Over the past few years I began to record and mix music myself instead of buying studio time. Having reached the limits of what I could do at home, I decided to take a leap of faith and lease a studio space in the North Midtown Arts Center (NMAC) building in the Midtown area of Jackson, Mississippi.
The space itself has lots of light, good natural reverb, and a rich history of art, music and creativity thrumming in its walls. Immediately after entering the space I began to write and sing in beautiful new ways. A blurring of moments filled my spirit: the train nearby…the trees in the courtyard outside…the memory of opening up for Teneia Sander’s CD Release party at Ezra Brown’s club called Seven down the street…the knowledge that Luckytown Brewery (Jackson’s newest microbrewery) would soon be in view from my new studio window…playing improv at Figment and laughing…all of this hums in multi-layered chord that I feel in my cells and in my bones.
It’s true, as a place for recording music the space does have some drawbacks. Those evocative train sounds for one. And, occasional noise from neighboring studio spaces and sound of the heating unit going on. Since most of what I’ll be doing involves line-in tracking and midi-based instrumental work, these issues seem workable. On the occasion I want to record vocals or mic instruments, I can work around these challenges with careful planning, patience, and a bit of good luck.
The studio is one of those gifts I’ve given myself. Maybe the best creativity present, ever! Though I had moved in several pieces of furniture and some art, and recorded, practiced and written well there…I didn’t quite feel settled in.
Knowing from my training in feng shui that the need to ground and settle can be super important for creative work, I thought about the best way to quickly and inexpensively create a harmonious and comfortable place that felt as if it were mine. I debated painting one wall a bright color. I thought of different kinds of colors that might be fun. I liked the idea of orange. Later that night as I was getting ready for bed, a voice in my head said, “You aren’t going to paint the wall – you are going to use that orange color and paint the floor!”
At first I thought, ah, that’s too much trouble. Painting floors means moving all of the stuff around. But the more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with the idea. The floor is stained concrete, and coated in years of drips, splatters, and other stains from the tenants before me (see photos). After talking to the property manager, I got permission to cover over all of that with a layer of color, called “Baked Squash.” Though it sounds very “fallish” in truth on the floor the color is more of a charming, rich tangerine.
I knew I’d need to prime the floor if I wanted the paint to stick. Even so I want to be careful in the future, once it’s done, not to drag furniture across the floor. Painted floors can tend to scratch but they look great.
I bought a gallon of concrete floor primer and a gallon of concrete paint, asking the paint person at Lowe’s to tint both the primer and the paint with my selected color.
I got my painting clothes on (old yoga pants & a t-shirt) and my other supplies:
- a bucket for water to store the wet paint roller between coats
- 2 paint roller covers (one for backup)
- a paint roller
- an extender pole that screws onto the paint roller, making big jobs easier
- a metal paint tray and plastic tray liner
- a stir-stick
- a brush for cutting in
- a flat head screwdriver to use to open the paint can (don’t forget that!!!)
Note, I did not mention drop cloths. Though I have painted plenty of walls and a few ceilings, this is the first time I have painted a floor. Best part – no worries about dripping paint on the floor. (I did end up using a drop cloths when I got to the final area, because I had to put my supplies out in the hall).
Also note, I did not list painter’s tape. I have been taught that painters tape is way more trouble than it is worth and can create problems you didn’t have when you started. By keeping a wet rag in my pocket to quickly wipe drips up, and by using a careful technique, I get good results without the tape.
Stay tuned for Part 2 – “The Paint Goes On!”