Creative Space III, the finale

An artist describes the space required for her various media projects.

Time to reboot this. I apologize – again – for another long absence, the horde of upheaval that interfered with my presence will become clear below.

It’s been so long, I almost can’t remember where I left off. Good thing nothing ever goes away, not with the internet.

I was in the middle of an X-part series on Creative Space, and the various incarnations I’ve had these past few years, and the growing needs of oil painting and art storage. A lot of things have changed, and so I’ll summarize with pictures.

Mounting & framing for the big show.
Mounting & framing for the big show back in April.

This was the space I was unbelievably lucky to have when I had to prep like 45 paintings for an exhibit back in May. Lots of space to organize the sizes & kinds of frames, and a few tables for wet mounting, matting & framing.

All that is in the past; I have had to move. For now, I’ve moved into a not-quite-permanent but looks a little longer than short-term situation.

My stuff is scattered now across six locations in three New England states, most in storage, basements, garages, even paid climate-controlled storage for the artwork!

And oh, yeah, I have some paintings in the custody of some friends in Michigan at their office & cafe. So that’s seven locations across four states.

Studio facing the back wall.
New temporary studio facing the back wall.
New temporary studio facing the opposite wall. Almost enough to keep two large oils going and leave enough space for other things to happen.

My studio/work space briefly got squeezed tighter and reduced to less than bare minimum in my current living space. But then it expanded and I started breathing again when, desperate because I had a few projects & shows coming up, I found a stunning opportunity for studio space. I was able to relocate most art supplies there, and it serves well as a staging area for paintings on their way to shows and people. Now the trick is to prevent the invasive oil paint from infiltrating the area where the water-based stuff resides. But this miracle has let me keep working, and that’s kind of important.

My furniture is in a friend’s garage not far from there, stationed until the snow starts & he needs to park his car under cover. Most of the rest of my stuff is in a friend’s basement. A few things linger in a friend’s barn.

And about 95% of my art inventory – paintings waiting to be shown and/or sold – those are packed up and stuffed into paid climate-controlled storage at a location mostly convenient between all the places I flutter these days. But it doesn’t offer 24-hour access, so there’s that complication.


Just when things were starting to feel a little settled in this new erratic groove, my car got totaled. I got hit from behind – totally his fault. That’s why I’m writing this in Union Station in Washington DC waiting on a train; I’m on the way to North Carolina to buy a trustworthy car from a trustworthy mechanic friend for a song, a dance, and a painting (not really, but less than half bluebook). 

My car spun and came to stop backed up against a stop sign. Hysterical, yes? Those are my anonymous dear friends in the background.

I’m ok. I conked my head good, and there’s been headachy effects from that which a doctor says is to be expected from a mild concussion. So I’m in ‘normal’ can’t-really-do-anything-but-wait-to-fully-heal parameters. I’m still able to do some things as normal-ish, just some of them have to be with a headache. Between rest & recovery, shock & anxiety, corresponding with the insurance company, shopping for a car, and the travel to get a car, well, this will have eaten several months’ worth of life before it’s over and done with. And it only happened like 2.5 weeks ago.

The whole point of this “Creative Space” series was to spend 2-3 posts detailing the vast amounts of space I need to create and store art, and then spend 2-3 paragraphs on what I need to create and store writing. And I didn’t even get into the space all the scans take up on my hard drives.

So, I’ll jump to the punch line:

My writing has had two major incarnations: The iPad + bluetooth keyboard set up that got me through the first several months, and the 2009 MacBook that currently goes wherever I go, and sits here with me now at Pret-A-Manger in Union Station. I can do this almost anywhere, so long as this thing has power via battery or plug-in. I don’t even need wifi, until it comes time to share things or sync to Dropbox. On a train, in a cafe, at the beach, in bed, on the floor, I can make words ready for your eyes.

A seat & a TV tray or a corner in a cafe offer plenty enough elbow room in the physical world. As for digital space, the only reason my primary writing folder is 1.5GB is because I’ve saved a number of reference images, large PDFs, and character sketch scans into it. Remove all that, the actual writing files don’t even get to 100MB. A tiny sliver of the space I get with the free  level of Dropbox.

In contrast, my graphics and video, I’ve always bought as much computer as I could, generally getting something very upgradable, easily upgradable, so I could add storage, RAM, or whatever as needed. So this has meant ±40lb towers for most of my career, my main machine being one of the last of the tower Mac Pros. All 4 hard drive bays are filled with 1 or 2 TB drives, and the thing is upgradable to 64GB of RAM. Some of that is redundant back-up type things (manual, no RAID), and some of that is my entertainment media, music & movies. But a lot of it is just this stuff I do, scans of my paintings, hi-res versions of book covers I design, and the stock photos I use for them.

Of course I’ve also got a moderate pile of small, medium, and large external drives for backup and such.

And video, holy crap, what video takes up. My video files make my graphics files look like writing files, size-wise. I’ve decided to shelf video as a hobby rather than push it as a professional offering. Assuming I ever get to hobby anything again. 😉

I look forward to the day when the art section of my life is 99% painting, with someone else scanning and managing the digital copies and figuring out storage in both physical and digital space. 

Someday boxes of books and perhaps displays and such for conventions will come with the physical space that a writing career takes up. I still have a few hundred copies of BloodDreams boxed away, and a range of table easels, but I did toss much of the signage, to make room in my life for better signage to move in someday.

I’m in transition, approaching a crossroads, flickering in a state of flux. The graphics part of my visual art has taken a back seat, my fine art sits solidly in the spotlight, with writing waiting anxiously side-stage.

And with that, look out, NaNoWriMo.

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