Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ponder this Sunday: Studios

At the town wide yard sale on Saturday I bought a half dozen old art magazines. One was entirely about studios. "For me (Barbara McBride) it is the mood of the room. When I wake up, I like to crank up the music, and my two cats curl up in the studio while I take time to just look out the windows to get in the mood. That affects what I do that day." She converted her sun room into her studio.

Other artists depicted have added on to their homes, built garages to use as a studio, and even built freestanding buildings. W.M. Howard built a 27 by 12 foot solar powered building, "designed to be in harmony with the environment." He says, "I am the kind of painter that needs a lot of removal to think and reflect."

Wendy Mattson needed to be near her young children, yet in a separate space that was NOT the kitchen table. She added a studio and display area for her art onto her existing home. "Like many women who are balancing a career and a family, I always wanted to multitask," she says. While a watercolor dried she would do household tasks and then "lose my focus."

Recently I began moving my studio inside the house. I have taken over the den, a 20 x 15 inch room. There is space for two work tables, my computer table and even my yoga setup. At the moment there is still a lot of leftover furniture from the room's previous identity including a desktop computer no one uses,two file cabinets of Mom's, a recliner that was my Dad's and lots of Dad's books. It doesn't yet feel like "my" space. The best features are that it will be warm and dry in the winter. And it has two windows for natural light from the west and south.

Theoretically, a room and house's architectural qualities are very important to me. Well, I have always wanted: a Frank L. Wright house, a log cabin, a cottage by the sea, a new light filled contemporary, a Victorian, a thatch roofed English cottage. These and more. I like big windows, hardwood floors, fine woodworking details, fireplaces, a sense of space. Mom's house has none of these. In reality, I have lived and worked in nice enough places but not with the light and space I prefer. So, I guess in my present moment physical reality, I can work anywhere. But in my daydream mind, I have pictures of "better" environments.

How important is your workspace to you and to your work, whether you are writers or visual artists, musicians or dancers? Do the aesthetics of the room or space affect you and the work you do? Or can you work anywhere, in a cold water garret or a dark closet?

If you like, post a picture of your workspace on your blog and I will link to it on this post. Click on links below to see other studios.


More Idle Thoughts

Katie Jane





Kim said...

Hi Suki, I am often eager to see what you will post on "Ponder this Sunday" is no exception. I have already been in my bedroom/single (north facing) window studio this morning, too.

As an interior designer, I am acutely aware of physical environment and the effects on humans. This is a real focus in my design work. As an artist, I can't not paint, so I think I would do it anywhere. As a mother and spouse, I give up a lot of space and storage area to those I hold near and dear to my heart (it pays to keep them all happy). And my studio has to remain portable at this time in my life. So there are a lot of parameters there for me.

With all of this being said, I have to tell you I also have dreams of my own studio space! A place for my art, design, sewing and office/computer work. And I want it to be light filled, comfortable (as in a work space, a lovely seating area, a place to make tea and a place to show my work) and welcoming. I would love to have direct access to a stone patio where I could slip out on a cool night and enjoy an outdoor fireplace and a glass of wine. Like you, I have dreamed of a variety of places...a beautiful space which looks out over the northern rockies, a place on the Pacific coast which has huge windows looking out to sea, a fabulous stone house in Normandy, France which looks out over the English Channel, a stone farmhouse in Belgium where I can contemplate where the lush green grass meets the sapphire sky. Like the artist in the article, I would love to think these places might be off of the grid and self-sufficient in their energy consumption.

But these are dreams...and dreams are good. I even have plans for a space...a notebook filled with ideas for the perfect studio. As my mother says, "Kim never knows where she will lay her head next!" So for now, I enjoy the lovely life I have...and keep collecting ideas for the future.

Now, I am so eager to read all of the lovely comments you are going to get from this post! This is a very exciting topic, to be sure!

It looks as though your studio is moving forward in a positive direction there....lots of space! I have posted a bit about the space where I work on my blog. It hasn't changed much, so I will send you a link to the post.

Thanks Suki and Have a Beautiful Day!

sukipoet said...

Oh Kim. what a great response. You are so good, giving your dear ones the spaces they need first. Your dream studios though, and their locations, why they sound magical. I love the idea of the seating area and place to make tea and the access to the outdoors. That would be ideal for me too to make paper and other messy stuff outside. And the locations you desire, wow. I know you have been to all these places. The artist who built his own solar powered studio was out there in the Rockies somewhere.

