Ode to an Artist’s Retreat

Well, retreat might be stretching it. Retreats should come with a view of the mountains and yoga.

We’ll call this instead, and ode to a fabulous place to work really hard.

And if you love your work, well, it may as well be a retreat.

An artist friend of mine went out of town recently.  And in exchange for looking after her lovely pets, she said, “And while I’m gone, you can use my studio!”

My stomach did that excited-dance that happens when I meet serendipity.

It was incredible timing.

 Recently I was talking about having the courage to finish a body of work that was about 75% done, and it was the last 25% that required guts.

(Scratch that. 25% quickly turned to 60% which means this body of work is the equivalent of 135% of whatever it is we are calculating…..soul?)

That is all to say that, here I was trying to finish a body of work.  And then I was given this incredible gift—space—-in the form of a key to a studio, just down my street.

 So my husband and I came to the conclusion that for twenty days, I would pretty much paint whenever possible. We worked out this incredibly nuanced schedule where work and parenting and routines were very flexible, and the studio called.

I would wake up, spend time with my lovely daughter, dressing, feeding, reading, and giggling. Then come nap time, Tim working from home, I would hurriedly cram breakfast into my mouth, shout (with my mouthful) “Ok, I’m off!” and practically run down the street—ipod and brushes in hand.

And I would paint.

Fast and hard.  And then have moments to step back, and see what was happening. Any artist will tell you that listening to your own work is sometimes as important (and difficult) as painting it.

I worked and reworked. Twice a day, and then late into the night.

I listened to good music, audio books, large silences.  I furrowed my brow and would swear loudly.

I completely painted over my largest painting. Three days before I had to turn in my key.

I like a deadline.  Even a self imposed one. It produces the kind of focused panic that final exams used to inspire. It felt like pulling an all nighter before the due date of a research paper.

I would come home, bleary eyed and covered in paint. “I had to come home,” I would say to my husband. “Because I realized that I had been staring into space for the last fifteen minutes…..”

It felt good.

The work is done.  I can’t wait to show it to you.

But first, to my friend and to her space, I have to say Thank You.

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One Response to Ode to an Artist’s Retreat

  1. Kristianna says:

    Beautiful. So glad you (and yours) made and created space for your work. It’s gorgeous, I’m sure.

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