So I did it.

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.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “So I did it.

  1. Lyn

    Thought I’d pop in on the off chance that you had changed your mind and posted some pictures of art ha ha..
    Good to see that you are getting shit done – looks like the cats are benefiting from the art studio as well.
    Course when all your projects are up to date there will be only one think left to do – Make Art.

  2. Claudia

    Hi Magical Realist
    This is the first time ever, I respond to a blog entry. (I don’t do blogging, I don’t do facebook and I don’t do Twitter)
    I guess that’s because I am NOT one of those (assumingly rare) women who talk twice as much as men. I guess I just don’t have the need – I talk half as much as men. ;-)
    I came to this blog from Wetcanvas to look at your art, but then I got side tracked by your recent entry, which led me to read another one and yet another one. And I have to say, the way you write is just really compelling. You have such a great way with words; with how you express what you want to say, in writing. It seams to come so effortlessly (I don’t know if you experience it that way?). And on top of that, you have this incredible sense of humor. Like in the entry with the “motherfucking cats”, I nearly laughed myself off the chair. And just the title “when in doubt, post video of your cat”. It is really very funny. I enjoyed your entries so much. More than anything because of the way you write, not necessaryly because of the topic. Which is even better! So I wanted to say to you, in a round about way:
    YOU NEED TO WRITE A BOOK!! Any book! Many books!
    If you want to – ofcourse. ;-D You just do it so well, and people will love to read them, I am sure.
    Any way, have a great day, and give my best to the cats.

  3. you know

    Hi
    I followed you here from MPB. And of course, you have quit blogging. Is this a real end?
    k

    • Magical Realist

      I’ve let the blog slide for a couple of reasons:

      One, I had too much on my plate and struggled with getting into a productive writing routine–I’m much better at it now, but that’s still a tough one.

      And two, I was never quite certain what I wanted this blog to be about. Is it an art blog? A personal one? Do I want to write about everything that interests me (which covers a very wide range of subjects), or narrow my focus? And how much did I really want to reveal about myself by making my life public? Did I really want to take on the work of maintaining a blog? So rather than drive myself crazy with those questions I’ve just backed away from it for a while.

      However, I have been thinking about it a lot, especially in the last couple of months. I’ve got plenty of stuff to blog about, but if I’m going to bother with it at all it has to be on a regular and sustained basis. I need to turn it into a full-time career, in other words–and do I want to do that? Not yet–but the answer does seem to be drifting gradually towards “Yes.” So eventually I will get my shit together, revive this thing, and make something of it–could be by the end of summer, but definitely by the end of this year…

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