Mother’s Day Packing

I have now trudged back through three decades of accumulated art, books, and papers, armed with a tape gun, an essential tool these days. Wrap those sturdy boxes up tight, they advise, so even if the movers throw them onto the truck, the contents will land intact.

My flat files are empty, if not flat. My bookshelf is empty except for a cow’s skeletal head, which I want to keep, but haven’t figured out how to pack yet.

And I’m collecting various treasures off the walls, like the art studio quotes which have sustained me through the treacherous narrows of brutal self critique. Here’s one:

When you’re in the studio painting, there are a lot of people in there with you – your teachers, friends, painters from history, critics. . . and one by one, if you’re really painting, they walk out. And if you’re really painting YOU walk out.

-Philip Guston

the pink tape will go on boxes headed for my studio

Notice that although the boxes are filled, I have not finished taping them shut. I have a terrible fear that I will forget something important and be unable to locate it on the other end, or even next week. My memory relies too much on things that I must locate, like keys, and sketchbooks and old paintings.

But you’ll want to know if I will have a studio again in my new home in Olympia, Washington. Yes, but it will be a garage conversion and take a bit of time. And it will be quite lovely and spacious and I will find spaces to make art until it is completed. And thank you for asking!

Sunday was of course Mother’s Day and I was blessed to be able to spend it in person with one son and on the phone with the other. It was a packing day, but ended with martinis and sketching in the garden.

yes, it was my first martini, in memory anyway

This is an old game we play and both enjoy it. Sketching each other quickly. The martini loosens the inhibitions. Whether that helps the result is debatable. Here’s Andrew’s of me.

by Andrew

I was very happy with this one. It was flattering and made me look quite pleasant in the way I like to think of myself!

And then today he sent this picture to his brother Ben (who lives in Nashville) with the message “You’ve ben my muse for so long”

Andy draws Ben on the front step of our house, circa 2001.

We all got a chuckle out of that. I hope I saved the portrait he did in one of the mystery boxes in the garage!

Packing is letting your history sift through your fingers again, losing and finding chunks of memory and having to decide which are important enough to keep. Touch decisions, every one. No wonder I’m so exhausted!

13 comments

  1. I do enjoy your posts and hope you continue after you move. I love Olympia-my son lives there. I always look forward to my time wandering there. What a lucky move!! Cassie Gibson

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    1. THanks Cassie and yes, I will continue the blog after I move. After 15 years the habit is too strong to break! And I’ll want to share my experiences as a newbie Olympian. Please feel free to tell me about your favorite places there, since I know very little as yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Susan,
    Good luck with your move to Olympia! I know the feeling as we packed up our home of 30 years in Livermore and moved to Cape Cod. It is quite a sifting of memories for artists. Funny – I also had a cow skull which didn’t make the cut, It must be Georgia O’Keeffe and her skulls that influenced us. I am so glad that our paths crossed in California!
    Happy Art Trails!
    Linda Beach

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    1. Cape Cod! Now there’s a wonderful place to live. It matters a bit less where we live now after a year of pandemic communicating by phone and computer. Friends can remain so, even when they move. I like thinking of you in Cape Cod.

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  3. Definitely want to stay in touch. And if you need help. Your writing during this time of moving and packing and and and is so heartfelt and amazing. Thanks. And thanks also of course for your art. Louise

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    1. Yes, let’s stay in touch! I’m looking forward to doing more nature journaling in the PNW and will think of you and our wonderful groups with Laurie and Jack Laws! And remembering Soreze adventures too, my fellow explorer.

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  4. Scott and I will miss you and we wish you courage and success as you move. The bravery and energy needed to sort and pack up an artist’s studio are unique. May Olympia hold wonderful
    adventures and joy for you and yours.

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  5. Hello Susan, yes please, I do want to keep in touch and am so happy to hear you’ll be continuing your blog. I have very fond memories of my time in your studio, and you were a huge influence on me and my art path during some very challenging times. Moving to a new home and packing up your studio and everything else is a daunting task, but also full of hope and possibilities for change. I wish you the very best in your new location. You certainly have chosen a beautiful new place to live and make art!

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    1. Thank you for your best wishes Gail. And believe me when I say that you had a great impact on me as well and I know you carried your art further into the world after those times. I look forward to sharing new art in new places!

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  6. The very best of journeys to you and your husband, Susan. I would enjoy staying in touch with you via your blog. You are a rare mentor and friend.

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