The sacred space

Dear Artist, Recently, Eveleen Power of Dungarvan, Waterford, Eire, wrote, “I now have two art studios — one next to our home and a new one in town with nine other artists. How lucky I am. But I don’t know whether to bring my really good easel into the new one or leave it in the old one. I can’t decide which studio to have what medium in. My home studio has a sink so I’m thinking of just keeping that for watercolours, acrylics and water based mediums. Should the other one just be for oils? What would be some advice in this situation?” Thanks, Eveleen. Dividing media between studios is not a bad idea. In one you might wear your watercolour hat and in the other your oily one. But it’s not the “really good easel,” or even the isolating of media from one space to the other that will make your work greater. It’s what you bring on the commute. State of mind is all-important. The British painter David Hockney said, “People have asked me, ‘Isn’t it boring in Bridlington, a little isolated seaside town?’ And I say, ‘Not for us. We think it’s very exciting, because it is in my studio and it is in my house.'” The home studio need not be either big or fancy. “Small rooms,” said Leonardo da Vinci, “set the mind in the right path; large ones cause it to go astray.” Many significant artists treat the home studio as a secondary venue. “A studio,” said Joaquin Sorolla, “is a good place to smoke your pipe.” That said, the studio need only be a sacred place where work and imagination gently collude. “A space,” said Rainer Maria Rilke, “for the spirit to breathe.” My observation of folks who decide to hang out with others (I’ve never tried it) is that they end up with social venues where interpersonal aggravation sets in, interest flags and quality becomes intermittent. There may be exceptions, of course, and it’s certainly something that might be tolerated once a year or so. But it’s a great loss not to work down at the bottom of the garden with the fairies. Best regards, Robert PS: “The only thing that makes one an artist is making art. And that requires the precise opposite of hanging out; a deeply lonely and unglamorous task of tolerating oneself long enough to push something out.” (David Rakoff) Esoterica: My best advice is to teach yourself to work pretty well anywhere. The mere act of making this decision builds your capacity for growth. In the heady days of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, sweet-spots appear like volunteers in a rambling garden. You can do it on a beach, on a heath, in a park, in a car or boat or on a friend’s patio while he’s trying to be a banker. Your home studio may be a pretty important place — the center of your universe — but the world is loaded up with other sacred spots. “Capto omnes” (Kjerkius Gennius – 36BC) “Grab them all.”   The sacred space by Jan Boydol, Calgary, AB, Canada  

by Jan Boydol

“To have a sacred place is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or so, where you do not know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody or what they owe you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first, you may find nothing happens there. But, if you have a sacred place and use it, take advantage of it, something will happen.” (Joseph Campbell)   Home studio is best by Andre Satie, Ensenada, Baja, CA, USA  

“Rowing to Tecate”
original painting
by Andre Satie

My father was a sign painter. When I found myself a single mom needing to support my kids and self, I became a sign painter too. At times, I’d find myself lettering a gorgeous logo, which I had designed in the studio, on the plate glass window of a business establishment on a busy street. I got used to creating my own sacred working space while answering remarks like, “you must have a steady hand to do that” …. “That looks like a good job for a woman” …. “Would you like to have a cup of coffee with me?” And, of course, “My Aunt Maude could really draw” …. I’ve had many art studios since, and my favorite is the home studio, where I can glance over at a piece in process from time to time while going about my “other” business. There is 1 comment for Home studio is best by Andre Satie
From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Aug 21, 2012

What a wonderful idea and painting!

  On hallowed ground by Mike Barr, Adelaide, South Australia  

“August Showers – Adelaide”
acrylic painting
by Mike Barr

Many of us can only wish for a palatial studio — the type that is paraded with some pride in magazines and other media. It almost becomes an end in itself in some cases. With room at a premium where I live, I have had several ‘spaces’ to paint in and at the moment, depending on the weather, rotate between back and front porches or the dining table. My best work has been done on the back porch or the confines of a tool-shed studio at the back of the garden. Actually, the sacred space is in front of the canvas where ever that may be. The immediate confines of an artist at work is indeed hallowed ground. I speak for the millions of artists that don’t have the studio of their dreams and despair thinking that not having a ‘proper’ studio makes them less of an artist. We have to gather equipment before we can begin, a task that sometimes seems too hard. We pack up again to allow other things to happen around the house, but the time we did have at the easel was sacred and we produced the best we could. Do not despair. Many studios that we could only dream about produce mediocre work, perhaps because the studio is the sacred place and not the vicinity of the canvas. There are 7 comments for On hallowed ground by Mike Barr
From: Anonymous — Aug 20, 2012

Just love this painting, the feeling of rain moving through the air.

From: Richard — Aug 21, 2012

Well said Mike. Congratulations on your award in the Bold Brush Competition too.

From: Laura Gerry — Aug 21, 2012

Very well put! I agree!

From: Carol Kairis — Aug 21, 2012

Having my studio in my very large kitchen (sun roofs) light streaming in has been a delight for me. Purched upon my easel most recent work receives reflective observation at times I least expect it. Such spontaneous contemplation in my “studio corner” serves me perfectly.

From: Gwen Ontiveros — Aug 21, 2012

“Actually, the sacred space is in front of the canvas where ever that may be. The immediate confines of an artist at work is indeed hallowed ground.” I find this statement mirrors my feelings on the subject. May I quote you, attributing it to Mike Barr?

From: Mike Barr — Aug 21, 2012

Certainly Gwen

From: anonymous — Aug 22, 2012

Beautiful words, Mike.

  Getting the noisy ego out of the way by Julia Burns, Brighton, UK  

“Two Cock Pheasants”
original painting
by Julia Burns

An obsession with finding and equipping the right or perfect studio has nothing to do with painting; I have made good and bad paintings in tiny and spacious studios in my house and in group studios all over Brighton, Great Britain. I prefer working at home as it is cheaper, warmer and less disruptive, but studios outside my house had the advantage of the journey to and the ability to leave work-related mess outside of the domestic. I can honestly say that studios have never really affected my practice but the search for the right studio has certainly taken up painting time. It is probably easier to procrastinate about light and where to put one’s brushes than getting on with the difficult task of getting the noisy ego out of the way in order to paint with any honesty. Painters paint. I know a few people who have perfect studios and never make any work. The places look fab though, like film sets of studios! There are 3 comments for Getting the noisy ego out of the way by Julia Burns
From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Aug 21, 2012


From: Tikiwheats — Aug 21, 2012

I’m really starting to embrace my small studio in my small apt – and its split – 1/2 in bedroom L-corner and 1/2 in living room corner w/big easel. Not a problem – sometime I paint big, and sometimes small – it’s all good.

From: Patsy, Northern Ireland — Aug 25, 2012

Awwww, pheasants! How I miss them! We used to feed them in our garden in Berkshire. A couple were such characters. Only yesterday I was looking at some of my photos of them. I think I’ve seen maybe two in four years living here.

  Studio moved up from the basement by Betsey Mulloy, Reston, VA, USA  

original painting
by Betsey Mulloy

My husband and I have been reading about Celtic Christianity and its concepts of “thin places,” where heaven and earth come very close to each other. We decided to try to make our home as “thin” a place as possible, so that our spiritual and creative lives can flourish and so that guests will find a real sanctuary here. One thing I did that made a huge difference: for years I’ve painted in our basement (with good but artificial light), but I began to realize that I was becoming a mole. On top of that, I had to tend to other important parts of my life as we all do: keeping up with correspondence and bills and art business, reading, writing and preparing teachings, even playing the piano (taking lessons again after several decades!). I realized that as I was doing these different things I was ricocheting around my house from basement to “office” (unused bedroom), to livingroom, etc. growing more ADD every minute. In the last month I finally saw that our current guestroom (big, with natural light) might just possibly accommodate everything, and that all I needed, figuratively speaking, was a swivel chair. So I have moved in and I love it! Even in a marathon preparation for a show I’m not missing the character of the day outside… and my old “office” is now being fitted up for guests. There is 1 comment for Studio moved up from the basement by Betsey Mulloy
From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Aug 21, 2012

Hi Betsey- I just celebrated 5 years in a studio- that for 2 years I’ve been living in. So the living/working space are the same. But I’ve always let people know that when they walked through the door they entered my ‘heaven’ because that’s what having this space is to me. No seperation at all. No thinness. As my working and living spaces are identical- so are my heaven and earth spaces. Of course- that comes after more than 25 years of active spiritual experience. But if this was possible for me- it’s possible for anyone.

  Different studios, different work? by Luann Udell, Keene, NH, USA  

mixed media
by Luann Udell

I read recently (in Readers Digest, of all things) that walking through a door causes our brain to “drop” all the information from the room we’re leaving, to make room for new information we’ll gather from the room we’re entering. Hence, the daily amble around the second room, thinking, “What the heck did I come in here to do??!!” I wonder if different studios really would foster different work? If this were me and my predicament (two studios), I’d use my favorite equipment and tools to produce my deepest, best work in solitude. I would never clean it, either! Then I’d use my more “social” studio for display, demonstrations, classes, open studios and other, more public events. I’ve noticed that groups of artists in one location generate ten times the number of visitors and buyers.   Finding solitude by Brian Care, Toronto, Canada / San Miguel de Allende, Mexico  

watercolour painting
by Brian Care

For over 7 years I shared a large studio/gallery space in a former textile factory that evolved into a very commercial art and design centre. I taught classes, sold my paintings and tried to create. It became increasingly difficult to do the latter until I realized that I no longer wanted to teach and I resented every interruption from a potential buyer. One day I took my own advice I had been handing out for years as an educational consultant and allowed myself to take control of the situation. I cancelled my classes. I gave my art pieces to another gallery to sell. And I moved out. I went home and shoved all my equipment I could into the guest room shower. For years I had lusted after the rundown gatehouse on the estate property where I live. It is literally just across the rose garden from my little house. After making an arrangement with my accommodating landlords, a two-month renovation began that involved replacing the roof and knocking out most of one 50 cm thick stone wall, installing wiring and plumbing. The entire interior of the 2 x 8 metre space was painted white and cabinetry designed and built. One end is a daybed surrounded by bookcases… my place for thinking about creating. The other end is storage and in between is a polished concrete work table with a roll-out tabouret underneath and space for my easel. It has become a very special place, free from interruptions, regular classes of students and away from the temptations of socializing (procrastinating) with my fellow artists near my old studio. It is a place where I look forward to escaping. A place my dog responds to happily as in “Do you want to go to the studio?” And it is great to go along with him to work down at the bottom of the garden with the fairies. There is 1 comment for Finding solitude by Brian Care
From: Arlene — Aug 23, 2012

Lovly Amarillas, your studio space sounds truly magical. Arlene, San Miguel de Allende

  Free from influence by Marie Martin, Fountain Valley, CA, USA  

mixed media
by Marie Martin

Six years ago I decided to make the leap into a studio for one reason really — to be free of others’ eyes. I had been painting in a local community college class that allowed tremendous freedom to come and go. But I began responding to others’ comments in the most unexpected way! I welcomed an intelligent critique and could absorb the occasional ungracious words of a few clumsy commentators. What I needed to run from were people who LIKED my art! I found that if someone said, for instance, what a lovely color blue, I would be influenced to use that blue in ways that didn’t necessarily express my intent. I needed to get away from influence; good or bad. I very much needed to fly on my own, make my own mistakes and learn from them at my own speed, in my own time. Some days I go there to simply meditate and soak in all the art objects: paints, brushes, canvases, books. Some days I journal or nap. But it all takes place without others’ influence — and my imagination is free to soar. Sacred Space, indeed! There are 2 comments for Free from influence by Marie Martin
From: Susan Holland — Aug 21, 2012

Marie Martin, you said a mouthful here…. it’s just what works perfectly for me. Right now I’m staying with family who have very kindly cleared a space in their garage for me to work. But it’s a high traffic area, leading to all kinds of family spaces, an office, and the driveway. Privacy…not. But I am pretending I am doing plein air. Not a place for meditation except in the middle of the night. :)

From: andre satie — Aug 21, 2012

Ah. Yes. I, too, have need to “turn off” the compliments, as I seem to sop them up and let them influence my next work. It’s wonderful to notice this and own up to it, yes?

  More production in Artist Colony by Inez Hudson, Naples, FL, USA  

“Giraffic Park”
oil painting
by Inez Hudson

I am one of 13 artists who enjoy the use of 3 empty suites, in a unique commercial area. We call ourselves an Artist Colony. Each artist takes one day and works their “suite space” for the whole day. Our requirement is that we must be creating while we are open. Wow, we are forced to create! I was thrilled to have that as a requirement. The only phone is my cell. There is no computer or office work to be done. No husband, cat, or TV to distract — just listen to music of my choice and paint! Each artist has their own working area within the suite. I purchased an inexpensive, yet attractive, wooden easel to use in the studio. However, I couldn’t afford to purchase a duplicate set of oils and brushes. Most painters have a tremendous volume of brushes, so that wasn’t a problem. At the hardware store I purchased a sturdy tool box that has a removable tray, for a lowly $8. All tubes of paint fit in the bottom, along with a jar of turp and a small container of liquin. The tray holds oodles of brushes and my palette knife. The outer lid also has two small compartments for misc. small items. A roller cart allows me to carry everything else I may need, without being cumbersome. My home studio remains intact, other than I’m transporting my paints. I have produced more work in the 3 years under these conditions than I ever produced from my home studio. It is invigorating; gets me in touch with the public and other artists; and stimulates me! I hope she has the same results!   Concentration in out-of-doors isolation by Robin Shillcock, Groningen, Netherlands  

Robin’s studio

Hanging out together can be fruitful, but once social interactions become formalized, and someone goes around shouting “Coffee’s ready!” it becomes an anchor that drags you down and away from what you set out to do. Solitude is the only solution if you want to make good pictures, since they require intense concentration, perhaps not all of the time, but most of the time. You also have to cut yourself off from what others are doing and saying in order to concentrate. Even when going out with friends to paint in the field, each of us isolates from the others. There may be moments of interaction, but usually we stay on our own few square metres of turf, not wishing to disrupt the dreamstate in which a painting is conceived. Over the past decades I’ve taken part in various artist residencies in such far-flung places as northern Israel, Portugal, the French Alps, Brittany and Sweden, some projects involving as many as 30 artists, and it’s always the same: we go out together, and we isolate. The return is undertaken in a quieter mood, a part of our brain still out there, guiding eye and hand, another part trying to assess if what we have done was good enough, while yet another part of the brain wants to concentrate on something completely different. I had a large downtown studio as well as a small studio home; the downtown studio has been ripped apart for a new cultural centre so I now work in a rather small room, or on one of my balconies. Oils, watercolours, mixed media, illustrations are produced there, sometimes requiring shifting of tables and easels or the rigging of a tarp. Then there’s my much larger studio in the old clapboard schoolhouse in a deserted village on the coast, with a view of the Norwegian Sea. It’s about 2000 k’s away from where I live, and requires a very different approach to life (chopping wood, hauling buckets of water from the well) also because isolation is almost 100%. It’s only reachable by boat or a three-hour hike along precipitous paths, so rarely am I disturbed by visitors. I have spent long periods there, going through weeks without seeing anyone. It’s a bit extreme perhaps, sometimes I miss being able to share with someone great encounters like coming face to face with an otter or seeing a whale, or watching thousands of murre chicks jump down from the cliffs that tower above the village. But it’s bliss where hiking, sketching and painting is concerned and I imagine that nature painters like Rungius and members of the Group of Seven felt like I do when they visited Algonquin on their painting excursions. The school is large compared to my home studio, but I do most of my work out of doors, and use it as a refuge from the frustration and moments of joy if experienced in the field; a place to spread out the work, cook and sleep.    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The sacred space

From: Faith — Aug 17, 2012

These days my emphasis is on what rather that where. I used to have a 70qm studio where I could slosh about and painted a lot of large canvases, usually starting with liquid oils and using the flat floor as a support. Now I only have my flat (apartment), no space for over-dimensional artworks, and have to improvise. My “really good” easel can’t be wheeled around so it is outside on my loggia, which is not very big. Sometimes I hang a gadget on it and use it as a washing line. Sometimes I put a painting on it, but not very often because either it’s too cold to work, to windy for pastels, or too hot for the paints (all lame excuses). My second best easel is one that can swing around to provide a flat surface for painting without runs (not me, the paint!). That’s in my bedroom, where most of my tools are, and used quite a lot. My third best easel is made of bamboo and parked outside when not in use. Is all this boring you? Me too. I get irate when I hear about pseudo-problems. How great to have the opportunity to work near and maybe even with like-minded people. You can decide how much contact you want by a simple mechanism – a DOOR. Make it clear that when the door is closed, you are meditating. Let them think you need meditation for your work. Hang a sign up saying e.g. not available right now – meditation in progress. Try the various mediums out before deciding. Start with portable ones, like watercolours, pen and ink or a humble pencil. Can you concentrate there? Or is the shared venue going to be a big party where you sketch and find inspiration? Surely that’s reason enough for starters. If you need a second easel just like your “best” one in order to work properly, save up and buy one (go without a few vices – assuming you have a couple – e.g. chocolates, cake, alcohol, cigarettes, restaurant noshes etc.) for a few weeks and the funds will appear like magic. Enough said…

From: Faith — Aug 17, 2012

Spot the typing error at the beginning. How I wish there was a review function here. I never manage to find all my faux pas – the typing ones, I mean:-)))))))

From: julia burns — Aug 17, 2012

An obsession with finding/equipping the right or perfect studio has nothing to do with painting; I have made good and bad paintings in tiny and spacious studios in my house and in group studios all over Brighton (GB). I prefer working at home as it is cheaper, warmer and less disruptive, but studios outside my house had the advantage of the journey to and the ability to leave work related mess outside of the domestic.I can honestly say that studios have never really affected my practice but the search for the right studio has certainly taken up painting time. It is probably easier to procrastinate about light and where to put one’s brushes than getting on with the difficult task of getting the noisy ego out of the way in order to paint with any honesty.Painters paint.I know a few people who have perfect studios and never make any work (The places look fab though,like film sets of studios!)

From: ReneW — Aug 17, 2012

The home studio is your sanctuary; where you are by yourself and can focus on your work. The studio away from home and share with others is a different venue. Working in that kind of environment can have it’s distractions because of the several discussions going on…all at the same time. I know because I’ve done both. I prefer working at home because I don’t have to travel anywhere. Everything is in it’s place, all the time. Working with others can be a learning experience, especially for beginners. In a group environment you can share in the cost of hiring a model for life drawing or painting. That is my take on this subject. It is always nice to have it both ways. Making art is such a solitary activity that I find it to difficult to take it too seriously in a group environment.

From: Caroline Trippe — Aug 17, 2012

I also have a small “downtown” studio in a complex with other artists, and a small dedicated room at home. I’ve been at the downtown studio for 3 years now, and have signed a lease for another year. Here there is an opportunity for exposure and sales, as we have monthly open studio evenings. I enjoy being part of an artists’ community, really for the first time in my life. The studios are locking cubicles in a converted mill. This has become the space where I display finished work, where I draw, where I can easily have models without intruding on the privacy of my home. As the 40-odd artists all have different working hours, it’s usually quiet, but I still do my oil painting at home. For some reason, I find that I concentrate better there, where there is no chance of anyone wandering by, although closed doors at Golden Belt mean Do Not Disturb. There is less socializing than you might think — except on the Open Studio evenings. It’s sort of “the best of both worlds.”

From: Susan A Warner — Aug 17, 2012

I am in agreement with a previous comment of “Painters Paint”. I have never had a ‘studio’ as such. In my early years of making art I worked in the Kitchen(with a sink), or the basement away from the family. Now I work in our Condo Dining Room and squeeze out a corner for my stuff. Considering that, I have had several large commissions. One of them was 2 Canvases, each 6′ X 6′. We just moved the furniture back, added drop cloths and lived with it. I have been very prolific in my little space and I don’t believe it’s about ‘where’ but ‘when’. Actually the creativity is in your head and that should work anywhere. Georgia O’Keefe demanded solitude, space and time to create her work. It would be wonderful to have those luxuries and many of us do not. Painting is, I believe, quite a solitary occupation. The “sacred space” is where you find it.

From: Rosemarie Caffarelli — Aug 17, 2012

“The sacred space” for me is a upstairs bedroom which I cherish. I have two easels set up, with on going work on each one. One is pastel and the other oil. I do value the room with all my supplies at hand. I also paint plein air with friends. When my friends and I arrive at the right spot, we all scatter and become very quiet, each absorbed in our own work and ideas. Once again, thank you for the lovely letter.

From: Vicki Ross — Aug 17, 2012

There are SO many art ‘groups’, some actually called ‘art classes’ that turn out to be nothing but social interaction. I was involved in one early in my career where another ‘artist’ got between me and my easel to tell me about her recipe from yesterday’s cocktail party. Social painting is fine, as long as you understand that you won’t learn much ‘fine’ about fine art execution. Mental stimulation, courage to try something new, yes…but the actual creation is more solitary, just you and your muse. Now, I’m off to the garden to play with the fairies in my own studio!

From: Sue Rombach Kelly — Aug 17, 2012

This letter reminded me of my very favorite place growing up- just about any tree around that was climb-able. One I called the Tarzan tree because it was my one place no one else ever went to and Tarzan was a hero of mine! I grew up outside Cincinnati in South Ft Mitchell, KY in the 30’s and it started out to be one of the first “suburbs”. That word was, of course, not invented yet. But it meant that it was surrounded by many tiny woods and farmland and lakes and cricks (now they call them creeks) and of course THE river. And my getaway tree was over/under two fences and past 2 cricks and its branches spread in a most comfortable fashion to relax into and read anything I could carry with me. Or just sit and listen to the bugs buzzing and the cows belling past or the cricks flowing nearby and wonder what was what. Such a peaceful time then….that it brings tears to my eyes just remembering!

From: B J Adams — Aug 17, 2012
From: Celeste Chute Wright — Aug 17, 2012

I’ve noticed on occasion, artists who come to an art class with the most expensive supplies and set each item up with the utmost care and then when it is time to paint still have to follow an inner voice found in the art of creating. This voice is not be found in the expense of their art making equipment

From: Leslie Kimball — Aug 17, 2012

I love your thoughts … I love my personal and private studio… But… Once a week I paint with 5 wonderful other artists , in a warm and loving space… We all paint in oil… And do wonderful work … Because… We feed off the creation and support and input of each other… So sometimes… Creation comes in wonderful things… Like the heart and friendship…

From: Julie Crouch — Aug 17, 2012
From: Janice Schoultz Mudd — Aug 17, 2012

In St Louis, many people have taken to shared studio space the last few years. I considered this myself when a spot became available at The Foundry Art Centre, which is a rehabbed industrial building complete with gallery spaces and individual studio rooms. I realized though that with visitors coming in and out and other studio artists popping in, the likelihood of my producing artwork of any quantity and quality was pretty small. I know people who thrive in these situations but I have never been one of them. The basement studio of my home gives me the solitude I need to intently focus my thoughts on where the canvas is going and why.

From: Sandra Bos — Aug 17, 2012

I recently moved my studio home again, and I was worried that I would miss the social thing. Once I got settled, I found myself spending more and more time painting. Having all my creative ‘stuff’ around me and being alone, I feel that I am reaching into places within myself that I had forgot I had. I can try out new thoughts without worrying about it looking good or bad…just me and my paints, canvas, and imagination. I have always been in love with painting. It’s like being alone with the one you love, no wonder they call it “a selfish lover”, or to put it another way; it’s an “Inside Job”

From: Elle Fagan — Aug 17, 2012

I can agree with you on almost all points in today’s letter, and the famous quote from Leonardo made me smile. I’d heard it as “Small rooms are good for the concentration”. I’ve the run of the place in the Old Mill on Fox Hill, with the Waterfall view from my window, but my actual workrooms are several and each small. And it works.

From: Tommy Barr — Aug 17, 2012

The only thing that makes you an artist is making art. I guess another way to say it is that “it is what you do in front of a canvas that counts”.

From: Trudy Wardrop — Aug 17, 2012

I’ve never had the luxury of a studio and thought that working with others would be inspirational, but I agree with you that that can work against you. A lifetime friend (60+ years) had that so-called luxury, but called a halt to it when she found it too distracting and too social. I find that even when I go to a class I am too distracted by others and get nothing accomplished. But that’s me and my ADD at work!

