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March 31, 2022
The word 'studio' comes from 'studiolo' which means a study, or a place of reflection. This word was coined in Renaissance Italy and has always been a fascinating and intriguing topic. It's like a secret world where mystery surrounds the artist and what happens within is a secret.
A good studio for an artist is an important place. Some creative studios might look like a complete mess but this is where many sculptures, drawings and paintings are born!
What do we imagine when we hear the word studio?
Do we visualise an empty room with just an easel, a life model and a painter, or a cluttered room like Picasso's bursting with canvases and masterpieces including a day bed and beautiful light?
Or Lucian Freud's, where paint tubes are squeezed out and a pile of used brushes collect dust amongst old newspapers, photographs and books?
From Salvador Dali's studio full of women to David Lynch's industrial looking creative space and Francis Bacon's utter chaos it's obvious that each artist creates in a different way.
Many artists work with assistants and not alone, something which has been going on for centuries.The bottega workshop was a place used for mass production with a school of art. Studios today range from those of the single artist to workshops where students can learn and get involved.
“The most interesting thing about artists is how they live.” – Marcel Duchamp
My studio for two months was my bed. I'd had an operation where I wasn't allowed to weight-bear for six weeks so I organised a table across the bed and painted everyday on a table easel from 9am-4.00 pm, when my carer would help put everything away.
My hospital bed studio
My new home studio in Yorkshire
I know lots of artists who, especially in London, have to double up their living space with their studio space and it works for them. There's something really comforting about putting the kids to bed and being able to work through in the peace and quiet of your living room.
Wilf Frost's busy home studio
Fellow artist Wilf Frost on the other hand has his own studio space, "I work on three to four pieces at the same time, and usually only have a few hours every week so speed and energy is essential, tidying up isn't a priority for me.
I'm lucky as I have a large studio space here in Yorkshire with a double aspect, a non-slip floor, a sink and a plan chest for storage. I have a huge easel and enough room to stand back and reflect on what's going on. This is bliss and, as I'm not the tidiest of people. it's a joy to be able to close the door and keep my work separate from my living space."
I asked another fellow artist friend of mine Stella Tooth about her studio setup.
Stella Tooth's home studio
She said, “When I first started oil painting, my home studio was a corner of our sitting room. No matter how I aired it, the smell of solvent stayed in the air. I had to devote an hour to setting up and packing paints and tarpaulins away and had nowhere to display a mood board or have a gallery of my works. Open studios meant invading the family’s space.
"Then I had a brainwave and realised I could rearrange things to give me a room for painting, a hall for display and a corner of our new fitted wardrobe for canvas storage and a shelving plan chest. Along with a desk in the spare room for my computer, my working life changed, not least because the light in the room where I now paint is even from the north, instead of ever-changing from the south. My advice is to think creatively about the space you have and, if you have none, take up digital painting!"
I expect that you've seen lots of artworks in galleries and museums but the artist and her/his studio is often left unseen. You will find artists work in diverse ways.
Smita Sonthalia's home studio
Prolific Skylark Galleries artist Smita Sonthalia for instance works from her home studio on large canvases in the midst of a busy family home.
Zsuzsanna Pataki: the whole of outdoors is her studio
Abstract artist Zsuzsanna Pataki says, "This is a wild pony in the New Forest, she startled me with stepping on the ink study I was working on and nosed around quite a bit in my paint box… I was so absorbed in remembering, and painting the latest glimpse I had of a walking pony, that I had not seen this other one walking up to me. We both jumped! Then made friends."
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