Closing Down the Studio

Today I made the first steps toward closing my studio. I signed the lease for my space in October of last year. I was full of anxiety. It was so expensive. Could I really do the work I had in mind? It was a big decision, and I was full of doubts. Kij looked at the final spaces with me, and strongly advised me to take the one I am now in. “You will love it,” she said. “The view, the light, and the size are what you need.” And she was right.

With the help of friends, what artwork, paint, easels, bookshelves, and all else I had were moved from storage into the studio, and I began to inhabit the space as an artist. It has become very dear to me. I love the light, the air, the life of the city outside my door. I have eaten meals there, had friends to visit, and napped on the couch. I have done good work, and while I hope to do more good work there in the future, it is time to shut it down.

I took the first steps today. I washed all my brushes, and took my palette home where I will clean it off for Svalbard. I also removed my gei no omamori, which hung by the entrance to my studio where I could touch it entering and leaving. This omamori was a gift from my friend Irene from the Tsubaki Grand Shrine’s New Year’s celebration. It’s an omamori for artists – for inspiration, success, and protection.

Now this omamori will will rest over my heart as I finish my travel preparations. Once I am in my new temporary home — first in Svalbard, and then in Iceland, I will find a new spot for my omamori in my new working spaces.

The final steps will be to lacquer the last painting made in Seattle this year, to clean the studio, take my paintings down, and make space for Marcia, who is subletting, to have her art on the walls around her. It’s a powerful thing to find the place where you can allow yourself to respect your creative soul, and I hope that my studio is everything Marcia would like it to be.

I won’t see it again until December when I unpack the work done abroad and consider it in the cool north light of my studio. Only then will I know if I succeeded at what I wanted to do, and if the next steps that I hope to make after this seminal trip are steps I will be ready for both emotionally and as an artist.

It has come to me in this year of walking away and walking away and walking away from the years of grief that in order to fully be in your future, you must forgive your past all the pain, all the betrayals, all the cruelties by others and also by yourself. We are none of us perfect. I have done terrible things, and terrible things have been done to me. I will always be scarred – I can’t escape that boundary of before and after. But who I am becoming deserves to live not ignorant of what’s come before – that’s impossible – but not anchored by it. Let me not be ruled by my past, but come into a new future. One where I am what I want to be, not what I feel constrained to be.

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