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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

MAPPING MY STUDIO SPACE


the road to independence

Day 5 of blogathon I squeeze down to one sentence: Bring to life the dynamics of your studio. This is serious mind. A studio is my life. The same chair I read, talk on the phone, listen to music and watch movies in is the chair I sit in while painting. I'll move the footstool and put a portable easel there with the canvas on it. An unfinished one has been on the easel over a year. Tired of that kind of painting--painting inside the lines. I want to approach painting in such a way that I'm not bored out of my mind with it before it's finished. For less articulate painting, I lay a piece of plywood, two by two and a half feet, on the footstool and use it for table top. The desk I write at is behind the chair. The chair is at the left of the desk from where I sit writing. The desk is in a corner with a big painting of a Chinese landscape behind, and in front of where I sit, a big painting of Meher Baba by Phyllis Ott. On the left of it the collection of rock, blues and reggae cds. On the right, the collection of classical, jazz and African cds. On a lower shelf, a bunch of books. Philip Roth's Exit Ghost between George Oppen's Collected Poems and Apollinaire's Alcools. Pictures on the walls all around, some photographs, some paintings, some by me, some by other people, five African masks; one, maybe two of them, "real." Home entertainment center against the wall in front of the chair. Flatscreen on the wall, and above it an oil on canvas portrait of my beloved cat, TarBaby, I will grieve the rest of my life, a dvd player, vcr, sound system with one wire, table loaded with dvds and cds. A couple of colored pencil drawings on the wall by Willard Gayheart. One of them is of me painting a portrait of him, Willard, and the other is Tommy Jarrell playing fiddle with Paul Brown (of NPR Morning Edition news) playing banjo. Paul Brown has recently retired from NPR. He's so great an old-time banjo picker, he's one of the rare people from Flatland who took to mountain music and made music like he was born in the mountains. Alice Gerrard has that quality too, to my limited ear.

the road to independence

Pictures of Meher Baba on the walls and one of Ganesh made in a dye process on cloth, behind glass in a frame. I love it. A friend brought it to me years ago from India, bought it in the Bombay airport from a vendor for next to nothing. It's probably made by somebody who makes the same image multiple times a day in a factory-like setting for a bowl of rice, maybe. I appreciate that about it as much as I appreciate the image itself, esp that it's Ganesh. Below it is my 22"x24" photograph life-size portrait of Meher Baba, head and shoulders, b&w photo hand-tinted in India by a devotee, so subtly it looks natural. It was given to me by Kitty Davy, one of Baba's circle of women devotees who lived on the Center at Myrtle Beach in her old age. It was 1976 that she handed it to me. It's in a gorgeous rosewood frame. She said someone at the Center in India had sent it to her and she didn't know what to do with it. She had no more room for pictures on the walls. She said if I'd like it I could take it with me. I about fell through the floor. Me? I deserve THIS? I'm not anywhere near deserving of anything so fine, so precious. She doesn't know me. This has to be a mistake. She's taken me for somebody else. She knows who she's giving it to. OK. Whatever. I'm certainly grateful to accept. It was like found money, but infinitely better. She said, "One day it will come to life for you." I did not understand what she meant then, and don't understand it now. It is the central image, the central point, the hub in my house. It is the focus point in this room I'm describing as my studio. In that way, it is a living image. Under it is a bookshelf with two rows of art books, mostly 20th Century; Brancusi, Duchamp, Warhol, Rivers, Johns, Rothko, Motherwell, Hockney, Serra, Surrealism, Dada, Minimalism, on and on. That's the nature of the collection. I love the art of the 20th Century.
 
the road to independence
 
I am currently exploring writing in my studio. I sit at a beautiful walnut desk of straight lines with a quarter inch sheet of glass on top. I bought it from an artist friend for so little it was the same as a gift. An HP laptop sits atop it. To the left of the laptop stands a block of wood 3.5 inches square, the cut off end of a 4x4. Around it on the desktop are 7 rounded stones of different colors, origins and sizes, and two such stones on top of it. I stack rocks on the wood block in moments when I'm writing and pause to scratch my head and ponder the next sentence, wait for it. I stack rocks to see how many I can stand. Four is the most I've been able to get. Can't make it with five. One of them is my universe rock, roundish from one way of looking at it, oval from the side. It is black with small whitish specks all over it of different speck sizes, like the night sky. It is smooth as a hen's egg and fits the palm of my hand like it's made for it. I call it the universe rock. I see in it the universe. Found it somewhere on the ground nearby, I have no recollection where, thirty-five-plus years ago. I always know where this rock is. It has spent several years outside living with the weather and the seasons as rocks do. I brought it back inside recently. It ended up on the desk. Then the block of wood came and the rock sat on top of it. I found some other rounded smooth rocks close by and stacked them. It doesn't hurt the glass top when they fall. They make a loud clack sound, though it's a soft landing with no sharp edges, no danger to the glass. How many rocks are on top, and which ones, has evolved into something like the arrangement of the day, since I stack rocks there every day. It took up spontaneously; the parts came together seemingly of their own volition. Now there are three rocks. Beside it, a 2cd case for Derek and the Dominoes Live at the Fillmore, 1970. One of the cds is in the player.  
 
the road to independence
 
The only studio need I can think of that would allow for ecstasy would be a warm floor in the winter. The floor is the same temperature as outside. When it's zero outside, the floor is zero. Waist-high it is 65 in the realm where the heater's air current flows. Cold feet make winter creativity difficult. It takes the zeal out of the will. This year I've bought especially warm socks and some good warm indoor boots. Tired of cold feet in winter. Best to sit with feet up and watch movies. Last night I watched a good documentary of the Persian Empire through existing ruins. It brought forward the realization I know nothing of Persia but Persian miniatures, Rumi, Hafiz, Zoroaster, and none of them very well. The Persian Empire played a role in the fate of the Old Testament Hebrews. And the Babylonian Empire. These are the foundations of the Middle East, like the Roman Empire is the foundation of Western Civ. Knowing nothing about the Babylonians or the Persians, I can't understand anything about the Middle East. The documentary brought it forward that the history of the Middle East is a vast gap in my at least cursory understanding of world history. I carry a great curiosity about origins. My wish list for what I'm exploring in my studio right now is more learning about Persia. It seems like I ought to know at least something about Persia before leaving the body this lifetime. This room I'm calling my studio is the inside of my head. It is where I live all day every day. One door goes to bedroom, another door goes to kitchen and bathroom, another door goes to storage rooms, and one door to outside. Three windows with no blinds or curtains, open to the world outside. It's the human zoo, here, where the critters outside look at the human behind the bars in the windows. As long as they can see the human is in its cage, they feel safe. When the door opens, they go flying in all directions, squirrels run across the road and up the trees. It's mayhem. And here come the donkeys. It's the ice cream man that lives in the human barn. Maybe he has a carrot.     

whitehead primitive baptist church
 
 
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2 comments:

  1. I love this! "Cold feet make winter creativity difficult." I think that can be read both literally and metaphorically.

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  2. TJ - what a rich post - I love rocks too and it made my heart smile to think of you stacking rocks while inspiration comes :)

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