Thursday, January 31, 2013

Help! I need more room!

 OK, so I should explain.  I'm letting you take a little peek inside my house.  You've seen the outside, all cute and Victorian-ish.  But we are now inside, have walked through the downstairs and up the stairs, where there are two bedrooms, a teeny room that was once a nursery but is now my hubby's office, a bathroom, a closet, and in the middle of it all, THIS oddly shaped room - used as a combo of computer room, my art studio, and filing cabinet sort of space.  Above you see Marguerite, a large hand puppet (I'm guessing about 4' tall) that was made (by me) maybe 25 years ago for a community theater production of Carnival.  She lives in a plexiglass case in this room, that happens to have a papier-mache fat cat sitting atop it.  Don't ask me why there's a stuffed gorilla on the stool next to her.  Not a clue.  About Marguerite: her head is papier-mache, and along with her I built three other puppets - a walrus, a fox, and a little boy, all for the same production.  Being that this was 25 years ago, I'd never heard of hot glue, so everything had to be glued in steps and allowed to dry.  The puppets took me a whole summer to build.  The other puppets reside with the two puppeteers that used them in the show, and the show's director. 

 Back to the room.  Above you see some of the other odd stuff in here.  There's two plaster bandage masks, both direct casts of my face, a papier-mache bowl named 'Homage to Matisse' that I made, a plaster sculpture I made in a college class, and a goofy cat I drew in high school when my brother was showing me off to his friends: "draw something!"  he said.  That's what I drew. 

Below you can see a little more of the space and get a hint of my problem.  That's quite a large piece on my easel (I turned it around so you can't see the mess of what's on the front.  Some other time for that!)  The red cart is where I keep my painting supplies, and right now there's a bunch of junk piled on top of it.  Hoarders here we come... 
 And here's the rest of the room - a built in computer desk and file cabinet, and a needlepoint chair - a collaborative effort many decades ago between me and my mom.   I drew the flowers, she did the needlepoint. Notice, in the prior photo, the drop-cloth tucked into the bottom of the easel.  The room is carpeted in beige.  Not exactly ideal for a very messy artist (me). 
 The door leads out to a little fake balcony with no railing.  It is permanently locked/closed.  The room gets very little natural light through the window in the door, and there are no other windows in the room. 

In the summertime, I take my little artsy craftsy endeavors to the picnic table in the backyard, when it isn't too hot or too buggy or raining or windy or....  you get the idea. 

So where does someone like me, who loves her art big and colorful, and always is taking on some crazy new project, (such as building ridiculous latke trophies) actually do the work?  Um, that has become a BIG problem.  Until last June, I had an art room at school, with large tables.  I often stayed after school late working on my own crazy projects, trying things out, and experimenting.  I've had a decent classroom for pretty much 24 of the 27 years I spent in this school district, and before that, I was single and lived in apartments where the spare bedroom was an art studio.  Retirement has taken away the resource of my classroom.  I no longer have an 18" paper cutter at my fingertips, or those nice large tables in a nice sunny room.  Yikes!  What do I do?  Renting studio space is not currently in my budget.  For the first time in my life, I find myself without a dedicated space for creative adventuring.  Like I said, YIKES!

I do my sewing at the kitchen table, and that's also where I made the latke trophy, though it was inconvenient when we wanted to cook or eat.  Our house is small.  I am considering creating a crazy mask to enter in an event in a little over a month, but I just don't know where I can build the mask.  I am jealous when I see some of you post photos of cute little basement studios (Mini Matisse, Art Project Girl, among others). My basement is unusable and could be used in a horror movie.  It is little more than utility space for water tank, and that sort of stuff.  The floor is uneven, and the walls - um - well, it's just plain creepy.  I'm seriously scared to go down there.  Any renovation to make it usable would easily cost thousands of dollars; not really feasible on the income of two retirees.  And there's no water or bathroom down there, and access to the basement is from the back porch, not from inside the house.  Stupid, no?

When I paint in this in room I've shown you in these photos (and I do, from time to time) I can't really even appropriately stand back from the artwork and get a good look, or I might trip down three odd little stairs that divide the middle of our upstairs.  And for working on crafty or sculptural projects, there is no table at all.  The spare bedroom also has no table, and really not much room for one either. 
I'm frustrated.  I don't expect you to have any great solutions for me; I just needed to vent.  But if you DO have an idea, please feel free to share!!  Thanks for listening! 

9 comments:

  1. Have you seen this? I pinned it a while ago on Pinterest...I would LOVE to be able to do something like this in my craft room! Unfortunately, I live in a double wide and the dry wall is just too thin to even hold a floating shelf...could be a way to store some of your painting supplies to get rid of the cart?

    http://bubblewrappd.blogspot.com/2012/03/workin-it.html

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    1. Cute idea, but if you look closely at my photos you will notice the small amount of wall space has some built in shelves (and there's an interesting story in THAT, too, but that's another post another day), and the rest of the room has a strange shaped slangy ceiling that comes in rather low. In other words, no all space. I really can put away most of the stuff in the cart, but the cart itself is pretty essential. Wen I'm painting, I use the top it for palette space etc and since there's a lip nothing can spill on the floor.

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    2. That should have said 'no WALL space', not 'no all space'. What I meant is there is no place for a built in wall cabinet that folds out to a table. Clever idea, though!

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  2. I'll bet you miss that wonderful, spacious supply closet (room) that you had at school, too! What about when you start teaching your after school class -- will you be able to use that room for any of your own stuff???

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    1. Yes, Christie, you are right! Not only do I miss the supply took, I miss all the accumulated stuff in it! Over the years I gathered quite an odd collection of everything from bottles and toys for still life sit-ups,to crazy recyclables, and so much more.

      As for my after school program, that room is less than desirable to begin with; I using it because I can use it without a fee until I am able to pay, but it definitely can't be used as my personal workspace. That would definitely be overstepping boundaries. The building is, after all, primarily a Temple.

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  3. Oh Phyl! We would make the perfect team, I have the space but no time. It has become a play room because everytime I go down there to do my work even when my hubby is babysitting, we all end up together. Grad work can only be done when they are all sleeping. I remember everyone always wanting to be around my momma, now it seems I am the momma. You on the other hand could use a space and have some time to dedicate to creating! Be thankful for that. Sometimes I think if I could just have a space in the bathroom, I could pretend that I was taking a bath and actually get a paper written or some sketching done in peace. Who am I kidding, I don't think I've had bathroom peace in 2 years either!

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  4. Besides the kitchen table is where all the best art in the world has been made.

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    1. Ha ha ha you crack me up Erica. Demand that bathroom peace!!

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  5. Work smaller. I always adjusted what I was working on to the needs of my space, working with whatever materials that were practical for that space. On the other hand, if you want to come visit and do a large project, my new studio is quite large in N. VT (not too far for a visit) and I love to share if you have a project in mind. I would look locally to see what other artists have for space, maybe you can start applying to residencies, or appeal to someone to share a space, for barter? Work outside in summer..... just keep working, looking, brainstorming, looking for open doors. It will be great in the end.

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