When I was ten years old I took art lessons with an art teacher who lived up the street. She eventually moved to a nearby house, built an art studio and opened her home up as a gallery and teaching space. I remember wanting to emulate her – not only her art, but also her lifestyle. Maybe someday I too, could draw, paint and work out of my home.
It seems to me that for many artists, the title is about more than a profession; it is about a way of life. Most artists I know are trying to carve out a living doing what they love. Most want to be surrounded by beautiful things. Many want to live a simple life, close to nature, close to the work they love.
I have been trying for most of my life to create such a life for myself and in many ways I’ve achieved it. I am a professional writer and teacher. I have managed to eschew the 9 to 5 grind. But, the term starving artist exists for a reason and I have yet, to establish the home that I have always dreamed of having as my own creative space. I’ve set out and tried a couple of times to build one, but money always proves an obstacle. Still, the dream is strong, which is why perhaps I am so enchanted when I see it realized by others.
Several years ago, I wrote an article for Upper Valley Life Magazine about two potters, Becca Van Fleet and Nathan Webb. Theirs was a love story, both as a couple and as artists. Recently married, they were building a kiln and creating their own artistic dream. I fell in love with their story and watched as they finished their kiln and set out to build a studio. Each open studio weekend I am there, purchasing a fine collection of their wonderful pottery. Today, when I stopped by with my mother and sister-in-law Leah, to introduce Leah to their work, I discovered not only their completed studio, but also learned the news that they are pregnant. Another unfulfilled dream of mine, but rather than feeling jealous I find myself delighting in seeing this deserving couple’s personal and work lives expand.
These two potters, and their dog, Lego, short for Legolas of Lord of the Rings fame, make their home not far down the road from my own property, so after visiting them today, I walked the winding dirt road from my brother’s home to my land. Though chilly for May, the world was green and lush and rich with possibility. Becca and Nathan placed a chalkboard in their new studio, welcoming visitors and instructing them on how to negotiate the space. At the bottom, they wrote “a dream come true.” The words are a sweet reminder, but not necessary – the space and property is so infused with art and love that any visitor quickly becomes immersed in the dream that birthed it. You celebrate it as your own. And, so in this spirit, I stare out at my empty meadow and dream a dream large enough to fill the space. I continue my artist’s journey and envision where it will lead.