Well, I suppose the aphorism is slightly different, for most. “Home is where the heart is”, is more likely to ring true. For me, it hasn’t been enough… Do I lack ‘heart’? That seems unlikely from the vantage point of being generally well-regarded, mostly valued, and living life embraced by love. But… living in a particular building, or at a specific address, has not been sufficient to define ‘home’ for me – even though I live with loved ones, in a generally comfortable, pretty contented day-to-day sort of way. It has seemed very odd for some time.

I’m not always sure what being an artist means, precisely. I’m not sure how being an artist defines me differently than being someone who paints an occasional painting, or creates something of great beauty once in a while; it’s the beauty created that matters more. I am uncomfortably aware in recent months that my own art speaks to me, myself, with an earnestness and import that has resulted in feeling pretty displaced and homeless not seeing it displayed all around me in my daily life; it hadn’t been hung. There’s a lot of it. One or two paintings made it to the walls over the past couple years… I have… dozens. Hundreds? I paint like a madwoman, I am not shy about admitting that. The bare expanses of wall started working on my mind, over time; the stacks and stacks of paintings at the ready, the cabinets of smaller ones, the carefully boxed (between layers of protective acid-free tissue) unframed watercolors… all waiting…all part of who I am…all disregarded in favor of day-to-day minutiae and drama, and seeming unimportant to anyone but me.

The pain of it diminished considerably when I realized in an honest and aware moment that the bare walls left me feeling quite ‘homeless’ – more ‘deployed’ than ‘moved in’; it wasn’t about anyone else’s choices or actions, and I hadn’t expressed how important seeing my working hanging really is for my day-to-day comfort and contentment. I could communicate the experience once I found words for it, and phrasing that didn’t sound like an attack on life and love. Communication is a pretty big deal, and best done in an explicit and clear way on practical matters, such as the hanging of art… or the care and feeding of artists. 🙂

Use your words. Seriously. (Also, use them gently!)

"Emotion and Reason" 2012 detail

“Emotion and Reason” 2012 detail

I arrived home last night to find that quite a number of paintings had been carefully hung… really, more ‘installed’ than hung; the care in hanging them, the considerate and meaningful placements done so skillfully that ‘hanging paintings’ hardly describes it. I sat, in the evening, feeling very much more ‘at home’ than I previously had for 2+ years. Does it make ‘everything right with the world’? Hardly. Even the delight of the artist herself, surrounded by her work, isn’t ‘everything’, is it? I do feel loved, and greatly cared for to see so many of my very best pieces hanging all around.

There are more to come, more space for art, walls as yet untouched by color or vision…and I certainly have enough work to take care of that! I expect there may be some movement, some changes, swapping this one for that one… My traveling partner has a keen eye for color, contrast, form – and a lovely aesthetic. If I have the choice between hanging my own work, and having him do my installations for me, I definitely prefer to step aside and give him room to work. I frankly just ‘hang paintings’, and not very well – they’re level, sure, and generally at an appropriate height for viewing… but I’m prone to just shoving as many pieces into a given area of blank wall as what I think will fit… resulting in a dizzying mosaic of color and glow that suits only me, and overwhelms anyone else.

I have no idea what today will hold…but I am already looking forward to returning at the end of the work day, to be surrounded by what matters so much…love, and art.