do not disturb

We all know studio time is precious, as is studio space.  Last week I managed to hoover up most of the spiders that had taken up residence in here, along with the carcass-laden webs and buggy exoskeletal remains just under them.  The annual end-of-summer reclamation of my creative space.  It feels pretty good.  For a couple of months, the weather will be somewhat mild (once this heat breaks) and I will be able to spend quality time making some art in this light-filled, quiet place I have now dubbed Spiderville Studio.  There is much work in process, which for now, shall remain in the shadows where it belongs….

This “3-season room”, as it has been called by the real-estate folks, is one of the most pleasant places in our home.  Sometimes we eat meals in here.  This is where the sewing supplies are, and so the mending and clothing alterations happen here.  Homework has been known to go smoothly in here as well.  In so many ways, this room is a Family Room.  But what happens when I need to claim if for a few hours for my creative work?

A week or so ago, my poor hub, who also works at home, wandered into the studio as I was painting.  I was so annoyed I could have bitten his head off and I may have even snapped “I’m on a CALL!” (which is what he says when he’s working and needs us to be a little quieter.)  In his defense, the door was open.  This room is a magnet for anyone who wants some good vibes.  Especially on a pretty day.  I may have been painting, but it may have looked like I was just hanging out.  He may have just needed to get out of the office.  So we discussed how I could best communicate to my family that I’m at work for the time being, and unless it’s an emergency, I should be left alone.  I could make a sign to hang on the glass doors, but someone would invariably be on the other side of the glass trying to catch my eye for a quick question or some such.  Then Tony told me about a navy term, Dog-Zebra, which is when a ship or submarine closes up to everything and becomes self contained for a while.  The blinds are drawn, no messages in or out.  I like this idea.  So I went to the fabric store and got some zebra-ish fabric and crafted up some quick curtains to hang above the doors to the studio.  When the curtains are there, the studio is in Dog Zebra mode and I am not to be disturbed for awhile.  It’s a sign to everyone, including me, that work is being done in here.  Visually, it’s nice to have the space blocked off.

There are always tweaks to my working process after the summer’s travels.  Our annual trip back to Maine is like a reset button and I am able to come home and look freshly at what’s working and what’s not.  So along with the new work space plan, I’ve also made some changes to work time.  I’m working longer days at the shop for a couple of days each week which allows me longer studio days later in the week.  Ideally, these will be pretty much the same days each week so that everyone knows what to expect, but I shall remain flexible.  Time will tell if these tactics will enable me to get more Real Work done.  Less running around means more studio time.   At least on paper.

I’d love to hear how other folks structure time and space for creative work.  Do stay in touch!!

In The Garden… (home again and Thinning)

It’s finally August.  The garden is teeming (and I mean TEEMING!) with goodies to harvest…..

Tomatoes to nibble and process….

Piles and piles of basil that have now been frozen into pistou for the winter….

Peppers, cabbage, beans, a few teeny carrots (these make great dog treats, actually)… and the list goes on!!

It’s been really fun and I am learning loads and loads about how these plants can feed us if we know some simple rules.

Take the notion of thinning, for example.  When you plant certain seeds, they are so tiny, that just to get them into the ground, you have to plant way more than you might really need.   When the little plants start to take root and grow, the gardener has to make room for that growth by thinning them down.  This means actually pulling out perfectly good plants.  This idea used to horrify me.  I would either avoid doing it (and get weak plants) or I would obsessively move the new seedlings to a different place (creating way more work for myself and losing most of the little transplants in the process).  But I’ve learned that a little thinning is necessary.  And I have been thinking a lot about this idea as a life metaphor over the summer.

If you have followed my tweets or facebook posts this summer, you’ll know that I have been on the go more than ever.  It started with the Taos trip in June, followed by a couple of weeks of July devoted to a trip to Roswell, Georgia for a tour with the Frisch Marionettes.  The travels culminated with a fantastic journey back to our beloved soul-place in Maine for almost 2 weeks.  (Thankfully, that trip was for fun and family only!)  Although the work trips to Taos and Georgia were busy (and FUN!), being away from my normal duties at home allowed me quite a bit of time to think about the state of things in my life and work.  I was extremely homesick.  Especially in Georgia.  I am not cut out to live in a hermetically sealed hotel room, this much I know.  That said, I did get quite a bit of work done when not performing which I will share with you when it is ready…. but back to the garden metaphor….

If plants need thinning to grow, might we need the same?  I began to realize I had taken on a somewhat super-human list of Things I Am Working On in the past couple of years.  I have been lacking time and space to do deep work.  I have been runnin, runnin, runnin.  And it has been stressing me out.  So I’m making some changes.  Nothing huge really.  I have backed off on some teaching plans I had going, sticking with my work at the Art Academy (btw, my fall class on keeping a Sketch Journal is available for sign ups NOW!!)  I’ve decided to give up some of the volunteer work I do, in order to be fully present for the upcoming school year in which my oldest is a Senior in High School and will be navigating the college choice process.  With my kids getting their drivers licenses this fall and winter I will be able to work longer (but fewer) days at the concertina shop, allowing for fuller, juicier studio days here at home.  At least this is the plan.  More than anything, it’s a shift in perspective and paradigm.  It’s a moment’s thought before jumping into new projects.  It’s a commitment to some things that have long been on the back burner, awaiting their turn.

There needs to be more time to ponder the horizon…  More time to fabricate sails out of bedsheets.

And to watch the sun set over a body of water… whichever one might be currently available….

And to sleep out under the stars without setting an alarm clock….

I hope your summer has been productive and restful both, as mine has.  I will keep you posted as things progress here.  There are some exciting projects afoot that will see the light of day very soon.  In the meantime, stay in touch!  I’d love to hear about your gardens, be they vegetables or the gardens of your imagination.