Late Night Painting: The Adventures of The Art Studio | St. Lawrence University

Late Night Painting: The Adventures of The Art Studio

Molli Morris
2021

“I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.” -Frida Kahlo

Its 1:30 a.m. I am sitting on the metal chair in the center of the painting studio. I am alone and the lights are dimmed to my ideal setting. My wide-angled paint brush is sweeping up and down my canvas as the bristles spread the thick paint combined with linseed oil onto the surface. I surround myself with a large cup of green tea and a bag of chips from the vending machine. It wasn’t until these moments in which I was able to truly realize how crucial it is for me to express myself in this capacity.

When I was nine years old, I started to attend a small school that integrated the arts in all academic aspects. I was raised in both a performing and visual arts setting in which I pushed myself creatively on a daily basis. I became fascinated by fashion design and famous painters and obsessed over the work of Frida Kahlo. My childhood and early adolescence were consumed with paints and charcoal that were spread across my dining room table. 

Throughout high school, I decided to push myself more through academics and athletics and spend less time in the arts. I played soccer and softball and was president of my small high school. When applying to colleges, I considered going to art colleges with more intensive programs because I appreciated that aspect of my life, but I realized I wasn’t ready to be fully immersed in that type of environment yet. St. Lawrence was not my first choice. I was choosing between attending here and George Washington University, where I was planning on majoring in political science. I was determined to follow a passion in political science while dedicating my spare time to making art as a hobby. In the end, I chose SLU solely because of my experience at an Accepted Students Day later that spring. It was through my interactions with the people that I instantly fell in love with and the amazing community. I went into my college years at SLU determined to follow my passions in politics and communication studies but when I got here it was through the liberal arts curriculum that I was able to take courses in all different academic areas. I soon realized that it was the courses that I was able to lose myself creatively became the courses I felt most at home in. Through the liberal arts education, I was allowed to reunite with a passion of mine that I realized brought so much more meaning to my life. St. Lawrence University soon became my home that first year and so did the art studio and the moments I spent inside losing myself to drawing and painting.  The art studio was a place that allowed me to feel at peace and present. There remains nothing else more therapeutic in my life than the moments of being fully consumed by my paint touching the canvas. The background noise in my life is lost as soon as I enter the art studio.

Which brings me back to this moment. I am painting a portrait of myself. I have taped up a photo of myself on the metal rod right above my canvas. I analyze the small features on my face as I listen to my jazz playlist in the background. Taking sips of the green tea in between brush strokes. The juxtaposition of the black and white paint together on a canvas is blended by the level of gray scale I have specifically planned to fill in the areas. I spend the next hours and watch the sunrise from the tall windows in front of me. It is the early hours of the morning with my tired eyes and hands that are coated in streaks of paint that I feel the most grateful to call St. Lawrence University my home.