Gallimauphry Friday: She Doesn’t Have To Do This To Impress Me…

Eowyn 1

I have a cat (one of three we share our home with). Her name is Eowyn and she’s fourteen years old, thin but in good health. In her day I do believe that she could have slain a Nazgul. One of her nicknames is “My Mean Widdle Cat”. She likes to sit on a side table in the kitchen and occasionally snag my husband with one claw if he walks by too close to her. I have to remember to look before sitting in my studio chair sometimes lest she has occupied it while I’ve gone into the house for something. There have been close calls. I really don’t want Pancake Cat.

She usually comes into the studio each working day to hang out, interrupt me and catch some zzzzs. I’ve set up a spot for her on my desk and sometimes she even deigns to use it. Having her on my lap while I paint is…interesting, but I’ve managed.

She has a newish thing that she likes to do which is to jump the 3 feet (I just measured it) from a small rolling file drawer next to my drawing table (behind my easel in the photo at the top) to the middle of a row of three-drawer vertical file cabinets stacked with loose stuff to be filed. From there she will try to winkle her way onto the shelf that has my amplifier on it. This does not work. So then she’ll do a tour of the next shelf up.

Eowyn 4

Or she’ll cut to the chase and jump up onto the top shelf and look around.

Eowyn 2

I don’t even hold my breath anymore. Somehow she manages not to disturb any of the tchotchkes on it.

Eowyn 3

Until she’s ready to get down. Then she neatly knocks the stuffed owl off the shelf and jumps back onto the tall filing cabinets, then onto the shorter ones and finally to my desk or the floor.

Eowyn jump

Amazingly, I manage to catch her in mid-jump a couple of weeks ago.

Eowyn desk

You Shall Not Work.

In The Studio: 20 Things To Do When You Can’t Be Because You’re Sick…

P for blog
Peregrin, our ten month old rough collie boy, demonstrates excellent RESTING  technique

I’ve been down with a chest cold for a week, so no studio time. I’ve mostly rested, but when I’ve felt like it I’ve done a few things like clean out my inbox, catch up on some reading and, of course, dorked around on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Twitter has been great because reading in 144 character bites doesn’t require sustained focus and attention. I also poked around on Facebook, joined a bunch of art groups and last night, finally feeling halfway decent again, started one…The Art of Animal Fieldwork…an area of  the animal art genre that no one is addressing effectively (there are a couple of groups that purport to be about fieldwork, but the Admins appear to be MIA and the group feeds are cluttered with a lot of bad studio art, personal promos, etc). You can check it out here. Nice to feel that I’ve managed to Do Something Useful, even in my reduced state.

Today is my weekly blog day and the theme is “In The Studio”, which I haven’t been since last Friday. So instead I’m going to give you a list of 10 ideas for things you can do when you’re sick if you don’t have a computer or tablet handy and 10 for if you do.

The most important thing, though is to REST. The better you take care of yourself the sooner you can get back to work. On to the lists:

IF YOU’RE HAVE A COMPUTER OR TABLET:

1. Research art galleries

2. Futz with a drawing or painting app

3. Clean out your email folders/mailboxes

4. Clean out and organize your folders

5. Visit art museum sites

6. Treat yourself to a new art-related book that’s downloadable for instant gratification

7. Check out art-related YouTube videos or movies

8. Find new artists to follow, groups to join on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

9. Find new art blogs to follow

10. Start a collection of art quotes

IF YOU’RE NOT ON A COMPUTER OR TABLET:

1. Read an art-related book that you haven’t gotten around to

2. Browse through some of your art books

3. Make a list of places you want to go (sky’s the limit; be crazy; Mars anyone?)

4. Plan out a painting in your head in as much detail as possible

5. Browse an art supply catalog and make a wish list; include one media you’ve never tried before

6. Get a pad of paper and pencils/pens and doodle painting ideas or draw a pet or whatever is in the room

7. Make a list of the artists you’ve heard of but don’t know anything about

8. Think about how to make your studio a better workplace

9. If you blog, jot down post ideas

10. Get out a stack of reference photos and do notan studies (http://blog.mitchalbala.com/the-wisdom-of-notan/)

And get well soon!

