The Raindog Studio

It is interesting how some people respond to the little ghost studio house positively and others negatively. Some see potential and others want to knock it down. I’ve had both of those reactions toward it myself–but I am moody and nervous about taking on this big project on my own. I never see it the same way twice. The house is moody too. I think that’s why we get along. Some days it feels bright and open, strong despite its wonkiness and full of potential. On other days it feels dark and damp and tired of holding itself up under years of neglect and bad weather. I am much the same. It never feels angry but some days it feels sad. Some days it seems less crooked to me, like it is trying to stand tall and show me its best side–and other days it feels really fragile and dangerously crooked, like it is sulking. If I stay away too long, it seems to sink into itself a little and pout–like a dog I left at home alone for too long. I know. That sounds crazy. And yes, I am probably projecting my emotions onto the house. It’s really interesting though how the weather or my mood or the receptiveness of a visitor changes the way the house looks and feels. It’s like an architectural Rorschach test or a big wooden mood ring or a very attentive and sensitive dog.

I have brought a handful of people to see it. I thought it might be helpful to have friends see it and help me sort out what to do with it but the house has looked different to each of them and I have gotten several different reactions to it. It has been confusing for me. I’ve found most but not all women visitors to be encouraging and forgiving. They seem to want to see promise in the crooked old house even if they can’t. Most men have been negative and can’t be bothered with hearing my plans. Women notice the light. Men just see the dirt and flaws. Women step in more willingly. Men seem to want to fight with it–to challenge it in some way–to knock it down. Some men — and women won’t cross the threshold. Some stomp right in fearlessly. It’s really fascinating to watch!

I trust my little studio like I trust my dogs. You know how dogs can read people? I believe my little house can read people too and that’s why it sits up and shines for some visitors like a happy, smiling dog, and hunches over and grimaces and growls when others approach. This is how I found the folks that will build my studio. I’ve shown it to several people. I have listened to them all and taken their ideas into consideration. The folks I have chosen, who were greeted warmly by my neighbors dogs when they arrived, walked right in to the house and put their hands on things and looked underneath and overhead. They were honest about the hard work that will need to be done and optimistic about building something new. They did not look at the house with dreamy eyes like I do but they didn’t look at it with mean eyes either. They have been very matter of fact about what it will take to make it safe and healthy for me. I am not using the words rebuild or renovate anymore. That isn’t what is going to happen. Yes, some of the old bones will still be there but this project is about starting over–for me and the house. It will be dismantled and shored up and reinvented and turned into a new workshop where I can bring my ideas and my materials and begin the next chapter or my creative life.

This studio will be built in much the same way that I have built my After the Apocalypse assemblage pieces. I will use repurposed and salvaged materials when I can and I will rearrange parts of the house and give those parts new purpose. Contexts will shift. Language will change. New materials will be used where needed and new stories will be spun. The old tired house will become my new studio. I am having a hard time waiting for the building to begin but wait a little while longer I must. Spring break holidays and weather and conflicting schedules are all slowing the process a little but things are definitely–finally–moving in the right direction.

This all feels a little like taking in one of the wild rain dogs that ends up in my woods after a storm. They come to my place lost, sickly, tired and hungry and I have to move slowly to earn their trust so I can help them. I have to feed them and wait for them to allow me to put a collar and leash on them and then I take them to the vet to receive the care they need to be well again. My Ghostyhead dog was my first rain dog and my most beloved friend and he sheltered in this little moody house for months before he came to live with me. The house seemed to like him and he seemed to trust the house. He returned there for years and sunned on the porch even after he had decided he would be my companion and live with me. He liked the open field and played chase with the foxes and slept on the porch. He was calm and happy there. It seemed like the house had his back and he could feel safe there. I trust his judgment. He was a very sensitive and wise dog. That’s why I started calling this place the Ghost House–for my Ghostyhead dog.. For that reason, I think it will always be called The Ghost House but I am hoping it feels less sad and haunted after it is given some support and love and a few layers of paint. I hope it never stops seeing and reading my guests though. I kind of love that part of this little house. I love that it is a little wild and wily and suspicious of strangers and oh so loving and grateful to those who reach out a hand and love it and feed it and care for it. Maybe I should call it The Raindog Studio.

2 Comment

  1. maia says: Reply

    Love all of this! There is a soul in every house and I’m so glad you feel this one so deeply!

  2. Wendy J says: Reply


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