Art Letter 1: House and Studio Envy
This month we are coping with envy. I’ve been a working artist for twenty years, and I am still figuring out how to be a working artist. Especially with a slimy-nosed sociopath clinging to my thighs throughout the day.
“There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I envy other artists. Especially their studios. I envy other women’s legs and butts. But I really gotta lotta house envy.
You too? Ok! I made a handy flow chart to help us process this predicament. Here ya go:
I’ve lived in houses. In a cemetery. In a kitchen. In a camper. In a Brooklyn loft. In a leaky 29” sailboat. Begrudgingly with mice, cockroaches, rabbits, and bats. Home is deeply important to me. Like in a sweaty, desperate, heavy breathing kind of way. No matter how small or moldy - if it’s mine for a while; it’s home.
As artists, we are told to look inside ourselves and find our unique voice. What does this mean?!? You are not one or two things. You are not one siren singing one song from the murk of the personality sea.
As I’ve been beating my head against this question, and looking for themes in my own work, I’ve found that images of home pop up as often as meerkats. And discovering this thread has surprisingly made me feel… more at home.
This is someone else’s lovely home. It shows how a photograph becomes a sketch becomes a locket:
Feeling envious? Yah. Well, it helps to remember what ol’ Teddy Roosevelt had to say:
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
If you REALLY want a dream house, I recommend James and Anna Hubbell’s Ilan-Lael, which not only took a lifetime to handcraft (and was massively burned in a fire and REBUILT), but has turned into a foundation which teaches art classes among other delicious good deeds: