• Michelle Cordova

Studio Life...

The life of an artist is often a lonely one. An actor prepares, then shows their work in the moment when they are on stage, or in front of a camera, surrounded by people (in non-global pandemic times, of course). The same with dancers, and musicians. Their performances are in front of people for instant gratification and recognition of the skill the artist exhibits. The painter does all of the exciting stuff when they are alone, and no-one is watching. The painter, then, puts their work out into the world, and maybe people see it, and maybe they don’t. Nobody got to see what went into it, the hours spent making a spark of inspiration, into concept, into process, into a finished work of art. I suppose that’s why Open Studios is such an important event for us. For a few hours, the spotlight is on us and we can finally share what we do behind closed doors.

Everyday I work in my studio is different, but there are some things that happen behind the scenes, I’d like to share with you. Some of it may seem silly, or simple, but it works for me, and my creative process, so, here it is…

On an average studio day, I walk up to the outside door which leads to all of the art studios upstairs. Outside, I peep the studio garden, and maybe pause to dead head some spent flowers and leaves.

Art Studio Garden
Studio Garden

Once inside, I walk up the stairs, and down the hall to my studio. For whatever reason, secretly, I hope it’s all still there. I open the door. It is all still there, of course. I say, “hello” out loud, set my stuff down, open the window shade, turn on the light, fan, and air, cool or warm, depending on the season. If I’ve brought coffee, or food, I sit and eat it. I sort of “arrive” in my space. Sometimes, I let the air do it’s thing while I lock the studio and go downstairs to water and tend to the garden some more.

After settling in, eating, gardening, I’m like, “O’kay, Michelle, enough fiddling around, let’s get to work.” (out loud). I usually have one to three projects going at one time. I have two tables. One table may have a watercolor project going, and the other table, acrylic paintings in the works, or one table may be set up for just for teaching.

If I’m teaching on a studio day, I arrive a minimum of one hour prior to lesson start time. This is to prep, and calm any nerves (yes, I've been teaching for over a decade, and I still get a wave of adrenaline right before every class).

Paint Water
Paint Water

When my studio day is done, I shut everything off, and do a check list (also, out loud). “O’kay, fan’s off, air’s off, window’s closed, and everything is clean.” I say, “Goodbye, I’ll see you.” Another satisfying day of work.

What happens during those logged in studio hours can sometimes be magic. When I'm painting, I feel the connection to my fellow artists, to artists who inspire me, to all of art history, to all of the teachers who brought me to this point, and to my students. I have moments of revelation about life outside the studio. I discover new techniques and materials, new ideas for teaching. It's too much fun to describe, and really is a solo act for the artist to enjoy. Studio life can be lonely, but it's rewarding, fulfilling, and I never stop being grateful for being able to do what I love in a dedicated space.

Thank you for reading.


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