Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Dearest Drawing Table

In 1983, during my freshman year in college at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design I spent an incredible sum of money on a drafting table. Well, at the time $95 seemed like a fortune, representing almost two months worth of grocery money and a good portion of my student loan money for that year. I was hurting financially for a long time after I bought the table but in retrospect it was one of the very best purchases I have ever made.

The drawing table has been with me ever since, moving along with me, in and out of sixteen different "studios" all located in a variety of dorm rooms, crappy apartments and loft spaces, nicer apartments, crappy houses and finally into the last two nice houses that we have lived in. I have lugged that thing up and down stairs, elevators, shoved it into small car trunks and it still has the numbered sticker on it from the commercial moving company that we used for our last cross country move. This table has been completely comfortable and useful in every surrounding that I put it into and it has always been the place where I have done most of my art from student work to developing the landscapes when I got back to serious painting five years ago.

After I began to work on larger panels a few years ago I gradually shifted over to using an easel and my dear drawing table was shuffled off to the side, still valuable though, as a surface to hold junk, an occasional still life set up, and the space underneath it was perfect for my sand down pile.

When I moved my studio up to the attic, I did not plan to include the table this time and it has been sitting in the old studio space along with the stuff that I still have to sort through (waiting for the kids to go back to school before I tackle that room, only because they ALL want to help me paint the walls and good grief, I can't bear that thought of that particular kind of help!) and still with the sand down pile underneath it. There was some talk of setting it up in my son's bedroom, but I just couldn't bear the thought of it being lost in the junk that piles up, well, everywhere in his room. My table deserves better that that!

I finally decided that I had to have it in my studio, even if it was just for sentimental reasons. This weekend I scooted my new project table back towards the wall a few feet, which left some room in front of it for the drawing table but I wasn't exactly thrilled about this spot because it looked like it was going to really make my studio crowded. Exactly what I didn't want to do and exactly what Doug says I always do in my workspaces anyway (he's right).

So for the seventeenth time I took the table apart (easy) took the top off (needed help with that) carried the pieces upstairs and put it back together (hopefully for the last time).

And it turns out that it is perfect in this spot and in this studio, just as it has always been everywhere else. I now have an extra big, high, flat surface to work on AND space for a new sand down pile. Still not too crowded up here either.

But really, that's it. No more furniture in my studio. I mean it. Really.


Steven LaRose said...

I've got a table very similar with the same sort of story. . . except, in our recent move, it somehow became a cutting table in my wife's sewing room. I took the tray thing off years ago. . . . Hey, wait!
I have never seen so many panels ready to go in my life!!!! That pile of lumber simultaneously creates jealousy and inspiration.

Tracy Helgeson said...

It's sort of a crazy turn of events the way I ended up with so many panels on hand. And incredibly ironic now, since I don't really have anything going on for awhile.

I find the pile to be inspiring and exciting on a good day and pretty damn irritating on a bad day.

Chris Rywalt said...

Considering I currently have ZERO panels to paint on (and no time to get to the studio), I think you're doing pretty well.

Anonymous said...

Yeah...good luck with keeping the furniture out...

Traci Boya said...

I too have a drawing table that an ex-boyfriend's brother made out of wood for his architectural classes (circa 1980).
It's probably about 1/2 the size of your's, but it has traveled with me from Wisconsin to New Jersey to California. It sits in my studio today and I use it regularly. I've tried other tables, but they just don't feel right. I've had it for over 26 years! I love it and it is definitely a part of me. I'm sure it'll be with me for the rest of my life! I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one sentimental about a table!