My tendency with new projects and ideas is to dive head first into the deep end, not realizing until I burst up to the surface flailing and sputtering that perhaps a wiser move would have been to step carefully into the water at a depth where I could comfortably stand. Aside from a few hiccups here and there, this method of Pursuing Goals and Dreams has still worked pretty well, and over time I've learned how to better manage this tendency well enough to avoid the deep wells of struggle and frustration I've experienced in the past. But I still catch myself thinking too big, reaching too far and losing sight of what my real priorities are when a new endeavor takes hold. For whatever reason, thinking small is not my forte, and while this has led to some extraordinary experiences, it has also pushed me into a space of feeling like if what I do isn't BIG it won't be ENOUGH, and that is not what I'd call the healthiest of motivations.
After growing a wee bit too comfortable in the space of my studio at home, I have decided to see what it feels like to radically alter the way I work, and I'll be sub-letting another artist's studio this summer. It is a dream space with plenty of room to get messy and work on panels as big as I want, a space where I can get back to my painting and mixed media, something I haven't pursued in months. I re-arranged my current studio last fall, and while this new floor plan gives me a cozy, open space to write, it doesn't make it especially inviting to get messy and work on big pieces. More importantly, working at home, while lovely in many ways, has made me a little too complacent. Everything has been humming along just fine, but the time has come for me to dig a little deeper and shake things up a bit.
Where I've immediately tried too hard has to do with another crazy dream of mine, which is to open a creative space for classes, workshops and other events, encompassing everything from painting to theater to entrepreneurial workshops. A watering hole for creativity, inspiration and community. I've had this vision for years, and my first thought for this studio space was to start that dream and begin the process of bringing that vision to life. I've been putting out feelers, having small discussions, sharing ideas and possibilities with my family and brainstorming about all the ways this could work. And, of course, always seeing this as something BIG - a spot on the map of Southern California creative havens.
But then my perspective shifted, and I reminded myself of what this space needs to be more than anything else - a space to do my own work. While the idea of classes, workshops and gallery shows is a lovely one, and will likely be a part of what I do in this space, if I let that particular idea grow too quickly, I'll find myself an event planner rather than a studio artist, and that is not my goal. So, as always, I started running towards the deep end of the pool, mere steps away from diving on in, but then stopped myself, knowing this entire process will be a lot more pleasant, fulfilling and successful if I steer clear of trying to figure out exactly what this will be before I've even moved in.
I don't know what it will be, I don't know if any of my zany ideas will work, but I do know I am ready to spread my artistic wings out wider than ever before, and anything else I do in this studio must be in support of that, not the other way around. I might get in there and decide not to do anything except my own work for the first month; I might try a few events and hate the experience; the people I want involved might not be interested; this city might have enough creative outlets and offerings. Right now anything is possible, and what I want more than anything is to let the best of all these possibilities reveal themselves and evolve as organically as possible. Every dream I've pursued has come to life through a balance between my shaping what I want it to look like and the dream itself guiding me in directions I could have never otherwise imagined. It isn't about pushing so much as it is about finding the most naturally flowing current, and seeing where it takes me.
So instead of deciding today what this journey is going to look like, and keeping these dreams, ideas and developments close to my chest - saving them for a Big Announcement about a Shiny New Project - I'll simply put it out there that this summer I'm renting a studio, and I'm looking forward to seeing what I do there.