A monsoon rain poured down, leaking through the roof. Papers left in the danger zone became a soggy mess and mold threatened the honey based watercolor paint. On one side of the room, jungle vines snaked in between the screens and the brickwork. A few long tendrils of plantness hung from the ceiling.
My studio had become Jumanji.
In hindsight, it was doomed to fail. Take my word on this, Thailand is not the place for an open air studio, regardless of how romantic the idea might sound. But I had convinced myself that I could take the heat and stubbornly ignored dust wafting into the room every time a scooter whizzed by. For two years I shuffled things over to the dry side and did damage control during rainy season.
I hijacked the second bedroom and sprung for an AC unit. Tables got wiped down and rescued from the old porch; canvases (Gekko poop removed) were hauled in; art supplies were reorganized, categorized, and lovingly laid out like some elaborate surgeon’s tool kit. It was time to work.
What you need to understand is that artists are creatures of habit. They show up to work everyday, whether they want to or not, and having a routine is especially important when it’s the latter. A new space requires all sorts of unexpected adjustments. What’s the best configuration for the tables? Where do the lights go? How to make use of every available nook and cranny to accommodate and compartmentalize stacks of work: drawings in progress, old work, student work, idea sketches, reference material, demos, and my favorite catagory, “B work.” B work is not good enough to frame or put on the website, but has the potential to turn into something fabulous down the road. Like a collage. Ha!
Now where’s that favorite brush of mine, that thumbnail, my tube of lavender? Who moved the scraper? And why is my palette so far away from the easel?
It’s a process. When setting up a new studio, expect some serious delay in the action. Be patient. Get to know the space. But most of all, get back to work. Because it’s the actual production that leads the way, dictating where this goes and that. Chaos comes before order. Just like in painting.