Freedom Within a Harness: A Studio in Chiang Mai

posted in: All, Art Lessons, Work in Progress | 6

“When you’re in the studio painting, there are a lot of people in there with you – your teachers, friends, painters from history, critics… and one by one if you’re really painting, they walk out. And if you’re really painting YOU walk out.” -Phillip Guston

My newly acquired space, a studio apartment, minus the bed and the word apartment, feels just right. It’s filling up on schedule, becoming a permanent and glorious mess.

Quietly located away from the city, it comes with mountain view and a swimming pool, neither of which are necessary for making art. On the other hand, a few comforts can’t hurt, good lighting and music for example. The only true requirement is to pick a place you want to come to. And stay.

This staying business involves food, therefore a fridge and hotplate needed to be purchased. Two desks of equal height serve in place of easels, larger paintings in progress lean against the walls. A tall worktable on wheels, custom built to my standing height, becomes the centerpiece. Supplies are laid out, hopeful tubes and brushes, charcoal and chamois at the ready.  Awaiting.

And this is where things get sticky. The most gorgeous, functional, even perfect, environment does not the artist make. Procrastination, uncertainty, and fear haunt every studio in some measure. Action is the only remedy, even if that means sharpening pencils, sorting through old drawings, priming canvas. I’ve made rules. Number one: under no circumstances am I allowed to leave until a minimum of three hours has passed.

Artists have a reputation for being unrestrained, emotional, long suffering. The long suffering part might be true, but as a whole, we need discipline and schedules. Structure. Freedom within a harness.

Yesterday, a glass bottle of linseed oil smashed to the floor.  A proper christening.


A Coming Exhibit

I am working on a solo exhibit. September doesn’t seem far away with an entire gallery to fill. It is both exciting and daunting to be in “production” mode. No time for hesitation.

Here’s the deal. An exhibition is the finish line, the culmination of a sustained effort. It’s a celebration of accomplishment. But there is also great excitement in the process itself, in the act of creation. Soul searching, gut wrenching, joyful, frustrating, repetitive, illuminating, mindful, and mindless. And that’s all before lunch.

What goes on in the studio is the real show. And in that spirit, I would like to share the journey with you.

Subscribe to the blog. My intention is to write once a week and invite you into the studio. I’ll share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Work In progress. Lessons included.


Coming up next week:
What the hell was I thinking?  -an artist’s guide to subject matter
Art lesson: one of the secrets to creating gorgeous neutrals.

6 Responses

  1. Jennifer Gampell

    How timely. I just returned (part-time) to CM a few weeks after a 16-month absence. I was thinking about contacting you and here you are. And teaching to boot. Albeit from an aerie somewhere in the mountains. Sounds like your life has changed significantly ere last we were in touch. Your work remains as vibrant and compelling as ever. I look forward to receiving your weekly updates. What country will you be exhibiting in?

  2. Rita Moffitt

    this is very exciting. to be invited into the process, the daily decisions, re-draws, touch ups…all the things we non artists do not even think about. and reading about what is going on in your head through the entire thing is fantastic. you have a wonderful way with words as well as with the brush. it just doesn’t seem fair.
    keep it up! love Rita

  3. Jennifer

    Thank you for articulating what it takes to produce a body of work from a single piece to many. I love the images of your studio and the many pieces waving at you for attention. You taught me the value of “minimum 3 hrs. in the studio” even if it’s doing crossword puzzles. Chances are the Muse will show up somewhere in that time. Your work is so energized and “alive,” Amy. Keep it up and thank you for giving us art lessons ta boot!

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