A Change of Space…Sort Of

I recently made a decision to move my work space.

Dining Room Table Mess
No available winter work space would often mean a mess in the dining room.

For the past 8 or so years I’ve attended to the visual arts component of my creative activities in an enclosed porch located on the southeast side of my house. The space is far from ideal as it is small and it isn’t insulated. In late summer, the room is an oven, even early in the day. In spring and fall the room is damp and cold. In winter you might as well be outside. The porch is heavily shaded but the exterior walls are mostly made of windows (old single panes set with putty) so the light is fair to passing. Every year as the outside temperature drops I move my paint and supplies into the main house and struggle to find a work space that doesn’t wreak havoc on the house schedule or fixtures. A commission piece last year took out our dining room table for a couple of weeks. I wasn’t worried about the paint that ended up on the area rug underneath as the family pets have already added their special decorative touch to it but I did constantly worry about the hard wood floors underneath.

In the fall I started a series that included a large 5 foot by 3 foot canvas. I had a stretcher that I’d salvaged from a painting damaged due to a leak in the porch roof. The only place to stretch a canvas that large ended up being the dining room table (again!). Painting the canvas in the porch space presented a whole new set of problems. There wasn’t enough room to easily access my paint or brushes. If I wanted to stand back and view the piece from a distance I had to take it out of the enclosed porch and put it up in the living room…wet paint and all. I don’t live alone and this kind of repeated activity (and, I must admit, my frustrated response to having to do it) can wear a little on everyone.

In a perfect world I would have a separate work space available with all the bells and whistles (well some bells and one or two whistles would be nice). As a matter of fact I have spent the past 5 years trying to work towards that end. Life being what it is, things like a new septic tank and tiling bed, mortgage payments, car repairs and all that grown up stuff  come first. So I moved, not out of my house but one floor up and in a sort of northwest direction to the back bedroom. We haven’t used the room for a number of years. Though small it’s bigger than the closed in porch and offers a relatively moderate temperature year round. I have to say relatively as we live in an older house with no duct work reaching the second floor. There are large grates in the ceilings of the first floor rooms that allow heat to rise and cold air travels down the front and back stairs (gravity heating). The house is well insulated which works to keep heat in during the winter and if we keep the blinds down in the summer it can be for the most part comfortable.

Natural light is an issue in this particular room as there’s only one window. The room had been wallpapered with a very dark pattern. It wasn’t our choice, just what was here when we moved in….no surprise there as dark wallpaper is often the best choice when covering up old lathe and plaster. It took us a couple of days to get the paper off and a good week or so to fill the cracks and what dents we could before we painted the walls an off-white. It helps tremendously with reflecting what natural light does come in.

So now I’m in my new space. It seems a little strange but I think most new things do. I still have the large canvas to complete in my series but the move, obligations to several community groups I belong to (theater and choir), and the Christmas break have set me off that pace a little so I’m just concentrating on small projects for now…mostly drawing. If you want to see what stuff I’m working on you can stop by my art blog . I try to update whenever I have something new to share. I haven’t given up on the plan for a dedicated work and retail studio space but I am looking forward to seeing how this new space works out.

I always listen to music when I’m in my work space. The best song on my playlist today…Ray Charles’s version of Come Rain or Come Shine


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