The previous owners (we are only the second owners in 90-odd years) would have called it something else, although we are not sure what. It had all the characteristics of a screened porch when we bought it but was missing one crucial component: an exterior door and steps. We are pretty sure that the room wasn’t a second thought because its walls blend seamlessly with the rest of the stone on the house. Maybe a sleeping porch? It had a latch on the porch side, so maybe a sleeping porch for grown-ups?
What ever it was, it is now the place I paint and write. When possible. This last few months have been so busy that my beloved studio has morphed into a storage unit — my brushes a jumble, piles of papers, and paints in no particular order. I hate disorganization, so today is being devoted to sorting and cleaning and re-ordering all and sundry. My palette is clean, brushes standing in straight lines like the little soldiers they can be, and the pigments all wearing their caps on straight. The army is standing by.
Yes, I get it. It is somewhat grandiose to call a 7 by 10 space a “studio,’ let alone compare it to a battlefield. I have tell my canvases to take a deep breath before I carry them in, and before anything new can be added, something equivalent in cubic area has had to vacate. It’s full.
So here we are again, talking about “stuff.” I do try not to bring home anything which is neither beautiful nor useful, but many old objects, having achieved both, have won a permanent home with us because they possess both form and function. The studio, for example, houses dozens of art supplies, but my eye is calmed when paintbrushes sit in old scotch containers or paints reside in wooden art boxes, many of which were my mother’s. Once in a while an old tube of her oil paint surfaces; miraculously it still spreads properly if you can wrestle the screw top off. There are not many of them because Mom moved immediately to acrylic when it hit the market, and shortly after abandoned that too for a new love —university courses in English and art -- never looking back, even when Dad grumbled that she was always writing essays. A bust of her sits on the stone ledge beside me here (when Theodore doesn't claim the space for bird-watching); there she functions as the principal guardian angel, flanked by photos of her cherubs—my beloved scalliwag, the collie/cocker mix who ruled my life from grades 1 to 6, and the sainted Jewell.*
As the surfaces cleared today, so did my head. Like last year’s mourning dove on our window-ledge, who evicted her first brood before they had any desire to leave and immediately laid an egg, I too might be gestating a new painting or two now that the nest has been thoroughly refluffed!!
* (Jewell’s calm and friendly demeanour failed us only once. I've written about the time dear Maureen had brought her gentle Aussie — Molson —over for tea. He seemed inexplicably stressed until we realized that Jewell was surreptitiously mau-mauing him with flashes of a white snarl. After that, he wouldn’t even get out of the car in our driveway. Well, Maureen’s current Aussie, Blu, who is much smaller than Molson, evened the score this week. Mouths agape, Maureen and I watched Blu and Theodore go at one another in the kitchen. It was the classic cartoonist’s dust-up until Theodore cried uncle. For the rest of the visit, he cowered on my lap and refused to take his eyes off the little champ, whose lovely eyes gleamed with victory. Sorry, but I have to say it: Girls Rule!