I just responded to a request by Steve Doherty at American Artist for input on Artist Studios. Apparently he’s going to produce a magazine article on the subject. I got the request via Twitter.
Yes, I tweet. I admit it. Not too much. But I am kind of getting the hang of it and can see where it could be useful. For example, I posed the question of how to deal with finishing a concrete floor and got several good suggestions. I tweeted about the pack rat living in my studio wall, and got one back from a follower wanting advice once I figured out how to get rid of my pack rat. So I tweeted her back with a suggestion.
Anyway, I took a lot of time answering the tweet from American Artist. Studio space; how you get it, how you keep it, how you manage it, is close to my heart. Here’s my answer:
I got your tweet, and thought I’d put my 2 cents in. This is a great subject and one critical to every artist, as you know.
I’ve had many studios over the years. The worst was none at all, seconded by the top of a washer and dryer. I’m currently moving studios. So designing my new space is something at the forefront of my mind. The sooner it’s done, the sooner I can get back to painting.
Most recently, I’ve been renting a studio space in an historic plaza in Ajo, Arizona. It’s 350 sq. feet, with wonderful light. I’ve been thrilled, as it’s the best I’ve had in years. However, it’s been strictly temporary. At the whim of the landlord. The whole plaza is going to be renovated and there’s no telling when I’ll be booted out. In addition, there’s barely any electricity (it’s jerry rigged), and the bathroom is at the bottom of a very steep flight of stairs, when it’s open. When it’s closed, I’m SOL.
To digress a bit. I picked up a book by Eric Rudd a year or so ago. The Art Studio/Loft Manual was an eye opening read. I decided then and there, that the only way to have the security of a permanent studio space would be to own it. My husband and I started looking. We are working on a project about US Route 89, which runs from Mexico to Canada. (If you’re interested, it’s
). Anyway, our parameters for looking were anywhere on or close to US 89 from Utah south. (North is too cold).
What I wanted at first was a big warehouse we could convert to live/work space. We looked at a few places. Decided at this stage of the game, it would be too much to take on, too much time away from work, and too expensive. So then we looked at houses. North of Salt Lake, Salt Lake, the small towns going south of Salt Lake. Flagstaff, the Verde Valley. It’s not so easy to find something workable in our price range. I wanted at least 500 sq. ft. for my studio. Jim needs space for his office (he’s a landscape photographer).
We finally found it! A tiny 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom house in Oracle, AZ, north of Tucson, just off Hwy 77, which is historic Route 89. The house itself is quite quirky. But…it has 4 garages! The largest is an end to end oversized 2 car garage, finished inside, with a 10′ high ceiling. This is becoming my space. It’s about 500 sq. ft., with an additional 100 sq. ft. room with a sink and enclosed toilet.
We had a handyman take out the garage door. Went to a recycled building supplies place and found 2 glass doors and a window. Finished the concrete floor with epoxy paint. Painted the walls. We’re now constructing painting storage space. There is a 12′ long set of cabinets left over from the previous owner. We’re going to put a platform of plywood on it, with spacers every 2 feet. A bit hard to describe, since we’re designing as we go. What I like is that the paintings will be up high and won’t take up floor space. Did something similar in my Ajo studio and it worked out well.
The actual process of making a studio work is always challenging. This one is long, so I envision one half for printmaking, bookmaking, and mixed media. The other half will be for painting. I suspect there will be months of arranging and rearranging the space until it works well for me. But it’s mine!
My blog has a few shots of the studio space under construction. Also if you scroll down further, you can see the Ajo studio before moving in, being used, and being dismantled.
Hope this is useful for you.
It was nice to go back in time and think about all of my various studio spaces. The best part is that my new studio will be the largest, most functional one yet. And, hopefully, my last!