Occupy art studio

Dear Artist, Living in a tent city in a public park in the middle of winter had its benefits. Besides the persistent action in the next tent, one got to learn the relative warmth of sleeping bags, use of ear plugs, and how to handle a fire extinguisher. Then there was the pre-dawn police lecture on lawn care. A subscriber wrote, “Six hundred occupiers are now in jail, but not one single shiny-suit banker, and now I’m under the basement stairs, looking for a better painting and a better year ahead.” Sounds like a plan. No matter how modest, that studio is both the workroom and the playroom — and with the addition of a computer, the situation-room. But the main idea in the studio is to raise quality beyond the 99 percent of average artists out there, and join up with the top one percent. It doesn’t take much of a studio. “The studio is less important than other things, like the burning desire to paint,” says Warren Criswell. “If you don’t have this disease, you can’t catch it from a nice studio.” The studio is where you catch the disease, all right, and you catch it by following your nose around the place. Not entering the studio is worse than sneezing in the rain outside the MOMA. You have to pretty well show up and get inside. In the words of acclaimed author Annie Dillard, “You need a room with no view so imagination can meet memory in the dark.” The studio is an extension of the sandbox and the kindergarten playroom. It has a dynamic unlike any office or factory. It’s a room at the service of a dreamer on her way to becoming a master. Wandering from project to project, she moves in a private soup kitchen where there’s always something on simmer. With something to get on with — something to finish, something to start — even the tiniest of workrooms has within it the building blocks of talent. Stay out on the streets at your peril. Best regards, Robert PS: “All is well with me. The rain doesn’t reach me, my room is well heated, what more can one ask for? There’s no shortage of work, either.” (Paul Klee) Esoterica: Today, in anticipation of the New Year, I’m tidying up and reorganizing the studio. Throwing out is hard to do. And it’s so easy to be delayed by those half-finished dreams that one discovers under other half-finished dreams. “I’m going to be neater this year — and better at prioritizing,” I say out loud, but no one around here believes me. So I’ll wish you well in your studio in the New Year. I sincerely hope you get some value from my letters. Today’s advice is — you guessed it — you need to occupy your studio. “Here in a little lonely room I am master of earth and sea, / And the planets come to me.” (British poet and critic, Arthur Symons)   Anything is possible in the shop by Darney Willis, Siloam Springs, AR, USA   When I was a young boy my father had this amazing room on the end of the carport called “the shop.” When something I was using or riding or inventing broke I would take it to him. Fortunately, we didn’t have any money to replace it or have someone repair it, so Dad would take it and me into “the shop.” This was a magical room where anything was possible. So ever since then when I walk into my or someone else’s shop or studio I am immediately aware of a magical place where anything is possible. Thanks, Dad. There are 3 comments for Anything is possible in the shop by Darney Willis
From: Angela Treat Lyon — Jan 02, 2012

My dad had the same thing – and when I was 17 at Parsons in NYC he built me my own ‘shop’ – in a closet downstairs near his – where I could develop film and pix – and later, paint. Thanks, Dad, indeed – for believing I could do it – whatever it was – and for allowing me the chance to play with your woodworking tools, too!

From: Nancy Wylie — Jan 03, 2012

I bought a Japanese metal floor loom at a garage sale and lost one of the main knobs that screwed in the side that held it all together. It not only was it metal, but metric and a left hand reverse screw. My dad figured out how to make it! After some time I found the original one, but never told him or used it. I will always be in awe that my dad would take the time and effort to make that big knob for me.

From: Lanie Frick — Jan 03, 2012

Dad’s are amazing like that. My dad, now 85, still has the same work bench he made in high school. Magical for sure. That magic is staying in the family.

  Fine tuning studio dynamics
by Jolene Monheim, Great Falls, MT, USA  

Untitled photograph
by Jolene Monheim

I love my studio now… but, it took me several years to create a space that finally worked for me. I initially occupied it with lots of “stuff” before I learned a simple system that allowed me the freedom to find a creative flow. I did a lot of subtraction, clear focusing on structure, and an intuitive feng shui. For years I fought routine and structure, feeling that they were limiting me, but now I have a playground, with clear times for housekeeping, building, and image creation. I still fight it, and will drift off into ADD, lassitude and sloth, but it’s clear to me that the fruits of order, showing up, and following my bliss, feed my soul and keep the meaning making in me alive and radiant.   There is 1 comment for Fine tuning studio dynamics by Jolene Monheim
From: Terry Fortkamp — Jan 02, 2012

I can feel your order and bliss in this beautiful image! Thanks for showing up!

