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studiOH podcast from artist Michael Statham

This is the studiOH! podcast season 1 episode 6 ‘Finally, the season one finale’’

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Show notes/transcript:

I’m Michael Statham and your listening to the studiOH! podcast. Essays, observations, stories and therapy sessions from an emerging artist.

This is episode 6, “Finally, the season one finale”

Hello and welcome back to the studiOH! Podcast. This is the sixth and the final episode of season one.

I’ll admit that, for various reasons, these short, six episodes have been a little harder to produce than I had first anticipated. This final episode being relegated to second place recently over other, more urgent tasks that needed my attention as well as some annoying and time consuming IT issues. Since recording the last episode I’ve updated my MacOS to Catalina and it would appear that Audacity and Catalina don’t play well together so it’s taken me a while to figure out how to work around that glitch.

That said, I have enjoyed publishing these soundbites despite their semi regular schedule and will definitely be working towards recording a second season, possibly early in the new year, And if I have learned anything from this exercise it’s that, before I commit to a second season, I’ll need to have all of the shows scripted well in advance, ready to record and publish on time.

Writing and recording the first season on an episode by episode basis has proved to be a bit of a challenge to say the least and having to deal with other priorities has meant that I have managed to miss the publication slot on a couple of occasions. 

I knew that the project wouldn’t be at all easy to complete. But I have come across hurdles that, as a novice podcaster, I couldn’t predict and certainly didn’t expect. Of course, now that I know better there’s no excuse for missing deadlines. Famous last words.

Not least on the list of requirements was getting to grips with Adobe Audition and then later with Audacity to record and edit the audio. I changed to Audition as my exorbitant Adobe subscription came to an end and I had to make a choice as to which programs I really needed in order to save money. So, naturally, photoshop won out and Audition got sidelined and substituted with the free sound editor, Audacity. 

Which has proved to be a smart step because Audacity is much easier to use, I think, and it has made post production editing a bit easier. Removing the pauses, breaths, sighs and the frequent profanity took an inordinate amount of time. So any chance to make this a smoother process was welcome.

The first recording was made in my studio but the ambient sounds became something of a distraction during play back. Moving recording location back to the house provided a more stable atmosphere although I then had to be content with a final recording that sounded like I’d set up my studio in the subterranean levels of Wayne Manor.

I’ve since discovered that several strategically placed pillows and the closing of curtains help to soften the sound. Just a little. It can still sound like I’m speaking into a tin can at times but I’m working on smoothing that out. I think I have attempted to record from every room in the house so far to find the sweet spot but if anyone has any tips please feel free to let me know ready for next season.

Even after twiddling with the audio files in Audacity, the varying degree of tinnitus that I have on any given day means that I can’t always tell if the sound quality is up to parr. 

I’ve had tinnitus for… well, forever I think. I can’t remember a time when the thoughts in my head weren’t accompanied by this constant, screeching counterpoint. Background sounds from the TV or from conversation go some way to drowning it out. No, not drowning it out exactly, more like tweaking the volume, just enough to make the tinnitus no longer the primary source of sound. And at night, when I’m trying to sleep, I wear my ear buds on a low volume as the silence of the bed room is literally deafening. 

I think it must be genetic. My mum had it. One of my sisters has it too. She’s in her seventies now, my sister that is, and she wears hearing aids in an effort to help with sound definition. Not that these work at all really and having a conversation with her is one of the most frustrating things I can think off. For both parties involved. 

So, I have that to look forwards to. 

But, back to the podcast. This has been and I guess will continue to be a work in progress. It has evolved over the six episodes and I’m continuing to address areas like improving the sound quality. The whole process of opening up my practice to public scrutiny has been one of those situations that I believe people refer to as ‘being out of ones comfort zone’. In my case, this comfort zone extends a mere three feet in all directions so being able to step out of it wasn’t difficult by any means.

Thinking of a topic, writing the script, reading and recording it. These are all things that I’m not used too, by varying degrees. 

And comfortable is not an adjective that I’d attach to the process. Just one of the reasons why I have persisted with the project and will try to continue with it in an attempt to address my now, well documented, insecurities. It might not seem like it to the my listeners but I generally do not like to talk about myself. Or talk about anything, really. As I said in one of the earlier episodes, I’m rubbish at stating conversations and making small talk. 

But writing the scripts for the podcast has been enjoyable and it has allowed me to gain a little bit of confidence from that process. If only every day was like that. Perhaps I should stick to conversing via text or email, it would make life so much easier.

The writing side of the studiOH podcast has reminded me how much I enjoy it. Even though I often find it difficult to express myself sometimes in a face to face situation, writing gives me time for consideration which conversation doesn’t. I always achieve greater precision and clarity in a written form than I can when being expected to verbally improvise on the spot.

