A friend of mine asked to visit the studio. I said no.
I feel protective of the work right now. Drawings scattered on the floor form an obstacle course of images. The chosen ones are stuck to the wall with a bit of blue tape, their edges curling towards me as if in need of a hug. Paintings in progress lay around the studio in varying stages of undress, vulnerable. Some seek attention, patches of stark white canvas exposed for all the world to see. Others, further along, sit patiently. Confident. Smug. And then there’s the problem child over in the corner. Perfectly well two days ago before taking a bad turn.
It’s not just the work that needs protecting. It’s me. Some of my blank canvas is showing too. I’m up against a deadline and trying new things, a stressful combination. An alternate vision hangs in the vicinity of my peripheral vision; not quite in focus. When I turn my head, it turns with it, remaining out of clear sight. Such a tease. It brushes up against me like a cobweb, tickles while I’m sleeping.
Firmly believing that the answer lies in the process itself, I boldly put paint to canvas. A lot of canvas. At last count, there were sixteen works in progress, all in the messy middle phase, the dark phase, awaiting resolution. Streets scenes dominate, steep diagonals leading to a focal point, a reward for making the trip. Figures appear in mirrors, lean against walls, bodies suggested by a few brush strokes. I put something down and it talks back.
One of the best aspects of having a studio is the door. Upon arriving, I shut it.
Holed up in my bomb shelter, I draw. I paint. Have a productive hour. Screw up. Make a mess. Give myself pep talks. Dance. Shuffle stuff around. Breakthrough. Dress like a slob. Hate everything. Pat myself on the back. I listen to archived episodes of radio programs for eight hours straight, just to block out my thoughts.
I have complete faith.
But I’m not waiting around for clarity or inspiration. The answer is in the work itself, so I keep at it. After I finish a few pieces according to the new specs, I’ll put out the welcome mat.
Until then, my friend will have to wait.