I am a watcher of the curious birds we call artists. I especially love catching a glimpse of the creative nests where art is made. I am fascinated by how creatives, be they painters, writers, musicians, sculptors, or designers, mould environments in which to incubate and hatch ideas.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to visit the creative nests of artists I admire. It is such an honour to be welcomed into the physical space of creativity. Each studio holds its own magic: Aganetha Dyck’s space is aromatically seductive with the scent of beeswax, a pleasant by-product of her collaborative work with honey bees; Wanda Koop’s studio is a painter’s dream with an amazing mechanized wall that makes it possible for her to position her work vertically or horizontally as required; Martha Cole’s studio has many windows providing a view of her converted church home and light as she draws on fabric with her sewing machine.
In my own modest journey as an artist, I have built nests in a variety of locations: bedroom, dormroom, corner of a dining room table, corner of a different dining room table, guest bedroom, lobby of a community hall, and a classroom in my former elementary school.
My current studio is a bonus room above the garage in our new house. When we finally moved in to our home after years of planning and working, I admit that I was intimidated by the newness of the space – the unmarked floors, the blemish-free walls. I wasn’t sure how to feather my new nest. I spent a considerable amount of time on-line looking for ideas. A search of “studios” on Pinterest provided visions of beautifully crafted creative nests: organized, colour-coordinated, crisp, clean. The spaces were so beautiful, so well crafted, that I questioned their functionality.
I cast my memory back to the artists’ nests I had visited. They, too, were organized and clean, but not pristine. Evidence of real work was everywhere. Sinks held recently used brushes. Floors showed signs of previous painting projects. Surfaces were marked and scarred by tools.
When you find a bird’s nest, you can always tell if it was used to create new life or not. The abandoned nest is clean and empty: a barren vessel. The used nest holds feathers, bits of egg shell, and droppings. It is soiled by the necessities of creation.
Bit by bit, my creative nest is developing its own magic. Slowly but surely I am making a mess of it.