  Working in imaginary space by Susan Warner, Vernon, BC, Canada   An art studio occasionally has to be “in your head” or imagined. I share a second bedroom in a 1200 square foot Condo with a Photographer — my husband! Half of this room is my art and supplies and the other half is his photography. In the center facing a window is our computer, printer etc. All squeezed into a 12′ X 16′ space. Shelves to the ceiling on each side. So I paint in our Dining room, anything from 12 x 12 inches to 6 x 6 feet. The easel and supplies are put away when we have company. The art “studio” doesn’t physically exist in my Condo. But it does exist in my head! I have found a way to work on large pieces and even several at once, easel and table both. Fortunately, my husband appreciates the creativity involved and happily has his meals elsewhere, any spot will do. He also enjoys watching the process as the piece unfolds. Of course I would love a real studio, but I am not hindered by the “imaginary” space and am very productive in spite of it. There is 1 comment for Working in imaginary space by Susan Warner
From: Anonymous — Jan 02, 2012

Quote:An art studio occasionally has to be “in your head” or imagined. Love this!!!

  The passing on of inspiring messages by Joe Murray, Jefferson, IA, USA  

acrylic painting
by Joe Murray

Happy New Year Robert! Most of us have read or heard the comment that some people come into our lives for a reason, season, or a lifetime. Naturally, the most important of those is the people that come into our lives for a lifetime. For me, you have come into my life for a lifetime. I have garnered a lot of wisdom from your unvarnished experiences in life and art. You are the breath of fresh air that artists need to breathe in whenever you speak. Do you make mistakes or errors? — Hell, yes, but who doesn’t? Beneath the surface of it all is a man that really has been introspective enough to discover what the artist is all about philosophically and emotionally and, most importantly, lets all us artists drink of his knowledge with his writings, workshops, or whatever. I remember one of your articles was about this Canadian artist that lived in a remote area. You had visited his studio to find out what made him tick and just to visit with him as a friend. I think you asked what the initials EMTD meant that were on his wall or near his easel. It meant — Enthusiasm Makes The Difference! That is now on my studio wall and I look at it every time I get a little depressed or those sullen negative thoughts creep into my mind during the life cycle of a painting. That is just one tiny snippet of how important your messages are to us. So, Robert please keep your inspiring messages coming to us. I don’t know too many artists that cannot utilize to great effect someone who tells it like it is without commercial rewards. You are a gem and I love you! (not romantically, ha!) Happy New Year Robert and Keep on Keeping On! (RG note) Thanks, Joseph. And thanks to everyone who wrote personal notes. I spent Friday morning not occupying the studio just reading every one. The painter you mentioned who lived the manifesto of enthusiasm, Bruno Cote, of Baie St Paul, Quebec, has now passed on. I was just musing how I knew him all my life but only met him once. Art is like that. Fleeting, but precious. There are 4 comments for The passing on of inspiring messages by Joe Murray
From: Mishcka — Jan 03, 2012

When I saw your painting my first thought was of Scott Kahn. Do you know his work? It’s so beautiful – and so is your painting.

From: Joseph Murray — Jan 03, 2012

Happy New Year ! I am grateful for your personal comment Robert . Bruno Cote was one of those artists that one does not have to know personally — he just lives in our souls — kind of like you do . Also Thanks to Mishcka for the comment on my paintings being like Scott Kahn . Hey, I can take all the compliments I can get ! Joseph Murray-Wayuga Art Studio — Jefferson, Iowa

From: Lanie Frick — Jan 03, 2012

Thank you for sending your thoughts Joe. I’m sure many of us feel the same way about RG. I know I do. You said it in spades.

From: Joseph Murray — Jan 04, 2012

Thanks Lanie Frick ! Robert Genn is a true gem (a diamond in the rough) or something like that . He will be one of those people that will be more popular when he passes on — God Forbid. He is teaching legions of artists all around the world with his writing and workshops not only what art is all about — but more importantly the right way to make it thru life and enjoying the trip . I wish I could afford to attend one of his workshops . I probably wouldn’t get much painting done but I would drive him silly with our discussions . ! Ha! I just noticed that the painting in Robert’s re-cap of my statement did not have a title . So, I will plug the painting if allowed . It is called “Country Crossroads” and was painted utilizing individually layered Watercolor and Acrylic paint on Gallery Wrap Watercolor Canvas . It is 24 x 36″ . All The Best, Joseph Murray-Wayuga Art Studio-Jefferson, Iowa

  Turning off the switch by Pat Stamp, Callander, ON, Canada  

by Pat Stamp

Even though my main art practice is in clay I get a lot of inspiration from your letters. Yesterday I flipped the breaker in my studio and won’t go out there until April when it becomes more economical to heat. After a couple of weeks of rest I will begin to miss the routine of the studio. After 36 years I am still in love with the process. In the meantime, I will find a corner to paint and write and put my creative energies toward other pursuits.         Studio in a tent by Louwtjie Kotze, Randburg, South Africa  

