The studio morphs. It is like the Room of Requirement: more than a room, more than a place, something mutable and magical. At first, back in December and January, it was a new friend I was shy with and excited about, learning its ways and being my best self with it. In the months since, it has been a library, an altar, a road trip, a love affair, a mountain, a net, a classroom, a monastery. Sometimes I swear it pulses like heart muscle. It is chaos, and it is the only place of order I can claim. Above all it is my teacher, and its lessons are deep and funny and wild.
1. Show up. Walk through my door. Stay for 30 minutes or 3 hours or all day. It’s the arriving that matters. Just come. Read or snack or cry here if you cannot paint today. It all counts.
2. You need SO much more time to yourself than you’ve been getting for years. More even than you suspected. Seriously, it’s been crumbs for you for the past decade. It’s okay. Sit down, I have a whole banquet here for you and when you finish, there’s more.
3. Know only what you don’t want to do? Don’t want to illustrate, don’t want to make social commentary, don’t want to solve the problem of getting it to look “real,” don’t want it to be pretty, don’t want to use much color, don’t want to engage with story, don’t want to plan for an end product, don’t want to have to get it right? Excellent. Can’t wait to see what you do instead. Feel like you’re jumping off a cliff by embarking on making work with no rules at all? Excellent. Can’t wait to watch you figure out how to fly.
4. When you put something down here, whether it’s a mug or a brush or a pinned-together shirt that needs to be sewn up, it will stay exactly where you left it until you move it again. EXACTLY WHERE YOU LEFT IT. No one else will move or even touch your shit. I know, I know... take a moment and let that sink in.
5. A granola bar, some strong coffee with cream, and the knowledge that you could go out on the loading dock and smoke a cigarette if you wanted to--even though you will very rarely want to--is enough nourishment to get you through many hours when the work is going well. Make sure I’m stocked up.
6. When you’re stuck, paint my ceiling. Just a circle or two, with whatever color is on your brush. Climb the 10 foot ladder and wobble at its top and breathe through the vertigo and focus on the texture of what’s above you and the way the paint wants to cling and wants to drip and then steady yourself and step carefully down. Total energy cleanse.
7. Your process is internal and solitary, but community will help your momentum. This is why it was so hard to work at home all those years, and why a studio all by yourself wasn’t meant to be. Don’t worry, there’s no need to be socially ON within my walls. There is lovely permission here to be whatever you need and not have anything taken personally. The other two women here, they need that too. And sometimes you won’t see them for weeks; you’ll keep separate hours and pass each other like those proverbial ships in the night. But the evidence of their presence here will comfort you with a longed-for sense of belonging and will tether you to your table. And when you are all here together, the sense of quiet companionship and support will feel so sweet that I will seem like home.
8. See you tomorrow.