My art studio is in the basement. On a sunny day, the light seeps in the two tiny windows on the northeast side. You have to catch it just right and work quickly before it moves south. It's not particularly warm down there and it's cluttered with books and papers and half done paintings. My easel stands in a corner, an acrylic raven in a turquoise sky waits for his wings.
I live in Antartica this week. I was not going to step a Sorel outside. I was also suffering from the flu. So, I decided to paint a series of desert succulents. Maybe I should finish carving out that horse in linoleum. Or what about pounding in the rivets on that handmade journal? The one with that Japanese fabric. Wolves on linen. I really should finish that once and for all. I could set up my Magnolia sewing machine and make a sarong with the elephant batik tapestry from India.
I made numerous trips up and down the stairs, lugging art supplies, balancing jars of brushes and tubes of paint on my table easel, pencils in my mouth, carrying as many items as possible in one haul. I'm going to work in the dining room on the big oak table, directly in front of the sunny window. Close to the whistling teapot, the heat of the pellet stove, the comfort of a stereo spinning records by Gregory Alan Isakov:
give me darkness when i’m dreaming, give me moonlight when i’m leaving
give me mustang horse and muscle, cuz i won't be goin' gentle
give me slant-eye looks when i’m lying, give me fingers when i’m crying
and i ain't out there to cheat you, see i killed that damn coyote in me…
Only recently I discovered canvas paper. With a stick of charcoal I sketched out a yucca. Mixing white acrylic with phthalo green is one of my favorite things to do. Adding some other shade of blue to that it makes for a pretty southwestern sky, which is the only color of sky I ever seem to want. It's in most of my paintings. I squeeze out cactus yellows and greens and a pearly white pod with a tinge of vanilla.
I don't have the right brushes. So I use the small flat one anyway. My hand shakes. But, I've only had one cup of Great Northern organic coffee! My head is pounding. I take more ibuprofen. I drink more tea. I take a break. Looking out the window, I can see the wind is showing off again. Have you ever seen a water spout over a lake? I just saw a tornadic snow spout in my yard. A snownado. I check the temperature gage outside. -14. Toasty. Compared to yesterday's -26. Gosh, I hope the horses are okay.
I add some jet black detail to set off the colors in my desert scene and I really need some new brushes! Oh, forget it. Frustrated, I smear the paint around on the enamel tray with my fingers, crumple up the painting and throw it in the trash. There. Now I can start working on the pony in linoleum. The trouble with carving a block is, you really don't know how it's going to turn out until you roll out the paint, very thinly, lay down the most expensive piece of cotton printing paper, apply just the right amount of pressure on the carved block, for exactly the right amount of time, and then pray it printed evenly and looks amazing. If it doesn't then there's really not much you can do about it. Sometimes that goes in the trash, too.
My horse did turn out alright. Not great. I will probably carve another one today. Or maybe I will carve a bison puffing out breath clouds in the fog.