“Red Autumn”
acrylic painting
by Louwtjie Kotze

We are currently on our summer holiday in a little picturesque coastal town called Stilbaai (Still Bay), where I sit and paint to my heart’s content in the tent adjacent to our caravan. Because we travel much during the year, I always have my small table, easel and painting paraphernalia wherever I go. On windy or rainy days, I paint while listening to beautiful music. On sunny days, I lie on the beach. There are the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets and all kinds of situations and scenery to paint from – what more does an artist want?! This is as close to heaven on earth as you can get! There is 1 comment for Studio in a tent by Louwtjie Kotze
From: Claudia — Jan 12, 2012

I love the richness of the colour in your painting.

  The mundane and the constant interruptions by Gail Caduff-Nash, Mountain home, NC, USA  

“Dragon Vision”
acrylic painting
by Gail Caduff-Nash

I often think, when reading your articles, that it’s lacking a certain women’s touch ;) And on the subject of studio space, the way a woman has to deal with this is by far tougher than how most men do it. If she has family there. If she’s the mom. If she’s the main bottle washer and housekeeper and keeper of all live beings there. If there’s a phone there. If the trash must go out. If kids are there, or even the Mister is hanging about. And there’s laying claim to the actual space without it becoming a nook for stacking stuff. Or the spare room when it has a guest in it. Or having brushes waiting to be washed by the sink. Or finding anyplace where spilled paint is not an issue. My winter ‘studio’ ends up in the bedroom because the other is not heated. He goes to sleep early, making my painting time limited. It’s tucked between dressers and the laundry baskets. It has one north facing window. The supplies are kept elsewhere to keep it simple. I have a sign for myself that says “Keep it simple, stupid” because of my tendency to clutter and confuse. And then the cat jumps onto my palette !!! and the dog wants out and the phone rings. Sigh. The best reason for an official studio is to just get away from all these distractions. I can only paint with distractions when I’m fully committed to a piece and have all the planning done. But the initial part where I’m really trying to stay in my head and think things thru’ is defeated too often by the mundane and constant interruptions. And dinner. What’s for dinner? I’ve sometimes thought about joining the occupiers of the streets — it’s probably quieter there. I could get some real work done. There are 2 comments for The mundane and the constant interruptions by Gail Caduff-Nash
From: Cindy Mawle, Bowser BC — Jan 02, 2012

I hear ya! Which is why I now rent a studio space a 10 minute drive away from home. Now if I can only get out of the house to go to the studio in between the phone ringing, laundry, taking something out for dinner…etc…

From: Sharon Cory — Jan 03, 2012

Haha! Amazingly, after all the years of complaining about not getting things done because of the distractions you mention and the lack of space, I find myself in a perfect space, no one to ask about dinner, and I’m producing less than what I did in the distracted years. Old age, I guess, or too much feminine overthinking.

  Problem with a commission by Barrett Edwards, Naples, FL, USA  

“St. Simon’s Serenity”
oil painting, 9 x 12 inches
by Barrett Edwards

I’m having a wee bit of difficulty deciding how to handle a commission issue. As briefly as I can make it, I was commissioned to do an oil painting by my second cousin, whom I barely know. She was specific as to what was to be included (a landscape featuring certain birds). She specified the aspects of the landscape she wanted to have included, so I did a quick sketch on a napkin and she said that was what she wanted. I followed through, shipped the painting and she paid for it. Two weeks later she emailed me saying the painting wasn’t at all what she wanted — she wanted the birds to be much, much larger, taking up almost the entire canvas. She asked for a “re-do.” I apologized for the misunderstanding (the customer is always right) and then explained that this would require an entirely new painting (which is 20″ x 30″). She said to let her know “what the extra cost would be.” I have now painted a new painting — without all the landscape aspects she had originally requested — emailed her a photo, and received her enthusiastic approval, along with instructions to “ship it and let her know the costs.” In the email that showed her the finished second painting, I had noted that I would leave the compensation for the new painting up to her but that I felt that this constituted a new commission. She has neglected to respond to that aspect, tossing the payment ball back to me. I’m flummoxed as to how to handle this; I spent a great deal of time on this second painting, as well, and feel I should be compensated, although perhaps not for the original commission price. Might your clever mind offer some guidance for me? (RG note) Thanks, Barrett. I had the same thing happen to me and I ended up giving the second attempt to the customer at no charge. I requested the first one back and sold it after a while through my regular stable of galleries. In your case, you might not feel your first work has sufficient general appeal to be sold through galleries, so if you have to put a price on the “second try” there is a general convention that it’s 50 to 75% of the first price. Even though some commissioners are way out to lunch on what they think they want in the first place, there’s no point in allotting blame. It’s better to be gracious.   We are not alone in the predicament by Jim Lee, Colfax, CA, USA  