I hope someday, if that's what you want, you will be able to "settle down' and create a studio to fulfill your dream visions. Thanks for sharing them. I feel inspired, though to do what I'm not sure.

I did just receive the Pollan book about his building his little cabin. That too looks inspiring. Be well, suki

Kim said...

Well, Suki, aside from art, I could talk "the built environment" all day long! LOL While I hate the business, I love the creativity and psychology of it all! One day we will stop all of this moving frightens me (I suppose change does that to people), but it will happen. While I am not sure what we will end up with, I do think I will probably be able to have something a bit better than the smallest bedroom in the house! :)

That was the first Pollan book I read and loved it! The interesting thing to me was his perspective... How a non-designer experienced the process was great. I will be eager to hear how you like it!

Thanks Suki...I need to leave room for someone else here :)

Cris in Oregon said...

I love to read about other peoples studio's I love to glean things from them. I paint out in my sunroom and it works for me somewhat. I like having the light and view and a feeling of being away from the house but not alone either as the animals and con like to sit out there. I like having access to music or a tv.. something to keep me anchored.
I draw at our dining room table tho as I have nothing to draw on out in the sunroom. Something I need to figure out.
I would love to have a room with everything in it. a view and good lighting, a book case, drawing board, and table to work on, & storage,and a spot for company.
Wonder how you get HGTV to come and make over your rooms? LOL
Interesting subject here.

Kim said...

Cris, go on their web site and they have a place where you might get some of the shows to come and help you out! At least they used to have that! :) Let us know if you do it!

sukipoet said...

Cris that's a great idea about HGTV. maybe they would. I love your sunroom, you have shown us pictures now and then. But there is nothing like having a whole room just for your work, contemplating, books and display of your paintings and so forth. Whatever you want in there.Thanks for sharing your ideas and dreams. Be well, Suki


Very interesting post Suki.
I too have the smallest room in the house.It could be bigger,,it could be lighter,(only one window). But it IS all mine,,,other than sharing it with the cat.I used to have to incorporate my art and our office all in one room, so this is progress!
I now have an area for oil, and an area for acrylic,,,so at least I don't have to be moving things around to use the different media.

Interesting, (to me anyway) is that I have to move a completed work totally out of that room to be able to study it,,,,see it out of where it was worked,,,,to judge whether or not it's finished,and if I'm satisfied with it. I guess it's trying to vizualize it as others might see it.
Really interesting reading the other comments, and I'm glad you're getting your spaces(s) all worked out.

sukipoet said...

Babs, thanks for describing your studio situation. Yes, great to have a room all for you, you can close the door if you wish. Leave things out and messy if you wish. Maybe it was you who earlier said something about viewing the work in a room not the studio, as I remember someone suggesting that on Kim's blog. It's a good idea, I should do that with my current waxworks. Happy creating. Suki

katie jane said...

OK Suki, I'll post a photo of my studio, but I think you all have seen it before. It's in my basement, and although it is roomy, it is darkish, as basements are. Well, we can't have everything, can we. I need a lot of space to work, as there are lots of processes to my work,and I have a lot of supplies, but I have worked in small spare bedroom spaces as well.

I am really liking your new space. It is nice to have an area where you can leave things out to go back to at a later time.

I think it is very important to have your "own" space. I come from a family of six and we all lived in a three bedroom ranch house when I was growing up. Private space was a luxury we did not know. I value it a lot now that I can have it.

I mostly work in quiet. I'm 'in my head' a lot and outside interferences distract me from my work.

Lynn said...

Well I guess I am lucky. I share my house only with one other human and one cat. (The person, DH, hangs out in the living room reading or watching TV or playing his guitar. The cat can be anywhere.

And the floor plan is rather open, from the living room you pass through a door way to the kitchen and it in turn is open to the family room.

My STUDIO is in the family room. Or I have taken over the family room for my studio. I set up my design table in front of the fireplace (we haven't used it in 20yrs anyway)...the recliner to the left holds my design board.
To the right angle of my table is my sewing table and sewing machine facing a sliding glass door to outside.

Past the door is my ironing board set up to press items, and hold photos, etc. To the right of that is my desk and computer looking out a window on the backyard. (This is in the kitchen, but as I said it's all open so not a closed in feeling). Outside the sliding glass door is the patio and back yard. I have painted at that table a few times when I took those painting classes. But most of my art is created indoors, in this room.

I started out in an upstairs bedroom, and the closet there still holds lots of fabric, etc., but the room quickly became too small for the spread of my materials.

