Thursday, June 14, 2012

Setting up an Artist Studio: How to Make it Functional, Comfortable & Inspiring

     I am often asked how I set up my permanent art studio, and what features I would recommend.  The location of an artist's studio is often dictated by convenience and availability.  Many artists rent a small space, either commercial, retail, or private to use for their work space.  This is a wonderful option if you have the money to cover the rent, and don't mind traveling each time you have the urge to create a new piece.  In my case, rent for spaces in Southern CA get get quite pricey, and I have a family who often needs me, so I chose to create a studio within my own home.  I have had a few different art spaces, and since I have moved and reset-up my studio a few times, I thought I might share from my experience, what I find necessary for a proper art studio.  Whether you decide you will rent a space, or create art from home, I feel the following are important things to consider as you settle-in to create your works of art.

  • SPACE- Have more space than you initially think that you will need.  You are creating art, so no matter what it is that you create, you will need a good amount of space in which to not only work and move around, but to also store and display all of which you create.  If you are setting up a home studio, consider taking over a large bedroom, loft or office in your home.  Basements and garages can also work, however, they can be dark if not properly lit.   I have a 250 sq. ft. space.  It is wonderful!  I have lots of wall space to hang  and display my paintings for clients to view, room for furniture, and supplies. 
Photo: Christine Krainock's Art Studio

  • LIGHT- First, you must have what all artists need in your space; LIGHT!  Seek out the room or space which contains the most natural light, and receives sun for a great portion of the day.  Then make sure you also have proper overhead and directional lighting for evening work.  My studio has windows on 3 walls so I have sunlight from sunrise to sunset. 
  • FLAT TABLE-  This can be an old dining table, a desk, or a craft table.  Even if you paint only on an easel, you need a flat surface to spread out your materials, or use as a desk for computer work, and business.  Although I use an easel for some detail work, I happen to like to work on a large flat craft table.  Mine is wonderful, a Pottery Barn knock-off, I got mine years ago from Target Adams Black Craft Table & Shelves - Target  The shelves on the sides are wonderful for storage.
  • ORGANIZED STORAGE-  All of your materials need to be stored in convenient, organized locations.  Use shelves, old dressers, cubbie systems, etc. for your basic storage spaces.  There are also many vendors who specialize in creating furniture and shelving solutions for your organizational needs.  For example, ALY and Company carry unique handmade shelves, furniture and boards in wonderful, vintage, distressed finishes.  One you have furniture, you can use separate bins and baskets to sort and organize your materials so that they are easy to find and you don't need to go digging for them.  For ex: a basket for acrylics, a basket for oils, a basket for mixing mediums, etc. 
Photo:  As a palette knife painter, Christine Krainock often paints on a flat surface. 

  • WHITE BOARD/CORK BOARD:  A great idea if you are one with so much going on in your head and you don't want to for get your ideas or thoughts!  You can jot down lists on the white board, pin up inspiration photos, or quick sketched to the cork board, etc.  Mine is great, it even has hooks on it for me to hang up my art apron, paint-covered hoodies, and my camera.  It is similar to this one I found on Etsy White Dry Erase/Cork Board.
  • ENTERTAINMENT:  No, this isn't at all necessary, I know.  I just think it is important to make sure your space has what makes you feel relaxed and at your creative best.  If you like to listen to music, then have a stereo.  I like to flip open my laptop which is always close by and just open up iTunes or Pandora Radio.  If you like to listen to a show, a movie, or the news as you work, then install a small TV.  I like to have music on that puts me in a happy, positive mood which then is reflected in my paintings.
  • SEATING:  If you sit at a table, counter, or easel, make sure you have proper seating that is cozy on your behind, and good for your back.  Hours and hours of straight painting, drawing, etc., can really reek havoc on certain muscles, do what you can to make the process as comfortable as you can so that you don't need to ask for a massage later.  (Although massages ARE always nice.)
  • FOOD/DRINK:  Have access to a kitchen or other space where you can make sure you drink water and grab a snack.  This prevents you from getting light-headed and dehydrated. Maybe this is just me, but I can paint for hours and totally forget to eat and drink.  SO, I usually grab a Starbucks, or make a cup of green tea and have it and some water on my table for the day.
  • This is completely up to the individual artist.  Just surround your self with things which may inspire you.  Pin inspiration photos to a board, add photos of your family, hang pictures of your world travels, bring in fresh flowers, look out the window at the view outside.  The point is, your space should be a place that gets your creative juices going.  My studio is filled so much with my own art, and that in itself inspires me.  I paint many florals and love the roses from my yard, so I almost always have a vase full of them.  I am so fortunate, that the most inspiring thing in my studio is my view.  From my largest window I look east, over a golf course, and towards the Temecula wine country and the hills beyond.  In the mornings I am able to see hot air balloons rise, it's beautiful.

     Wherever you decide to set up your art studio, have a great time doing it!  Make it YOUR space, a place that is not only functional, comfortable, and inspiring, but a place where you will ENJOY spending your days doing what you love... creating art.

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