Thursday, January 12, 2012

Working Large

Even though I get a real charge out of large pieces (large for me is anything over 11"x15"), and I promise myself I will try some, I never seem to really do it. Why? I'm a professional, after all, and pretty good at meeting self-imposed goals. So what is stopping me?

I had the opportunity to consult with a creativity coach, Marianne Mullen at Awaken Creativity, so I thought I'd see what light she could shed on this issue. I must admit to a tiny bit of skepticism going in to the phone conversation. I mean, I've been doing art a LONG time, and what could a creativity coach see that I am missing? Asking for help is not always easy.

Now coaching is not therapy, so I don't know what deeper issues are connected to my seeming inability to work large. But Marianne absolutely NAILED the practical problems, and before the day was out I'd begun reorganizing a piece of my studio in order to work larger. I have a second-floor studio under a gable roof, so there isn't much vertical wall space. What there is is covered with my book cases.

So first I moved my book cases, which were between these two windows:

In this photo you can see the book cases at the near end of my work table, and the sheet of homasote I am priming (I will attach it to the wall).

And here is the homasote attached to the wall (drywall screws into the studs framing the window). I primed the homasote on both sides, attached it to the wall, and then applied a coat of white latex paint.
OK. Now I have one area to work on a vertical surface, which I think is what I need to work large. I need to be able to step back from a large piece to view it, which isn't really practical on a table surface. But I also want a vertical wall on which to hang works in progress, or as an additional work surface so I can work on at least two pieces at once. So I thought I'd build a little wall perpendicular to this front gable wall. Here is the space, just to the right of the right window:

So I built a wall, leaving a little space at the top and bottom so that the space behind it isn't completely cut off from daylight. This is minimal framing, as the wall doesn't need to carry much weight. Again, I used homasote (primed) for the wall surface.

Now I can hang works in progress and really SEE them:

And here is the very beginning of my first large piece, 22"x30". I may not finish this one, but I am using it as a playground to figure out other logistics of working large. I can see already that I need a little more table space in the work area, and I've ordered some larger brushes, brayers, and palettes. I will keep you posted.

Just to be clear, I did not do this all in a day. I had my coaching session early in December and just built the wall yesterday. In between I did just a little bit at a time - got the homasote (cut the the desired sizes), primed it, got the 2x4 studs and cut those... holidays intervened, as did work... and so forth. One little step at a time (and there are many more ahead!), and I feel now that I have the tools to work large. We'll see what happens!

Marianne asked a lot of questions and quickly narrowed down my problem to something tangible and practical that I could start on TODAY. This coaching session was SO valuable, and I will definitely make use of what Awaken Creativity has to offer next time I hit a road block.


  1. thanks for sharing your progress

  2. Working large is the way to go! and having a sheet on your wall like that is wonderful!

    Keep us posted

  3. I am totally impressed by how you tackled your "problem" and found a solution, then applied it. I hope that you like working large. I think that your work will lend itself to the new size.

  4. Oh My!! I know what is keeping me from working large....pretty sure it is the same....and since I am redoing the garage for my new studio.....I KNOW what might have to be installed!!! Thanks sooo much ....I kept thinking a larger table....but it never appeals to me....this is perfect!!! I haven't heard of homasote in ages!!! What kind of stick pins....any of them? OH!! and I love the chicken I heard in the background of the video....loved it!! THANK YOU!!

  5. How great. It reminds me of a time when I did have a studio but only a very small table to work on. I wanted a really big one for the longest time, and I kept away from the actual studio to work on my (big) dining table in the living room. I couldn't believe that such a silly thing would make all the difference and kept scolding myself for not working in the studio. Then one day I actually bought a bigger table for my studio and some drawer cabinets on wheels so everything I needed would be at hands reach. And what do you know, it really DID make all the difference! My studio is my haven now. Sometimes it really only is about practical or material stuff and I hope this is true in your case too. Good luck working big!

  6. Hi Jane! Diggin' your upgrade/change/new movement. cc

  7. What a dramatic change for you! It's amazing what a little rearranging and planning can accomplish in a space you felt was 'finished'! Can't wait to see the new larger format!

  8. That is one gorgeous, large collage on the wall!! Inspirational -


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