“Surfing Buddha”
original painting
by Jim Lee

I was sitting in front of our wood stove watching the flames burning and telling my wife I wanted to  start a new painting but was not inspired by anything special, so went into the studio, small, dark and lonely–to check my e-mail. Your blog was at the top of my list. It made me realize I am not alone in the dark and size does not matter! There is plenty to paint! I just have to begin! Happy New Year! Here is to a great New Year for us all!   There is 1 comment for We are not alone in the predicament by Jim Lee
From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Jan 03, 2012

Whoopiee! I guess he carries his own comfort zone!


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Occupy art studio

From: Rick Rotante — Dec 29, 2011

First let me say Paul Hedley’s “untitled” piece in Premium artist is wonderful. What can I say about my studio? It holds most of my works in progress as well as works waiting to find a home. It’s my sanctuary; my inner sanctum of creativity and wonder. It’s where I go when I want to be alone with my thoughts. Where I sit or create. It holds my reference books and tools. My easel is situated under the light with a long table to my left to hold my mediums and paint thinners. Reference material is lined up side by side along the wall. I also have my DVD player with tapes to help create a mood. Across the room, pieces already done and works yet to be completed. Wet paintings dry in the opposite corner where I can look at them and contemplate adjustments which might be needed or I relish in the knowledge that– I got it right on that one. It’s the place I enter every day of my life whether to paint or read or think about new work. Contemplate yesterday’s efforts. It’s a place where time stands still for me; where the world is shut out, the place where reality goes on hold. It may not be the finest of studios for décor or entertaining, but then it wasn’t meant for that. All it has to do is function as a place where I can create art without worry. A place where I can immerse myself in the process of making art and leave all else separated.

From: Kay Christopher — Dec 29, 2011

” I sincerely hope you get some value from my letters. ” Each of your letters are significant, both for what you write about and for the connection to other artists. You have done more good with your letters that you can possibly imagine in my case, and I am just one person. Thank you so much, Robert, for all you have given us. Looking forward to your future letters with appreciation and anticipation!

From: The Unknown Painter — Dec 30, 2011
From: Robert Sesco — Dec 30, 2011

You’ll note that artists who generate great sums of money with their art, who have the resources to build the ‘perfect’ studio, build expansive places with lots of windows facing a certain direction for lots of quality light. Annie Dillard is an author, who works with words, and so I can see how her room can be dark as she crafts metaphors. Painters work with color, and light is required. Gazing into a natural setting can be as productive as staring into a wall under the stairs because there is no formula, no template, for the perfectly functioning and productive artist. Painting en plein air would seem to fly in the face of such sentiments. The whole world, from horizon to horizon, 360 degrees of inspiration, can be one’s studio, as Robert well knows. The studio is ancillary. The artist’s drive is the key.

From: ReneW — Dec 30, 2011

I now have a room in our new home that is going to be my studio. It is not large, perhaps 10 feet by 12 feet. But as a watercolorist it is much more room than i now have. It will be really nice to fill with my stuff. To have a work space of my own and away from everyday distractions is something I have never had.

From: Joyce Goden — Dec 30, 2011
From: Claire Remsberg — Dec 30, 2011
From: Sandra King-Allikas — Dec 30, 2011

Thanks Robert, Best wishes to you also for the coming year. Funny thing. I was de-cluttering the office portion of my studio today and had plans to tackle the work area tomorrow all the while wondering whether I’m on the right track or not. That’s just when I received a call from someone interested in seeing more of my paintings. I’ve just fired off some photos to her and feel buoyed by the possibilities and the encouragement. Maybe tomorrow will be less clean-up and more show-up at the easel! I so appreciate your informative and encouraging letters.

From: Kathleen Renninger — Dec 30, 2011

I had to smile when I read this, as I had begun trying to organize my own studio this morning. I guess the dread of another new-and-disorganized year is a powerful motivator! My studio is small, packed to the gills, & not particularly efficient—yet I’d rather spend my time here than anywhere else! Thank you, as always, for sharing your opinions, insights, and your “artist’s life”; helps keep me going!

From: Guy Hoffman — Dec 30, 2011

I’m sure every person that gets your emails will send a note and tell you how much your insight and industry knowledge has helped them, so let me add to the many and say thank you so very much for all that you do. You inspired me and I appreciate all the effort that goes into twice-weekly letter. Thank you .. Thank you! Happy New Year!

