Friday, February 10, 2012

Studio space-What makes it work?

Here we are in 2012 a new year with excitement, expectations and the challenges to meet as artists.

At the beginning of each year I set goals and reevaluate the past year looking to what the future brings to the coming year.

One area that always catches my interest is how I can produce more art in a comfortable and effective studio.

I have the privilege of teaching watercolor to a number of artists in classes and workshops in various states. I took a recent survey of student studio/work space and discovered a number of similar “what works and doesn’t work” scenarios. Some of the reoccurring problems in studios are: too noisy, can’t leave space set-up, too small, no storage, poor lighting, depressing wall colors, too cold/hot, distractions, pet and family interruptions, clutter, no water access nearby etc…. These are just a sampling of what keeps us from painting efficiently.

Our work spaces vary from: no studio or work space, card table in the laundry room, closet, dinning room/kitchen table, garage, basement, man cave, craft/sewing room, bedroom, and separate art studio. My work spaces in the past have included, a closet, corner in our bedroom, living room, kitchen, TV/family room and office.

There are a number of ways to have studios work for you. I have seen studios very organized with no productivity and one studio in particular that looks like her entire home had a tornado hit and left art debris behind its path. In her chaos, she produces art that is internationally recognized. She told me she has lost a number of top award winning paintings because she has no idea where they ended up! She also spends a large amount of time looking for and replacing materials.

In one of my surveys one artist wrote she couldn’t work in her space because “my spouse is too close to where I work and I can see his eyes roll in disapproval”. I told her to move her work space immediately even if it had to be in a closet! Another artist stated their dark red walls are depressing. Reevaluating where they work might be a good idea, or paint a wall.

One of the first things to consider when thinking about your space is to identify your studio challenges and your personal work style

Identify the challenges of your studio. Ask yourself:
  1. Is my studio a space I feel compelled to work, energized in creativity?
  2. Is my studio functional? Good lighting, organized, space for “stuff”, ample table space, good chair height, mirror, water source? Can I find my supplies easily? 
  3. Is my studio comfortable? Is my studio uplifting or depressing, is it free from noise, distractions, phone, emails, and traffic?
  4. Do I have inspiration available close-by? educational references
  5. Do I have studio hours? Set aside time for productivity.

Style of workspace do I have/desire? Ask yourself:
1.Am I the perfectionist-everything in place a place for everything?
2. Am I organized but can handle some clutter?
3.Am I in chaos-I know it is here somewhere? I take all my time searching for stuff.
(I am #2 in organization. I want to find things easily, but I can take some clutter to a point then I need to “dig out”).

Most of us find time and budgets a restraint in setting up and maintaining our work space. Since I travel, teach and create paintings I need to make the best of my time and space. My studio space has always included teaching watercolor, my personal work space that can be left up and a business office. This has taken quite the creativity use of space over the places we have lived.  

Come join me in an “open studio” tour. I have seen a lot of studios and office spaces over the years and have learned some ways to continually improve my work space. Please feel free to come and get some new ideas and share some of your own to add to your creativity this year. We have different methods that work for us, but one common factor- we can each get better productivity in a work space that fits us.

Open studio tour
The Idaho Watercolor Society has requested I have an open studio night on organization. You are welcome to join us at my studio Monday evening March 19th at 7pm in 7263 Southern Vista Ct. Star, ID.  

Linda is an artist and instructor who lives in Star and teaches in her studio. She also teaches in other locations in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. You can visit her website at or email for more information.                                                © Linda Aman January 2012

Next articles-tips on how to organize your work space, supplies.