I’ve always thought that I could write at least one book, and I have had a few attempts at this in the past, but original stories don’t seem to come particularly easy to me. So, it would have to be based on personal experiences and would relate closely to real life events… Hey, wait a minute, I believe that’s called a memoir. Ha, no one would want to read that.

Something that I’ve learned over the last few weeks is that I need to adopt a more structured approach to my time in the studio. I’ve been neglecting certain, less exciting tasks in favour of quick hit accomplishments. I’m behind on so many aspects of my work and I haven’t painted properly, or for a sustained period, for a while and I’m feeling a little lost because of that. 

While working on the house these past few months it has been obvious how important time management is to a project. This is an obvious take away from the old day job so I’d like to think that I’ve honed my skills in that area. I just need to apply these skills to my studio work too.

With that in mind I have decided to design my workflow to better help me spend time in my studio more productively. I envision this simply as a spreadsheet for the month, broken down into weeks and these weeks down into the days. Each day filtered further into hour slots starting at 9:00am and ending at 5:00pm with tasks allocated to time slots depending on their priority and complexity.

The times won’t be set in stone, mainly because I have a knack of wildly underestimating how long it takes me to do anything, but I’m hoping that they will act as a guide for how long I should be spending on a task and help me to adapt the way that I work. Hopefully the end result will mean that I can perhaps maintain the balance between admin and creative and stay on a more even keel. 

I’m also going to make time for more sketching and perhaps a little writing. 

Obviously I sketch now, but it’s clearly not often enough. And when I do it’s to work out ideas rather than just for the sake of it. I have an iPad Pro and apple pencil that I need to get more use out of, at least when it comes down to sketching, so I’ll be test driving a few sketching apps to see which is the best or most suitable. I have my eye on both Procreate and the new Adobe Fresco as both look like  equally viable candidates so I’ll be setting aside some time to decide which is the best fit. When I’ve made my decision I’ll probably put a review of both on my blog, so look out for that.

I’m also hoping that this will eliminate my sketching issues previously documented in episode three.

And I’d also like to write more. This was a regular activity back in the day but for some reason it took a back seat and eventually got kicked out of the car entirely, so beside composing short blog posts and the odd complaint letter to various corporate entities,     I haven’t written much at all for a very, very long time. 

I can’t actually remember how long it’s been but I do recall that I didn’t wear reading glasses in those days, so based on that alone it’s been well over 10 years. 

I know that on other episodes I have stated my distain for to do lists and aid memoirs but desperate times call for desperate measures. 

It’s time buckle down and get with the program.

In preparation for this new, dynamic approach to working, I have had a bit of a clear out in the studio and in doing so, I have come across some screen prints from a few years ago. These are in various different styles from when I was experimenting with the format. 

I have an edition of four prints from a series I called the Pantheon project. Each print shows an interpretation of one of four characters from Greek mythology: 

Hades, Poseidon, Medusa and Ares. 

They were an exercise in exploring the use of negative space so have a bold graphic quality to them, printed using only black and yellow ink on 300gram paper measuring 40x40cm. 

At the time these were to be included in an exhibition which unfortunately got cancelled one week into the show due to some dispute between the gallery owner and the group organising the exhibition, so they have been haven’t seen the light of day in a very long time.

A set of these four prints were sold to a collector soon after the aborted exhibition and I found out recently that they had been featured in an article about their new home in the May edition of Country Homes and Interiors magazine. Have a look on my web site for shots from this article. 

I also have an edition of 50 risograph prints that I submitted for last years Royal Academy summer show. It’s a graphic representation of a form in a landscape, entitled Monument. Unfortunately this didn’t make it through to the selection this year, which is a shame because I really love the way it came out. 

It was my first attempt at risograph printing and I ended up contacting a studio in Glasgow called Risotto Studio who were incredibly helpful and put up with my constant query’s and deadline panics, because I’d left this to the last minute as I do with most things. But I managed to get the print completed, delivered, photographed and submitted the day before the deadline. 

It was a shame that all that effort went unrewarded. 

If you’d like to see these, you can take a gander over at mickstatham.com/prints.

They’re also listed on Esty and links to each print will be on that print page. 

I still  think they hold up as nice examples of graphic art so if you need a quick hit to brighten up your home or work space, they’re available for the bargain price of £40 each plus postage. 

Once again, thanks for listening to season one of the show.

You can subscribe to the podcast for free on all major podcast platforms. Please let your friends know about the show, it might just be something that they’d like to hear too, so feel free to pass it on. And don’t forget to rate and review on apple podcasts as this will also help others to find the show.

You can find me on the web at mickstatham.com, on instagram and facebook at MichaelStathamArt and on twitter at mikestathamart.

The music for this podcast is called Walking Back by Aaron Sprinkle with incidental music called Golden Years by Shimmer. Both are licensed from Soundstripe.com

I’m Michael Statham and you’ve been listening to The studiOH! Podcast

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All images and content copyright michael statham 2019. Other images are copyright of their respective owners.