The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley
Opening my studio to the public is always a tricky business for me. I have two studios; the one at home is for “clean” projects, and is never open to the public, so the “messy” one at the studio cooperative is the one that people see. On the one hand, people want to see where I work; on the other hand, I am embarrassed to have them see what it looks like when I am really working: glue and paint-splashed plastic everywhere with half-finished projects. Plus, there’s the aspect of showing finished work and wanting it to look nice; displaying my comics amid the debris of a collage or paper-maché work in progress does not seem to be the best sales strategy!
So, I always spend the week before the annual open studio (which was today) tidying up. I try to make whatever little improvements I’ve been ruminating on — this year it was white curtains to cover my tidy, but not very light-reflecting, shelves. I even (for the first time I can remember) went to the garden centre and bought greens, as the hedge guy had done entirely too good a job this past summer. I bought a cute little string of flower-shaped lights. I brought the From the Air series up, as well as big boxes and bags full of cards, prints, and comics. Have I mentioned that my studio is up two flights of stairs and at the far end of the building? My hubby is a wonder — he did most of the final schlepping for me, and bravely asserted that it was good exercise for him!
But for some reason, time always seems to get the better of me. Every year I simplify, whittling down the amount of art I plan to show in my narrow little space. Each time I resolve to restrain my baking frenzy, during which I have visions of hordes of visitors attracted, like moths to flames, to the last crumbs of my killer brownies, telling myself all the while that it is the art that they are coming to see (but I bought a tin of fancy Belgian cookies, just in case).
And yet, and yet — this morning found me baking two batches of shortbread (one ginger, one pecan) and the aforementioned brownies, then finding myself an hour later than I had intended to be there. The From the Air series was not hung, merely set around on the shelves. The greens? No time, and no space with the art not hung. The lights? Ditto. And worst, the place still looked a mess to my eye. I started the event feeling very disappointed.
But as people began arriving, I realized they actually did just want to see the art and talk to me. My studio was not picture perfect; but so what? I had a lovely time talking to visitors and my fellow studio artists (there are 20 of us working in the building in 9 studios). I sold some comics, I sold some cards, and even one little linocut. The ginger shortbread turned out to be the culinary hit of the day. I reacquainted myself with some projects around the studio that I’d like to get back to. And I now have some lovely greens to hang on my door, and some lights to put on the window at home. Let the season begin!