Monday, April 9, 2012

Summer Camp

Little girls love their playhouses.  Turns out, big girls do, too.  Welcome to my morning commute.  And before you go hating me, at least listen to the story.

We built this little summerhouse (and at this point, Joe, who REALLY built it, looks at me and says "what's this WE business?") around a group of old windows we found lying on the side of the road - which was the subject of an earlier post.

Well, truthfully, it sat filled with junk for six years.  Every summer I would look at it with longing as I would pass by on my way to the garden to pick tomatoes.  Then, several weeks ago, I found myself faced with an important artwork deadline and no choice but to finish that deadline three states away from my studio here in our house.  I was not optimistic that anything good could come of that.  I have a hard enough time being productive when I'm actually IN the studio - much less three states away.  But as it turned out - I tripled my productivity during that week.  My wheels began turning.  I realized that being away from my cable TV, my internet, and my land-line telephone were actually BLESSINGS.  Who knew?

So I came straight home and did something radical.  I moved my studio into the summerhouse - away from my cable TV, my internet and my land-line phone.
With a view like this out my new "studio" window, why didn't I think of this years ago?
My new digs aren't anything fancy.  The old screen door came from the salvage yard for the whopping price of $5, and the window boxes aren't filled with pink and white impatiens - yet.
Just inside the screen door, you can see the storage wall that we built into the house all those years ago - long before I ever had the idea to use the place as a studio.  I had the MOST fun with cans of spray paint when we first built, and decided that the colors still suit my needs - so I left it alone.  The mirror is an old church window - also from the salvage yard.  We added the mirrored pieces ourselves.  The "countertop" is actually made of two long boards from the lumber yard.  We rounded the edges and put multiple coats of polyurethane on them to stain and seal.
My artboard is protected from the hot morning and afternoon sun by rattan window shades.  All of the windows are operational, so I can get cross breezes.  This being the South, however, cross breezes cease to be of any value between the end of April and Halloween - so I can see a portable air conditioning unit in my future.  And the mess "is what it is".
I didn't exactly clean the place up for your visit.

Little Jackie, the studio cat, doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.  The summerhouse was his corporate headquarters when we had it filled with junk.  He had his own secret side door for a quick entry during winter snows and summer thunderstorms.  Now that I have moved in, he has taken up residence on one of the top shelves beside the mirror, spending big chunks of his day sleeping and gazing out across the garden.  Every now and then he will voice an opinion on whatever I'm working on.
And speaking of studio cats, Little Jackie's mentor, my beautiful Tylenol (who left us last year) is buried - not by accident, it turns out - right at the edge of the path that leads up to my new studio.  He greets me in spirit every time I pass by, and I see his sweet face everywhere I turn.
And I do work.  This is the view directly in front of me.  The sunsets are especially sweet.
Peeping around the corner of the potting shed, you can see how close I am to the garden - my favorite source of inspiration and a place I can never get enough of.  Because of our great seasonal weather, I fully expect to be in residence up here from at least late February through Thanksgiving.  And depending on what kind of heating solution I can come up with, you may just find me here in winter, too.  (Can you hear Joe laughing in the background?)

Whatever the case, I'm now happily painting away in my own grown-up version of summer camp.  S'mores, anyone? 


  1. Well, if you have a winter like this last winter, I can see you hanging out there a lot! And where's the "mess"? I don't see any mess! All I see is a great place to work! And great company too! Studio cats are a MUST-HAVE!


  2. **sigh**
    As jealous as one could be...
    It's beautiful! Thank you for the tour (wiping the drool) and peeks at your garden and furry art friend :)
    Happy painting!

  3. I can agree with Michelle Palmer - I live in 2 rooms apartment (studio kind) no balcony and no green areas, sooo.. But when that is said I must tell you I am happy for you. The photos are great, they give a sense of peace and atmosphere. Good for you!!!

  4. Good for you, Beth! I love it.....and all the light! I'm with Diane, though, where is the mess!?? I took the tv out of my studio not too long ago and I LOVE it. I was kidding myself when I said it wasn't a distraction....I hardly even play the radio now!! Silence is golden. Your studio and yard is beautiful. Happy painting indeed!

  5. Oh Beth! I just LOVE it! What a dream little studio!