Posts Tagged ‘home’

show prep

My good friend Fiona Short traveled from New Zealand via Glasgow where she is currently based to spend two and a half weeks with us preparing for our upcoming two-person show To Arrive Where We Started at 2739Edwin in Hamtramck in Detroit. We’ve been enjoying working steadily in the studio together in anticipation of the show.



new studio

For the past few months we’ve been moving out of our old house and into our new house. This included consolidating both studio spaces into this one new space. These are two images of the studio in its current, lovely state.

Here are some before and progress images. As you can see, the studio was the dumping ground for some time while we put the rest of the house in order.


Thanks to Joe and Mark for all of your hard work! They tore out and replaced bad drywall, Joe painted the whole thing and Mark installed a sink. We also had the skylight put in which makes a huge difference in the amount of light the room gets. It’s a really fantastic place to be making; I already see changes in my work from my new surroundings.

supplemental studio

Mark, my brother, and I visited my parents in their new home in Mason City, Iowa for Thanksgiving this year. As it turns out, with all of the activity that surrounded Island, I didn’t have much time to dedicate to a new drawing I’m making for an upcoming show surrounding Borges’ “The Library of Babel,” so I found myself packing up my studio and in-progress piece so as to work on it at their house over break.

me and my dad, working away

My folks are really hospitable, and allowed me to abscond with several lamps and bring a folding table upstairs to set up a makeshift studio in their living room so I would be in the middle of the familial action while getting work done. I’m happy to say, that I think I finished it tonight. Now to get it aboard two planes and framed by install on Monday.

studio on Design*Sponge

My summer studio transformation was featured on Design*Sponge yesterday. Thanks to people for their kind comments. Some common questions kept arising, so I thought I would address them here and post a few more photos for clarification.

I’m paraphrasing some of the questions and include responses below:

1) I see a bunch of art supplies in the “before” (read: ridiculously messy) image; where did they all go?

Well, this image was taken awhile ago. It was the only image I had that showed this much of the space from the doorway. I guess I was never happy enough with my studio want to photograph it. I may have hoarding tendencies, but most people who know me know that I am actually a pretty neat and organized person. I probably took this photo because of the remarkably messy state of the studio. As I recall I was framing and shipping a batch of drawings all while completing the mammoth task of my third year document (pre-tenure) document for school (I teach at a local university).

Anyway, here are some images of organization and storage solutions, i.e. where I put a lot of that stuff (the stuff I didn’t haul away, discard, take to the basement, etc.):

The shelves we built now hold my small framed work and much of my paper work and application supplies are vertically filed on the gray-ish blue shelf under the Ikea magnetic boards. The shoe organizer holds all of my office supplies and other random stuff like my glue gun and glue sticks (all with blue tape labels). That’s Wobbly Bob, one of our cats.

I used the closet to house cans of paint, a wall-mounted drawer system for organizing small hardware, and many labeled plastic crates, totes and drawers for various odds and ends, all categorized. I took off the closet door to have easier access to all of this stuff and to reveal more wall space for hanging work.

Also, that’s Ramona, and that’s her chair. I can’t take it out of the studio for fear that she would perish of sadness, as it’s her favorite place to be ever. I should mention that I have no personal need for this chair anymore since it’s too tall for my work surfaces. So in my highly efficient new studio, I have a chair just for a cat. At least it keeps her from walking all over my drawings.

2) How in the heck did you do all of that with a 500.00 budget (also where did you get your flat files)?

I put together a budget afterward to see what I had tallied. Here’s how it breaks down:

-Wood/doors–used for the table tops
(Home Depot):                                                115.

-Table legs and brackets x6 (”):                          60.

-Paint: (Benjamin Moore):                                  50.

-Flat file (craigslist):                                         160.

-Small file cabinet (local Re-use center):             10.

-Sandpaper, paint rollers, casters, etc.              100.

About:                                                            500.

We designed our own shelves and supports, but you can find some pretty great pre-made shelves and brackets out there. I first sanded and primed, then sanded and painted the worktable and shelves with Benjamin Moore’s GRAHAM Ceramic Satin Interior water borne enamel in Decorators White. Little foam paint rollers gave the surfaces a pretty smooth finish.

