When I sit down to paint, I always have a specific set of objects at hand: my X-Files coffee cup with coffee, my favorite palettes, and my favorite water bowls. A few years back, I began using old Pyrex dishes and a pretty handmade ceramic bowl as my primary paint water dishes. I'm not entirely sure why I prefer these to plastic tubs or recycled jars but I do. This year, the brushes I use the most are in front of me in a handmade ceramic tumbler I also found at a thrift store. I guess I like the sturdiness and homespun quality of these objects.
I used to have a specific shirt that I painted in...a X-Files shirt I acquired back in the 90s when the show first debuted. I used that until it literally fell apart; I have it tucked away somewhere because I couldn't bear to throw it out. (I might need find it and use it for clean-up rags.) Anyway, now I have decent, (generally) paint-free things I wear to work and "painting shirts" which is to say, everything else. I use a lot of baby wipes to clean up messes on surfaces but when cleaning my hands, I typically just wipe them on whatever I'm wearing. I'm not a big fan of aprons so if company shows up unexpectedly, they get what they get. Most anyone I know that might show up knows I'm an artist and so no one is all that shocked by my paint-smeared appearance when I'm in "studio mode."
When I'm working, I typically have science fiction movies and shows playing in the background. Last summer's work on the "Sparks of Madness" show was completed while listening to the first four seasons of The X-Files. (You might be sensing a trend by now.) Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Aliens, The Fifth Element, the original Star Wars trilogy: those are all good too...anything I've seen a hundred times and don't need to actually watch to know what's going on. In the last couple of weeks, I've been experimenting with old time radio mystery shows as background noise but it is a bit distracting; I get caught up in the story and my focus shifts away from the work in front of me. When my awful neighbors are away (which isn't often enough,) I prefer the quiet, listening and painting to the natural sounds that emanate from the protected wildlife area that borders my apartment complex.
Another important component of my daily rituals is that I clean up my space completely at the end of every day. If I have a specific set of paint colors that I'm working with, I'll set those aside but otherwise, everything gets put cleaned up and put back where it belongs. Paintings dry overnight on the kitchen countertop. I like to start every day fresh and find that if I ended the night frustrated with some element of the painting I'm working on, a clean studio puts me in the right frame of mind for tackling that issue anew. In addition, if I don't clean up my space, the cats will play hockey with my supplies all night long and in the morning, I'll have to look under every piece of furniture in the room to retrieve my belongings.
On Wednesday, I'll post about the various routines I follow while in the midst of show production and what I do as I approach the date of installation. When I get closer to that event, I'll blog a bit about hanging a show and all the things you do to move the work from the studio out into the world. In between, it will be posts about the work I'm completing as well as posts on other random art stuff that takes place this summer.