Over the last few weeks I’ve spent some happy hours reading the Artists Talking blogs on the a-n website. I’ve been picking a “Choice Blog” for the month, and landed gladly upon David Minton’s Dead and Dying Flowers (see this page here).

Separately, I’ve been struck by the role of the studio in many of the blogs: it appears variously as a place separate from the proper bits of life; the only place where proper life happens; a place where mistakes are allowed and enjoyed; a place where things are still; where things are never still; where things stay and wait until the artist next returns. (Do the things dance around like Woody and Buzz while we’re away, and flop back down in naturalistic poses just as we open the door? Wouldn’t that be nice. Maybe we should spend more time out of our studios to let the artworks play on their owns.)

I don’t seem to have a studio. I work at home, at the end of a room with my desk and my shelves and a view of branches and leaves and birds. I love the view and the desk and the shelves. When I come upstairs with my teapot and a couple of books I can stay here for hours and Mean Business. But there are also days when I don’t quite make it: I stay downstairs at another table, I de-fur the kettle, I linger online, I flap up and down the stairs distractedly doing odd jobs unnecessarily slowly. I ask myself whether things would be different if I had a specific medium that I knew I worked in.

Imagine I were a painter. I think if I were a painter I would know that paint brushes, paint and something flat would make a good start. I imagine I could go to a room and spend time with these three things, and that would already be something. I wouldn’t even need to paint. I could mix the paint, or smell the paint, or look at the grain of the canvas, run my fingernail across the bristles of the brushes, transfer bits of paint between canvasses using these bristles.. is that what it’s like? Perhaps not. I’ve never been a painter. As a painter, I imagine I would also paint actual paintings, but I imagine the time I spent with my equipment would count too.

With what I do, what counts? What doesn’t count? Since I don’t have a specific medium, perhaps choosing which teabag to have today is a thing that counts. It’s a slippery slope. It isn’t that choosing the teabag is itself ART (hello Allan Kaprow) any more than smelling the paint is painting – but it’s part of the work. I mean the verb of the work not the noun.

Perhaps one of the things writing a blog can do is make the teabag count. The a-n site provides a platform for “artists talking”. If I write about the teabag, then it’s the voice an artist writing about the teabag. The teabag becomes part of my story about my practice. Perhaps the blog serves in lieu of a real studio: by writing things down in here I can get them to count. It’s comforting but I’m ambivalent about its effect- it’s just a story after all.

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