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I am really enjoying the new studio space - this weekend I finished one piece (a moody cloaked charcoal figure) that I hope to have ready for print by mid-April and started another that has me really excited. I only stopped working on it because I had to make dinner, do the laundry, and pay some bills (everything I wish I could have done in that nonexistent hour we lost overnight!). Anyway, back to the new piece - it’s the biggest piece I’ve ever attempted at 48” high and 36” wide. When I bought the canvas I wondered if I had lost my mind because it barely fit in my car (note to self, buy canvas by the yard if I even think about painting anything bigger). I had no idea at the time what I was going to do with it, but the new studio space means that I have the height for the extension on my tallest easel. So, after getting the canvas upstairs (another feat because the stairs are high and the angle is steep), I set it up on the easel and locked it in place. I did nothing more than that – it’s been waiting, covered and expectant in a corner these last few weeks.

I had a few ideas in the interim, but nothing that I felt the big canvas deserved. I had no idea when I got up this morning that today would be the day. In fact, I originally went up to the studio this morning to make sure the gutters and downspouts were all running clear (after some ice storms and snow we had nasty rain today). Well, I’m happy to report that I had no issues with the gutters, the studio was nice and toasty warm, and the weather meant I could either give myself the day off and read a good book (very tempting) or tinker in the studio (after such a good day yesterday, I decided to continue the trend). I pulled the big canvas out of the corner, got some supplies together and considered my options….pencil in one hand and a whole lot of indecision in the other. I looked at some of my recent sketches (one contender, but that’s for a piece of a different size), some of the pieces I started and abandoned (no inspiration there) and realized that I was psyching myself out. I was starting to think that the big canvas was going to chase me off. However, I gathered myself the way I do when staring at a whole lot of empty space and just started to draw with no particular goal in mind. A bit of this here, some of that there, rub this out, pull some of that line down here, make this section a bit bigger….I am filthy, the canvas is looking very good, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!

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I get asked this question a lot, actually. Because I have a day job, my studio time during the week is often limited to the evening. Sometimes, after a long day, I will head into the studio just to sit at the drawing table with my largest pieces of newsprint or drawing paper, close my eyes, and wait with a chunk of charcoal in my hand – that’s how some of my favorite pieces have come to fruition – no rules, no thought, no personal restrictions or limitations on the materials or the content – I just run with the freedom to produce utter crap and sometimes the results are quite surprising and pleasing.

On the weekends, I usually prefer to start working in the late morning or early afternoon, when the natural light is the best in my new attic studio space. And I often find that once I get started, I just keep going. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to find myself in the studio well after dark. I deliberately do not have a clock in the studio so that I’m not aware of the passage of time when I’m creating.

Updated: May 1, 2019

But some days, I do wonder what I’ve achieved. I’ll go to my art studio to work on a piece, either new or one in process (I always have more than one in process as well as blank canvases slathered with photos I’ve shot), I sit down or walk around the piece I intend to approach, and get to work, but not always. Many times (perhaps more than I care to admit), I turn on music that I enjoy in that space and do nothing more than evaluate the surroundings and considering organizing the supplies (again) – surely some inspiration will hit me soon, right?

Some of my pieces have taken me two years to finish; I may work on a painting for seven days in a row, and then leave it alone for a few months, and then come back to it with new ideas. I leave a piece because it has taken me to a particularly emotional place and rather than push through, I have learned to take some time off, to respect the piece and give it time to come together. Invariably, when I return, I am restored and excited to approach it anew.

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