I hold no dreams of ocean views (although I am sure it would be nice); or Mt. Top chateaus, or big barns even. This works for me and it's my reality. So I am happy here.

I am working on creating more storage space for fabric and other supplies. (A cupboard from my "day job" office may make it here before too long).

I use lamp light at night, and have lots of daylight otherwise.
It works.

I realized this morning that in the one year I have been making art quilts starting July 2007 they now number 21 pieces.

Thanks Suki for this opportunity to review the goodies I have in my art life. ;-)

Anonymous said...

"Studio" as a term for this room is a little grandiose! It was a spare bedroom, but is now shared office space for 2 magpies! I write here,having moved my sewing cabinet to a corner of the living room. I use a table on the deck for "messy" work, like gluing, painting. When carving lino, I stand at the kitchen coounter as that height suits me.
I can switch off from most distractions and if neighboring noise gets too bad I wear industrial ear muffs. Yes, I really do!

Thanks for the interesting post/comments. I'll blog pictures later today.

sukipoet said...

Katie Jane. Ok I'll check your blog for the URL etc. I'm glad you have your own space now. Wow. I too value privacy a lot, but as a child I always had my own room. So I was lucky. Glad you have space in the basement to spread everything out. In the magazine article one person mentioned that the most valuable thing in a studio was countertops. I would just about agree. Just love all the work you are producing now. be well, Suki

sukipoet said...

Lynn thanks for describing your workspace. Great that you could move your workspace when you realized you needed a larger flow area. It sounds ideal, as you are part of the house flow and yet not of it kinda thing. And guess it has really worked for you. You have done an incredible number of quilts in one year. I love to hear about it, the passion and enthusiasm that takes you into such creative sewing and arranging and choosing of fabrics. Loved your quilt in the show, hung right at eye level.

PS how wonderful that you are perfectly happy with your present moment and present space. That's a blessing. I sometimes get into daydreams of other worlds, but then come back to the world I now have which is perfectly okay. I guess I like to dream and be content with my present moment, both!

sukipoet said...

Welcome to my blog More Idle Thoughts. I transferred the link to your studio post with no problems, hurrah. I agree with you that some tasks work best standing up at a counter and the one thing I'll miss from my old studio is the workbench my Dad used and which I stand at to do a lot of things. But it's too big and ugly to bring inside. Your studio looks neat and tidy to me. I had a very small room at my twenty year rental to write in. It was the borning room of the old Cape Cod house and I borned a lot of writing in there. thanks for sharing, Suki

Annie said...

Like you Suki, I have a huge want list, but have always made do where
ever I am. You do what you have to do :-). Right now I work in the kitchen.

sukipoet said...

Annie, I think the kitchen is an area a lot of people, esp women, choose to work in. There are great counters and if you spill you are spilling on lino or bare floor. The sink is there and the stove if needed. It's ideal in a way, as long as there is room left to fix dinner. Happy creating. Thanks for sharing. Suki

Honour said...

suki - what a thought provoking post, I really enjoyed hearing all of our blogfriends' thoughts ... I guess we all do need, as Virgina Wolfe pointed out ... a room of one's own!

I have recently been converting my study/guest room to a full-time office. I put in lots of shelves and bookcases so I can have clean space for me to work on ... most important for my writing! (no clutter!)

love and peace to you this week!

sukipoet said...

Honor thanks for tell me about redoing your study into an office space. When i used to work on novels, I wished I had large tables on which to lay out the pages and chapters. But i had just a small space which did, I'm afraid, get cluttered. Nice to have a neat uncluttered space with everything to hand. Good luck with your new business. :)

human being said...

a fabulous post...
you are right Suki.. the place does matter...
my desk is by a french window... lots of light... lots of air... lots of things to communicate with... sky... clouds...trees.. buildings... birds perching on the balcony... my flower pots...

but many of the things i've written have come to me when i was under the shower! (with no pens and paper to jot them down)... while walking... when on the bus or taxi...

think our studios, rooms or corners are part of the hidden frame of our works...

thanks for this inspiring post... all the commnets are precious too...

sukipoet said...

Hello Human Being. How wonderful to read your reflections. I love the idea of writing by the french window with nature outside. Very inspiring. I agree that ideas often come in odd places like the shower, all that water flowing creates a flow of ideas. Well, you could be like Woody allen. In one of his movies he carries a hand held tape recorder to talk into when he has great ideas! No matter where he is!!

marianne said...

Dear Suki,
I made a post about it.
I will visit all the other studios as well (I already saw Mary's) .
This is fun!
Thanks for this "ponder this"!