Heavenly White Open Spaces
Many people have seen works from the creator of the paintings in the photo below. This artist has been well represented in modern art museums and art history books. His New York City studio, although impressive to say the least, is not nearly as well known. It is a beautiful compilation of heavenly white open spaces! A work of art in and of itself!
It is the creative workspace of Dutch born Abstract Expressionist painter, Willem De Kooning (1904-1997). Thinking back to a whole collection of artists that I studied back in art school during the 80’s, his works stand at the forefront of my memory.
The Challenge of the Blank or Unfinished Canvas
In painting class at Parsons in Paris, and senior painting studio at Tyler School of Art, we were exposed regularly to the work and writings of such artists. They, and their lifestyles, became something like a template for what it meant to be a real career artist!
These artists woke up every day to face the challenge of the blank or unfinished canvas and what it was to become! That was their number one challenge, and as De Kooning would say “an endeavor that is totally free due to it’s very uselessness” (spoken from a true abstract expressionist mind set).
Imagine this as your lifestyle…You get up, you’re facing a blank canvas, you deal with the blank canvas by expressing your emotions on that blank canvas, you grapple with the direction it’s heading, the deliberate as well as stream of consciousness choices you’re making.
You reach an impasse. You turn it against the wall while you work on another one. Then you turn it back over and realize “OK, this painting will be done with just one more stroke of red over here in the upper right hand corner”….and that’s your life style, that’s your daily challenge!
In the end you can see the struggle inherent within the painting…the sort of life force coming of that grappling with the paint, the composition, the meaning, and the meaninglessness!
That’s what gives it power!
The photos of these artists’ studios always showed large white open spaces, tables full of paint cups and buckets on the floor. They had ample wall space (white, of course) where they could freely paint larger works, at least ten at a time…because 10 was the magic number!
The Performance of Making Art
A good workspace is a very important place for an artist, and has evolved to become a kind of stage for the performance of making art. It is where a special form of alchemy happens, as much for the artist’s gratification as for the public’s. It’s the laboratory of new concepts, amalgamated techniques, synthesized thoughts and feelings.
It could even be seen as sacred, a place where guests gather to become one with the altar of art and the creativity that springs from it. None the less, it is also a place where very mundane activities take place such as building stretchers, fixing labels and cleaning brushes.
MY SOON-TO-BE HEAVENLY WHITE OPEN SPACE!
For the bulk of my career as an artist I dreamed of replicating this vision of the artist with ample storage, flat surfaces for paint mixtures and ample wall space…and, you guessed it, a clean, white environment, where one can paint in series of 10 cohesive works without putting anything away until completed. That way it’s the art that is always at the center of attention with few distractions, visual or other.
This summer I had the chance to actually manifest my own large white studio (although still in its gray stage). It was definitely inspired by those years of study as an idealistic art student. This is a walk-in basement studio (almost 1400 square feet) in a two story house I have purchased.
Ample storage, organized materials, tools and equipment at my finger tips, broad and varied work surfaces, LED track lighting, and a wash room with utility sink will all be mine!
Renovations have been ongoing and I’ll keep you updated on my progress, so keep your eyes peeled for upcoming posts about it’s eminent completion and the first artworks to be manifested here!
That’s it for now!