The inner art of reframing
In efforts to lower fuel bills, I currently keep the studio around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). While it’s nowhere near cold enough for ice to form on studio surfaces, it does maintain a thoroughly brisk and bracing work environment.
And for an Australian raised in a land where occasional frosts marked the dead of winter, studio life in the snowy Adirondacks is a definite challenge. Luckily I do have ways of meeting that challenge.
Over the many winters I’ve lived in the northern hemisphere, I’ve managed to cobble together an approach that not only allows me to cope, but perhaps even flourish.
Of course my daily work in the chilly studio is aided by suitable clothing; a longish down jacket, thick hat, and fingerless gloves. This latter gear enables me to manipulate brushes and keyboards by touch while still keeping the major parts of my hands warm.
Obviously this current reality is worlds apart from my memories of Australian studio work. There most of my battles were with sweat that seemed continually poised to drip onto my current work in progress.
Warm clothing, however, only goes so far in enabling me to cope with the northern winters. To survive emotionally, I’ve found it necessary to make concerted efforts to consciously redesign and reframe my expectations.
Each year in late autumn, shortly after the trees have lost their leaves, I spend some time conjuring up internal imagery in which I’m free from all outward distractions. I see in my mind’s eye an extended period where grass cutting and yard work are absent and all temptations to lounge about in the sun have vanished. And into that space I lovingly place a long and delectable sequence of creative endeavors which, in the coming months, will occupy me fully.
And then, almost by magic, the prospect of winter becomes bearable, even enjoyable.
Am I deluding myself? Perhaps. But there is no denying the practicality and effectiveness of these regular reframing efforts. Each year a potentially depressing and destabilizing period is transformed into an uplifting and energized reality.