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Monday, September 2, 2019

Planning an Art Studio

While perhaps a bit "over the top" insofar as interior décor is concerned, it is a reasonably roomy, pleasant, well-lit, exciting workspace, probably that of some type of designer.
Before a would-be artist paints his or her first work of art, there is one, all-important, creative effort which they almost always encounter. They must first carve out from their day-to-day environment a place to work. In the beginning it is very often a temporary workplace, the kitchen table, corner in a bedroom, a few seldom used square feet out in the garage or attic, maybe even a dark, damp unused corner in their basement (an art dungeon). Whatever the case, they are creating their first art studio. Moreover this creative act is a is often a smatter of expediency with little or no forethought or planning. My point is, don't for a moment think this first, makeshift "studio" is of little consequence in producing art. A cramped space, poor lighting, an unstable work surface, noisy distractions, and a lack of some degree of permanence, even a lack of heat (or cooling) can turn what would otherwise be an enjoyable creative experience into frustrating drudgery. If that's the case, it's nearly always reflected in the artist's work.
A far cry from my earlier studios, but no less messy and cluttered.
First let me begin by saying that I'm not an "expert" as to art studio design. In my lifetime I've carved out from our modest living spaces, exactly three private art studios. The first two were spare bedrooms in mobile homes. The first was approximately 8 feet by 9 feet with barely room for a small drawing table, an aluminum easel, a kitchen chair, an old chest-of-drawers, and a closet. The lighting was barely adequate--a single window, an overhead light, and an adjustable "elbow" desk light. The second studio was slightly larger and a good deal more attractive. I mounted a large, leftover piece of mottled orange and brown shag carpeting on one wall to serve as a lively focal point. By that time I'd moved up to an ordinary, swivel office chair with wheels. My student-size drawing table served to hold my palette pad. (I've always been one to sit while painting.) My current studio (above), such as it is, has served my needs for some forty years. It boasts about twice the space of the first two studios, and includes a desk, another for a computer, file cabinet, built-in storage space, recessed lighting, and room for a large, professional drawing table. (I still use the old drawing table upon which to rest my palette.) And though I now work our of a finished basement, my studio has a six-foot sliding glass door looking out onto a rear patio.

In most cases, the size of an artist's studio tends to grow as the artist
becomes more prolific and financially successful.
Creating within the comfort of your own home can sometimes bring up a dilemma of where to put your home art studio and how to decorate it. Surely you need one, because your canvases and easels can’t just take up space in your living room, but how to make the best of the limited space? Your very own art studio is a sacred sanctuary, a creative space where artistic ideas come to life. As such, size matters. The square footage of a home studio depends first the size of the space available, the customary size of your artwork, the art medium you employ, the size of your comfort zone, and (unfortunately, the size your bank account. Although studios come in virtually all sized, I've depicted (above) three sizes--small, medium. and large. My studio I'd class as medium-sized. When called upon to do extra large pieces I move to the family room or even to our three-car garage (we have only two cars).

Obviously a man's studio--no nonsense, nothing fancy, just a large, uncluttered workspace with abroad expanse of wall for large works, a; high ceiling allowing for tall windows and a generous amount of storage space beneath them.
I tend to envy the artist having the octopus-like
adjustable light in his studio. I find myself wonder- 
ing. if it was homemade or purchased on eBay.
The second most important consideration in studio design is lighting. I've always felt that the traditional demand for large windows allowing a nor-thern light to be overblown. But once more, the factor of natural light depends upon the artists' working habits and style. I've always used pri-marily photos as source mat-erial so obviously, natural light is less important in my studio (the large, sliding glass door faces south). However, if one largely ignores natural light then the size, type, and place-ment of light fixtures becomes more and more important. And whether natural or artificial, light must be controlled, either by dimmer switches or blinds.

A prime example of a large studio utilizing "convenience clusters."

Style and comfort in a small,
carefully designed space
probably that of a female artist.
Third, an artist's studio must be carefully ar-ranged (especially if small) to maximize the work-space. More often than not, this "arrangement" is largely a matter of trial and error, which is okay if the space is small or exceedingly large. With a small space furniture arrangement will tend to be such as to offer no real alternates. And with a large studio it makes little difference as to exact placement other than the fact that artists tend to create "convenience clusters," (above) depend-ing upon the various stages a canvas undergoes from stretching to framing.

Once you've made the decisions as to size, medium, lighting, and furnishing (and their ar-rangement in the studio, there are a number of seemingly less important factors to consider. The first of these is storage space (below). Person-ally, I chose custom-made cabinets with doors and drawers (to disguise your disorganized clut-ter. Then over a generous expanse of working counterspace, I added a long expanse of shelves for art books, photos, keepsakes, and various souvenirs from our extensive travels to Europe and the Mediterranean (the cradle of Western civilization and art in particular). Such reference materials straight from the source museum or cultural landmarks) have often proved invaluable both is my paintings and more recently my new career as a blogger and published author (Art THINK available at right from Amazon or in e-book formats from

I love this one, most likely the studio of a fabric or fashion designer with a
reminder on the back wall of the most import activity in any art studio.
In addition to all this one must place carefully any exceptional needs dictated by the artist's chosen medium. Ceramics would, for example, require one or more large sinks with serviceable traps beneath them to keep clay from stopping up the drain. Most studios today come outfitted with a desk and a computer stand complete with digital drawing tablet if the artist plans to create CGI artwork. As seen above, a fashion or fabric designer would need large, "thum-btackable" display space, especially if he or she sells from their home studio. Likewise a teaching artist would need ample workspaces for their students as seen below.
The artist/instructor Kaylay apparently teaches up to a dozen or
more from her combination studio/classroom.

We can't all be neatniks. We must also consider the
studio of a free spirit. It makes me  cringe just to look at it.


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