In the attic studioWhen I was younger, post art college, no career figured out, I found myself in an old house with quite a few roommates in Newton, Mass. In the attic there was a space behind a door, under the eaves, with a small desk and a window. My roommates agreed to let me use it as a studio.
It was my first real studio and I loved it with a passion. There was enough room to do something small so I got together some watercolors, paper, and pen and ink.
Something magical happened and I became inspired in a way I never found in college. The little attic space was a shelter for my inner voice. I didn’t know any of this then, but looking back now I can see it more clearly.
Having grown up in a raucous family with 5 kids, and then living with roommates, I had never had much chance to get away, to be with my own thoughts in a quiet space. Something creative was sparked in the solitude and I started to sketch and paint.
I remembered in college when everyone was creating giant abstract paintings I felt very out of place unless I was drawing from the model in black and white, or doodling in the margins of my notebooks. A professor saw that I was floundering and not finding a style that fit in with my peers. He saw my doodles of a hairy rabbit with glasses and asked what they were.
I was embarrassed and said it was nothing important. He being wiser said “Do more of that.” I didn’t take that advice seriously at the time because the doodles seemed the opposite of ‘real’ art.
I finally graduated after changing my major multiple times, trying to find something that made sense. My mother was a technical illustrator so I followed her lead and got a job in a publishing company. I now could pay the rent but felt I was leaving my ‘real’ art dreams behind. Not that I could define that anyway!
The appearance of Rabbit
Returning to sketching and staring at the blank page I turned back to doodling as I waited for 'important' inspiration. The rabbit reappeared. I must have connected with memories of classic children's books and cartoons from my childhood because Mr Rabbit as I called him began to attract friends. A lion ‘appeared’. With Mr Rabbit and Mr Lion on the same page, scenes began to take place.
The scenes had little stories behind them which I could not have put into words. I became immersed in their world which was such a wonderful place to be. I invented a fictional world for them to live in "Nellenby".
Time stood still and many hours would go by without a sense of time passing. I created about 12 finished paintings of these scenes in watercolor with pen and ink. My roommates thought they were great and suggested I try to exhibit at the local library. I ended up with a solo show and it was very successful with sales and commissions.
My next step in life led to marriage and motherhood. I put the watercolors away for a while.
Thank you for reading.