The Art of Working in the same studio with others....

March 24, 2011

Of course, taking art classes you HAVE to work with others around, and working on my MFA required some shared studio space - but there are fine lines between having other artists around vs being alone and the efficacy of each.  There are several personality types I have come across.  First is the " artist who likes to talk" - these can be frustrating when you are trying to work and the other artist continually tells you their life story, or what they had for lunch (kind of like a string of FB quotes on steriods), Second is the "melancholy artist who never talks" - though I actually prefer this type of the two mentioned, it can get to be old hearing the deep sighs from their corner of the studio - and they also lack the creative inspirational spark that can happen when you get two artists together.  Which brings us to number three:  the artist who works, but then has maturity in their field to allow valuable feedback.  In other words, you work quietly each on your own artwork, but can stop and ask for a critique, or discuss various options for the next 'step' you are contemplating on your artwork,  or just having someone to discuss the philosophy of art and it's purpose.  I have a friend that I work with occasionally, we each have a space in our studio for each other and I have found that having another good caliber artist around can bring added inspiration and stronger self critiques of my own work.   And then last but not least, there is a fourth category - - - - critters.  I have not met many artists who have a completely finished studio - by the time it gets completed, you realize it's got to be bigger and thus the cycle of always having a studio 'in progress' begins again.  This aspect of studios often finds creatures other than the artists taking up residence.  When we were in Mississippi, my husband, a potter, worked in what was originally a potting shed turned stable turned carport turned potter's studio - we left the open beams of the ceiling exposed because we liked them and the windows were open most of the time (heating and cooling in the studio???? what a dream!) which led to the generations of mud daubers that returned every spring and summer to build their nests on the ceiling beams.  One day as Robert worked on the wheel throwing pots, and the mud daubers flew lazily around him, he thought 'I really ought to knock all those things down" but looking down with his hands in clay and seeing the mud daubers flying up  - - with clay - also creating with it.  Ah well, he lived with the mud daubers!  And for some reason, wrens have always been attracted to Robert's pottery shelves of powdered glaze ingredients.  I have never remembered a year when we didn't have to wait to fire the kiln (fearing the heat would be too much for the newly hatched wrens) until the wren babies were leaving the nest, and at times having to chase them around the studio, catching them and gently taking them outside so they wouldn't keep flying against the windows and shelves!  But this year was going to be different!  This year, we had insulated the studio, and were working hard on placing rabbit wire over all the holes of the corrugated metal roof - not very attractive, but this year I was determined not to share our studio with the wrens or the squirrels!  The squirrels here in our Tennessee studio are so bold and arrogant as to lazily jump from rafter to rafter while I sculpt away underneath them.  I wouldn't mind so much, but it is disconcerting to hear them knawing away on the rafters where they nest.  I mean, I don't eat THEIR homes - I wish they wouldn't eat mine!  so we insulated and when we noticed bits of insulation pulled out all over our back yard, we realized we inadvertantly provided great nesting materials for various birds and squirrels, so then we started trying to close up all the holes around the metal roof.  We thought we had them licked, until the same tenacious squirrel found, yet, another way in and that's when I realized that this spring... the squirrels had won - she already had babies.  So we opened up the corner of the roof we had blocked.  I hear the four squirrel babies occasionally chatting away with each other, at times Mama Squirrel pokes her head out into the studio and watches me while I work (when she's not ganwing on my rafters).... but after the babies leave, THEN we'll block the hole up!  I thought we had at least moved forward in some degree this year, that's when I noticed that wrens can actually squeeze under the threshold of our studio door - even with nest building twigs in their beaks.  Oh well, they're creating too - what better place then - than an artist's studio.

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