Joe and I have been married for nineteen years. I see at least another nineteen in front of us. He is a quiet, patient man and I am a loud, impatient woman, so it works out rather well. When I ask for something to been done around the house, he quietly gets it done and I loudly express my gratitude. This is why we have a lovely portico in the backyard, why my bathroom is painted a deep red, why have plenty of shelves for my books and why the back fence is lined with wax-leaf ligustrum.
It is also why Joe does not have a shed.
Several years ago I asked for an art room to be built in the back yard. Joe did not respond to this request in his usual fashion. As a matter fact, he did not respond at all. I sat cramped on the bathroom floor, canvass leaning against the tub, juggling paint, brushes, turpentine and linseed oil. Joe walked around me, retrieved what he needed from the closet, then walked round me again to get to the bedroom. Surely something was being conceived in that brain of his. Maybe during this period of silence he was making arrangements to fly in a group of Amish—and my art room would be raised in a day! Or maybe Mennonites… whichever are not opposed to air travel.
But nothing happened.
I continued painting in the bathroom. Then one evening I lost it. What had I ever asked of him? I don’t wear diamonds. I don’t want a big house. My favorite type of car is one that is paid for. Didn’t I raise his kids while he was working nights and weekends? Didn’t he care at all about my interests? Did he not think I was talented?! (I could blame my outburst on the turpentine fumes, but I was using unscented paint thinner.)
My art room was erected soon after.
It is lovely.
It looks more like a small cottage than a workroom. Think mini Thomas Kinkaid. It is a 10 x 10 structure with a pitched roof. Natural light flows through each of the four windows—one on each side of the building and the other two on either side of French-styled front door. The exterior of the retreat matches the house. The walls are painted off white, the windows and front door are trimmed in dark gray and the roof is covered with deep red shingles.
A top-notch electrician came over to do the wiring—he got a carried away.
Not one, but two light fixtures were installed on the ceiling—good lighting is essential for an artist’s getaway. There are outlets on each interior wall of the building and two on the exterior walls (something about Christmas lights in the back yard).
Superelectician then added a sensor light to the side of the studio—I suppose to scare off anyone who might want to heist my priceless creations. Then he put the cherry on the sundae—a porch light next to the front door. Joe placed white landscaping blocks tidily around the base as a finishing touch.
The interior paneling is a sloppily done, but that happens when you save money by hiring someone with limited English speaking ability and questionable nationality.
A window unit was installed to keep me cool and innovative.
A small refrigerator was placed in the corner to keep my diet Cokes chilled.
Joe spent a day placing peel-and-stick tile on the flooring.
It was perfect.
Three works of art were created in that sanctuary, then I abandoned it.
It is so lonely out there.
Olivia would visit me regularly to construct her own masterpieces. Occasionally Hannah would come to tell me I had a phone call, or Joe would pop in while taking a break from yard work. The dogs slept peacefully on the cool floor while I tediously focused on mixing just the right shade of blue.
But I craved the noise of the house. I kept wondering what I was missing.
In addition, I just did not feel it anymore. The desire to paint—I blame it on someone who stated, “if you paint from a photograph, you are not a real artist.”
I am using that as my excuse anyway. On to other creative endeavors.
So, in addition to dust, the art studio now holds blank canvasses, sketch pads, an empty refrigerator, a forgotten drawing table and—Joe’s bright yellow landscaping wagon—which brings me to my conclusion.
This is my public confession, thank you and apology to my incredible husband, Joe.
Babe, we should have built a shed rather than an art studio. I am handing you the keys to the cottage and christening it your man-cave. But I should warn you— the ‘fridge does not hold much beer. Give me a call on your cell and I will bring you a cold one. 😉