Where Real Women Create

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I have, for a few years now, enjoyed getting my hands on a magazine called, Where Women Create. It is a beautifully photographed magazine showcasing the studios and crafting rooms of women from all over the United States, possibly in other countries as well. It is wonderful to read about how these artists/crafters got to be where they are and to see the spaces in which they make things. I especially like the favorite quote that each woman shares. I purchased this summer’s edition for my post-surgery recuperation time and have loved taking in all the loveliness.

Yet after reading this magazine, I’m always left with a question. “So where do ‘real’ women create?” By “real”, I’m not in any way saying that the women featured in the magazine are not. I just wonder if there would ever be a magazine to showcase where women who are not/have not yet made it big in the crafting world, create. What about the little nooks, the kitchen tables and counters, the under-the-stair cubby or the basement corner where so many women make a creative nest for themselves? Couldn’t we feature the myriads of ways that women, who juggle multiple children and/or full-time work loads, come up with to create?

Years ago, when my children were wee tiny, we lived in a small, 1920’s Craftsman-style Bungalow. It had a built-in breakfast nook with a butler’s pantry. I stowed two tupperware bins under the benches where the table was. These tupperware bins held all my painting and drawing supplies which I pulled out during my kids’ nap time to daily teach myself to draw and paint.

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I have often drawn the space where I create now in our home in Kernersville. The above drawing was made just a couple of days ago. You can see others here, here, and here.  It is the sunroom off of the kitchen, open to everyone and everything that might come wandering in. It has our piano, two chairs, a sewing machine, a big teacher’s desk, a tall set of shelves, and a drawing table, all of which I use excepting the piano…this is where my son plays beautiful music. My oldest daughter, when she is home from college, knits and sews here, creating beautiful quilts. As an art space it isn’t ideal. But it works. It works rather well. Except in the summer when they are all home. 😉

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I often take my “studio” outside…to knit or draw on the back porch, to paint in our yard or neighborhood, to sketch and paint downtown or some other area here in my town. I once read of a studio artist who sold all his easels and large-scale papers/canvases to make his studio the world at large, happily drawing and painting “out there” with only a portable chair and his on-the-go art supplies.

The woman I enjoyed reading about the most in this summer edition of Where Women Create, is Karen Way:

“Creative spaces come in many different sizes and shapes. It’s not the room that’s important; it’s what comes from within that room that counts. I have sewn and created all of my adult life. Over those years, my sewing rooms have been on the dining room table, tucked in small closets, and down in our dark, unfinished basement. My most recent creative space was actually brought about from tragedy.” (pg. 16)

So, I ask you…where do YOU create? If you feel so inclined, leave a comment describing your nook or table or however it is you manage to make a spot for yourself to make stuff whether it be drawing or knitting, clay work or weaving. If you’ve blogged about it before, leave us a link in your comment so that others can go visit and see your space. If you blog, and haven’t ever featured your creative spot, consider doing so soon and then come back and give us the link.

I, for one, would love to see where REAL women create…real, everyday, work-a-day women who simply want to live life a bit more artfully.

“One doesn’t need a huge space for creativity to flourish…one only needs LOVE!” -jpe

The Stuff of Dreams

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Last night I dreamed I was a dancer still. My hair was peppered as it is now. But my body was lithe and moving in ways it used to thirty-some years ago. The interesting thing is that my dream was not of a recital or a performance. I was in the studio. Hand on the barre, trying not to grip it too tightly. Perspiration running down my forehead. Piano music I’ve heard so many times. Lengthened spine. Turned out hips and feet. Worn leotard and tights. The smell of a dance studio. The barre exercises. The floor exercises.

Plie, tendu, ronde-de-jambe, repeat.

Glissade, assemble, pas-de-chat, repeat.

So many years from childhood to young adult spent in wood-floored, mirror-walled rooms. So many memories. So many hours. I remember only a few performances. But the studio work is as vibrant in my memory as if it were yesterday. I woke from my dream amazed at how real it was. And I thought:

At the end of our days, perhaps it is not the accolades, performances, exhibits or published work which will stand out in our minds. Perhaps it will be the daily practice, the rehearsals, the sketching and drawing, the trials and errors, the repetitive work of being creative. In the wee hours of early morning light, I thought that this is what I want in 2014: to show up to the page, the sketchbook, the drawing table, the needles and hook. I want to have my hand on the barre every day, and try not to grip it too tightly. I want to perspire in the effort of practice for practice sake. I want to revel in the music, smells, and movement all around me. I want to take it all in moving gracefully through my days.  I want to be disciplined in and to enjoy the repetition of everyday life, of practice, of good work. I want to trust that this work I do in the studio will prepare me for the challenge ahead.

Here’s to 2014–A Year to Dance in the Studio!

Plie, tendu, ronde-de-jambe, repeat.

Glissade, assemble, pas-de-chat, repeat.

 Note on the above painting: There is a way of using watercolor almost straight out of the tube. I learned this from Skip Lawrence at a workshop years ago in Boone at Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff. Very fun technique!