The Artist and the Studio

December 11, 2013

Artist Susanna Bluhm with one of her huge paintings, Inscape Arts, Seattle

Artist Susanna Bluhm with one of her huge paintings, Inscape Arts, Seattle

Inscape Arts is an enclave of artists and their studios housed in an old historic building in Seattle’s International District.  On Sunday, more than 50 artists opened their studios, and it was a privilege to sneak peeks at their work spaces and an inspiration to see their varied and colorful work.

Artist studio

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Artist studio

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Studio in Inscape Buidling

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Making art is difficult.  Making a living at making art is even more difficult.

“Making art now means working in the face of uncertainty; it means living with doubt and contradiction, doing something no one much cares whether you do, and for which there may be neither audience nor reward.”
—  David Bayles and Ted Orland, Art & Fear:  Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Art Making

It was heartening to see the Inscape artists working in such a convivial atmosphere.  The studios and their inhabitants form a community of kindred spirits, one where art making is valued, and their efforts are validated.  This coming together seems like a workable strategy to keep the loneliness of the artist at bay.

“Artists come together in the clear knowledge that when all is said and done, they will return to their studio and practice their art alone.”
—  David Bayles and Ted Orland, Art & Fear:  Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Art Making

Poppy III by Alisha Dall'Osto (Inscape Open Studios)

Poppy III by Alisha Dall’Osto (Inscape Open Studios)

Jen Mills, cups with dimples

Jen Mills, cups with dimples

Alicia Tormey, encaustic paintings

Alicia Tormey, encaustic paintings

Chris Sheridan's studio

Chris Sheridan’s studio

Chris Sheridan portrait (with the model, too)

Chris Sheridan portrait (with the model, too)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ornamental kale with melting frost

Ornamental kale with melting frost

”  . . . the object of my school is to show how many extraordinary things even a lazy and ordinary man may see if he can spur himself to the single activity of seeing.”
— G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles

“The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.”
— G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles

“O wonderful,
wonderful,
and most wonderful wonderful!
And yet again wonderful . . .”
— William Shakespeare, As You Like It

I spend altogether too much time indoors in winter and feel starved for nature and light.  I don’t know why I resist the outdoors so much, because once I’m in the rhythm of walking and looking — even in the cold — I’m always glad I made the effort.  My spirit seems to open up outdoors.

I almost always find things that I am moved to photograph.  Like this water-beaded ornamental kale in a neighbor’s winter garden.  Worthy of an attempt to capture in my nature journal.

My work table

My work table

Watercolor sketch of kale leaves

Watercolor sketch of kale leaves

On Any Day, Do Something

January 1, 2013

Watercolor sketch, tools of the trade

Watercolor sketch, tools of the trade

I was inspired recently reading these words by the poet Jane Hirshfield in Jeffrey Skinner’s book, The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets:

“You don’t need to write every day, but you can do something every day that connects to and sustains your life as a person in love with words, images, music, stories, and what they can hold.  Listen with the ears of a language thief casing the mansion.  Cultivate concentration.  As you move through the day, notice one thing that you would not have seen if you were not looking with the questions of poetry in your ankles, knees, and tongue.  Remember a memorized poem in line at the post office.  Read something of substance before you read anything else in a day.  You don’t need to do all these things, you don’t need to write; only, on any day, do something.”

What do these words mean for me?

“I don’t need to paint every day, but I can do something every day that connects to and sustains my life as a person in love with images, form, pattern, composition, colors, and what they can hold.  Look with the eyes of a thief casing the mansion.  Cultivate concentration.  As I move through each day, notice one thing that I would not have seen if I were not looking with the questions of art in my ankles, knees, and eyes.  Look for forms and patterns in line at the post office. Read something of substance before I read anything else in a day.  I don’t need to do all these things, I don’t need to paint or sketch; only, on any day, do something.”
— with apologies to Jane Hirshfield

So this is my resolution for the new year.  To live a more artful life.  Maybe not to sketch or paint every day, but to sketch or paint more often.  To build a habit of art.  To give art prominent time in my days.  To feed my soul by visiting museums, learning the names of colors, experimenting and playing with tools of the craft, reading about artists and creativity, cultivating an attentive eye.  Slowly, slowly grow as an artist.