Attention Cottage


Creativity needs a quiet place where it can breathe and flourish.

I recently heard the phrase “attention cottage” and loved it. It was coined by analogy to a memory palace. It was meant as a place of attentiveness. For some of us, this would be a private art studio. Many of us will have to build our cottage from scraps, and a good bit of it will need to be virtual. A place without screens or other modern distractions so that we can focus on what we need to create.

The big, noisy, modern city pulls us in, and we only go back to our quiet cottage in desperate circumstances. But it should be the other way around: our cozy cottage should be our home, our safe place, where we start our adventures in the modern world.

  • This week’s artist is – Elizabeth Wade – whose work just came in to the frame shop. It caught my attention enough that I had to share it! For even more, check out her website and instagram!
  • Lillian Bassman would have been 107 on Saturday!
  • What a lovely thought – “big secret to happiness is just liking stuff. finding more stuff to like. finding ways to like stuff you didn’t before…”
  • Strathmore has a free virtual acrylic landscape painting class.
  • One of the great modern mysteries, finally solved: How many cans of ABC SpaghettiOs would it take to write the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy?
  • Hosted by the New York Academy of Medicine, #ColorOurCollections is a yearly assemblage of coloring books sourced from the collections of museums and libraries. You can download this year’s coloring books (as well as those from past years) for free from the website.
  • With two kiddos at home, I wonder these questions on a regular basis: Who is that kid? What’s she going to be?
  • “What if you make a big pile of imperfect things?” Sarah Leavitt on joyful persistence.
  • This Caravaggio painting was almost sold for $1,800.
  • The ampersand [&] originated as the ligature of the letters et — Latin for ‘and.’
  • I saw a painting unveiled at a museum, but it was merely a black dot on canvas. It must have been a period piece.
  • 😎 Fun Fact: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has no clearly visible eyebrows or eyelashes, which has been a subject of debate among art historians.
  • Writers & Sscribblers is a group for writers of all kinds to learn, practice, and share the art and craft of writing. Meeting today from 6-8 at the Durango Library.
  • Also at the Durango Library – tomorrow is Crafternoons (for Adults!) from 4-5. After all, crafting isn’t just for kids! Crafting isn’t just fun, it’s fundamental for mental health, relaxation, and happiness! Come and explore their awesome craft supplies each month. Follow a suggested project or free play and create your own masterpiece! This space is reserved for adults (17+)
  • Head to the Haviland Lake area on Friday from 9-11 to join San Juan Mountains Association staff and volunteers for an interpretive naturalist hike! Learn about wildflowers, ecology, wildlife, geology, and cultural history in our beautiful San Juan Mountains. This hike is offered every Friday starting June 7 through June 28 at Haviland Lake area; then July 5 – August 30 at Andrews Lake area. The fun, fact-filled nature hike is moderate. Will be moving at a “walking” pace for around 1-2 miles. Wear walking shoes and clothing layers suitable for the mountain weather.
  • And/or head to Falls Creek Trail (County road 205) for a free beginner’s hike and picnic, Friday from 5-7. It’s a 2.5-mile round trip with a 200-ft elevation gain. Meet at the trail head at 5:00 pm and depart for the hike at 5:15. Will hike to falls creek waterfall then continue on to Animas Valley overlook to enjoy a picnic. Pack your own dinner or purchase a picnic charcuterie box from here and it’ll be delivered for you.
  • Want to show off your skills? On Saturday at 7, head to The Subterrain and bring your baddest and best and funniest and silliest and awesomest mindblowingest talents to the stage! They wanna see your juggling – gymnastyics – comedy – poetry – skits – ventriliqism – short stories – instrument solo – magic tricks – dance -karaoke – aerial silks – etc etc etc. 10 minute slots, limited spaces, registration required. Email with questions or to register. Participation is free, entry to watch will be $10.
  • It’s the time of year when there are lots of live music events, open mics, live jam sessions, etc, scattered about the area throughout the week. There are too many to list here, so if you’re looking for such things, head over to
  • There are classes/workshops/projects available at the 4 Corners Gem and Mineral Club, the Bayfield Library, Create Art and Tea, the Dancing Spirit Center for the ArtsDurango Sustainable GoodsLet’s Letter Together, the MakerLab, the Scrapbook NookSeed Studio, and the Durango Arts Center. There are a lot more things happening that I don’t include – so if you’re ever looking for something to do, start at
  • It’s tie dye season. We keep the two kits on hand, and always have the dye packs available – but we also just got in the soda ash so that they iDye packs can be used for tie dye projects!

I’ve shared the “well of inspiration” metaphor numerous times. We take in stimuli until our creative well is full. From that well we dip and create. If we let it go completely dry, it takes a lot of time and stimuli to start it flowing. However, if we add some and withdraw some, we can have a continual flow of inspiration to work with.

Similarly, having a place for that work is also vital. An attention cottage. If we have to recreate our work space every time we want to create, that takes a dose of our inspiration power. If we have a place where we can sit down and just start working, we’re far more likely to work.

The original article mentions E.B. White having an actual place, a boathouse, in which he wrote. Just him and his typewriter. Maybe we don’t have a whole building available – there are numerous videos of artists converting closets into studios. I’ve set up a briefcase as a studio – just open it and start working.

Whatever your attention cottage might look like, you probably need one. After all, it will help you create – and the world needs your art!

Matthew & the Art Supply House crew