Saturday, 3 March 2012

Itchy Red Velvet and Tobacco Spit....Almost

For the first time in my life, I have a real studio space. My very own studio space! Before you start to envision rafters and skylights and high white ceilings and paint generously splattered on giant easels and a robust nude model eating grapes in graceful repose while laid out upon scads of drop sheets somewhere off to the side, zoom in a bit. I have a little room in the corner of the house with an entirely separate entrance opening onto three outside steps, and one window looking out at the poplar trees, and an easel propped against a wall, my own closet, my ancient rickety bookcase, a mish mash of natty pillows squished beneath an armchair caved in with books, all my blank canvases awaiting their slow awakening, my antique desk, a rug for our dog to nap on, a shelf for our cat to peer from, jars of wornout brushes, a quirky 1960's lamp, everything I need, or so I feel, to become the painter I want to be!

OK, I am giving you my real life version of one of my favourite opening pages in a you know it? that evokes nostalgia you can taste and smell, that prods poignantly at the ache for creative space and the potential launch of a thousand future imaginings. When my sister and I lived together in our wild twenties, she framed the first page from Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffanys, and hung it on the front door of our groovy Calgary apartment. Much later in life, when I moved out again on my own as a newly single woman, I typed out the same page of script on mottled green paper, and put it in a small faded wooden frame and kept it on a desk in the bedroom of my Vancouver apartment. I've still got it, and now it sits in my own studio on the window ledge, and I enjoy pausing to read it every now and then when I experience a lag in my motivation, or a bout of identity crisis, or a general absence of mid-century charm anywhere nearby. Or even if I miss my sister.

Here it is....(best to close your eyes and have a good friend read it to you aloud in a soft and distant  voice):

      "I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods. For instance, there is a brownstone in the East Seventies where, during the early years of the war, I had my first New York apartment. It was one room crowded with attic furniture, a sofa and fat chairs upholstered in that itchy, particular red velvet that one associates with hot days on a train. The walls were stucco, and a color rather like tobacco-spit. Everywhere, in the bathroom too, there were prints of Roman ruins freckled brown with age. The single window looked out on a  fire escape. Even so, my spirits heightened whenever I felt in my pocket the key to this apartment; with all its gloom, it still was a place of my own, the first, and my books were there, and jars of pencils to sharpen, everything I needed, so I felt, to become the writer I wanted to be."  ~ Truman Capote

We're not all the same about personal space...for me, a private area, decorated by me and for me is a very nurturing and focused place to be. Sometimes I need to sit alone entirely uninterrupted, pouring at length over images in art books, turning from one page to the next with reluctant slothlike attachment... before I even lift up a brush....even if I am simply searching for a shade of red, or an eyelid to study. Sometimes I need to sit and meditate and stare out the window to watch the sun change the shadows on a tree. Sometimes I need an hour to select and layout my paints! Most of all, the room is there for me to enter at my own whim, and know it is there and mine, clean or messy, but always solitary, and always offering to aid me in my process. For me, it feels very hard earned at this point in my life, and yet I still want so badly to truly deserve having it.

The walls are stucco too!

1 comment:

  1. I kind of liked the idea of the robust nude model, but seriously, having that room to get it going is perfect. You wonderfully describe how I see things too. To have that studio of mine, is one of the greatest gift life has given me. Thank you for the reminder. Love Annton