My third day in, after a slow but mostly highly enjoyable start, I began hitting my stride, and am keeping my fingers metaphorically crossed for maintaining that forward motion. I am very glad that I started my summer with work that flowed effortlessly (well, conceptually and technically effortlessly; not in terms of the laborious production).
First, it took time to simply get over the studio itself, with being so overwhelmingly impressed by its novelty, grandiosity, the light (!!!), and its excellent-for-me features. I think I actually didn’t want to mess it up by getting started! Documenting helped; now after sharing it with y’all, I’m eager to load it with my work.
Isn’t the night lighting fantastic? It’s color-corrected, there are also lights in the porch roof, and two (hot-lighted) mini-tracks over the sink and illuminating the long wall, for later, when the work is done. I really like the blue-ish uplights at the skylights. And the daylight is superb…
Friday, I got the studio almost completely set up for the first stage, then had a delightful long visit from (and a somewhat obscenely rich late lunch with) friend Audrey. Our schedules have been so out of sync that we haven’t been able to get together in person for months; I was free, she was at Oxbow, she was free, I was at WSW, etc. It was so good to catch up, to let go and re-hash the entire past mess with someone intimately knowledgeable of it all, and (for the bulk of the time) to discuss our futures, and to laugh and laugh. It will probably be months before we hook up again; she’s about to begin circling the world on a book tour. Just such a Ragdale afternoon is a longstanding tradition between us, whether we are in residence together or not, so it was just absolutely excellent to have.
The comfy studio reading alcove.
That evening, rain, rain, rain, a number of tests that didn’t work out at all, a monster bout of insomnia that had me awake till 5:30, and an alarm that didn’t go off and let me sleep till 11.
Yesterday, Saturday, was a cool, overcast day, with more frustratingly stymied studio tests, so I did what I always do at Ragdale in that situation: put it on the back burner and go for a long prairie and woods hike. The only thing I noticed is that the big bluestem tall grass seems sparse this year, crowded up into the meadow outside my studio, though it still towers over my head. No overt answers to my frustration were forthcoming during the walk, and I began to wonder if ‘the spirit’ had deserted me, or much worse, didn’t live on in the new studio. Hopefully with some grace, I declined an invite to dinner in town w/ the rest of the residents (a bout of noisy hearing struggle being the very last thing I needed or wanted at that point). I went up to the Barnhouse, made a sandwich, and brought it back to eat while watching the sun set behind the woods bordering the prairie, on the studio’s screened porch.
That’s when it all began to click; this, too was a cherished tradition during my years of occupying the old Meadow Studio, and the slightly larger porch is exactly where it was then. The sunset was gorgeous, the past came together with the present, and the spirit said hello by pushing me towards the future: I worked intently till 2:30 and finished the first part of a highly informative, successful maquette. And, once again after all these years, I shined the flashlight out into the dark night prairie, illuminating the glowing eyes of my unseen critter-audience. Ahhhh.
Small but important details:
There’s always an easel in Ragdale studios, which I usually use to support one end of a clothesline. But this one is convertible! I bring this piece of melamine-coated masonite on every residency, to use for dyeing and glue-ing, and now I have a rolling dye table. Sweet.
Don’t laugh! OK, don’t laugh too hard. The lack of a toilet was THE one big drawback to the old Meadow Studio…I would never use any of the buckets that lived there for my work! Meet Iggy, the composting ‘green’ toilet. When you flush, there’s a quick explosive bang…and a warning sign saying not to flush while sitting. No way! But still, Iggy is my new, very welcome friend.
Below: a Lake Forest shop window. Yes. Books. Yikes.
Now: the rest of the maquette, and another prairie walk.