From: Heidi Harner — Dec 30, 2011

What a great year-end post! Thank you so much for all your humorous, insightful, and get-me-off-my-butt-into-my-studio advice. My ‘excuse’ of late has been the fact that we are between homes; staying in several different places until our new house is built (June 2012). The floor plans include a large room which will be my future studio, and I cannot wait to get in there. But, yes, I find resistance is stronger than I want to admit these days. Today’s post has solidified how lame are my excuses. Thanks for being blunt and not mincing words. I take it seriously. Happy New Year.

From: Nadi Spencer — Dec 30, 2011

Ten years ago, on September 1st, 2001, I finally rented a studio away from home after 30 years as an artist. I was so excited- it was a space I had dreamed about occupying for some time. It became vacant and I felt I could afford the extra expense. Two weeks later the bombing occurred in New York, devastating the country. Art sales fell, and I didn’t have a commission for a year. But I stuck it out, and am still here after 10 years. I work here every day- this is my place in the world. It was the best decision I ever made.

From: Linda Saccoccio — Dec 30, 2011

Wishing you the best of creative times in your studio this coming year Bob! What has come to me as a definite place of focus for the upcoming year is productivity. To go for it, by not just keeping things rocking around my imagination, but taking that creative, inventive, wandering, internal activity of the mind and giving it form. Yes occupy space, studio and writing spots first, then the outer world through the works created. Cheers and Happy 2012 Bob!

From: Dan McGrath — Dec 30, 2011

I love your letters and look forward to Tuesdays and Thursdays. They encourage, energize and broaden horizons and help me to take life, and myself, less seriously! Happy New Year.

From: Melinda Mollin — Dec 30, 2011

Thank you SO much for your amazing letters. I just moved into my tiny studio to LIVE, so this is very timely! Happy New Year.

From: Polonca Kocjan — Dec 30, 2011

I would like to thank you for your inspiring letters and everything else that you share with us.

From: Heidi — Dec 30, 2011

I just realized I have taken you a bit for granted – hearing from you every Tuesday and Friday – so its well past time to thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity. Your letters do more for me than I can say – but yes, I do receive value from each and every one and always look forward to the next. Happy New Year Robert – and many, many more.

From: Julie Jewels — Dec 30, 2011

I found this letter to be especially poignant. You are a source of vital inspiration to me and my work. Thanks so much and Happy New Year!

From: Nancy Bower — Dec 30, 2011

Thank you Robert Genn for this sage advice. I have a wonderful studio and I plan to occupy it more in 2012.

From: Gwen Buchanan — Dec 30, 2011

I look forward to and read each and every one of your letters.. Thank you for sharing your experiences with the world. My words are Few but my appreciation Much. The very best to you for 2012…

From: Sonia — Dec 30, 2011

Your letters are the best! Thank you so much for taking the time to keeping me inspired and motivated. I look forward to every e-mail. Thanks again.

From: Margie Rust — Dec 30, 2011

This came letter at the right time. Was feeling “dulled” by the holidays and recent bout with flu. My studio has been unvisited for several weeks and turned into a catch all room. After reading the letter I am inspired to recreate my cozy corner and prepare for 2012…with excitement!

From: Christine Tarter — Dec 30, 2011

Your letter does indeed help to inspire and to commiserate. I appreciate all your work in getting your inspirations on paper as you also try to get on with your painting. Thanks.

From: Ellen Margolis — Dec 30, 2011

Thank you so much for your letter. Your thoughts, attitudes, and the glimpses of life you reveal never fail to convey a confirming, enlightening, and encouraging message. You provide such a unique service. Thank you again from a psychologist by trade who loves to paint in spite of the fact that my “success” lies in the process, not the results.

From: Dan Streeter — Dec 30, 2011

I express my thanks to you for your letters this year. I am a photographer who has tried with exceedingly limited success to extend my vision of the natural world to other mediums. One of my instructors said that photographers and architects are the worst type of student to deal with because they simply cannot let go of everything being just “right.” I am certain she uses me as an example. I find your letters to be inspiring, encouraging . . . and sometimes baffling . . . and look forward to reading more of them in 2012. My best to you and yours in the New Year.

From: Hal Bain — Dec 30, 2011

Thank you very much for your letters. I am not an artist although I live with one. I enjoy reading your letters and I believe I get some of what you talk about. I am a daytrader in index futures (a derivative.) So you may have appeal to a wider audience than you imagine. Best regards for the New Year.

From: Nancy Bea Miller — Dec 30, 2011

Wow, I think this may have been your best letter yet Robert! Succinct and accurate. Full of juice! I have nothing to add, and no wish for being published, just wanted to say: Good One! May we paint with the 1% this year!

