Illustration Station, Kidlit County, Mikesville

Stu-Stu-Studio Tour

An artist’s work space is much more than a room; it is a snapshot of how they work and a glimpse into their personality. I thought it might be fun to give you a little tour of my art studio! (cue Mister Roger’s Neighborhood theme) I am already wearing my cardigan and have changed my shoes. Here we go!

The studio is very tiny. When the landlord showed us the apartment, she called it “the nursery.” Now it’s where my art babies live 🙂 I don’t always have my laptop in here, but this room has the best light in the apartment, so I move here from my “design desk” when I feel like I’m in a cave.

The art studio is my sacred space. When you walk into the room, you actually have to walk up two steps to get to the desk. I love it; it feels like I am ascending to my altar. Making art is akin to a ritual.

Here’s the view of the street below. I like watching the passers-by. There is also a charming older gentleman who delights in feeding the crows. Notice how we live on the corner of Bellevue, Bellevue, & Bellevue. Cab drivers don’t believe me when I tell them where I want to go. The hanging ball is a gift from my friend Mo. It’s a good luck charm from Turkey, and I think the “rope” is made of horse hair. Continue reading

Inspiration Island, Mikesville

Chronicles of an Elsewhere Studio Mate: Sarah Jane Lapp

SJ & me in our old studio, circa 2007

Now that I have a blog, I am very excited to share all of the artists who I have either had the pleasure to call a friend or who have influenced me as an artist. Sarah Jane Lapp has been both friend and inspiration.

I met my friend Marc on a plane from Newark to Seattle about 7 or 8 years ago. We hung out one day, and he said he had a friend who lived just two doors down from me. Enter Sarah Jane, curious and wild-haired. Unlike most keep-to-yourself Seattleites, Sarah Jane immediately invited herself over and asked to see my art, and we have been friends ever since.

SJ's famed loveseat that you see us sitting in above. This piece hung in our studio until Sarah Jane moved away.

We would sit in her kitchen almost daily, and plot out our lives while she would make some tea and vittles from her random cache of twigs, greens, and legumes. We had big plans to have our own art “destination” where we would make things, and somehow sell them to people who would be lured in by the scent of our fresh-baked cookies. Surprisingly, this did not come to pass. However, we did become studio mates and remained so for four wonderful years. We have seen each other through the highs and lows (and very lows) of our personal and artistic careers.

This is one of my favorite pieces by any artist. I just want to jump into it and turn into a burst of bright colors.

Sarah Jane is a film maker/illustrator, working in ink and gouache. The honesty of her line matches her genuine spirit. Some of her pieces have a minimalist approach that capture such a depth of feeling with just a few strokes. Others marry her line with bursts of colors that I can only describe as alive.

Still from Chronicles of a Professional Eulogist. A character study of these birds hangs proudly in our dining room.

I had the honor of watching her work on and complete an animated film that took her nearly 11 years to create, Chronicles of a Professional Eulogist. When she was done, when all of the frames were stacked in one proud pillar, the film stood more than half her size. It was an entire film handmade with ink and gouache and edited in Final Cut Pro. Eulogist went on to screen at South by Southwest and the Seattle International Film Festival.

Op-Ed piece for the Post Intelligencer

Meanwhile, SJ also did op-ed pieces for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (RIP), and sold her art to the masses via a booth at Pike Place Market. This was always funny to me; I wondered if customers understood that the woman in the Russian faux fur hat that they were purchasing handmade greeting cards from was a genius. I am in awe of the various fellowships and residencies Sarah Jane has been accepted to, not to mention teaching at several universities (including a little place called Harvard). I do want to note that I am totally butchering SJ’s resume by leaving out her other lauds, but these are the moments that stick in my mind, the ones that make me proud and give me hope as a creative.

The title of this is "This Is A Total Catastrophe", but to me this is a total illumination.

SJ would always say to me “be good to yourself,” and it’s something that I try to impart to others. She is always trying to connect people, always trying to learn and grow and be a good human.

When you're Not Here, starring SJ's loveseat and the void where her ink seat used to live. (by me)

SJ left Seattle over a year ago, and it hasn’t been the same without her. She’s currently living outside of Providence, plotting new adventures.