Studio Journal 4: Archaeology of Flat Surfaces

Every room tells a story. A room full of stuff tells even more stories, if you can focus on each bit and its interrelationship to other bits. Which is a romantic way of talking about the impressive pile of papers and other studio detritus that is accreting on my flat files table top.

When busy, I often grab what I need and go, not putting stuff back in order (if there even was one to start with). Somehow, the craziest part of my studio mess got even crazier over the last week, in alignment with this principle. The heap of 2017 art that I’ve been meaning to put back in its portfolios and folders after its photoshoot of several posts back has been overlaid by more recent grab-and-go events, as you can see here:


The evidence is clear. The top layers on the left reveal to the discerning eye that I’ve been teaching a perspective class. The stack of galactic cat drawings on the right are signs that I’ve been working on the Compendium of Galactic Felines project, but was interrupted with another piece of art to be done (more about that in a bit) and needed someplace relatively safe to put them. On top of other drawings is always a good bet.

So tearful, guilty confession time…? Some handy excuses? Nope. My resolution to be honest and gentle with myself this year holds firm. A week without progress on the studio cleanup is not worth getting angsty about. Especially since it’s because of being productive. Here’s what led to the Compendium drawings being moved:

6 Compendium cover stars.jpg

This, my friends, is the almost-finished cover for the Compendium. If you look closely (maybe zoom in on it), you can pick out many cat constellations. It’s supposed to be a bit hard to see, like lying on your back in a field, looking at a night sky and gradually finding first the Big Dipper and then the little one, Cassiopeia, Orion… but if you were part of a cat civilization, this is what you might populate the sky with. I’ve still got some finishing touches to put on it, but I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turning out.

The perspective workshop was a lot of fun, with some very smart and motivated people sticking out a whole day of thinking very hard. I’m always pretty exhausted after teaching this subject, and this one was no exception. But here’s some good news: I’m going to start making some perspective lessons to go on this very blog. so if you missed it, live far away, or would just like a review, I’m hoping to start posting those in the next week.


An artist friend suggested, after seeing these posts about the studio, that I start writing about some of the little things that I have around the room. I thought that was a neat idea. so will try to make this a regular feature.

I have a lot of little models around the studio. Some I have made, but most I have bought or been given. I move them around and they suggest stories to me; most never get written, but it’s stimulating and fun play for the mind. I’m not going to tell you what story is happening here, because I think it will be more fun to make up your own; but I’ll tell you about the objects.

The tall fellow in the old-fashioned swimsuit on the left is Professor O’Gumfry, an elfin wizard from “the old country”. He’s life-sized. I made him in my comics class, and he is my first-ever polymer clay sculpture. You can see his complete development here. I did end up making a one-page comic about him for the class project, but it didn’t do justice to the backstory I had developed for him. Someday, Professor, your story will be told.

The two grey people are articulated artist models, fancy versions of the little wooden guy standing between them. I’ve since seen even fancier ones, that I hanker after with stars in my eyes, but for now they are my darlings when I need to do an unusual pose that I can’t quite visualize. I’ve never been able to use the simple old-fashioned ones for that purpose, and always felt just a bit lacking in that; drawings I’ve made using them always came out a bit, er, wooden.

The turtle and the frog are part of my ever-growing collection of animal models, mostly made by Safari. Every time I get a coupon to the Michaels craft store (never shop there without a sale or your coupon!) I go pore over the wonderful little wild animals and farm animals, dinosaurs, dragons, and even people models. Alas, they seem to be phasing out their stocks at our local store, and I’ll have to get my fix somewhere else, I fear. These are something I would have been absolutely ga-ga over as a kid, and I see no reason to not give that kid some retroactive treats now and then. “Besides,” I say, “they’re useful to draw from and for my classes” (spoken in a very grown-up, virtuous tone of voice). Some people need diamonds and trips to Tahiti. Not me, just give me animal models.

That little white loaf-shaped cat? Someone handed me some paper-clay to play with. Wonderfully soothing, any kind of molding material. And the teeny-tiny magnifying glass held by Mr. Tall-Bald-and-Grey was from a Christmas cracker from this past season’s celebrations.

I’m going to close with a quote from a blog post by Austin Kleon that rang like a bell for me:

You can clear space in your day, clear space on your desk, and clear space in your mind, but at some point you have to move your fingers. — Austin Kleon


2 responses to “Studio Journal 4: Archaeology of Flat Surfaces

  1. Esperanza would be interested in the tall gray fella sitting down. I suspect she’d have a fight on her hands since his woman is sitting down there too. She’s still single and looking, you know.

    Seems like you’ve added yourself a little project to do, if you intend to write about the objects in your studio. I can’t imagine taking that on. Would be interesting to nose around and have a look-see at what you have. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha, yes, he would probably be a hot date for Esperanza! I kind of think of the two grey people as siblings, so although the grey lady might check Esperanza out, she’d just be making sure she’d be a good part of the family.

    I have to admit, I looked around the studio and kind of went “uhhhh…” for a bit. But I expect once I’ve done it a couple of times it will get easier. Anyway, no commitment here, it’s an experiment — I did include the weasel-word “try”!

    Liked by 1 person

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