From: Melisse — Dec 30, 2011

Cleaning my studio is just what I’m doing now, unearthing all sorts of unfinished projects. A re-freshed feeling of excitement is building and I haven’t gone anywhere! I rejoice over your ideas this morning. I feel in kindred with others who must also play in their sandboxes in order to keep the chaos of the world from suffocating their spirits! Thank you, Robert, for your consistent source of direction; your encouragement and your sense of humor. My annual New Year’s Eve journal entry will reflect your entry “Occupy art studio.”

From: Sharon Pitts — Dec 30, 2011

Happy New Year to you. I want to tell you how important your twice-weekly letters are to me. They are almost always right on. Today I go up to my studio as I have been most days for 30 years and complete a very large piece that needed a rest. Next, I begin a new piece that is forming in my mind, the idea at least is very exciting.

From: Ratindra Das — Dec 30, 2011

The only space you need is ‘between your ears’! Thanks for sharing.

From: Sylvia Garland — Dec 30, 2011

Thank you once again for your superb letters. I am so fortunate to be on your list. Hope that the New Year is filled with many wonderful things.

From: Ann Creasy Rudolph — Dec 30, 2011
From: Anneke van der Werff — Dec 30, 2011

I want to thank you for this letter. Important words for me on almost the last day of the year. I wish you all the best for the coming year. Greetings from the north of Holland.

From: Gary Norrish — Dec 30, 2011
From: Paula Timpson — Dec 30, 2011

Shiny silver sea Tin foil & butterflies grace Sail into New Year’s~ True Artistes sometimes don’t ever make a dime~ Still, creating free, peace arrives on time, timeless~ All Blue sea & sky mirage of calm color around the beach Breathe Joy In the Light, Love comes clear, as smile moon graces all quietly from above~ A child’s heart dances in its eyes Giving Hope for all who dream and discover endless childhood within~

From: Jeanne M. Roberts — Dec 30, 2011

Thank you Robert, this one spoke to me. The paints are all out, and ready to go. I know painters who go outside 1 or 2 times a week and I just don’t want to be cold. So I’ll look at my pictures and start painting. The studio is a good friend.

From: Sandra — Dec 30, 2011

This is the most elegant and sincere wish, ever…fellow painter, I thank you and Happy New Year..thank you for the years goodness.

From: Suzy Engelman Block — Dec 30, 2011

My situation room/studio/corner of the living room, definitely has a inferiority complex that it often passes a long to me… which is, of course, immobilizing. Tomorrow I shall ‘occupy’ my space & call it ‘the one percent ‘ and take joy in my disease! Thanks!

From: Patricia Warren — Dec 30, 2011

I have enjoyed and appreciated your letters for months on end, and today’s is one of many that I have printed so as to save. I’ve cut out your final paragraph (“The studio is an extension……”), mounted it and set it prominently on my drawing table. You never cease to inform and inspire me. Thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement. I wish you blessings and creativity in 2012.

From: Paula Christen — Dec 30, 2011

Rather than penning a list of new year’s resolutions, that will soon be lost in a pile on my desk somewhere, I’m committing to just one: “Show up and do the work”. Luckily, I have a studio in which to do just that and a couple of large trash can to fill to make room for great things to come. Wishing all of us the best creative year ever.

From: Patricia Fowler — Dec 30, 2011

Received this letter just after looking at one of my half finished watercolors, thinking how much I liked my painting and imagining the finished piece. I opened my mail and read your piece thank you for sharing.

From: Peggy Hall — Dec 30, 2011

Your letters each week have been of immense help to me. They keep me enthused when I am faltering in the pursuit of my art. I love your quotes at the end of each letter. Thanks so much and keep them coming.

From: Christine McIntyre-Hannon — Dec 30, 2011

I am a new subscriber and I really appreciate your letters. Thank you. I wish you health and happiness in the New Year. North Scituate, RI

From: doris — Dec 30, 2011

I am mentoring and sharing my skills..such as they are in a very cold basement, away from my own studio, for the sake of helping this young person gain more knowledge with colors as he works mostly in black and white with an air brush..what a challenge for me. I am enjoying every minute of it and hope it continues. My goal for the coming year is to be a mentor, first time ever! We can be cold but still create. Thank you again for a wonderful year of inspiration.

From: Shari Haufschild — Dec 30, 2011

This email couldn’t have come at a better time about studios and being the perfect inspiration for the new year. I, for one, really appreciate all your time and effort that you share with your readers. Wishing you the very best in 2012!

From: Greg T — Dec 30, 2011

Your words help me to keep on trying to be a better painter. Hope I will do more in the coming year.

