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Every artist needs a space. A space to call their own. A place that inspires creativity and is conducive to productivity. Every artist needs a studio.
Gather and hoard your inspirations as you live, then recapture them as needed in the studio.
~ Nita Engle
It doesn’t have to be fancy or filled with expensive art supplies, and you don’t have to put a lot of money into it. It doesn’t need to be a smarmy loft area, or a quaint little separate building in the backyard. It doesn’t need to have wall to wall windows or a huge work surface.
No, the only requirement of an artist’s studio is that it reflect the personality and taste of the artist who works there. As the artist, it’s the one place you should be completely comfortable in. It needs to be what YOU want, what YOU like, and most importantly, the place you’re going to want to go and work.
All artists are different. Different styles, different techniques, different inspirations, different needs. So no two studios will be alike. My studio is where I spend the bulk of my time. It’s MY space, filled with the things I enjoy. Being in that room makes me want to be creative, and that’s the whole point of having a work space.
So how about a peek inside my studio?
Too many artists get seduced by sunlight and have to continually adjust for light variations. The lighting conditions in [my studio] are perfect. It never changes from day to night. I always know the color on the canvas is what I want it to be.
~ Jack Cassinetto
Before we look at the fun stuff, let me impart a little wisdom here. That quote is SO true. One of the biggest misconceptions in the art world is that natural light is the best light source to work by. If you’ve ever actually tried to work in front of a huge window, you’ll know that simply isn’t the case. Natural light is bright and harsh. It can be blinding and overpowering, it distorts colours and casts shadows which are difficult to work around.
As you can see from the photo, I too was initially seduced by this supposed “Artist’s Choice” of lighting. The first sunny morning I sat down to work at my desk, I knew I’d made a big mistake in believing the hype. Painting, sketching, or even using my computer before noon? Forget it. There’s just too much light. And my five-foot picture window happens to be facing east, compounding the problem. A large window has its benefits, and working in the afternoon when the light is less intense isn’t too bad. But take it from me, it is less than ideal. My next studio will rely on artificial light which I will strategically place to avoid things like hand shadows and glares.
Okay. There’s my lesson for the day. Now, sit back, relax, and we’ll take a tour of my creative space.
At one end of my studio is something you’ll find in practically every room of my house – a bookcase. I have an actual library upstairs, and it’s a fair size, but let’s face it. Unless your name is Belle and you’re married to the Beast, your library is going to have to be of a moderate size. Meaning books will likely spill into many of your other rooms.
You can learn a lot about a person by snooping through their books. This bookcase is art-related only. Well, related to MY art. I love Bible symbolism and the Latin language, so I have a Strong’s Concordance and an English/Latin dictionary mixed in with the other more conventional art books. A few anatomy books can be found, as well as books focusing on my favourite artists — Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Bob Ross. An illustrated history of the first Crusades and a collection of horror movie posters are in there as well. Practical and inspirational.
And of course in my studio there was bound to be a Bible. Displayed on its own shelf with my cool Angels and Demons bookends.
I looked at my studio as a painting. Now whenever I need a break, I paint this area where I just love to be.
~ Richard Poink
At the opposite end is a comfortable spot – a necessity in a studio as far as I’m concerned. As I’ve said in past art-related posts, 50% of the work you do when creating something is in the designing stage. So a quiet spot in a room which is meant to inspire you, can be the perfect place to brainstorm ideas and do a little design work.
In a painting studio, you have to have a display wall to show off some of the goods. Prove that you do at least SOME work in there. It can be tempting to sit around watching episodes of the Twilight Zone all day long. Not that I’ve ever done that…
Speaking of the Twilight Zone…
Above the smaller window is a little collection of fun things, including two of my favourite possessions: a mini TZ Mystic Seer and a Howling Man doll. There are no words to express how fond I am of those. A plastic raven (looks more like a crow, but beggars can’t be choosers – it was a dollar!) paying homage to Edgar Allan Poe, as well as a few other items that mean something to me. I especially like the quote on the little pin attached to my Nancy Drew 75th Anniversary ornament, which says, “The fact that no one understands you doesn’t make you an artist.”
Here you can see my marvellous revolving book stand. A birthday gift a few years ago from my dad, who made it for me. I designed the panels in a Byzantine/illuminated manuscript style. Each side features a favourite Bible verse and one of the four living creatures of Daniel and Revelation. There’s a compass rose on top, and each of the panels can be propped open to hold a book. One of my favourite pieces and very helpful when working with multiple reference books. And if you’re interested in a closer look at that large painting on the left, “Armageddon“, I have a number of posts written about it.
Without the studio, however humble, the room where the imagination can enter cannot exist.
~ Anna Hansen
All this practical stuff is nice, but there are more fun things in my studio as well. Case in point, the newest addition: a fabulous pair of fuchsia heels!
But wait. Something’s missing here. It’s a studio, where I paint. So where are the paints?
Housed in two custom built paint bottle-sized cabinets, hung on either side of the picture window, are the paints. Acrylics, arranged by colour, from dark to light. What can I say? Some people like to be messy and chaotic. I enjoy order and neatness, especially in my work area.
An artist cannot do anything slovenly.
~ Jane Austen
In most studios, this would likely be the end of the tour. You’d have seen everything there is to see. But… this isn’t most studios. ;) Thanks for stopping by. Visitors are always welcome. Be sure and look UP on your way out.
Studio Ghosts: When you’re in the studio painting, there are a lot of people in there with you – your teachers, friends, painters from history, critics… and one by one if you’re really painting, they walk out. And if you’re REALLY painting, YOU walk out.
~ Philip Guston
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