From: Adrienne Moore — Aug 17, 2012

I understand the idea behind sharing space and ideas because as artists we do need to work outside of our own studios in order to avoid isolation and also to get valuable feed back from other artists. I find this can work if we take workshops, attend lectures and exhibitions at art galleries or join an artist guild. However when it comes down to the ”sacred space ”, I would not trade my own studio for anything It is small but accommodates six or seven comfortably for life drawing. I can hire a model for painting and drawing and share the space with several other artists for that particular moment. This way we can be involved in critiques which ultimately help the individual solve a stumbling block in a painting .It really helps to have a different perspectives. To try to segregate work into different categories in two studios seems to be cumbersome. Why not invite artists to share a day in your studio, paint plein air or do watercolour together and exchange ideas. As you point out it is not the space but what you bring to the commute that counts.

From: Edna V. Hildebrandt — Aug 17, 2012

How I wish I could have such a sacred place, a place where my easel, brushes and paints are all in one place ready and welcoming! I could just go in there and let my artistic imagination take flight inspiring me to create wonderful images undisturbed. A sacred place all my own undisturbed to work my magic. I also enjoy going to our Wednesday open studio at Neilson Park Creative Center where I enjoy the company of others with like minds sharing ideas and helping each other. It is also sacred space the meeting of like minds.

From: Nicoletta Baumeister — Aug 17, 2012

Personally, I cannot imagine working alongside others, but there is a group of three artists down near Granville Island that not only work together, but work on the same pieces together. (Bjornson Kajiwara Gallery) Of very different ages and different backgrounds, the work produced is interesting stuff reflecting (from what I saw) the universal experiences of being human in this particular time and place. A series of works on the walls involved pen, ink and paint on plywood panels that took a riff off old school desk top scribbles. Very evocative and familiar, while at the same time elegant and complex.

From: Paula Timpson — Aug 17, 2012

An Artist needs quiet time to produce, same as the sun which rises in a silent morning sky~ An Artist is reflective upon things that matter day to day~ Source of all goodness radiates Love~!

From: Shari Haufschild — Aug 17, 2012

While a personal space is indeed sacred, we have a group of painters (sometimes about a dozen) that get together once a month to paint. The men and women vary greatly in age and experience, but we each work in whatever medium of our choice and pick our own subject matter. We meet at 10:00 AM and paint until 4:00 PM or later. We encourage each other, make suggestions and share tips. The socializing comes when we eat our potluck at noon if a person wants to visit they can, some just keep working, sometimes we watch a recommended DVD on painting. We sometimes do challenges (not manditory for all to participate). Object is to try a new subject or a new method to become better artists. This is how our challenge works: each person taking part brings an idea or photo to present as a challenge to the other participants. Each person can create anything they want to from the original idea or photo…. Example–somebody may bring a photo of a landscape with a garden, trees, sky, etc. A participant my choose to paint it realistically, do an abstract, paint a single flower or cloud, or portray WHATEVER inspires them. The goal of the challenge is to get us all painting and stretching our creativity in new dimensions. Another challenge had a photo of a bird in a nest…. Some of the results looked liked the photo but in different mediums, and some paintings ended up with lots of extras added to them and you had to search for the bird! One had words added. A challenge could be to paint “Cold” or “Hot”, “Joy”, “Pain”, “Sound”, etc., the list is endless. We encourage making each piece ‘our own’ and as unique as possible. Many times we didn’t see the other projects being done until we were finished with the challenges. What a fun surprise to see all the different interpretations. We did this with 6 different challenges and had an art show of our work. We’ve had people asking when we’re going to do it again. There isn’t competition against each other, but there is a lot of personal growth and the bond of friendship is the most precious of all. Anyone who has joined our group has stayed and we’ve been painting monthly for about 5 years. Each month, each painter is encouraged to bring work they’ve done at home to share with the others as inspiration. Sorry this message got so long. I’m pretty enthusiatic about our group!

From: Sue Bussoli — Aug 18, 2012

Very good timing this article is in my mind. Be in a group or forage on my own has been the dilemma. My heart tells me that I need to just follow my dreams/imagination/inspirations but all that social stroking can you do without it??? Maybe the solitude can push it out. It’s worth a try. And it’s not that I don’t have enough pieces waiting to be finished or done. And just how lucky is that!!

From: Stephina De Felice — Aug 20, 2012

Thank you so much for this. It has come at a time when I have been invited to stay in a cabin in a wonderful area to do my work. My thing is that I am so much more comfortable in my home small studio. I must agree that yes when its a large group, ones ideas go astray.

