Friday, January 22, 2010
Collage, untitled, 6 inches by 6 inches by Leslie Avon Miller
The studio is less important than other things, like the burning desire to paint. If you don't have this disease, you can't catch it from a nice studio. ~Warren Criswell
My studio is under construction, and I’m feeling a bit displaced. To distract myself, beyond working on small collage, I thought I would see what words of wisdom artists have about their creative space.
Today I am paying a virtual visit to the studio of Cheryl Taves. As luck would have it, Cheryl has just moved her studio. Her long term plans include building a “purpose built, private studio” at her home.
In Cheryl’s words “here's a bit about my studio re-birth. Re-locating my home studio has been such an interesting and revealing experience about the close, connected relationships we artists have with our studio space. The new studio is large and open...too large for just myself, so I'm sharing the space with another artist, Maggie Cole. The first thing we did was separate the space with a free standing partition wall that serves double duty by giving us our privacy while providing us with another wall to work on....plus additional storage on the shelving installed in the returns at either end of the wall.
This new studio had everything I needed for a great working space....and interestingly....and somewhat unexpectedly, I resisted packing up and leaving my old studio for some time after securing the new one. When I did start to dismantle the old studio, I realized that most of the work I had done to date had been generated from within this space...and I was firmly attached. It felt precious, sacred and somehow tearing it apart, a betrayal. I took photographs of this tiny, cluttered, unworkable space to remember it by...and wrote endlessly about the arising feelings in my sketch book/journal. I felt unsettled, anxious and quite lost as the moving process began....and yet, strangely excited about the new beginnings to come.
I took my time and planned the placement of everything into the new space, very carefully and thoughtfully. I knew how I liked to work and what wasn't working for me in the old space could be considered and rectified in the new. I bought new things, de-cluttered and arranged, and re-arranged, everything so it was just as I wanted it. But, I wasn't working there....I didn't feel connected to the space, as yet. I'm working again now, after several weeks of settling in and attaching myself to the space. The more time I spend there and the more of myself I bring into the space, the more my connection deepens. And on those quiet days when no one is around...it's absolutely perfect.
Through this process, what I've come to realize about my studio space is that, for me, there needs to be a perfect blend of access vs. privacy. My old studio was so integrated in to my home (situated in the loft above my living room) that there was not enough privacy at times....and yet, it was so close and easy to go to that art making could happen at any time of day or night...going to the studio meant walking upstairs. But being that accessible meant that phone calls, email, laundry and my husband could all pull me out of my working space all to easily. In the new studio, because it is a destination, I go there to work - no phones, no email and on good days very little interruptions. There is more of a mental transition that happens when I go there to work. It's purposeful and filled with intention. I've been more disciplined with my studio time as a result. But, I find that I don't go there as easily as I would go to my home studio. But when I am there, I'm there for many, long, productive hours.
So, for me, the ideal space is attached to my home, easy to get to and far enough away from household activities that I can work without distraction or interruption. It will have wonderful north facing light and lots of storage for painting supports and supplies. There will be access to the outside, as connection to the ground and garden is really important to me. It will have large walls for working on and a movable central island that will provide a flat surface for working as well as more storage. Thankfully, I have lots of time to plan this new space...and now even more information about my needs due to this recent studio change.
Our studios are such an important part of our art making...the energy of that space should align with what feels right and good for each artist...and that is a very personal thing. For me, a studio should always have a sitting area for reading, writing and contemplation. Our studios are not only for working, but a respite from the normalcy of life...allowing us to drop in to the art-making space within ourselves. I think of it like a vessel...a holding space. Upon entering, there should be a sense of transition, an opening and a quiet comfort....welcome back."
Thank you Cheryl, for allowing us to see your new creative space and hear about the process of settling in to a new space. I am looking forward to seeing your next creative endeavors!