contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Monday, March 1, 2010

Studio Visit with Bob and Susan Cornelis

Untitled (as of yet) Collage, 6 by 6 inches, by Leslie Avon Miller

Susan Cornelis outside her lovely studio.

Interior of Susan's Studio

Interior of the Photography Studio of Bob Cornelis

Interior of the Photography Studio of Bob Cornelis; another view

This week we are visiting the studios of a husband and wife team of artists; Bob Cornelis who is a painter, blogger, photographer, and all around interesting person, along with his lovely wife Susan, who is a painter, blogger and instructor.

I asked Bob what works best for you about your current studio space?

The fact that the studio is separate from the house, though on our property, makes it extremely convenient yet private. Another critical factor is that it serves 3 purposes: I run my fine art printing business there, it acts as a gallery and as my photography studio.

What one thing would you change about your current studio space?

While the multi-purpose nature of the space is a plus in many ways, I would actually prefer it if my business were situated elsewhere. Since I am there 9-5 everyday working on the art of others, sometimes it is harder to want to spend even more time there working on my own art. I would prefer a space dedicated just to making my own art. It would feel more of a refuge and a place to escape to. Instead, when I walk in I am confronted with work I know I need to do the next day. This situation does have its pros and cons (see below).

“For some artists the studio becomes a temple, a place invested with a sacred energy. You walk in and your thinking changes…It is your temple, the place where you focus your energies to express yourself. Your creative home base.” – Ian Roberts, Creative Authenticity

Would you care to comment on that?

I do feel there is an energy in my studio and it is related to artmaking. But I have to take a larger view of it to feel comfortable. For the last 10 years I have worked probably 50-60 hours a week making art in this space. But most of that time has been spent working on the art of others. So if I just reflect on my own efforts, I can feel a little frustrated that I cannot just focus on my own expression. On the other hand, when I think about how much wonderful art has passed through these doors over the years, I can feel that it is a temple with a sacred energy. I have surely benefited in my own work by helping others with theirs. It is a space I share with many in that respect.

One unusual aspect of my studio which must seem very strange to painters is that there are no windows. The first thing I did when I built the studio was to board up the 2 six foot windows, one of which looked out over a wonderful landscape. But this is essentially a photography darkroom and I require lighting that I can completely control. This helps with my photography work but I do miss natural light on a day to day basis. The things we sacrifice for our art!

Susan's studio is just the opposite - flooded with light from skylights and one entire wall of large windows overlooking the valley. Must be why she has a cheerier disposition!

Susan responded to the same questions:

What works best for you about your current studio space?

My studio is just a few yards from the house - separate yet close enough to reach in just a moment. I love that the light pours in from all directions and that it is surrounded by gardens, apple trees, a chicken coop, bird houses, and in the summer, bees and butterflies!

It's also just big enough that I can hold classes here.

What one thing would you change about your current studio space?

It is just one big room. I wish I had a storage room that was separate, and I definitely wish it were bigger. When I hold classes I have to put away paintings I've been working on and clean up my messes, and often I misplace things in the process. While I'm wishing, I might as well wish for a room for classes and a separate room to paint in.

“For some artists the studio becomes a temple, a place invested with a sacred energy. You walk in and your thinking changes…It is your temple, the place where you focus your energies to express yourself. Your creative home base.” – Ian Roberts, Creative Authenticity

Would you care to comment on that?

It is definitely my experience that my studio is my temple, my sanctuary. In my studio I am surrounded by the things I have chosen, from arts and crafts to books and a boundless array of art supplies. So it is both a comfortable and comforting and stimulating environment. I usually have a variety of projects out on every surface, new art materials, paintings in progress, my sketchbooks and art books lying around. I often turn on music when I enter, choosing the playlist which matches my mood. When students are coming I generally prepare the atmosphere by placing flowers on my altar, putting on soft music and preparing a meditation for them. The private space then becomes a space of shared creativity, and the air sparkles with that energy after they leave.

Thank you Bob and Susan, for inviting us to tour your creative spaces!

Continuing on the creative theme, I found a very creative video allowing us to walk around inside Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, Starry Night. You can see it here.


  1. Hi Leslie,

    I really like the collage which heads this post! Also enjoyed seeing and hearing of Susan & Bob's work spaces. The Van Gogh video trip is also very clever and makes me wonder how long such an exercise must take, even with the magic of computer manipulation.

  2. I really like your untitled piece and the interview was great. It is always nice to get a studio tour too!! lovely!

  3. Fascinating to view the studio and to hear Bob and Susan's insights into how it functions (or doesn't).

    Like La Dolce Vita I also really like the untitled piece at the top of this post.

  4. Leslie--I absolutely LOVE the collage! Will it be for sale? :)
    I linked to the webpages and subscribed. Thanks for the interview and the peek into their studios. Very nice!

  5. Leslie, the collage is fabulous! Nice contrast in shape and color, good balance. Is this part of the collage challenge? I guess I can't make that collage challenge myself. I am enjoying painting too much.
    The studios are gorgeous and make me wish I could have one too.

  6. I am becoming obsessed with your collage work Leslie.Like Teri, I'm wondering if you sell any of these small works online?
    Great studio tours,,,and I loved reading about these artists, as well as viewing their work. Thank you.

  7. Derrick – Hi Derrick! Haven’t seen you in a while. I loved the Van Gogh video – so clever!

    LD Vita – Thank you!

    Barry – Nice to see you Barry, thank you.

    Hi Teri – this collage is earmarked for a show coming up called Portrait of the Artist.

    Maggie – I wish I had a studio too! I have to patient – I will have one!

    Babs – I’ll give some thought to setting up a small works sale site. You are so encouraging Babs, thank you.

  8. Wonderful interview, thanks for taking the time to show us a peak into 2 artists lives. I thought the questions put were excellent, in particular the one relating to energy - which I am a firm believer in.
    Your collage is spectacular, love the fluidity the black muslin looking fabric??? give to the piece.

  9. Thanks Leslie. I enjoy peeking into studios. The quote regarding the energy of a studio makes me realize just how much I miss my old studio. From the moment I walked in I was in the zone. It was definitely "invested with sacred energy".

  10. These studio posts are great, Leslie. I've started taking notes from them and getting clear on what I want for my studio when the time comes to leave our apartment. The artists you've interviewed have all brought up useful points. Thanks!

  11. Hi Judy - I love studio tours! The images you have shared of your studio are simply stunning. I just know your creative space is filled with fabulous energy.

    Hi Robyn - wishing you creative energy today so you can make more of your legendary carvings!

    Hi Shayla - I'm taking notes too! We may as well learn from the experience of others.

  12. I see I am behind in blogging and posting when you have done a new post and I have not commented on your previous post! I love peeking into other artists' studios and these two have nice big wonderful ones which is pretty amazing considering they are married to each other :-)

  13. Thanks for this studio tour and interview...I'm a curious type and enjoy the rummaging (with my eyes) around in these spaces.
    Great collage!


Thank you for stopping by! Please sign the guest book and let me know what you think. Join the conversation. It's fun!