From: Jacquelyn Cavish — Aug 20, 2012

For some years, due to lifestyle changes, I painted with a drawing board on my travel easel wherever I was.

From: Jo MacDonald, Glasgow — Aug 20, 2012
From: Diane Nelson Gold — Aug 20, 2012

In these glorious summer days of ample sweet spots, I got a belly laugh out of Sorolla’s comment that a studio is a “good place to smoke your pipe…” I had been thinking of his genius while perched upon my own sweet spot of yesterday, a giant rock at Leo Carrillo State beach in Malibu, watching little boys play in the waves… As I was sitting in that sacred spot, painting, a symphony of happy summer family beach-day fun filled the air… Then a woman whom I can only imagine to be rather self absorbed, stood about a foot behind me on the rock and, without announcing herself, intruded abruptly into my space by screaming to her teenage kids on the rocks across the small cove… I decided to not let it affect my “wa” and made a conscious decision to stay absorbed in my trance of observations, forms and colors… but her screaming continued on and off, for 5 minutes. In what kind of universe is behavior like that woman’s acceptable? If you’d been me, would you have asked her to be more respectful? It was 4:30pm and my light was changing rapidly… I decided my time was too limited, to engage her… Most people I encounter in my plein air experience are way more respectful!

From: — Aug 25, 2012

I’m lucky enough to have a studio in our apartment, I love being able to wander in at any time of the day or night. I slipped a disc a while ago and was laid up in bed for several weeks, having the home studio meant that I could hobble down the hallway and slap a few brush strokes onto canvas to satisfy my craving and hobble back to bed.Sadly for the last few months I have been unable to buy any supplies and not being able to paint is beginning to drive me nuts. even reading about painting is starting to become painful. So where ever you’re painting I envy you

From: Valerie I. VanOrden — Aug 27, 2012

I worked at a booth at a flea mkt for 3 months and found it a peaceful space, had the whole table to myself, with one stereo for sale from my husband. Now, at home, I have a corner with a stool for a table. I am most disgruntled and looking for a better space. My husband carved out a corner for a worktable. I am jealous of it.

From: Barb — Aug 27, 2012

Dianne, I had a mentor artist who told us that anything is acceptable to get rid of undesired hangers on when painting plain air. He even suggesting harking loudly and spitting on their shoes!

From: Barbara in Chandler, AZ — Aug 31, 2012

My art studio is a spare bedroom in my home. Half is designated for collage creation, the other half for acrylic painting. I also work full time outside the home (not as an artist) but this studio space is my sacred place. Even if it’s just a walk-through drinking a cup of coffee before leaving for work. Now, if I could keep the cat off the freshly gessoed surface.. .

From: Rosalie Vass — Sep 05, 2012

My studio is 24’x24′ with a high ceiling and great lighting. It was our attached garage. Two double glass garden doors take the place of the double garage door. It’s lovely to back up with my van and load up for a show. No steps !!! It’s a great space for clients to come view my paintings also —-high white walls.

From: valerie norberry vanorden — Nov 28, 2012

I am still struggling to carve a niche for working, but if I do about 20-30 pieces of pen-work in a 2 week period, I am doing well. Paul and I laminated 40 pieces yesterday, so I have 200 “placemats” to sell, so…we are accomplishing a lot in a small space at home in our 1 bdrm apt with several pets. I have a desk with open space where drawers used to be, a lateral file, 2 bookcases, and I need to weed out the bad and leave the good, and “spread the love” instead of accumulating more.

    Featured Workshop: Evelyn Dunphy
082112_robert-genn Evelyn Dunphy workshops Held in Tuscany, Italy   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 

Backyard Susans

acrylic painting, 20 x 16 inches by Michele Mastrangelo, NJ, USA

  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 Sean McCann of Liverpool, England, who wrote, “The creative space is important, but ultimately it is what you do in the space that is most important.”

And also Maxine Wolodko of Vancouver, BC, Canada, who wrote, “If you really want to paint, you will find a space to do it.” And also Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki of Port Moody, BC, Canada, who wrote, “When I am in a calm productive mode, I never give a single thought to my studio. All my energy is dedicated to the creative passion. When I find myself thinking about cleaning, reorganizing and reconsidering the studio, something worse is going on and my energy is unhappily avoiding creativity.”    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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