From: Andrée Kuhne — Dec 30, 2011

With your letters, you have created a world out there for me where I learn how artists think, work and enjoy doing art and how I fit in as an artist. Like many of us, I was thinking of art in my future, as a second career for when I retire. What you taught me is that I can be an artist now just by make sure to incorporate art into my daily activities. Although I work mostly in watercolour, you have instilled in me the needs to appreciate the many facets of art, being drawing, pastel, multi-media, reading about artists’ lives, viewing the art galleries and artists’ work on-line. For all this, I thank you. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

From: Susan — Dec 31, 2011

Robert,You sir, are my dear friend. Thank you so much for your wonderful letters. May God bless your New Year! Susan

From: Bobbie Kilpatrick — Dec 31, 2011

Happy New Year Robert and to all your family and staff. I so appreciate your letters, inspired insight, and generous giving to us. I have had a rough few years and I look forward to the letters to keep me in the art loop. I am also looking forward to 2012 for a renewed effort in my art career and plan to join the Premium Artists directory this year.

From: Marvin Humphrey — Dec 31, 2011

Occupying my own studio is much more satisfying than occupying anywhere else. Announcing my intentions of being more tidy and better organized always elicits a few laughs. I can prioritize for a good solid 7 seconds before I get side-tracked. Every letter you’ve written has had value for me. Reading them is like being an apprentice of Old, occupying the studio of the Master.

From: Ann — Jan 01, 2012

Thank you very much, Robert, for sharing your inspiring thoughts. Here’s wishing you, from Singapore, a Happy New Year; a year of good health, happy surprises and unlimited creative energy.

From: Brigitte Nowak — Jan 01, 2012

Robert, Thanks for this, and for taking the time to share your wisdom, expertise, insights and encouragements. Would you consider sharing with us a couple of photos of your own studio set up? Best wishes for a happy, healthy, productive new year.

From: Withheld By Request — Jan 01, 2012

Re: From: Robert Sesco — Dec 30, 2011 You’ll note that artists who generate great sums of money with their art, who have the resources to build the ‘perfect’ studio, build expansive places with lots of windows facing a certain direction for lots of quality light. My question for you then, Robert… Where was all the magnificent high value art produced that bought such a “perfect studio” ? Perhaps in the “Little Studio In The Basement” ??? If I were selling “high value art”, I think perhaps, I would buy an abandoned shopping mall, and turn it into studios for emerging artists, of ages 18-100 years old. Charge them little or no rent, just to see what comes of it. Perhaps, some high value art ????

From: Hmmmm. — Jan 01, 2012

Where’s the real money in art ? Selling art supplies.

From: Aleada Siragusa — Jan 01, 2012

I hope to occupy a studio soon. I am between studios and have been for some time now. We have our house of 30 years up for sale and have been busy for a year now; boxing, discarding, cleaning and painting . I turned my lovely studio into a family room for potential buyers. When in the throes of decorating and packing I took breaks most everyday walking in the park down the street from my house, drawing the scenery. I prefer to paint in oils but have taken up painting small watercolors in order to paint inside and quickly gather my things put away in the closet every night. I yearn for the day when I can unpack all my paints and keep up projects in various states of completion and allow for a healthy amount of clutter. Now that the house is listed, I will do some plein air painting in oil locally, or paint outside in our back porch; that is until the house sells and we must scramble to pack and move.

From: Damar Minyak — Jan 02, 2012
From: Jordan Ross — Jan 02, 2012

Your letters always give me a lift and useful information. Thank you for taking the time to share yourself with others. HAPPY PAINTING IN 2012!!!

From: Nancy Bush — Jan 02, 2012

I get value out of your letters is probably an understatement. I get joy, empathy, sympathy, understanding, encouragement, inspiration and I learn so much. I have laughed so hard at times and on some occasions have cried as well. I have passed some letters on to other artists and non artists also. I have encouraged my students to sign up for the letters and have heard back from many of them about how much they love them. I have read many of the letters in class to my students to enhance the lessons we undertake. Robert you are a walking encyclopedia on art and artists and how we deal with our passion in this chosen journey. Your delivery and sense of humor about it “all” really is the icing on the cake as you so generously share your wisdom with us all. Thank you thank you thank you Mr. Genn. Please keep those letters coming because I value them so much!

From: Laura Priebe — Jan 02, 2012

Have you found a method by which you prioritize what you keep and what you throw away? I have usually just thrown myself out of the room and resort to another cup of coffee for more motivation. Thank you for humanizing our quest.

From: Rodrica Tilley — Jan 02, 2012

Thank you for this prescient letter. My studio has been seriously downgraded this year. You have made me appreciate the fact that although small and remote, it is warm (usually), accessible, well-stocked with art supplies, quiet, smells good and the rent is paid. The only thing in short supply is the living breathing artist and I will be changing that as soon as the ice melts and I can get down the road. Thanks for the kick!

