Today is one of those days. The kind of day that I need to bootstrap myself into looking for the next thing I should do, do what needs to be done, attend to what should be attended to. I don’t have to tell you how difficult it is during the Time of Covid because we’re all in it together, but I will. I will because I am certain you’ll understand, because you are going through your own Covid times too.
Being an artist has certain rhythms, long and short cycles. Just like any other thing you love, you primp it, touch it, admire it, or fix it up where it needs help. In this case, it is my current work, my studio, and my tools and paints. Plus I am on the verge of losing my studio and I need to find a new one. It’s in the name of a good cause. I am turning my studio into a bedroom and the storage area into a bathroom for my mother, my 91-year old mother. It’s probably not what you imagine. She’s on top of her game, drives, shops, does everything she’s always done. She just needs a safe place to live, so I offered up my studio space thinking I’ll move into one of the art studios around the area or use an industrial clean storage space, but there’s nothing available. Nothing. In fact there isn’t even any regular storage space available to store my art due to the huge firestorms swirling around the San Francisco Bay Area. So now I have to get creative - pull canvases off frames and roll them together? Have a massive moving sale? Build a storage shed? Just wait for divine providence to send something my way?
There’s a non-definitive timeline intricately entwined here. That is the plans I submitted to the county building department are clocking against wet boards sequestered in my studio-soon-to-be bedroom. I don’t think I told you yet, but I am planning a performance art reception in Menlo Park on Friday 13 in November. Normally, my muse and I would be all amped up, cranking out new pieces like a maniac, painting until 3am only sleeping 4 hours. Instead I am feeling dragged down by the imminent move.
But there’s a bigger problem buried in my disappearing studio problem. There are massive materials failures on a very cool, 3x3-foot triptych I’ve been working on for the last 6 weeks. Normally I’d be done a week ago and have started three more pieces for the show, but … a few weeks ago, one of the layers on all three boards bubbled up tiny water blisters, like they had small pox or something. It’s unheard of. Why? I asked myself and the fine art paint manufacturer. I didn’t change my paint or medium, so they figured it had to be a bad batch. I scraped off what I could and readjusted the image to fit the new texture, turning the original landscape idea into an underwater giant kelp scene. Then I did another pour over my new painting. However, this time the surfaces crackled.
I bet that if that happened to you, you’d heave them out in spite, or cry, or do both. I actually did want to do all those things. I groaned loud enough my husband walked over to ask what happened. I couldn’t talk about it. It was just too painful. I got a headache. I went outside and practiced calming breathing. I had plans for that art to be the centerpiece of the November art reception. I couldn’t do anything about it that night. I had to sleep on it. The next day an artist friend of mine came by. She looked at it and said she thought there was promise. I nodded and together we said in unison, “There are no mistakes in art, only opportunities!”
I started material tests on 5x9-inch art boards to see what is the real culprit. I can’t believe that a trusted fine art paint maker would send out two bad batches of material. And I don’t want to throw away gallons of media. So far, except for one, the test boards are looking good. I narrowed it down to one bottle that produces a water blister layer. I think that once that layer is on, you can’t add anything on top or it will react badly. So now I have a situation to contemplate. I can’t present a cracked finish, even if it looks good, like a cracked ice scene. I have to seal up the cracks for archival purposes, so it will last a long time without flaking our getting dust and dirt in the spaces. I think I have a solution, but I need a big needle like device. I will pour gold and silver paint into every crevice and it will look stunning.
I’ll give the studio and art storage solutions a bit of time to resolve. I am putting it out there and let the law of attraction find a place for me and my work. It’s worked that way many times before and fretting about it doesn’t help. It only makes me glum and sleep deprived. Next time, I’ll post a picture of the gold and silver threaded giant kelp paintings and let you know where my new studio is located (knock on wood).