One possible garden studio

Why Do We Need Creative Space?

Shed Heads

I dream about a shed in the garden! Perhaps you think this is setting the bar a little low, I know some people dream of Kardashian style wealth, Britney Spears’ super stardom or the success of J.K Rowling but for me these days, aside from a reliable income from my artistic endeavours, my big dream is a shed in a garden.

My dream shed (which some may call a garden lodge or summer house) would be of modest size wooden affair. It would have plenty of windows and maybe even skylights to let in plenty of light, would be well insulated to keep in the heat and would function as my studio. If I really indulge the fantasy it would have electricity either run from the house or from a small solar panel on which I could run some lights, my sewing machine and maybe a kettle. There would also be small wood-burning pot-bellied stove for heat. Heck, if I really want to visit fantasy land it sits atop a ragged cliff top and has a beautiful view over the ocean!!

The Perfect Place For The Muse

Little ShedWhy, you may ask, have I focused my hopes on a timber structure in the garden? Well, for starters I am a cat owner and, adore them as I do, it would be nice to have a place where I could paint, sew, glue, carve or sculpt without feline paws, tongues, fur or whiskers scratching, rubbing, ingesting or in any other way causing harm to themselves or the work. It’s difficult to get inspiration when you are worried that the slightest slip in attention could cause our furry friend (should that be fiend?) to require an urgent trip to the vets.

Additionally, being a primarily home based worker, there are always distractions around the house. Washing to be sorted, vacuuming to do, washing up to be done and of course the lure of that dreadful seductress, the internet! Not only does my muse, fickle beastie as she is, need to be kept away from these distractions but she needs somewhere where inspiration can be pulled from the air.

Real World

Of course, in the real world this wistful dream that creativity can be indulged only when the muse is up and awake is unrealistic for those who want to make a living. The path to money comes with deadlines, schedules and expectations.

I was chatting with a good friend this week, whose debut novel hits the shelves this autumn, and discussing how things have changed for us, creatively speaking, since our teens. During our teens we both plunged ourselves in to the world of art and writing, indulging our young muses by creating films and animations, putting together surreal photo shoots (the negatives for which have long since been destroyed… I hope), drawing, painting and writing.  We would come up with an idea and abandon all else, occasionally including school work, to explore it. Whatever else our teens may have been we agree that it was a magical time to be creative, but it was also indulgent in a way the real world does not allow!

In the real world we must be creative on demand, we must meet deadlines and please clients and to hell with whether we feel inspired. In the real world it is more important to be inspiring then inspired, which is why I dream of a shed! Since I need to be creative on demand, then a space dedicated to that creativity – somewhere that is part studio, part workshop, part sanctuary – is the way to keep the old magic alive. I may not get it any time soon but, one day, I will build my muse a temple to creativity… well, a little wooden house anyway… okay, okay, I mean shed!

Illustration Friday - Popularity

Illustration Friday – Popularity

“Please -It’s all about popular!It’s not about aptitude, it’s the way you’re viewed, so it’s very shrewd to be very, very popular… Like me!”Lyrics from the musical “Wicked” by Stephen SchwartzHere we are again with the challenge to come up with an image for the Illustration Friday word. I have no doubt that I could’ve done something very edgy for this weeks word, as ‘popularity’ is a real hot topic in these days of celebrity status, reality TV, product placement and social media.

Illustration Friday - Popularity

“Popularity” by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

However, when it came to it I thought that all that seemed too heavy, so I chose a very domestic scenario I encounter everyday! No matter how many unpopular decisions I have made through out the day (even including trips to the vet and vaccuum cleaning) at dinner time all is forgiven. As soon as that tin of cat food is open my popularity among the feline residents of our house goes through the roof… until of course the food is in their bowls, at which point, though all sins may be forgiven, I am once again relegated to servant status and duly dismissed whilst they eat!

The illustration was sketched and inked, then scanned and coloured in my old friend, Photoshop.

The Cats Confidence

Cats have supreme confidence, a cat knows when it walks in the room that it owns it and everything and everyone in it. And I envy them for that!! “Incompetent” is probably the best to describe how I normally feel especially when dealing with new subjects or a new job. There’s so much to learn, to understand – the history, the politics, the theorems – and usually no time to get any of it committed to memory. So, for most things, I’ve found you have to hit the ground running.  

Which means that I have spent a large portion of the last few months, and if I analyse it my life, feeling like an unprepared infantry man stationed on the front line. I have attempted to follow my orders but have found that what ever has been barked across a noisy, war-torn battlefield difficult to comprehend. I have my equipment, which I know the name of if not always how to use it. And I have my companions, who all seem to know their roles and who have sprinted off to their posts. Leaving me in the middle of nowhere, probably holding a hand grenade and wondering what this funny pin thing is and what may happen if I pulled it off. And that’s where I am at the moment. Holding a metaphorical hand grenade in one hand and it’s pin in the other, standing in the middle of a battle, feeling out of place, uncomfortable in my new fatigues and in all likelihood needing a pee.  

Of course I’m talking metaphorically here. I’m not really in literal combat. It just feels like it, like everything on a day to day basis is survival. And what I have spent a lot of time considering is, how did I get here? And more importantly why does no one else seem to spend their days wondering round in a confused haze, desperately running to catch up with everyone else? But the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve noticed that those I’ve seen as supremely confident slip up. Often they will react much as a cat does when it falls off the window ledge, banister or sofa cushion, they will readjust themselves and give you a look that says “I meant to do that! It was all part of my master plan.” But occasionally with some people you see the facade of complete competence slip and for a second I glimpse the person behind it. The person whose calm exterior is, like mine, deteriorating rapidly. That inner soul with scared eyes and a trembling lip. And as our eyes meet over the burnt cake, deleted file or flooded kitchen, I see a glint of fear in their eyes. Not a fear of the consequences of getting it  wrong or of how they’ll put it right. But simply knowing that I know their secret, that they are infact as confused, scared and incompetent as I am and a fear that I might tell!!  

So, my conclusion is this; no one really knows what they’re doing! Perhaps there are those who are bright enough to not get as deep in to the situations as I do – who make damn sure they never see the front line – or who catch enough key information to survive – to hear what the grenade pin does before they pull it off – or those who don’t give a rats arse about what they’ve been told and duck for cover regardless.  But I think, on the whole, most people simply do what everyone else does. The only real difference between them and me is that they pretend they know what they’re doing and when they do something, they do it, like a cat, with enough panache and confidence to make it look like that’s exactly what they were meant to do.