How a Humble Basement Became an Art Retreat

Wouldn’t it be nice to travel to the most beautiful places in the world, and just create art? To go off the grid, away from rent, traffic, responsibilities, and do what you love most? I know a few fortunate, hard-working individuals who get to do the former (although no one can really escape the realities of day-to-day life forever; even those who travel and teach for a living must buy groceries, for example). I myself take a weekend trip away from it all at least once each year–I leave my husband and even my children to surround myself with nature and to breathe enough of it in that I can return with plenty of balance to get me through another year of rush-hour traffic, bills, and hectic schedules.

When we can’t get away, though, when we’re stressed out from innumerable responsibilities, when we don’t have the time or the money to find a sacred space to create art, what do we do? We make it. Take Hank Buffington, for example, whose painting is featured in Acrylic Works: The Best of Acrylic Painting. He has inspired me to no end with Basement De Stijl (below; acrylic on canvas, 20×24). At first glance, it looks industrial; a single bulb casts light on a maze of pipes. When you learn why he painted this, I hope that a light comes on for you.

acrylic painting by Hank Buffington

Basement De Stijl (acrylic on canvas, 20×24) by Hank Buffington

“The basement painting was done from observation in my house,” says Buffington. “The setting allowed me to have consistent lighting no matter when I painted, and being in the basement allowed me to leave my easel set up for months without fear of my children disturbing it. I originally chose the scene because I felt it was nearly unpaintable. My initial intention was to abstract the scene and interpret it much as I would a plein air landscape, but as I worked on it elements just got tighter and tighter and it became very literal. I expected it to take a couple of days, but I ended up working on it for several months.”

acrylic painting by Nancy Reyner

Stones of Fire II (acrylic and gold leaf on panel, 23×41) by Nancy Reyner

“Art enhances our lives,” says Nancy Reyner, editor of the new book Acrylic Works. “Whether we view it for pleasure or create it as artists, art can serve us in so many ways.” (Share this quote on Twitter)

Buffington found and made a space in which to paint, and I love that. He not only created an interesting painting, but he gave meaning to objects that most people prefer not to think about, however crucial they are to our comfort. What challenges do you have when it comes to painting or drawing? Think about how you can manipulate time and space to allow your creativity to exist and thrive, whether you have access to the ocean for inspiration, or perhaps only a basement.

Art is life,
Cherie

Cherie Haas, online editor**Click here to subscribe to the Artists Network newsletter for inspiration, instruction, and more!

 

 

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