From: Lynn A’Court — Jan 02, 2012

I just want to say I’m very grateful for your letter. I always find something that strikes an inner chord, often find an idea to try in my painting endeavours or a new artist to explore. I enjoy your ruminations about the human condition and think of you as a valued kindred spirit ‘out there’ whose letters I always look forward to: even on a hectic day when other regular readings are clicked into oblivion, I set yours aside to savour later. with all good wishes

From: Bob Ragland — Jan 03, 2012

I used to have a studio seperate from my house, years ago. I moved everything to my house. I have a second floor oil painting studio. I have mixed media studio on the first floor. My whole house is work space. The house is paid for. I occupy my studio all the time.

From: Elmer Jessup — Jan 03, 2012

No standing water on the floor, oxygen, and a light bulb. I have nothing to complain about. Life is good, dammit.

From: Elise Nicely — Jan 03, 2012

Dear Robert, Your “Occupy” article about the studio was lovely. I love my studio. It might not suit others but for me it is the place to be. When I walk into my studio I break out into a big smile! I am happy just to be there. To get to play with my art supplies is wondrous. To create something to share with others is sublime. I begin working and the next thing I know several hours have passed! I made a copy of your letter to hang in my studio to read when I need to lift my spirits. Thank you for you New Year gift! Elise Nicely

From: Mars — Jan 03, 2012

Re-where U paint — that’s not what matters —  it matters what’s in ur head-alright! I paint in the corner of my bedroom-small table set up — call it my studio. We must be happy with what we have — not always look 4 more than the other “guy” has.. Jack Latons ideas are 4 the birds — he said — prosperity is immoral — how then does one have the incentive to i mprove ones self!!!! As in painting — we must strive 4 improvments  — the occupy bunch — better get back 2 work — or look 4 work — & get on with their lives — we all must live within our incomes.that’s the moral of it all.

From: occupy — Jan 03, 2012

Dear Mars, banks are overcharging and grossly manipulating the meager bank accounts of people who “look 4 work” or “go 2 work”. That’s the immoral part of the story and their prosperity.

From: Anne T. Nielsen — Jan 05, 2012

Since art proceeds from inside of ourselves, It can be conceived in both love, and/or anger. Anger will be the impetus for creating a certain kind of art. It might not be pretty art or even art that some people will understand or agree that it even is art. But it is a creative way to get anger, disappointment, fear, disgust, or any number of negative things out from inside ourselves as artists. I believe that even some art is almost a statement of contempt for the art viewer, or art judge. A juror may have stated that a certain mark was not correct in some painterly fashion, thus an artist may make a single mark on a canvas, define it as art and that begins the discussion of it’s merits or lack there of. If some art viewer does not accept a certain painting as acceptable art, the artist may make a rebellious move of going even further with his idea to prove that it is art. Let us not forget that one of the first shows of impressionist art was labeled ashcan art. Art that brings piece and joy to a viewer, can not have been created out of anger or negative emotions. I do believe even the most inexperienced art viewer, can tell the motion behind the work. The mark, line, design or composition of the work will have, using a word borrowed from the world of poker, a “tell” in it. A clue that brings forth the intent and emotion of the artist. The work itself will emote a certain level of respect for the viewer. It will respect the viewer or it will rebel against the viewer almost as if it is uttering a curse at the viewer. Experience of the viewer will come into play also. If the viewer hates blue for some latent reason, a calm peaceful blue painting will be perceived as hated, and unpleasant. If the artist likes question and controversy, the edgier painting will be seen as exciting and wondrous. Happy art sells better but it does not necessarily set the world on fire and make one famous or accepted by the serious art community. I personally feel that the masters did not always paint from good intent or loving subject matter, but there was respect behind each stroke they made. Respect for the viewer and respect for the art itself. I, as an artist strive to do both, respect the viewer and the art.

From: Eileen MacKenzie — Jan 05, 2012

Interesting how both recent letters cover the same topic. Hidden beneath the layers, the Occupy movement is essentially about love, hidden beneath the layers, Art is all about love.

    Featured Workshop: Bjorn Runquist
010312_robert-genn Bjorn Runquist workshops   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 


oil painting by Paul Hedley, UK

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Robert Sesco of Charlottesville, VA, USA, who wrote, “The studio is ancillary. The artist’s drive is the key.” And also Claudia Hershman of Huntington Woods, MI, USA, who wrote, “I love my studio. It’s bright, well organized (I spent a week this summer getting everything in place, with labels and finding out exactly what I have) and welcoming. I feel so happy when I am there, no matter what I am doing, and understand the Paul Klee quote entirely!”    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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