I looked all summer for a flat file on craigslist. I found one that was the right size for my small studio (in the bedroom of our ranch house) for a decent price.  It’s precisely: 40-3/4″ W  x  28-3/8″ D  x  15-3/8″ H. It had to be cleaned up a bit, but serves my purposes perfectly.

3) (From Lauren) Can I have your sweet orange chair when you’re done with it?

Yes. And I probably won’t be. I’ll will it to you though. It’s from the University of Michigan’s very excellent property disposition center–from their dental school I think. It cost about 15 dollars as I recall and badly needs to be reupholstered.

4) It looks too clean now; where did your mess go?

Naturally I took the photos at the completion of the project when everything was shiny and pretty. Now that I have had some time to live in it, there are little scuffs on the tables and my stuff is getting spread out everywhere again. When I want to reign it in between projects though, it’s that much easier now. Here are some images of my slightly more lived-in space with drawings in progress:

After the craziness of the start of school, having friends in town for labor day weekend and some traveling this weekend to drop off work for a show, I finally get to spend  Tuesday all day long in this space. I can’t wait. I promise to make it even messier.


it all started with a flat file…


This studio transformation was recently featured on Design*Sponge. I wrote a follow-up post answering some of the questions that arose in the comments and also posted a few more images here.

With the help of Mark, I spent the entire last month in major house studio overhaul mode. I had five year’s worth of paperstuffs, random art supplies and countless odds and ends to sort and either discard or organize. It all started with my desire for a flat file, since all of my flatwork and papers were sloppily vertically stored against the wall behind a closet door.

The organization project evolved into ditching my drafting table and our old kitchen table I was using as a desk in favor of clean, white tables easily made out of doors and painted white. Mark built me wall shelves for storing small, framed work and we got them installed yesterday. Now the studio feels so much better, I want to be in here all the time. Just to show you how far it’s come, at one point, it had devolved into this:

Here are some overview shots of the new setup:

…and some detail shots:

Now to start making a mess again.


…I’m on a bit of a blogging hiatus brought to you by

1) the beautiful spring weather

2) my new friend running (See why? This is the glory I see on my epic runs!)

3) the end of the school year (check out my independent study student Julie‘s excellent projects from her solo exhibition!)

4) gardening (look at our tomato plantses!) and planting/repotting and

5) A wee bit of traveling (isn’t Chicago pretty?  We also got to hug our friends’ new babies and see my folks)

5) other blogging I’m doing over at Irreverent Vegan.  Why don’t you stop over there and see what we’ve been up to?  Here’s a hint:

I’ll be sure to resume blogging in June when I arrive in Iceland in June for residency #1 for the summer (please think positive restful volcano thoughts).  That will be followed by residency #2 in August at the Philadelphia Art Hotel.  Then, I will be in the studio all fall working on a solo show to take place in Chicago in October.

I am fortunate to have been granted a Faculty Research Fellowship for the fall semester, which means I don’t have to teach or advise so that I can concentrate on my current body of work.  I will be at school periodically for committee meetings, but the majority of the fall is dedicated to preparing for that exhibition and applying for tenure.  Wish me luck!

new schtufz

Remember this post? Wherein I fawned over all things crystal and skull?  While I did not receive a Will Yackulic drawing in my stocking, I DID receive some lovelies of the crystal and skull variety from my favorite people (among scads of other wonderful giftses).  Here they be.

From my bro, a bottle of Crystal Head Vodka (the bottle is uber sweet!)

Crystal Head vodka

From ma mere, a sweet quartz crystal candle holder:


And from Mark, a ceramic skull with glazed teeth and a gold tooth!  I have been wanting this skull from Mudpuppy’s Etsy shop for a long time now.


Thanks to my amazing family for indulging my strange fascinations!

close to home

I moved around a lot as a kid and lived as far south as Georgia, where I was born, and as far north as Buffalo, NY, where we moved when I was six or seven.  After five moves, my family settled for the rest of my growing-up years in Rockford in northern Illinois.  As a disgustingly rebellious high-schooler facing college, I wanted to get as far away from home as possible.  I made it as far away as…Dayton Ohio (I know, I know).  I returned to the Rockford area to attend grad school at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.  I applied to a bunch of schools all over the place, but that’s what ended up working best for me.

