Though I did not consider it as such last week, I can see now that I gave myself a truly worthwhile birthday gift this year. Through concerted effort and concentrated focus, I dedicated my vacation time to organize my office-studio space. It entailed a complete overhaul procedure.
The space had become the “storage zone” with remains of my earlier move (2 years ago) that could not be attended to at the moment. These were set aside and naturally “forgotten.” When I needed an item, an arduous rummage process would ensue. To unearth it, a search required digging beneath layers of other displaced items that had settled upon it.
Some interesting thoughts came to mind through this clean up exercise. One of them was the realization that I had not really honored myself or my art practice enough to make this effort sooner. Granted it was not purely by determined choice, but rather due to expediency – the immediate need to set matters aside that led to this messy build up. This is a part of the realities of life with an active toddler and the mayhem that follows his playful pursuits.
There is a lot of truth to the notion that structure tends to follow function. The office-studio space served a need at that time as a storage space for items I could not use due to a lack of time. As my son has gained independence, so has my work and hence the structure of the space is shifting to reflect this new added functionality.
Earlier on, when Kenny was a two year old, it was a very strategic decision on my part to work in our family kitchen window nook. My easel was situated there – I could dart there to paint as catch-as-catch-can during those moments that were open to me throughout the day. I had to be ready to disengage at a moment’s notice. It proved a valuable kind of training.
Still, I have taken to heart the following advice from a book I have recently read:
“Honor is a funny word, a loaded word, a difficult word. It is not a word to toss around lightly. But I’m willing to bet that you place it at the very top of your list of words with personal meaning. I bet you love it, believe in it, and aspire to it. Live that way then! Honor the fact that you believe in honor and construct your writing life [and artistic practice] around it.” Eric, Maisel, A Writer’s Space: Chapter 4 – Honoring your Space, 2008.
Last week, through my vacation time and for an agreed upon 6 days – while my son’s lively curiosity was deflected towards other family fun activities – I jumped full force into the re-org process. Here, then, is my studio’s transformation in honor of my life’s work changes and needs by creating a space that is truly dedicated to it.
As I initially entered the space, one that held an old assortment of items, these were charged with meaning – memories, hopes and dreams – touched with strong emotions. I could see why these had been “set aside for later.” As I should have anticipated, the effort took on an added emotional dimension.
Once the sorting was completed and the room was released from its chaos, a wonderful process of re-defining the space and giving it form followed. It truly came into line with my last blog post’s reflections on “the creative motto – ‘Let there be…’”
One of the items that I found was a cute little angel I had picked up in Old Town San Diego early on when I first returned from Barcelona in 2001. This little angel was made by a Benedictine craftsman whose tradition honors work and time. It is called the “Artist’s Angel.”
Some reflections from the book Music of Silence gave me pause to re-think my own ready-made suppositions on the matter of angels.
“We meet an angel wherever a life-giving message touches a human heart…encounters with angels take place not in otherworldly seclusion, but amidst the buzz of daily business at it’s busiest…We do not have to get out of the stream of life; its undertows and eddies have no power to drown us. We need only look through the rushing waters to the stillness in its depth. This takes some practice, but it can be done…learning to attune the ears…to the heavenly hosts announcing with myriad tongues the gracious message of each hour, each unmistakably different…[and] to hear music now, angelic music, [rather than]…to hear merely clocks ticking.” David Steindl-Rast and Sharon Lebell, Music of Silence: Introduction, 2002.
With this beautiful understanding of the honoring of the hours and work and my little angel, I am reminded that I have a choice in which to see a set of sacred rhythms unfolding through time within each day.
As I concluded the transformation of my work space, I felt a strong sense of passage, a crossing of a threshold. It took form visibly here in this new ordered space: I am thrilled. By affecting this change, an added grace was stirring within me.
The canvas is set up, and I am at the easel now before this creative life voyage. This flow is also unfolding in my artworks. Here is an update on the panel composition.
Two more works ahead to complete the initial 8 panel design I set out to create.
Now, I am more aware that a bourgeoning creative energy is flowing within me and that an unknown panorama lies ahead.