I have the ideal studio in my imagination. There would be large, tall, north facing windows, high ceilings, and hardwood floors, lots of space, good storage, and a wood stove or fire place. Though I have yet to have all these conditions at once, I have been blessed with a place to work from as far back as I can remember. I have learned to make the best out of whatever space I have, and that the most important thing is to arrange a space that feels inspiring and is always ready for me to get to work.
A tour of the past
The first real studio I had up until I was a teenager was my bedroom. I would stay cooped up in there, blasting music and painting pictures whenever I had the chance. If I wasn’t painting, I was designing and sewing handbags and then painting pictures on them. Eventually my work spilled into the room outside my bedroom where my Dad’s office was, until one day he cut a hole in a wall connecting my bedroom with one of the spare bedrooms next to it. He took the carpet out, installed laminate flooring, and made a bar-like table that attached to the wall and stretched around half the room. (What a guy!) As a result, I had my bedroom and then a private entrance to my studio.
The next space I had was a tiny corner of my bedroom in a house with 6 roommates in the Leschi neighborhood of Seattle, where I had a tiny view of lake Washington out my window. Once Joining the Atelier, my studio was at school in a room with about 13 other students. I had a tiny little area to place my easel, taboret and still life stand. Two lines of tape on the floor established my boundaries. While I wasn’t at school, half of my one room studio apartment in Capitol Hill was my studio. I had no internet, no smart phone, and no TV. I grew more in that time than ever before.
The next studio I had was a space in an art studio building near South Seattle. I shared the studio with three other artists. It was on a busy road where huge trucks would be slamming their brakes while approaching the traffic light near our building. I still had a tiny space to work, but by that time I was comfortable with small spaces.
Since moving to Oregon, I have had two studios. The first house I lived in was a shared space with two other artists. It was a small old house with no storage and tiny rooms. The whole house was a studio with our supplies covering every space. Moving to a new state has its way of slowing things down a bit. I resorted back to my bedroom studio model in that house, and soon picked momentum back up again.
Fast forward to now
The space I am in right now sort of fell into my hands. Our realtor suggested we look at a place she thought we would be interested in, since we are artists. At the time, I had won a Scholarship to study at the Florence Academy of Art for a month, which happened right around when our unexpected move was about to happen. I was not able to see this place before my trip, so Ulan checked it out without me. I received an excited email from him telling me it was perfect and that I would love it.
I arrived back in Oregon a month later, late at night. Ulan picked me up at the airport and took me to our new home. It was dark out so I couldn’t see anything, but I heard water. I crashed in an exhausted jet lagged coma and when I awoke in the morning, I was in a place that felt like a mix between a tree house, and a houseboat. The house sits right next to Silver Creek and is raised up on a hill which gives it a feeling of floating on the water.
The living room (which is now our studio) has tall vaulted ceilings with the wood beams exposed and two small skylights. The skylights don’t give a consistent amount of light, so we have installed artificial lights all over the room from the beams. There are also two windows that face the creek, but they are west facing and a lot of sunlight shines through in the afternoon, making it difficult to control. We ended up covering those windows with cloth and then large paintings over the cloth. We have a mix of warm and cool artificial lights in order to give some balance. I am able to work from natural light at certain times of the day using the skylights, but it is a very tiny window of time to work.
I would like to create a post at a later date that goes more in depth about the tools that I use. For now though, I will go over some basics.
We have a large table in the center of the room where we do a lot of framing, packing for shipping, panel making, etc. I like this table, because it has leaves that can be added and taken away to adjust the length. There is a large cutting mat meant for sewing that helps when making measurements for panels and cutting canvas.
My taboret, which is a table that holds all the supplies that I use on a day to day basis, like brushes, paints, and it is a place to set my palette down. This piece of furniture is one of many that has been donated to us by generous people. This one in particular was donated by the wife of an artist who has passed away. I have been so amazed at the generosity of the people that have come into our lives in the past few years.
I use many different kinds of easels for different projects. My primary easel is a Klopfenstein H frame metal easel which is for lager works. I love this easel and though it is extremely heavy, it slides around easy since it has plastic ball feet. One of my favorite portable easels is the Richeson Italian Steel Tripod Easel which is light weight but sturdy enough to not get blown over outdoors. The tripod base detaches from the metal bar that holds the painting, which doubles as a panel carrier. I traveled to Europe with the Richeson easel.
I use a wooden palette designed by Ulan that are a dream to work with and pretty to look at! Right now he is in the process of improving the design and we hope to make them available in the near future.
An iKlip and a mic stand, made for musicians, but equally as useful for artists. I attach the iKlip to my Richeson easel and hold my palette while painting outdoors. While indoors, it also holds my iPad, which is what it is made for, and while attached to a mic stand, I can move it around and adjust it so that it is at eye level while I work.
A good place to be an artist
As I write this, the water flows by outside my window, wrapping itself around the moss covered rocks. The bows of the fir trees wave in the breeze and I can see the neighbor’s horses grazing through a little window in the wild over grown brush across the creek. My studio is just down the hall, ready and waiting. It isn’t the perfect studio for a lot of reasons, but it is the right place for me to be right now. I feel kind of like I am meant to be here, since I did not seek it out, nor did I even plan on staying in Oregon for this long. Life has been that way for me for some time now, like I have been riding a wave to and fro. I have been in control with steering in the direction of my dreams though, and no matter where I end up, the art follows.