Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It May Be Hideous, But It's MINE - Karen McGovern

The studio is less important than other things, like the burning desire to paint. If you don't have this disease, you can't catch it from a nice studio. (Warren Criswell)
Never apologize for your studio. (Denise Bezanson)
At the moment I have about 7,256 projects awaiting my attention—including hosting our annual board meeting (housing 6 people for four days and preparing an intimate dinner for 12…), training new resident staff, hosting tours nearly every day, and….oh yeah, FILLING SOME JEWELRY DESIGN ORDERS.
While the board meeting covered many important topics, our baby bongo,
Delilah, was the focal of many gatherings.  She is a wonderful hostess.
The Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, www.rarespeices.org
My life, like many of yours, is an exercise in controlled chaos.  For me, that means during extremely busy times, like now, working in my studio is measured in stolen minutes, not hours or days.  I’ve gotten so used to this schedule that I often create my best work standing over my bench, one eye on the clock, never even sitting down.
Do I LIKE this pace?  HELL NO! But, I live with it because creating art is 99.9% therapy for me helps me work through the insanity that is often my life.
One of the many by-products of this crazy lifestyle is what my bench becomes.  Right now, I can say with all honesty that my bench is as disorganized as it has ever been.  Believe me, that’s saying a lot.  Sure, my bench has been a mess before, but this…this is SPECIAL.  This is EPIC.  Not only that…I AM POSTING A PICTURE OF THE WASTELAND THAT IS MY WORK SPACE RIGHT NOW!  Yes, you may see many beads and wire coated in blue paint, because I spilled some about…oh…a month ago and never cleaned it up.  As for the rest of it—WHO THE HELL KNOWS?
We all go through periods like this where our work spaces take on the appearance of an exploded craft store, but I must say, I believe this is my personal best when it comes to a CRAPTASTIC display of mess.  I mean, just LOOK AT IT!
You want to know the amazing thing, though?  At this moment I have achieved something I never thought I would.  An unholy balance between my brain and the dump—I mean bench.  It hit me this past Saturday, when I realized I had to quickly complete an order for a client.  I stood at my bench and, with incredible ease, was able to finish the project (a cuff and ring combo) in under an hour.  It was like a dream-sequence.  My hands somehow knew where everything was, even though my tools and most of the components I needed were BURIED IN LAYERS OF JUNK.  I mean, it was magic!  Rivet flare tool?  Couldn’t see it if you paid me, but viola, it appeared in my hand.  I was able to find everything I needed so EASILY it totally freaked me out.  I swear I was in a fugue state or something.  At one point I actually asked myself, “Is this really happening?” 
I haven’t been back to the bench since then, absolutely no free time.  Later this week should be better, and I have several designs waiting to be finished, so I know I will have to face this soon.  And I know I have to bite the bullet and clean/organize in a really big way.  But, for now, I hope the magic continues and I can negotiate the land-fill as it sits.  I’ve never been one to require a totally clean and organized space to work, but this…well, I don’t think I have say anything more.   Spring cleaning, here I come, cursing and grumbling every unwilling step of the way. 
Ultimately, I realize that this space, in all it's messiness, is MINE.  My place to create, to play, to turn off the outside world and enter a new one where anything I imagine can be possible.  When I began this post it was to poke fun at myself, but in writing it I also realize that it's not about the quality of space in your studio, it's about tapping into the magic space in your head and heart.  That's where you truly create.   
Since I have bared my filthy soul so to speak with this photo, I dare you all to do the same and share photos of your work space at its worst.  And, let me know if you have found a way to work within the chaos.  Come on, let me see if you can top my mess!!!
NOTE:  The day after I wrote this piece I got an email from an online craft magazine (that will remain nameless) asking if I would submit photos of my studio for a story they are doing on artist work spaces.  The sample photos included showed dreamy rooms in pastel colors, bright windows with flowing white curtains and benches as clean as a deserted Caribbean white sand beach with boxes and jars of supplies beautifully labeled and displayed on hand-hewn shelving.  THERE WERE VASES OF FRESH-CUT FLOWERS FOR GOD’S SAKE.  Needless to say, after I finished LAUGHING LIKE A DERANGED HYENA I regretfully declined the invite.

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