I took the plunge. In mid-October I rented a painting studio.
And it’s worth it. Totally worth it, and in ways I never anticipated.
The most obvious benefit is that when I’m at the studio, I get work done. I close the door, start drawing or painting, and stay focused on what I am doing for hours and hours on end. It’s amazing. I haven’t experienced this since art school, when I would spend all night working in the painting studios.
Granted, I haven’t produced anything particularly good in all those hours of work; most of it has ended up in the burn box or gessoed over. But that’s fine. That I am productive at all is a huge improvement over where I’ve been.
The most unexpected benefit, however, has been to my domestic life. As soon as I moved all the art-making apparatus out of the house and into its own space, I gained the ability to complete neglected projects around the house. In the last three weeks, I’ve painted bookshelves, refinished a desk and a chair, and cleared all the junk from my huge, glassed-in front porch. I am now busy turning that porch into a space for the cats to hang out, complete with perches, ramps, hiding places, and cozy spots to sleep–a project I’ve meant to do since I moved in six years ago.
Just as I’ve spent years stalled out in making art, I’ve had a similar problem with DIY projects around the house. I’ve ended up with furniture that’s half-refinished, upholstery projects going to seed, and an ever-growing stash of fabric I fully intend to make into clothes once I have the time and energy to do it. And I’ve never had the time, energy, or attention span to tackle, much less finish, these projects. Most end up languishing for years before I finally get to them, and I’ve always had a huge backlog of projects waiting to be done.
And these DIY projects haven’t gone undone for lack of physical space; I have plenty of room in which to do them. Moving the art supplies out of the house freed up a bit more space, but not that much. What has changed is that I now have the mental space to devote to these projects. Before, with art-making competing for attention on my to-do list, nothing seemed to get done–just as domestic matters always distracted me when I tried to make art. But now that I’ve taken art out of the house and out of my day-to-day decision making, everything has changed. I’m getting shit done. I have energy and patience for it that I’ve never had before. And none of it is so big or overwhelming as it once seemed.
Now here’s the funny thing: I’ve spent very little time in the studio since the beginning of November, and have made almost no art. I’ve put up shelves, cleaned, and organized my supplies, but that’s pretty much it. And this is okay. I’m not fretting over it, nor am I beating myself up over the rent I’m paying to do little more than store my art supplies. Instead I’m at home, working on a few big projects that will make my life immeasurably easier and more pleasant once they are done. They’ll be done (or done enough) by Thanksgiving, and by the first of December I’ll be ready to go back into my studio and pick up where I left off. The rent I’m paying for this “unproductive” month of studio time is more than offset by what it’s allowing me to accomplish here at home.