Friday 14 August 2009

Creative Spaces - Closet Creativity

Artist-writer-oaf Sean Craven of Renaissance Oaf and I have talked about how fascinating it is to peek inside another creative person's studio space. To quote Sean, "I'm always fascinated by the workspaces of creative types. The factories of the culture industry, the monastic hives of the culturally isolated, closets and couches as well as studios or arts centers."

Sean has started things off with Ascending the Lavender Staircase his Workstation and Decor by Default. So let's whisk into the wall of my living room.

My baseball-playing, special education teaching, gorgeous wife Michelle and I live in an ancient 3 story apartment just west of downtown where Littles Italy, Portugual and Brazil meet. It's a two-bedroom, and because our nephew stays over once a week, a few years ago we gave him the second bedroom as his own. Michelle's office moved to the living room. I offered to take one of our two huge living room closets. I didn't want the little guy messing with my painty chemicals.

So let's pull one book out on the shelf and whisk into the wall of my living room. My studio is a closet, painted to look like part of the wall. I don't have a lot of photos of the outside of the studio. Here's one from a couple of year's back. It's behind my holiday smile. Weird colours in that photo. The walls are actually more neutral blue-green.

This is just inside. You can see I have pieces of the Of Two Minds and Meming of Life banners tacked to the door. I also sometimes pour stand oil, a thick-as-honey heated linseed oil on top of my finished paintings, like the diatom fairy painting in the foreground. Gives it a mottled, glossy surface.

The view above my card table/drawing surface. Some pieces from the Migrations banner, and a large drawing about my asthma and lungs in general I did years ago.
Almost every surface of the studio is crammed with my images. I find it helps me to recall brushtrokes or colours I may presently be having trouble with. One of my only non-mybigego images is an article entitled "Evolution, and nothing more" by Jerry Coyne, published in Canada's National Post on Friday 2nd of December, 2005. It was a one page rebuttal to the previous day's insipid "intelligent design" article. It was the first time I had ever read Jerry Coyne, and it electrified me. I was drawing and talking about it like crazy. So now it's plaque-mounted and been in my studio space ever since.
Paintings, collapsible easel, buncha portfolios. Naked humans with mitochondria and trilobites.
They say the trick to taking pictures of oil paints is to use 2 bright bulbs at 45 degree angles or less and very distant from the painting. I paint in a closet. Meh.
My original painting-drawing for the current blog banner actually just moves awkwardly around the studio (below on my paint-box). The drawing is lined up on a piece of bristol that I carelessly got squidges of paint on. I really need to get that framed properly. Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle is under glass in a hinged 12x12 scrapbooking frame.

The wooden flying trilobite necklace Tanja Sova made and gave me is hanging below.
Our home has books in almost every room. Like Bond, I like to have some inspiration and reference close at hand. The bright blue book below the awesome Art S. Buck mannequins and Precambrian toys is my mother's original nursing anatomy book. Books on concept art, atheism, science and art techniques all sit hand in hand on there. And Twisted Toyfare Theatre tends to creep in sometimes.
Paint! I use such thin layers when I paint, many of those tubes are from when I originally worked on my undergrad 12 years ago. I think I have only replaced the lamp black, titanium white and naples yellow. More storage portfolios, one with another diatom fairy from the period when all my people had green skin.
If studio spaces are like a room into the mind of the artist, mine is fit to burst. Or collapse inward and make a crushing singularity.
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This trip into Creative Spaces wouldn't be half as fun if it wasn't continued by others. Some Creative Spaces I'd love to see: Almost Diamonds, eTrilobite, The Day After, Heather Ward Wildlife Art, Claudia Massie and State of the Art. If you participate, feel free to use Sean's excellent logo above! We plan on collecting all the links in a post on Art Evolved.
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Other Creative Spaces so far:
*Renaissance Oaf, Parts one, two, three.
*Bond's Blog

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.
Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***


Sean Craven said...

Glendon! Most excellent to get a glimpse into your personal life. It's really cool to find out that your work set-up has been affected by your relationship with your nephew. I envy the regular contact. I used to have all the kids (granddaughter, grandson, two nieces) over every Thursday, but then they got into school and now it takes a special occasion to see them.

And you may be interested to know that one of the lead characters in my novel is asthmatic and her lung issues play a serious role in the plot. "Turns out that when someone who can't breathe shows up at the emergency room, they get to cut the line."

Peter Bond said...

Great tour of you space! Amazingly I have the exact same wooden shelves in my apartment! (Was yours tough to put together too?) Those poseable models are really neat, where did you get them?

I very much appreciate you covering the walls of your studio with your art. It has to go somewhere! What you need is a museum all to yourself! Glendon Mellow's Museum of Art...

Sean Craven said...

It just struck me -- my buddy Rob, editor-in-chief of Swill, is married to a special ed teacher as well. I wonder if there's something in their backgrounds that prepares them for life with creative types.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Next, I want pictures of your ventilation system. Oils in a closet?

Heather Ward said...

I always love to see others' studios. And thanks for the great idea to post mine, too!

Heather Ward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glendon Mellow said...

Sean! Kids are awesome. My nephew is one of my favourite people on the planet. Totally inquisitive and fun. And we play with action figures and draw.

You do get to cut the line in hospitals with asthma, at least in my experience. Before I started seeing a respirologist, I was in the emergency room twice a year. Asthma attacks are relatively quick. Get a ventolin mask over the patient's face, and check on them some time in an hour. I've sat in trauma rooms behind lead screens, and in supply closets. They shove you anywhere because they can, and so long as you have the mask, you're okay.

Glendon Mellow said...

Bond - yes, those shelves were a pain to put together. Easy instructions, lotsa elbow grease.

The models are ones we sell at my day job, so I know you can get them in Vancouver. I'll email you so I'm not being all salesy here.

The Glendon Mellow Museum of Art sounds intriguing. Admittance costs one pound of light roast coffee...

Glendon Mellow said...

Hey Stephanie! For ventilation, I of course wear a Darth Vader rebreather mask.

Actually it's a common misconception about oil paints. The paints have no toxic fumes of their own, it's the equivalent of leaving olive oil open on a dining room table. It's the solvents that are nasty. I use two different brands that are completely non-toxic, low odor and smell faintly of pine.

Glendon Mellow said...

Heather, I picture your space filled with very patient mammals all waiting their turn for portraits. Occasionally, a coyote eats a roadrunner, but other than that, your artistic space would be full of harmony.

Glendon Mellow said...

Sean, something must have prepared Michelle for life with me...

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