Rosy Hill, 2008, Oil on Panel, 18x24
And so all of a sudden I am getting a new studio.
Let me start from the beginning. I had a gorgeous, huge studio over the garage of our house in Utah. As fate would have it however, the kids were still very young and my time to paint was very limited. I did manage to get some work done there, but mostly the room turned into a place to hide the things I didn't want the kids to get into. We moved to NY, my youngest went off to all day kindergarten, leaving me with time to paint. But no space. I commandeered one of our two old house living rooms and managed to cram about half of my stuff from the old studio into it. The rest is in our icky old house basement. When it turned out that I would actually be doing A LOT of work in that room, I began to whine and scheme about getting a new studio, one with running water, natural light and well, space. 1000 square feet minimum, that was my dream. Lately I have toyed with building a whole new structure on our property, separate from the house (I vacillated daily about whether or not I wanted to have a studio not connected to the house-I still do a lot of house related multi-tasking while painting) and having a huge light and airy studio in a barn like structure seemed really appropriate for me. But mostly the plan for the last few years was to tear down our sagging metal, attached garage, replace it with a new structure that would be my studio and then eventually add a new garage in front of it. I have had many different plans concerning the details, but that basic idea was what we pretty much decided to go forward with. Well, I decided, Doug mostly had a look of sheer terror on his face whenever I mentioned a new studio.
His terror was well founded because either plan was going to be really expensive. Like we might as well build a new house expensive. So a few months ago we (ok, I admit it, I am the one who decided) decided on a temporary solution. We have this great, unfinished, old house attic. It's mostly uninsulated, cold in the winter (we stored food up there last winter) and blazing hot in the summer. There are mice, bats, and piles of dead black flies. We use it to store junk and to hide the kids Christmas presents and every once in awhile one of our cats gets up there and comes down all covered with old house attic muck.
The plan was to get that attic finished and Doug would move his office up there (you can probably see now where I am going with this) and I would then take over the second living room, which would double my work space. This seemed like a great idea, except that I really wasn't so excited about it. Clearly, since I never even mentioned this plan here. I am already taking over the second living room and so I wouldn't be getting all that much more space. Also, and I think this is what was really bothering me, is that I have been lamenting NOT having a family room. It just didn't seem right that so much of the beautiful living space in our old house would be used as a studio and not as a family space.
But we decided to go ahead and last Tuesday, my very favorite crew of two, Tom and Matt came and got to work. Our paths cross in our daily lives, (small town) and it is always nice to have them here. They are appreciative of a home made lunch or cookies or banana bread and this time (they were here awhile back and fixed our porch) they have already gone home with more than a dozen eggs from our chickens. By Friday Tom and Matt had framed out the knee wall, cut the opening for new and bigger windows, patched the wood floorboards and the electrician had done most of the wiring.
After they left, I went up to check it out and it hit me. It is the perfect space for me. A bit impractical in a few ways; for example getting panels up and down the tight, old house stairwell will be challenging, it's dark and there is very little natural light, there is no water and I am guessing that even though it will be insulated, it will be dang hot in a another few months. It will also be a challenge to multi task in the rest of the house, let the dogs in and out and hear if anyone is at the door.
BUT. The floor space is 25x35 feet, giving me about 875 feet, compared to 256 square feet in each of the living rooms that I have now. Of course about half of the attic space is knee wall space, however, that is actually perfect. Much of the reason I need a bigger studio is to have room to store finished and unfinished panels, supplies and packing materials. In the attic I will have about 420 square feet of work space and the rest is storage galore!
The rest of the hurdles are manageable. The natural light in my current studio is bad and I mostly depend on artificial light anyway. The new attic windows are north facing and I will set up my painting area in front of them to take full advantage. A window air conditioner will probably do the trick in the summer and I already have to walk to the other side of the house to rinse my brushes, so what's a few steps up and down an old staircase? I think the bats and mice will relocate and I don't mind sweeping up a few flies now and again.
Doug will get the whole back living room and since he will be downstairs, he could also help with the house stuff. (maybe) And that will leave our front living room to be used as a living room! With a TV! And seating for six! How exciting!
Even though Doug was really looking forward to having his own work space, separate from the hubbub of the activity of the house, he graciously agreed to let me steal his studio. Well and the promise of a little extra sex once in awhile helped. Heh. He'll still get a good sized room to himself and maybe we'll add a door to keep things separate.
Holy Toledo, people, do you know what this all means? I will be able to stand back from my work to look at it. I can work on several large panels at a time. I will have north light, storage AND track lighting. I won't have to pile empty boxes and other junk on top of my panels in order to discourage the cats from sleeping on them, nor will I have to worry about Mr. Wilson lifting his little leg and peeing all over the $120 dollar birch panels that are stacked against the wall!
The attic will be pure luxury. And the sex will be good too. I will post pictures soon. Of the attic, NOT the sex.