Sunday, January 9, 2011

Artists and Their Funky Homes

Daine Langley's home/studio, located on Westport Island, Maine

Diane in her Wildwood Gallery on Westport Island

Two of Diane's encaustic paintings
(and a wall-hanging that I made!)

Diane's hallway to a very tiny, rustic, galley kitchen.

Artists live differently than the rest of the population. While some people strive for the beautiful home with matching curtain to plate dinnerware, we often exist in a bit of a hodge-podge existence. The home is seldom considered completely tidy - with everything in its place as if plucked out of a Martha Stewart Living catalog. Instead, we tend to not be able to refrain from acquiring quirky objects that we think could someday be great in a painted still-life or assemblage, or perhaps offer some sort of inspiration for a work later-on down the road. Have you ever wondered why the artist has a rubber chicken or wagon wheel sitting in the middle of his or her studio? This is why.

I always love to visit my friend Diane. I don't get to very often since I live so far away. We first met at USM in the late 1980's where we were both art students. It had been almost two years since I last saw her, but we try to keep in touch weekly.

Diane lives on Westport Island in an old 1800's schoolhouse. That's pretty nifty in and of itself. If you visit her in the summer, you get to see all kinds of beautiful plants enveloping the grounds and house. There are a couple of outbuildings: an old barn and a smaller structure that houses her gallery.

It's the inside of the house that always amazes me. No matter how many times I visit, it is always a new experience. Diane is constantly moving furniture and switching out artwork to fit her mood or needs and the studio never stays any one way too long. When I walk into the main living area which is her studio, all the senses are brought to full attention. I want to touch everything, look at it all, and more often than not, there is the smell of something yummy cooking in the kitchen. Lilly the cat is parading around in her beautiful long fur coat demanding acknowledgment. A dozen or more in-progress projects are strewn over various tables, chairs, or hanging on the wall or from the ceiling.

In one corner of the room, floor to ceiling book collection and library loans. In another corner, her sewing equipment and fabrics for slow-cloth and quilting. By one window her encaustics are set-up, another window lights her easel for oil painting. The computer (which is extremely outdated and seldom works) is tucked in another corner with piles of papers and photos surrounding, and in the middle of the room, a large table for workshops and a small loveseat and chair for reading and guests, albeit, it is covered with her current rug-hooking projects. Spinning wheels, looms, sewing machines, and furniture that tells a story are randomly sitting here and there. Walking through the space is no easy task, having to maneuver a multitude of interesting items.

Diane doesn't own a TV. Her time is spent reading and working with her hands, and tending to daily tasks that keep life running as smoothly as possible. She is always busy making something whether it is for a show or a gift. I love receiving her emails that read something like: "two pair of socks finished one sock for emma done started quilt for birthday gift encaustic paintings wrapped for show need to get rug hooking example ready for Tuesday's class spinning group here on wednesday think i'll make blueberry scones car not working right not sure i can find someone to plow maybe i will do some oil painting today" (long list lacking most punctuation - but I seem to somehow be able to decipher it all.)

I am blessed to own several pieces of Diane's work from over the past twenty years, from oil paintings to quilts, to slow cloth and rug hooking. I have watercolor paintings from her last trip to Ireland and this past Solstice I was gifted homemade items which included a new pair of hand knitted socks in earthy but bright homespun/dyed wool colors. My toes are very happy!!!!

It's not an easy life for Diane to keep up with the demands of modern society, i.e. bills! But she is doing well to keep art at the forefront of her existence. There are many sacrifices, and everyday simple pleasures or material items are things that many folks take for granted. Diane lives simply, and is grateful when she makes a sale or fills a class. As she says "I have become accustomed to eating."

Click here to visit Diane's Blog.


Sheila said...

I remember feeling that way when I visited your apartment in Gardner years ago. Everywhere I looked was a feast for my eyes and fuel for my imagination! I believe I photographed every wall!

Kim Hambric said...

I enjoyed the visit to Diane's house.

I really can't imagine an artist out there who lives in a minimalist house (unless they make minimalist art).

Rhonda Bobinski Beckman said...

I always make sure to take the time to stop and pause when I bring people to my studio because I tend to forget that it can be overwhelming to some. There is a lot to look at and absorb and most people walk out of my studio somewhat stunned due to overstimulation. haha I try not to take it personally. I just exposed a big portion of my brain to my friends and man, that would be difficult to take in at one sitting!

Dai said...

You are absolutely right! We don't live like other people. I have a small albergo(hotel) in Italy and although we put everything out there on our site, "cookie cutter people" seem to arrive expecting the taj Mahal.They are always taken aback by art that's not from TJ max. In fact, I googled that particular sentence about us not living like other people, after a CCcouple arrived today. Arrogant as all get out but at the same time, I felt that maybe I was doing something so bizarre that perhaps I needed to change. Thank you for your reassuring post.


Dai - just be you :) for every cookie cutter person there is, there is someone else who is not - someone who has the ability to appreciate the uniqueness of the artist spirit.