 

 

The Art Life: Storage

drawing-stuff
Drawing media and watercolor brushes stored in a variety of containers and organized in one unit of a stackable inbox

I don’t necessarily consider myself a neat and tidy person. But when it comes to my work, I’ve gotten borderline fanatical about having everything sorted and organized. I don’t want an idea to strike or find I need to have “x” right now for whatever I’m working on and have to break concentration and hunt around for it.

I’ve been in my current studio space at our home for over ten years now, using a couple of IKEA cupboards for supplies and some thin plywood boxes with dowel dividers my husband made for me years before that for canvas and painting storage. The IKEA units are doing great, the old canvas “racks” were well past their sell-by date. So a few years ago we were able to hire a contractor who was also a cabinet maker to build new storage units from birch plywood to my specifications. What a luxury! But also practical and financially sensible because properly stored paintings and canvases (I use RayMar geesoed cotton canvas boards almost exclusively) are less likely to get damaged. Plus we live in earthquake country. Every cupboard, cabinet and bookcase is attached to studs in the walls.

Come take a tour of how I store my art supplies and equipment…

supplies-and-canvas-boards

These units are in the northwest corner of the studio. On the left is an IKEA cupboard which contains all my supplies that aren’t in use. The top shelf holds greeting and notecard inventory in, yes, IKEA boxes. Next is a variety of containers. The next three shelves are drawing media, brushes, varnishes, odds and ends. Second from the bottom is paper for printing. And at the bottom are old sketchbooks.  All the way on top is a speaker.

On the right is one of the custom storage units, designed to hold paintings up to 5×5′. The top two shelves have miscellaneous things that don’t fit anywhere else. The bottom holds all my oversize paintings and canvasboards. The curtain, just an old one I had around, is to minimize dust.

On the south wall of my studio are four units ranged next to each other:

cupboards

These are two side-by-side IKEA cupboards. The one on the right, starting at the top, is blank sketchbooks, then small canvasboards and some stretched canvases with a gallery wrap so I don’t have to frame them.  Second from the bottom are canvas pads and oil paper pads, a few small toned canvases and my watercolor papers. On the bottom is my plein air carry-all, a plein air panel box and some large size drawing pads.

The left cabinet holds my old paintbox I’ve had since I was a kid, a pochade box from the Sennilier art supply shop in Paris, more plein air carriers, then various paper towels and brush holders, finished small works (see detail below). Next, drawings to be framed or referred to, below them a black plastic file organizer and binders for location watercolors and at the bottom old work framed and unframed. The two stacked boxes hold plein air oils.

small-works

This is the middle shelf of the cabinet on the left. I’ve used cardboard drawing pad backing for dividers, labeling them with a Sharpie, to separate and organize old paintings from workshops, projects, preliminary studies, in-progress repaints, available for sale, etc.

paintings

And here are the closed cupboards above on the left, next to my frame and painting storage units on the right. Of those, the one on the left mostly has the frames. It was designed to fit over my steel flat files. The one to the right of it is pretty much all paintings except for some big manila folders at the top right which hold working and finished drawings and next to them about a half dozen framed giclees. All the shelves are adjustable.

painting-table

Finally, here’s my painting table set up and ready to go. I clean the palette off on Friday afternoons and put the paint into one of those paper-lined round storage containers. My current palette is a leftover piece of Swanstone countertop. I got the idea from the Underpaintings online magazine some years ago. I like it because it’s a neutral color, it’s not reflective and once a film builds up on to a certain point, my husband is kind enough to sand it off for me. It’s the same color all the way through. As you can see I have an eclectic collection of containers for brushes, pencils, etc. Some are souvenirs of our travels, like the fish pitcher, which I got at a Debenham’s department store in London, England. I also like interesting coffee mugs with or without broken handles.

So there you have it, how one artist organizes her work life. If you have any ideas or want to share what you do, please leave a comment!