All the while, the uncertainty at my studio with regards to its ownership was still on-going. Eventually I met with the new owners at their request. They said they wanted to get to know me, but I honestly felt like it was solely for the purpose of sizing me up. That this was their chance to see if I was going to fit into whatever the new vision was that they had for the building. The meeting felt like I was interviewing for the job of “tenant”. I spoke with them about my motivation as an artist and what inspires me but I did not feel like they understood. I do not make art with the goal of making a living from it – I have my office job for that. I got the feeling that they were only interested in tenants who were businesses not people, like me, who were there to make art for art’s sake. There was no mention of when or if they were intending to offer me a new lease.
After that, I did not have a positive feeling about my future in the building which was disheartening. It seemed inevitable that eventually I was going to have to move out, a terribly overwhelming thought. I had accumulated a lot during my time in that studio. All of my art materials and tools, completed art, works-in-progress – there was more than a decade-worth of the kinds of things that artists tend to have. If I were to leave, how was I going to get it all out and where would it go? These were questions that I did not want to figure out how to answer.
Finally, about six months later I was given a lease offer that I decided to reject as the terms were not feasible for me. It was time for me to go. I just didn’t belong there anymore. After throwing out a considerable amount of unnecessary and unwanted items, I put the rest of my equipment and supplies in storage and began to make art solely in the small work area that I had set up at home. Within this space I set out to rediscover my passion for creating and to, hopefully, feel inspired again. Because of the size restrictions and limitations on the type of work I could produce at home I began to explore new ways of making art.
One thing that had recently caught my attention was a form of art called quilling (paper filigree). I had never seen nor heard of this before and I decided that I wanted to learn how do it. I bought a how-to book and a bunch of supplies online and was ready to get to it. But then I learned about a class being offered at the Crucible in Oakland on cartonería (paper mache sculpture). I knew next to nothing about this craft except for having seen some of it in shops while vacationing in Mexico. This seemed like another interesting way for me to make art with paper and so I signed myself up. Surely this new direction would help pull me out of my creative funk.
I loved my class at the Crucible and, after it was over, I decided to keep going with that kind of art. The quilling how-to book and supplies would have to stay on the shelf for the time being. Over the course of many months, quite slowly, I made a handful of paper mache sculptures. It was fun and very satisfying. My creative spark was beginning to reignite. When the time came to paint the sculptures, however, I realized that I did not know how to paint. I tried using some books I’d checked out from the library but they weren’t very helpful. I needed some hands-on instruction on the basics. I enrolled in a local community class to help me get started. And it worked! It was exactly the kick-start that I needed to get going. With that, I had a base of information from which to draw and was able to get to work experimenting with this new, to me, medium. I began painting my sculptures as well as making small studies to try out different abstract designs. I took inspiration from the cartoneria sculptures that had come before me. My designs contained a lot of detail and there was a certain amount of tediousness and repetition in their creation which I really enjoyed. It felt great to just get lost in the process.