A friend of mine on Instagram recently asked me about my art rituals. The things I do to get into the frame of mind to work. I decided to write a blog post about it, since it couldn’t easily be put into a list. And being obsessive compulsive, I had to get it right.
Working at a studio 45 minutes from my home (although I have a second studio in my basement- another story-another set of rituals) I live in a culturally different place from the tattoo/piercing and cannabis servicing places – the little section of town where my “in town” studio is located. This space is in an old school house, built in the very early 1900s. I have an entire classroom to myself. I have painted the floors white to match the walls.
To get to my studio, I switch my thinking over to work. I take the backroads, never the freeway. When I get there, I open the door, take the dehumidifier down the hall to empty it, since I have no running water, turn off the fume eliminator, and take my jewelry off. I place rings around my watchband, fasten it and put bracelets in a formica tan/brown patchwork salad bowl on my long table. This is the table where I sit to contemplate the work I am doing at the time. The work is always about 15 feet in front of the table, on an easel. There is a row of waist high big tables beside the easel, upon which I put the paints, glass palette for working in oil paint, many containers of acrylic paints, assorted meat trays and yogurt containers for mixing the acrylic paints with plastic spoons. There are mediums and brushes and a huge plastic bucket for water, which I keep on the floor. I have to go down the hall to fill this, if I am working in water based paints that day. I always stand to paint. I never use a stool or table.
I believe that I am a channel for the work I do. I believe it does not come from me, but from something outside myself. Therefore, to achieve entry into this parallel universe, I put on some music made by someone who also believes a “zone” has to be reached in order to do good work. The music has to be loud.
Then I start mixing. I start painting. Moving back and forth to and away from the canvas. Pausing, usually, only for a lunch I have made and placed in the refrigerator next to the microwave. Always with a Diet Coke. Sometimes I will sit at the long table and spend time looking. Sometimes I can look for an hour. Sometimes, I get up suddenly and paint a piece of paper and place it temporarily over an area in the painting, before I commit to painting that color on the canvas. Most of the time, I glue the magazine pieces on the canvas as if they are paint, sometimes painting over them, sometimes leaving them alone. Squeegy-ing the glue out from under the magazine paper with a small triangle. And wiping the remainder off with a baby wipe.
After cleaning up, (down the hall), I turn out the lights and start the long drive home. I usually am very tired, and for a while, there was a specific intersection in Atlanta where I routinely had an anxiety attack. For many years, I avoided this intersection by going miles out of my way. Or stopping to ground myself in some store for re-entry into the “real” world. Now that intersection has no power over me. I think, though, it should have a sign that says, “End of Right Brain Thinking…You Are Now Entering The Suburbs. Be Sure To Get Yourself Together. NOW.”
Copyright 2017 Hollis Hildebrand-Mills All Rights Reserved