Friday, 23 July 2010

Step away from the colour chart…

With inhuman speed, the studio has been built! In less than a week, working long days and well into the evening, my boyfriend and his father have assembled the main part of the building. It looks fabulous; although one disappointment is that the lovely green roof tiles I chose can only be seen from an upstairs window of the house. This is because the garden slopes up towards the end where the studio is, and although the roof has an apex, it is a shallow one (to comply with ‘permitted development’ rules) and so from the garden the studio looks like it has a flat roof.

It’s a shame because boyfriend spent nearly two whole days on the roof sorting it out. From up there he could see across surrounding gardens, with a view of people, chickens, goats and other interesting sights. A neighbour’s cheeky little boy shouted out “Hey, what are you building?” “A Tardis” replied boyfriend. “It’s too big to be a Tardis” countered the boy to which my boyfriend said “It’s an Irish Tardis: it’s smaller on the inside”
(Apologies to my American readers who don’t watch ‘Doctor Who’, there is no short explanation for this joke.)

After the building went up we spent all weekend giving it a coat of wood stain; which blended it a little more into its surroundings. The next thing to do is to finish the inside woodwork, as with most projects of this sort, pieces didn’t fit perfectly, adjustments and trims need to be added and the window sides and sills need to be fitted. I have already been choosing paint for the inside. Boyfriend is horrified that I want to paint all that lovely wood, but it’s a little too dark for an art studio at present. When I stand inside I get that line from a Beetles song in my head: “Isn’t it good, Norwegian wood?”

Men are wonderful and clever at lots of things but should never be allowed to choose décor. The only ones I have ever met with any idea of taste or colour sense have been gay or narcissists. The average heterosexual male can only see the following colours: Bright Red, Cobalt Blue, White (walls) Silver (chrome) and Black (leather). Did you know men are also four times more likely to be colour blind than women? I once had such a student in my class, a lovely chap who drew very well, but had trouble with paint. “Is this ok?” he asked one day whilst painting pink shadows on snow. He confided in me after class that when he was growing up he thought the family cat was green.

So having dispensed with male interior design advice, I intend to leave the large ceiling beams exposed, and paint the rest a soft off white. Other woodwork may be painted soft grey-green or aqua, tester pots have been purchased. Paint colours have been challenging as the ranges tend to have softer wall colours, and strong ‘woodwork’ colours, which is not much help when the walls are also the woodwork.

I would like to work on the studio all the time, but art business must be kept up with, at least the urgent stuff. Wednesday morning I went to hang my work in the local church in the centre of town for the Summer Art Show, featuring local artists. I have a screen 4ft by 6ft. As well as large watercolours I am displaying some mosaics. I am always a little nervous about the possibility of theft with these. I have never had work stolen, but it happens. I defy anyone to shove one of my large glazed paintings under their jacket, but the mosaics are much easier to pick up. Today (Friday) I must take my turn at Stewarding. I can think of better things to do for three hours than sit in the church, but local exhibitions are only run with the help of the participants, and we all have allocated tasks to complete. I am also helping to put sold work in A-Z order ready for collection on Sunday at the end of the exhibition. Which in itself is a task charged with optimism; let’s hope the quantity of sales warrants my alphabetical skills. I have also just found out that the lovely lady artist who is sharing this task with me is dyslexic!

Last night I went to the private view with my friend G. I tried to persuade the teen to accompany me but she was disgusted with the food last time, which is frankly the only reason she attends. Crisps, cheese straws and apple juice are her preferences, but in an attempt to go ‘up market’ the organisers of the previous exhibition prepared smoked salmon (we are vegetarian and do not eat fish), some scary looking canapés with indeterminate filling, and sparkling elderflower drink. The teen, surprisingly, won’t touch anything fizzy. As a result she skulked around and yawned loudly during the opening speech.

Because of her refusal to come last night, I was unable to undertake something I like to call ‘Undercover Market Research’, which my daughter vulgarly calls spying.  Have you ever wondered what people are saying about your artwork when you are not around? You too can benefit from undercover market research. You will need the following items:

1 Teenager (borrow one if you don’t have your own)
1 Bar of chocolate (to pay your teenager)

Next it is a simple matter of positioning your teenager near to your work. Whilst you socialise elegantly at the other side of the room, the teenager listens in to feedback about your stuff. Unlike an adult, people will never find it unusual that a teenager is loitering about looking vacant. It’s just what they do. Despite the pitfalls of the inaccuracy of teenage reporting, nevertheless you will hear things people would never say about your work within earshot. It’s funny and interesting, but I would not recommend undercover market research for those of a sensitive disposition. And remember, don’t part with the chocolate until your teenager has completed their task, if you feed them first you won’t see them for dust.

Breaking News: How exciting, I have sold 1 painting and two mosaics. One little blue and white heart mosaic that I don’t even have a photo of, it was only 10cm by 10cm, and my most recent painting and mosaic (see photos). Strange I should have sold such recent work, perhaps I am improving… Apparently at the Private view 20 pieces of work were sold, proof that there are still people around untouched by the recession. That’s me happy then, and it will help towards the new studio furniture I need to purchase!


  1. funny post and beautiful work. Your studio is fab! I agree, keep the beams.

    Thanks for answering my blog. THe prosellers thread is I have no idea why its private. Its the same stuff, at least what I can see. Maybe it suppose to make us feel good for spending so many hours for a few we get to see a private forum.

    SO, dont worry, your not missing anything. Plus, if there is anything I see on their thats worth while Ill be the first to post it in the regular forum. But thats just

  2. It looks splendid already, Michelle - you must be very excited about it! (I've been in trouble with chippies myself because I insisted on painting their precious timber!)

    I like that painting - not surprised it was sold! Has a tremendously sunny feel about it!

  3. great post, beautiful studio, you must be so anxious to get settled into it.