Bringing Art Making Into Your Life
I have been thinking a lot about where and how we work, when we make art. It seems to come up a lot when I talk to people about making stuff, and the fact that not having a studio is [according to them] holding them back.
I have a large ramshackle shed, and for a while I kept saying I would work in there when it was cooler, or I would work in there when its warmer… After 3 years I realised I’m never really going to work in there. The temperatures are just too extreme. So I’d end up working at the kitchen table instead. I like working in the kitchen because it makes me feel more a part of what’s going on in my little family. And I like it when my daughter sits with me and makes something too, or does her homework sitting next to me. It can be lonely working on your own all the time.
This is ok if its something quick , but when I spend a month on one project it’s not so good. So to see if I can make myself work somewhere else when I am at home I am doing a bit of spring cleaning in my library. [This somewhat pretentiously named room is a small 3rd bedroom we use as a study; it does have a lot of books in it.] While I have been cleaning up I have been coming across heaps of little bits and pieces I have made and just plonked on a bookshelf. The good thing about it, is that a little bit of time that passes between when you made something and now can let you assess it more accurately. Looking at all these mini projects is showing me what worked and what didn’t and giving me more ideas; and for me it’s all about getting the ideas flowing.
Some of the most useful objects in my library are my pinboards. I like to be surrounded by images that inspire me. Sure a pinterest board is good, especially for sharing, but I think ultimately being drawn back to the internet sends me down a rabbithole of looking at stuff rather than making it. I have two large pinboards and one wall that we have just taped stuff onto. I feel naughty every time I tape something to the wall; like my dad is going to bust in and tell me off for wrecking the wall, but whatever. It’s me that will have to repair it so I say live spontaneously! If I could have my way the whole wall would be one big pinboard. In the mean time I will keep sticking stuff on the wall.
Dream items for my imaginary studio would include one of those drawers for storing paper. They keep your paper nice and flat, but I don’t have one of these so I roll my paper up and put it behind the door. And also have you seen those drying racks that flip out of the way? I don’t have one of those either! I guess my clothes line will have to keep it going instead. And a view! I mean who doesn’t want a view? And loads of natural light! And I’d really like to get away from all of the distractions of modern life, the tv, the dirty dishes! So it better be a nice space away from the house! Oh and lots of space LOTS!
Above: Nope I don’t have one of these!
Above: or one of these….
Can you see where I am going with this? You don’t actually need mountains of amazing equipment and a divine space to make art: you just need to want to make something.
As I mentioned recently, I joined an art collective and have been doing much of my art making there. And I have noticed some interesting things.
Now that someone has a space to make art it doesn’t mean they will make any.
Someone who barely has any space in their life will make lots.
Ultimately if we really want to make something we will. Even if it’s on the floor or on our laps. Yes what we can make will have to be tailored to those restrictions and I don’t really like having to do that. Obviously most of us are tailoring our ambitions all the time, based on our budgets and other factors. Recently I decided that I would like to cast some of my sculptures in resin. Then I looked up how much it would cost…… Ouch! I won’t be doing that.
Even when you find somewhere you like to work it will have its limitations. My beloved clay collective studio is like the Antarctic, with concrete floors that suck the warmth from your legs. It doesn’t have windows, [ it’s a cavernous ex-factory], and uses fluorescent lights. But it has lots of good points, people, kilns, equipment and a cute dog that looks like Tin Tin’s dog Snowy who comes for visits. But it’s no type of glamorous space.
So what are my three studio wish list items?
Above: got to have it, a friend to chat with and a cup of jo.
It’s not a very fancy list is it? Because you really don’t need much to be able to make art.
So don’t use not having a fancy space as an excuse. Just start drawing, sculpting, making something today.