Throughout and since grad school, I have wanted to participate in the Rockford Art Museum‘s Biennial juried exhibition.  I saw one of them in grad school.  The space is amazing and the work was excellent that year.  Counting back that must have been either 2002 or 2004.  I applied once or twice since then and didn’t get in or the application date would inadvertently pass me by.  Well, this year, I both applied and got in: TWO major accomplishments!    I applied with some pretty big work, and was prepared to haul it out there if need be, but am grateful that I got a small piece in.  Here it is!

 All Thats Left, oil on panel, 11 x 14, 2008

All That's Left, oil on panel, 11" x 14", 2008

detail-- photo credit Susan Tusa from the Detroit Free Press

detail-- photo credit Susan Tusa from the Detroit Free Press

What a difference lighting can make-eh?  Can you tell which image was shot by a professional photographer?  I guess I gave it away.  If you happen to be in snowy Rockford Illinois on January 22nd, you can attend the opening.  I have an opening in Rochester Michigan that night; equally snowy, but much closer.  To see the dates and times the Rockford Midwestern Biennial will be open, visit RAM’s website.

remember yourself

my nook

School has been very stressful lately.  S-T-R-E-S-S-F-U-L.  When all of my time seems dictated by meetings, appointments, grading, committee work, etc. I often forget to take care of myself.  Unless Mark puts a sandwich in front of me, I forget to eat.  I make my tea for the day in the morning and forget in on the shelf at home.  Yoga, studio, reading books, all of the things I love to do that define my happiness, fall to the wayside.  I am trying to remember, amidst all of the stress, to live with more intentionality, to summon the energy to do these things instead of functioning on autopilot.  Yesterday was great for that.  I got my grading done during the day, and thus was able to spend my afternoon and evening cleaning up the house from a week’s worth of neglect, and was able to draw and listen to music for the whole night.  Man, it rocked.  You know it’s a good studio experience you find yourself drawing in silence with headphones still in your ears, long after the music has stopped, and you didn’t even notice.  This morning, I jumped out of bed and ran straight into house studio to check on last night’s work.  I love that feeling!

unicorn girl drawing in progress

unicorn girl drawing in progress for The Beautiful Ones series

"the fates" drawing in progress for Afterlife series

"the fates" drawing in progress for Afterlife series

I’d love to hear the things you do to “remember yourself.”

new art = new set-up

Mark and I were inspired by our friends Abigail and Stevens‘ decor, specifically, the way they display their art collection.  We even found out where they get their pieces framed and promptly followed suit.  The day I picked up the framed pieces, I was on my way out to pick up Mark for our date I wrote about in my last post.  When we got home, I got to show him all of the pieces all framed up.  Opening each one from it’s brown paper was a little bit like Christmas morning, and it prompted us to do our semiannual Purge and Rearrange of the house.  It definitely deserves to be capitalized.  Now this occurred on a Friday night.  Let’s just say that by the end of the evening Saturday, our entire living room had been rearranged to make way for the new art.  Also by the end of the weekend, we had dumped a van full of recycling and stuff off at their respective locations (Re-Use Ann Arbor for the furniture and household stuff)…and rearranged the entire living area in the basement.  Which included Mark’s music studio.  We felt like industrious squirrels getting all of the odds and ends in order for winter.  Whew!  I’m tired just writing about it!  Behold.

butterfly mosaic

Here’s one of the pieces that spurred the change.  All pieces framed in white are part of the art makeover.  This particular piece made the greatest transformation.  Formerly, it’s glass was old and dusty and it was in a thrift store frame.  Now this vintage butterfly mosaic is much happier. Here are a bunch of images of the new living room set-up with art in place.  We’re fixin’ to paint the walls gray and the trim white.  What do you think?


living room


Here’s the Mike McFalls sculpture installed in its new home in the dining room.  For the the time being, this is where it lives.

dining room

So in short, buy or trade for some new art.  Or invest in some frames for your art.  Your collection needn’t be extensive or expensive to spruce up and I think you’ll like the way it makes your space feel!