Friday, January 9, 2009

I'm Alive! And I have a question about your studio . . .

Just a quick note to let you all know that I'm alive. I've been up on Whidbey Island, Washington for the past week doing a writer's retreat with my writer/editor friend Jill Kelly. I've been working on book to go with my ArtMaking as Playful Prayer class for more than two and a half years, and, with Jill's support, I'm finally making some good progress! I'm starting a new session of ArtMaking as Playful Prayer on January 20th, and working on the book is getting me really jazzed up . . . It's designed as a home workshop for those who can't make the class, or a home companion for those who do. So, in honor of fresh starts and the new year, I'm going to leave you with this tidbit from the second draft of . . .

Chapter 4
Studio: Making Sacred Space at Home

Making Room for Art

It is one thing to go off to an art class once a week and another to work alone at home. In the class, there are other people taking the same risks you are. There are supplies to choose from and a space to work in and permission to make a mess. You know that when you come back the next week, the supplies and the space will be there. There is a teacher or facilitator who is cheering you on, giving you ideas and information about materials, and hopefully setting guidelines that make the space a safe and fun place for everyone to explore. Yet, even if you’re blessed with having a great workshop environment, you’ll end up wanting to do some work at home or in your own studio space.

Over the years, I’ve gone from having a corner workspace in my bedroom, to the use of a larger space in a mildew-prone basement, to the glorious converted two-car garage I now call my studio home. Some full and part-time artists rent studio space outside of their home, and some continue to work for years from that corner in the bedroom. Whether the space is in your house or not, you want to have at least some space that is yours alone and not used for any other purpose; a space where you can leave your supplies set up and works in progress out and visible. This way, you can sit down and work for a few minutes here and there, and you are always walking by your project – catching it out of the corner of your eye and letting your subconscious work on it, too. It keeps your artist within out and visible and taking up space; it identifies artmaking to be as much of a priority as sleeping, cooking, or bathing. It becomes as easy to add a bit of color to a piece as it does to heat up leftovers in the microwave, check e-mail, or flip on the TV.

The reality is that in the beginning, your workspace will probably be in your house, and you probably share your house with other people who may or may not understand what you’re doing. Your home may be small and you might not feel like you have any space to claim for art, or that the spaces in your home are too public for the purpose. You may have children or housemates who would take great delight in using your art supplies, but might not have the same notions of privacy or respect for materials and works-in-progress that you might need. You might be working on things that you simply don’t want other people to see.

For a bare bones home studio, all you need is something to make marks, something to make marks on, and a place to be while you make marks. Here are some ideas for setting up a studio in a small or shared space:

The One-Wall Studio
I once met a woman who had simply dedicated one wall of her kitchen to painting. It wasn’t a large space, but she had tacked cardboard to the wall and floor to protect it, hung heavy paper on the wall to paint on, and then had a tray with her paints on it that could be easily repositioned. It was always there, and it was easy for her to step in and paint without the production of setting up her space each time she wanted to work.

Ok, I'd love to know what you think - and what your studio or artmaking space is like! I'm planning on posting some more of my ideas for making small studio spaces tomorrow, so stay tuned!


afiori said...

I have actually made the choice to have a studio instead of a bedroom. I divided my living room with a velvet curtain, kind of theatre-like, where my bed is so there's a bed "space" instead of a bedroom.... Until I get a three room apartment this is okay.

gl. said...

this is the only problem with our current studio, which is right next door but never "visible" because it's a totally separate space. so we don't get the benefit of wandering past to catc things out of the corners of our eyes or add some color/collage. instead, each session seems to have warmup period of at 15-30 minutes while we get reaquainted with the space.

fingerstothebone said...

Funny you should ask -- I've been occupying 2 separate small bedrooms for years, one of which was also a guest bedroom with a queen bed in it. In the past year, I finally transitioned the guest bedroom into another space, and in December I sold the queen bed. And tomorrow (like TOMORROW!) someone is coming over to knock out that wall between the 2 bedrooms.

Dayna Collins said...

I'm so excited that you are writing a book based on your Art-making as Playful Prayer. I recently posted some photos of my studio space and I love looking at where other's do their creating. My main creating space is the second bedroom in our upstairs "condo." The basement is where I store all the "stuff" that doesn't fit upstairs.