things around to start making the space work for me. By the end of the day, I even managed to get my lights up in the entryway., a hold over tradition from the old apartment studio. I love sting lights because they lighten my mood a lot and add a little personality to this space, in particular, being as utilitarian as it is. I had more strands, but they must’ve gotten damaged during the move somehow because all three didn’t work. Not a problem, I’ll find more soon. 

I’m still amazed that I found room for all of this stuff in the old space! I mean, most of the bulk here are the boxes and most of what’s in them will be used, but still. I’m proud of my organizational skills to have made this work before. I’m a little sad that I can’t have the cats at this location. I’ll be able to be with them at the house, but it’s not the same. Granted, they sometimes got in the way while I was working, but their presence became a part of the workspace and I miss that. The reality is, though, even if I were able to have them here, it’s still a little too far for me to check in on them when I’m not there on the weekends. The old space is only a 15 minute walk from the house, an easy trek, but the new studio is up in Kensington, which would take much longer for me to get to. Anyway, everything will be fine and work out. 

Today, my goal is to open up more wall space so that I can start painting again soon, get my work tables set up and painting supplies out and stored. 


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Here We Go!


So, this has been a very busy week, so much so that I’ve barely had a chance to catch my breath. There’s a lot going on, even though I moved most of my art things into the new studio last Friday. The move itself went well, although we had to make two trips instead of one. Thankfully, I had prepared as well as I did because it could have been a shit show and headache for all involved had I not. One of the movers even complimented me on how prepared I was compared to other art moves they’ve had to do. From start to finish, it was a very efficient and pleasant experience, one I didn’t expect considering all of the things that had to be moved and packed into the truck. I knew one of the guys, Jay, from my days at Essene, where he was a customer. Jay’s an excellent packer. Phil and Von (sp?) were also really good at the job. 

As can be seen in the photo above, the studio is pretty packed already. Thankfully, I have a decent amount of built-in storage right above the area from where the photo was taken. I hated having to move so much artwork, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been if I hadn’t already purged a number of paintings. Still have a large amount. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have studio visits and move some of this work. 

So, since last Friday, (actually since Monday), I have been hard at work cleaning up the apartment and continuing to organize the left over boxes that are coming to the house, along with a few going to the studio and going for donation. I need someone to help out with a van or something this coming week. I’m also hoping that some money comes soon so I can pay someone to help out. I need to be completely out by May 31st, but I’m trying to be done by next Friday and turn in the keys. So looking forward to that moment. 

This weekend, we’ll be up in New Paltz, NY to attend Julia’s niece, Kanji’s, grad school graduation. Really proud of her. Can’t believe how fast time has gone by. Of course, just about everything seems that way when you get to be in your late ‘50s. I just saw pictures of Shelly Spector’s daughter (whose name escapes me right now) yesterday on Instagram and she’s just graduated college. I used two spin her around in Essene whenever Shelley brought her in. I’m really annoyed that I can’t recall her name now. Anyway, that’s how it goes, on and on, everyone changes, ages, grows up and life keeps going. If we’re lucky, we have some good memories to carry with us. 

Yesterday, I met up with Barry Halkin, a photographer that Bridgette Mayer Gallery uses to photograph exhibitions and projects at the gallery. We spent some time photographing my mural, Bound Together, at 10th and Callowhill Sts. He’s quite expensive, but after studying what he does to get the shots, I don’t have to question the cost any more. It’s the same when it comes my work. People might look at something I’ve made and perhaps wonder why it costs so much, but if they had any clue as to how much work actually goes into making paintings and maintaining a small business as a painter, they’d understand.